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A convoy of truckers is en route to Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates, but some politicians say the protest has taken on a life of its own and are concerned about possible violence on Saturday.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he is “concerned by extremist elements that are spreading misinformation and attempting to turn the convoy into a Canadian version of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Capitol,” in a statement released Thursday.

A federal mandate that requires truckers to be vaccinated to get over the border sparked the cross-country drive, which is to end with a protest at Parliament Hill. Dubbed the “freedom convoy,” the protest is organized by Canada Unity and other anti-public-health-mandate groups. At first, the convoy opposed vaccine mandates imposed on long-haul truckers, which forces unvaccinated truckers re-entering Canada to quarantine and get tested, but now it is calling for a repeal of all COVID-19 health mandates.

The movement has also caught the attention of Donald Trump Jr., who praised the Canadian “freedom convoy’s” fight against "tyranny" and urged Americans to follow suit in a video posted to Facebook on Tuesday.

“Individuals have the right to safely and peacefully protest,” said Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi in a statement to Canada’s National Observer. “But from what we know about the protest that’s coming this weekend, it appears that some members of the group may be associated with racist, sexist, and xenophobic groups.”

The Liberal MP said his community “will not tolerate hate and vitriol and other acts of racism and violence,” and emphasized the need for the area to “remain safe from any kind of damage or destruction.”

Ottawa police are preparing for a variety of scenarios this Saturday, including violence, Chief Peter Sloly told the police services board Wednesday. Sloly added convoy organizers are co-operating and have disclosed their protest plans to police.

Police are also "tracing parallel groups" that plan to join the truckers, according to Deputy Chief Steve Bell.

Tamara Lich, a western separatist and organizer of the convoy’s GoFundMe, discouraged extremist actions and told protest participants to write down the licence plates of anyone seen “inciting any type of violence or hatred” in a video posted on the Freedom Convoy 2022 Facebook page.

Despite organizers’ assertions the event will be peaceful, messages promoting hate, violence and extremism have been percolating on Zello, a walkie-talkie chat app.

On Saturday, a truck convoy will arrive in Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates, but some politicians, including Ottawa Centre MP @Yasir_Naqvi, are concerned about possible violence as extremist rhetoric swirls. #cdnpoli #TruckersConvoy2022 #COVID

“Every Canadian should have the ability to make their voice heard, but there is also a very real concern about the threat of violence,” said NDP MP Taylor Bachrach. “The fact that we're hearing these kinds of deeply troubling messages is something I think all Canadians should be concerned about.”

Truckers have every right to protest, just like any Canadian, the problem is politicians on both sides encouraging deep division for political gain, said Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

“Us versus them” narratives “bring out the darkest parts of us,” and when politicians create these divisions, “these (movements) can take on a life of their own,” he said.

Bowman added the buzz around the truckers' protest is just another distraction from the greatest threat to all Canadians: the global pandemic, which he said we're doing next to nothing about.

Instead of waking up to the fact that we need to deal with COVID as a global community, “we’ve become nationalistic, populist, even, (and) inward-looking,” he said.

Last weekend, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier organized a rally in Waterloo, Ont., to support the cross-border truckers' movement and continuously tweets support for and information about the convoy.

Until recently, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole kept quiet on the issue but broke his silence Tuesday evening in a Facebook Live event when he said he understands why many truckers, especially independent ones, are upset.

"You can understand why there's some frustration and why people are protesting," O'Toole said.

Other Conservative MPs have been more transparent with their views.

Former Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer tweeted his support for unvaccinated truckers and said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “threatening everyone's ability to get groceries because of his overreach on vaccine mandates.”

Earlier this week, MP Garnett Genuis tweeted it is “time to end Justin Trudeau’s nonsensical vaccine vendetta.”

Meanwhile, Alberta MP Martin Shields recorded a video in front of Parliament Hill declaring his support for the truckers and their protest. When Canada’s National Observer contacted his office to ask how concerns of violence may impact his stance on the protest, staff only said members of Shields’ constituency can meet with him on Saturday if they wish.

“I support peaceful demonstrations against these mandates,” a statement from the Conservatives’ deputy leader Candice Bergen reads.

Another distraction being peddled by Conservative and People’s Party of Canada politicians is the myth that vaccine mandates for truckers will cause food shortages and supply chain issues.

On Tuesday, federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra put those claims to bed and assured Canadians the small minority of truck drivers refusing to comply with the vaccine mandate has not affected trucking operations.

Bachrach, the NDP’s transport critic, echoed Alghabra’s message and added extreme weather events across the country have contributed to the few empty shelves reported at grocery stores.

MPs Shields, Genuis and Melissa Lantsman did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

— With files from The Canadian Press

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

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I truly hope and pray the truckers will follow every protest that I know of which are
calling for any protest to be non-violent.
We can protest without violating anyone. I also hope the police will keep their lines the same, and not provoke violence. Keep Canada free of forced drugs unknown to humankind. My DNA is given by the Creator, let's keep it that way. DNA can help some people for certain things, but it's geared to specifically to that person, and it's short lived.
Keep Canada's freedom strong, and truthful, yet, humbled by the Creator's amazing Creation, and Peoples from all over the world. I am on God's side, and work toward Equity in love... after all love is worth more than wealth, and fear mongering belongs to history's fearful cavemen.
May all keep peaceable in all things so the point they want to make can be heard.

Yes, let's thank the creator of your choice for giving humans the wisdom and intellect to eradicate polio and smallpox by developing vaccines that have, overall, proven to be safe. I got my shots back in the early 60s, and these diseases disappeared with then young and vaxxed Boomers like me.

Let's now help the creator of your choice' other creations -- billions of people in poorer countries -- stay alive and keep the entire planet alive and healthy by expanding vaccine rollouts all over the globe, and thus help to contain potentially more deadly variants of COVID-19 from spreading.

BTW, mRNA vaccines do not use human DNA. They synthesize proxies. The conspiracy believers may well practice their freedom of choice to not believe it. Only one of these views stems from delusion.

That wouldn't be, of course, the same Creator that made the Covid virus?
Or any of an almost limitess number of hideous pathogens that have over the course of history decimated populations of "God's People."
And actually, your DNA was given to you part by your mom, and part by your dad. Most of DNA today was formed by mutations (aberrances from any DNA "created" by God ... or by evolution. Vaccines are an evolutionary force, with the objective of allowing individuals to stay alive and pass on a fraction of *their* DNA to *their* children.
DNA, however, is irrelevant otherwise to discussions about vaccines. They don't enter the nucleus of cells, which is where DNA resides.
Love works where there's enough money to pay the rent and buy food.

The larger issue is what on earth the truckers hope to gain, even if they do manage to carve out some special exemption for themselves from Canadian requirements.

US border controls require all people entering into the US from their north or south boundaries, whether for non-essential or essential reasons, to present proof of vaccination. As of Jan 20.

So what are they honking their horns about??? What do they plan to do about the restrictions on that side of the border? They can't fly. They can't take a ferry. They can't take a bus: all those require vaccine certificates. The only thing left is to swim, maybe with their trucks on their backs. Lotsa luck with that, boys.

Jesus may have walked on water, but I don't think he carried a transport truck on his back. Besides, it's awfully cold this time of year to be outside in sandals.

The best Canadian truckers are just like the rest of us who know what's good for us. They're already vaccinated.

Too many articles fail to mention that the United States, as of nearly a week ago now, has the SAME vaccine mandate in place. The Trudeau government could repeal theirs and it would make no difference, since the United States does not allow unvaccinated truckers in. And this was a known fact before the protest was called.

I'm a lefty, and a big fan of protests. But if environmentalists were going to call a protest to block the building of a pipeline, I would be the first to mock it if the pipeline WASN'T BEING BUILT. When the left protests something, it's at least something real. But for the alt-right, basing their outrage on fiction seems to be the standard approach--they almost seem to prefer it, because if your cause is lies from the get-go you have complete freedom to make up whatever pushes emotional buttons the best, instead of being limited to finding outrage in humdrum reality.

This is a both sides of the border issue....because it is a global health crisis.
I believe it IS well overdue to have a very healthy dialogue on FREEDOMS. OUR FREEDOMS DURING A WORLD HEALTH CRISIS should take on a different definition because we are all in this together and it takes all of us to cooperate to get out of this. PERHAPS NOW AFTER 2 YRS. WITH THE VACCINES AND OTHER TREATMENTS AVAILABLE we can come to a more amicable solution to mandates and lock downs. But up to now that was not possible without very fatal outcomes and unnecessary deaths., even at this very time people are dieing from this disease, OUR PERSONAL FREEDOMS COME WITH A CRITICAL COST even STILL today ....IS THAT FAIR? How is it some people think it is? THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT TIME TO DEMAND PERSONAL FREEDOMS IN MY OPINION. WE are all hurting from this crisis , some alot more than others and I certainly understand there rational for peaceful protest....we must realize that moving to fast , as has happened in our recent past, will only prolong the agony of this crisis and I do not think that will provide a answer to people who feel their personal freedoms are being violated but the contrary end up with more restrictions....to us ALL. OF US, even those of us who played by all the rules for the good of the whole.

There has never *been* "freedom" to endanger someone else's life.

They want the freedom to infect me with the virus, something that may well kill me. That is a freedom I do not support.

Indeed!

Indeed!

Millions of seniors who have effectively been locked in for almost all of 2 years now agree wholeheartedly.
I, for one, don't think we have too many grandmas or grandpas, so that anyone should consider it their right to infect them with a virus that they, even when vaccinated, are more likely to contract, and more likely to die from, than any of those truckers.