Canada’s Public Security Minister said Tuesday that the ‘Rolling Thunder’ motorcycle convoy entering Ottawa on Friday will not be a repeat of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ occupation earlier this year.
“We’re not going to have a January or February repeat,” Marco Mendicino said during a media scrum.
“We are going to provide the tools and resources necessary for law enforcement to enforce the law.”
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Mendicino said Ottawa residents are still recovering from the truck convoy occupation that saw the city’s Rideau mall closing, trucks honking loudly at all hours and reports of harassment.
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“It’s still very fresh in their minds,” Mendicino says. “People’s lives were turned upside down. I would say there is still exceptional sensitivity.”
Ottawa invoked the Emergencies Act in response to demonstrations across the country that could have caused the personal finances of those involved to be frozen. An investigation into the appeal was opened Monday.
The “Rolling Thunder Ottawa 2022” motorcycle convoy plans to arrive in Ottawa on Friday and hold a rally on Saturday that organizers say will include a motorcycle parade around the National War Memorial. The memorial was a point of contention during the previous occupation in Ottawa, with allegations that protesters against COVID-19 restrictions had violated the memorial erected in honor of the Canadian Forces.
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Rolling Thunder organizers say veterans involved in the Freedom Convoy were tasked with 24-hour guarding of the memorial by law enforcement officers but were removed during efforts to end the occupation in central Ottawa, which they say was a ‘desecration’.
“Rolling Thunder Ottawa will restore the dignity of the war memorial,” read an official statement from the group’s Facebook page.
However, the Ottawa Police Department said vehicle protests will be banned in designated areas in downtown Ottawa, including near Parliament Hill and the National War Memorial, and an increased number of officers will patrol this weekend with help from the RCMP. and the Ontario Provincial Police.
Rolling Thunder organizer Neil Sheard warned of possible consequences if the planned route is obstructed.
“Thousands of people are coming to the city. More than a thousand bicycles can come to your city. We had mapped out a route,” Sheard said in a YouTube video posted Sunday.
“Now it’s going to be a free-for-all.”
— with files from Isaac Callan and The Canadian Press
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