The Canadian government announced Thursday that it would not use military troops to quell the massive trucker protest in Ottawa. Now ongoing for almost a week, the protest features truckers from all across the country. The truckers gathered to oppose national vaccine mandates. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been locked in a public relations battle ever since they brought traffic to a halt in central Ottawa, the nation’s capital.
An unprecedented protest by Canadian standards, the trucker envoy parked and blockaded roads leading into downtown last Friday. So far, over 200 big rigs have set themselves along major highways in protest. Organizers say drivers plan to hold similar protests in Toronto and Quebec City, as well.
Some Ottawa residents want more police intervention; but so far, local police have mostly stayed neutral instead of trying to bust up the protest. The city’s police chief indicated the possibility of smugglers bringing guns into the protest, which led to a public suggestion of using the military against the truckers. Trudeau dismissed that notion, however.
“There is no question of sending in the army,” Trudeau told the media. The story is slowly gaining steam in the international media as the world debates the need for mandatory COVID vaccinations. Distinct action like sending in the military would likely ignite a powder keg for the Canadian government.
Demonstrators want an end to mandatory vaccination requirements for interstate travel in Canada. Some protestors also want Trudeau to step down, altogether. They are protesting on the grounds that he exceeded his authority in mandating vaccines.
“It’s time for these people to go home,” Trudeau told reporters. Ottawa police issued a handful of traffic tickets Wednesday but have not taken any decisive action as of yet.
How are other cities in Canada viewing the trucker protests?
Quebec premier Francois Legault said authorities in his province would not tolerate the kind of trucker protest “mayhem” seen in Ottawa. Quebec mayor Bruno Marchand elaborated by telling a radio station that “we can learn lessons from Ottawa.”
Trudeau’s liberal policies are being questioned on an international level. But domestically, the protest may help his cause. The opposing Conservative Party seems split on the matter, with some agreeing with the spirit of the protest but disagreeing with the methodology. Legislators on the right already ousted one of their own, Erin O’Toole, for his tepid support of the protest. Now Liberals like Ottawa mayor Jim Watson are using the Conservatives actions against them, calling their support of the trucker protests “an absolute disgrace.”
As the lower factions war over the logistics of the protest, Trudeau faces very little scrutiny in all actuality. Having just beaten the Conservatives for the third time in an election, Trudeau likely doesn’t have to fear ousting as a legitimate possibility.
“Having a group of people who disagree with the outcome of an election who want to … bring in an alternative government is a non-starter in a responsible democracy,” he said.