Canadian lorry drivers honked their horns Friday as their caravan converged on the capital city of Ottawa for a major demonstration against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's vaccination mandates to cross the Canada-US border.
Unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering Canada from the United States must be tested for the coronavirus and self-quarantine, which may lead to up to 32,000 of them (or 20% of the workforce) keps off the roads.
The trucking industry is vital to ensuring a smooth flow of goods, as over two-thirds of the goods traded annually between Canada and the United States travel by road.
People gather along the trans-Canadian highway to show support for the Freedom Convoy which stems from all over the country, including places as far as British Columbia on the Pacific Coast.
The meeting point for the weekend rally has been set for Parliament Hill, in the heart of the Canadian capital.
Since mid-January, Canada and the United States have imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truck drivers crossing the border between the two countries, the longest in the world at nearly 9,000 kilometers (5,500 miles).
The convoy started off from Vancouver Jan. 23, 2022 on its way to protest against the COVID-19 related mandates. Among those supporting the truckers are Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who has tweeted Canadian truckers rule.
These demonstrations are national in scope. They're massive in scale. Unfortunately, they're polarizing in nature, said Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly. However, the official declined to specify how many trucks or demonstrators would show up, although he admitted he expected major traffic safety issues. He said organizers of the protest had told police it would be peaceful but warned that some people may join the movement to incite hatred and violence.
Some businesses have shut their doors for the weekend, it was reported and some politicians in the federal capital could also be targeted, the police chief said. Trudeau himself is in isolation after a COVID-19 exposure. He defended his measures saying 90% of the lorry drivers were vaccinated and claimed protesters were a small fringe minority whose unacceptable views do not represent the majority of Canadians.
Canadian police fear that the mobilization of truckers will continue beyond the weekend.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance, a major association in the haulage industry, said most of the Canadian truck drivers are vaccinated and said it strongly disapproved of the gathering in Ottawa.
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