Truckers, demonstrators paralyze Canada’s capital over COVID mandates

Canada is facing protests for a second week over vaccines mandates and other covid restrictions. Trucks and periodic demonstrations have jammed up the country' capital city ofOttawa. A judge on Monday granted a 10-day injunctions saying truckers must pull back on some of their disruptive tactics. Stephanie Sy has the story.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Canada is facing protests for a second week over vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions.

    Trucks and periodic demonstrations have jammed up the country's capital city, Ottawa, often with loud and disruptive honking. This afternoon, a judge granted a 10-day injunction, saying truckers must stop that honking. But the larger protests and shutdown continue.

    Stephanie Sy has the story.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    From Quebec City to Toronto to Ottawa and cities in between, protesters are taking to the streets, blaring horns, waving signs and banners, and condemning Canada's COVID-19 restrictions.

  • Protestor:

    I'm here to denounce that the unvaccinated, for two years, have been shamed and thrown under the bus in the public space. It goes against freedom of speech in Canada.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    The protests are now in their 11th day. They initially started as a convoy of cross-border truck drivers demanding an end to vaccine mandates.

    On Sunday, Ottawa's mayor declared a state of emergency after the so-called Freedom Convoy paralyzed the heart of the capital city. As of January 15, all truckers entering Canada are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID.

    The U.S. has a similar mandate. Nearly 80 percent of Canada's population is fully vaccinated. And Canada's transport minister estimates about 90 percent of its truck drivers are. But the protests are no longer just about truckers. Other Canadians have joined in, directing rage at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and strict public health measures that provinces have put in place, including mask mandates and limits on gatherings.

  • Oliver Pride, Protestor:

    We had enough of all those mandates that have no sense, no scientific evidence. The people are fed up.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Prime Minister Trudeau, who recently tested positive for COVID, has not responded publicly since last week, when he voiced concern that some of the protests have gotten out of hand.

  • Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister:

    There is always a right to protest peacefully that I and others will defend fully as part of this democracy. There is not a right to incite violence, to perform acts of violence, or to spew hatred.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Hundreds of protesters have descended on Ottawa alone.

    Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, Ontario: The protests have been incredibly disruptive and continue to impact the safety and well-being of our residents. People have had the opportunity to voice their frustration against government policy, but, as the old saying goes, they have worn out their welcome.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    The city's police chief called it a siege that he could not manage.

  • Peter Sloly, Ottawa, Ontario, Police Chief:

    It has to stop. And we are doing everything we can possibly do to stop it. We need more help.

    We are asking for that help. We're starting to receive that help, but we need more to get this done.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Officers have begun removing the truckers' fuel supplies to try to break up the protest, after residents and businesses accused them of not doing more to restore calm.

    Meanwhile, signs that the Freedom Convoy movement may be spreading. In the last few weeks, dozens of organized Facebook groups with thousands of members have popped up in support of the Canadian truckers from around the globe. Many voice frustration with their own countries' COVID-19 restrictions and express other right-wing populist causes. And some are starting to plan their own rallies.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.

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