Ottawa police get reinforcements as anti-vax convoy arrives

People in a crowd hold the Canadian flag and cheer as vehicles drive by
People who oppose vaccination mandates cheer as cross-border truckers drive through Kakabeka Falls, Canada, on Wednesday. The Canadian Trucking Alliance says more than 85% of truckers are vaccinated.
(David Jackson / Canadian Press)

Police in Canada’s capital have called in reinforcements as a planned anti-vaccine mandate protest began to swell in numbers.

Several thousand people are expected in Ottawa as part of group demanding an end to vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions. Some of the group’s leaders are calling for a peaceful event, but statements from some associated with the group have included threats of violence.

Ottawa police are working with national security agencies to identify any potential threats to public safety, Chief Peter Sloly said during a news briefing Friday.


“Even during the course of this conference call, we’ve had new intelligence coming in regards to local threats,” he said.

A top Parliament security official has warned lawmakers to lock their doors amid reports that their private homes may be targeted.

The House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection has subpoenaed more than a dozen individuals who it says falsely tried to declare Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 election.

Jan. 28, 2022

Trucks and cars began rolling into downtown Ottawa midday Friday, as a planned anti-vaccine mandate protest grew. They have set up in the streets around Parliament Hill for the weekend — and possibly longer.

Trucks and cars lined the north side of the main street outside, far past the Parliament buildings. Thus far the atmosphere has been generally party-like, with some setting up barbecues on the sidewalk and many honking horns, playing instruments and blaring music.

They are, in part, protesting a new rule that took effect Jan. 15 requiring that truckers entering Canada be fully immunized against the coronavirus. The United States has imposed the same requirement on truckers entering that country.

Although the protest has largely been billed as being against a new vaccine mandate for commercial truck drivers at the border, its origins go back long before that policy was conceived.


The memorandum of understanding being pushed by organizer calls for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all provincial governments to eliminate all COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. The document does not mention truckers.

Robyn May, a business owner from Long Point, Ontario, was there with her husband in hockey jerseys, toting anti-Trudeau signs.

“We are not a free country,” May said, adding government mandates forced her business to close at times during the pandemic.

When asked how long she thinks the protest will last, she said she plans to stay until “Justin Trudeau is no longer our prime minister.”

The police chief said there are concerns about “parallel demonstrations,” as some with extreme, far-right and white supremacist views have latched onto the protest as the convoy has crossed the country.

The Canadian government ended the truckers’ exemption to the vaccine mandate, meaning Canadian truck drivers need to be fully vaccinated if they want to avoid a two-week quarantine and pre-arrival molecular test for the coronavirus before crossing into Canada.


Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign national truck drivers who do not have a right to reenter are turned away at the border and directed back to the United States. The U.S. now also requires Canadian truckers to provide proof of vaccination to enter that country.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has disavowed the protest and said more than 85% of truckers are vaccinated.