The Canadian capital prepares for a motorcyclist convoy, fearing a repeat of the truck drivers’ protest

(Reuters) – Hundreds of motorcyclists are preparing to parade through the city this weekend in a large-scale protest against government abuses, less than three months after police arrested dozens of protesters who had shut down the city center near Parliament for several weeks.

Organizers of the caravan, which they call “Rolling Thunder Ottawa,” say it supports “Freedom” and military veterans, but local media say that many participants were in Ottawa during the previous protest, which was against the mandate of a vaccine against truck drivers across the border.

In February, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was forced to invoke rarely used emergency powers to evacuate Ottawa. At the time, protesters also closed major border crossings into the United States. Read more

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This time, Ottawa police say they will not allow any motor vehicles to stop or park on downtown streets, and additional staff have been brought in to bolster municipal authorities.

The three-week protest earlier this year left businesses with tens of millions of dollars in lost sales and taxpayers with clean-up costs. Read more

“The right to lawful and peaceful demonstrations and events will always be protected by our service,” Ottawa police said on Twitter, but added that displaying “symbols of hate such as the swastika will lead to charges.”

Neil Sheard, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, is one of the main organizers of the protest.

In a video posted to YouTube, Sheard said his plan is to lay a wreath at the National War Memorial as a show of respect for veterans. There are other groups involved in protesting generally against government and government mandates.

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Sheard said he supports any group that wants to fight for the freedom of all Canadians, because in his view, the costs of free speech have been paid for by war veterans.

“Canadians’ rights and freedoms are being eroded, and we will work to maintain legal civil action in order to restore those basic rights,” Andrew McGillivray, a member of Freedom Fighters Canada who is also involved, told Reuters recently. .

Events begin Friday at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT), with the motorcyclists convoy on Saturday morning. It is scheduled to end on Sunday.

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(Additional reporting by Gina Zucker in Toronto)

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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