Ottawa Mayor Warns 'Someone Is Going to Get Killed' by Truckers' Protest

Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson warned that "someone is going to get killed" by the ongoing truckers' protest in the city over COVID vaccine mandates, as he declared a state of emergency for the Canadian capital on Sunday.

The so-called "Freedom Convoy" of trucks and protesters arrived in Ottawa on January 29, parking their trucks on the city's streets and putting up temporary accommodation comprising tents and shacks. It has brought the capital to a standstill.

The movement began after truckers and right-wing groups were angry with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for making it a requirement for unvaccinated truckers driving across the U.S. border to have to quarantine on their return to Canada. Protesters insist their action in the capital will continue until the restrictions are lifted.

Watson gave an interview with CTV on Sunday, as the protest was going into its second week and 10th day, blocking much of the center of the capital. He justified the state of emergency to allow the city to have access to equipment to help its residents during the protest.

"We're in the midst of a serious emergency. The most serious emergency our city has ever faced, and we need to get moving much more quickly, much more proactively, to bring order back to the streets," Watson said.

"Someone is going to get killed or seriously injured because of the irresponsible behavior of some of these people who are honking their horns and destroying the fabric of neighborhood. Imagine living through that hell, time and time again, for 10 days," the mayor said.

He said that the police were taking "a more aggressive stand," and that he supported them on that.

Watson said he was meeting with officials on Monday to deploy hundreds more police officers onto the streets of the capital. Earlier Sunday, he warned in a statement that the demonstrators outnumbered police and were in control of the situation.

In the CTV interview, the mayor said: "They [the police] need to be more aggressive because these individuals you can't reason with. They seem to be completely unreasonable, and try as we might to be helpful, they're digging in and that's why weren't taking action as I said the shack on NCC (National Capital Commission) property is gone. That area's going to be cleaned up."

Protesters' Behavior Condemned

He added that the city would be stricter in terms of diesel being taken away from areas where the protesters are, so it is hard to keep them powering their trucks.

Watson condemned "the anti-semitic and racist" behavior of some of the protesters and said some senior residents were too afraid to go to the store to buy groceries. Some protesters have been seen waving confederate flags and Nazi flags.

He said that "a high profile, independent figure" needed to negotiate with the protesters and city officials to find a "reasonable compromise."

Trudeau has said the protesters represent a small minority of Canadians; nearly 83 percent of the country's population are fully vaccinated.

On Friday, former U.S. president Donald Trump voiced his support for the truckers and called Trudeau "a far-left lunatic."

Truckers in Ottawa
A protester of the vaccine mandates introduced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks down Metcalfe Street draped in a Canadian flag on February 5, 2022, in Ottawa, Canada. Truckers continued their rally over the weekend near Parliament Hill in hopes of pressuring the government to roll back COVID public health regulations and mandates. Minas Panagiotakis/Getty