Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out against anti–vaccine mandate protesters who vandalized property in Ottawa and harassed the staff and clients at a homeless shelter.
"Canadians were shocked and frankly disgusted by the behavior displayed by some people protesting in our nation's capital," Trudeau said on Monday. "I want to be very clear: We are not intimidated by those who hurl insults and abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless. We won't give in to those who fly racist flags. We won't cave to those who engage in vandalism or dishonor the memory of our veterans."
A convoy of truckers protesting against measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, including vaccine mandates and wearing masks, began arriving in Ottawa on Friday. Shepherds of Good Hope, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen, tweeted that protesters harassed staff members, assaulted a person living at the shelter, and threatened and used racial slurs against a security guard who went to his aid. Additionally, "the incessant honking and noise from trucks caused significant anxiety and distress to our staff and shelter residents," Shepherds of Good Hope said.
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Some demonstrators waved flags with Nazi and Confederate imagery and the Ottawa Police Service tweeted that multiple criminal investigations are underway "in relation to the desecration of the National War Memorial/Terry Fox statue, threatening/illegal/intimidating behavior to police/city workers and other individuals, and damage to a city vehicle."
Fox was an athlete and cancer research activist who died in 1981 and is considered one of Canada's national heroes. A sign reading "Mandate Freedom" was placed in the arms of his statue, as well as an upside down Canadian flag. This is "completely unacceptable," Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said, adding, "This kind of stunt by protesters does not help their cause."
It's estimated that about 90 percent of Canadian truck drivers have been vaccinated, Reuters reports, and the Canadian Trucking Alliance said "it appears that a great number" of the protesters in Ottawa "have no connection to the trucking industry and have a separate agenda beyond a disagreement over cross-border vaccine requirements."
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