Ottawa declares state of emergency over COVID-19 protests

TORONTO — The mayor of Canada’s capital declared a state of emergency Sunday and a former U.S. ambassador to Canada said groups in the U.S. must stop interfering in the domestic affairs of America’s neighbor as protesters opposed to COVID-19 restrictions continued to paralyze Ottawa’s downtown.

Mayor Jim Watson said the declaration highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government. The city now has additional power to procure and deliver services. This could allow it to purchase the equipment that first responders and frontline workers need.

Thousands of protesters descended in Ottawa again on the weekend, joining a hundred who remained since last weekend. The police chief described it as a “siege”, which he couldn’t manage, and the residents of Ottawa were furious.

The “freedom truck convoy” has attracted support from many U.S. Republicans including former President Donald Trump, who called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “far left lunatic” who has “destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates.”

“Canada US relations used to be mainly about solving technical issues. Canada today is witnessing radical US politicians getting involved in domestic Canadian issues. Trump and his followers pose a danger not only to the US, but all democracies,” Bruce Heyman tweeted. Heyman was a former U.S. Ambassador under President Barack Obama.

Heyman said “under no circumstances should any group in the USA fund disruptive activities in Canada. Period. Full stop.”

After crowdfunding site GoFundMe said it would refund or redirect to charities the vast majority of the millions raised by demonstrators protesting in the Canadian capital, prominent U.S. Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis complained.

But GoFundMe had already changed its mind and said it would be issuing refunds to all. According to the website, it stopped funding the organizers after it found that the activity violated its terms of service.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has called it an occupation.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxon tweeted: “Patriotic Texans donated to Canadian truckers’ worthy cause.” and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said on Fox News “government doesn’t have the right to force you to comply to their arbitrary mandates.”

“For some senior American politicians, patriotism means renting a mob to put a G-7 capital under siege,” tweeted Gerald Butts, a former senior adviser to Trudeau.

In Canada’s largest city, Toronto, police controlled and later ended a much smaller protest by setting up road blocks and preventing any trucks or cars from getting near the provincial legislature. The police also entered the area to remove a critical intersection.

Many Canadians have been outraged over the crude behavior of the demonstrators. Late Friday, some protesters lit fireworks on the National War Memorial grounds. Many protesters carried flags and signs with swastikas and likened vaccine mandates and fascism to the Nazi regime.

Protesters have said they won’t leave until all mandates and COVID-19 restrictions are gone. Although Trudeau is not responsible for many of these measures, they are calling for its removal.

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