Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency to deal with a nine-day protest that has disrupted the core of the Canadian capital against the government’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
The declaration “reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government”, said a statement issued on Sunday by the city.
Peter Sloly, the chief of the Ottawa Police Service, told a special meeting of the police board that his force does not “have sufficient resources to adequately and effectively address this situation while adequately and effectively providing policing in this city”, reports Xinhua news agency
Watson said that the thousands of protesters “are calling the shots” and have made the situation, where trucks have clogged residential streets and have kept their horns honking well into the night, “out of control”.
“They have far more people than we have police officers and I’ve indicated to the chief that we have to be much more nimble and proactive when it comes to these activities,” the Mayor told an Ottawa radio station.
On Saturday, about 5,000 people and 1,000 tractor-trailers and personal vehicles squeezed into downtown Ottawa to join in on the second week of a protest, which was initially intended to voice opposition to the Justin Trudeau-led government’s vaccine requirement for truckers crossing the Canada-US border.
Over the past week, the protest morphed into an occupation, and this weekend, Sloly characterized it as a “siege”, while a city councillor called it an act of “terrorism”, following reports of protesters involved in assaults and acts of vandalism.
Police have made a few arrests and issued more than 450 tickets.
But Ottawa residents want tougher action taken and have called on Prime Minister Trudeau to take action.
One major ask he has declined to agree to, thus far, is calling on the Canadian Armed Forces to disperse the crowds and their vehicles.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)