Trucker Rally: Alghabra weights hateful images

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says hateful images at the trucker convoy demonstration against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions cannot be ignored, while Canadians reflect on the weekend that has brought thousands of protesters to Ottawa’s capital.

In an interview on CTV’s Question Period broadcast on Sunday, Alghabra insisted that although not all of those at the meeting expressed hateful or racist views, those who did – for example, carry the Confederate flag or held swastika signs them – condemned.

“Some of the pictures and the voices we heard coming out of that protest were alarming. The Canadians saw for themselves. We had swastika flags, we had the Confederate flag, we had voices calling for the overthrow of the government. The Canadians saw for themselves that some voices are really disturbing and unacceptable, ”he said.

“I understand that there are some people who are sympathetic to the protests for other reasons, but we can not see the other way.”

The “Freedom Convoy” was originally formed to protest the federal government’s vaccine mandate on truck drivers crossing the border between the United States and Canada, implemented earlier this month. It has since turned snowball into a movement for Canadians who are frustrated by public health restrictions and government abuses.

Some streets around Parliament Hill remain closed, and Ottawa police say they are working to lift areas with gridlock for residents and businesses. The meeting has largely remained non-violent and police have said they have not made any arrests but plan to hold a large presence on Sunday.

Police said that although they faced a series of “high-risk situations” on Saturday, those circumstances were “de-escalated” without any arrests being made.

Alghabra said he was “shocked” to see some conservative MPs “flirting” with more extreme feelings from the convoy, specifically calling Edmonton-based MP Michael Cooper for conducting a media interview at Saturday’s demonstration while a swastika flew behind him at a distance.

“He should quickly and clearly distance himself and once again apologize for giving confidence to some of the extreme voices present at the protest,” he said.

Cooper issued a statement after the incident and said he was not connected to the person, and had he known the symbol was there, he would have “condemned it completely.”

“Whoever flew this flag is personally responsible for the reprehensible decision and should be ashamed of himself forever. He or she does not represent the thousands of peaceful protesters who waved Canadian flags and acted responsibly. I stand with them. and will continue to fight for them, “the statement said.

In a separate interview on CTV’s question time, conservative strategist Jenni Byrne said that when a protest reaches the scale of the “freedom convoy”, it will attract people with extremist views.

“For rallies across the country for years this has been a problem … When you come to rallies of this size, you will end up attracting people who do not support your position, but there is no connection between the organizers of the rally or bad apples so to speak – what the politicians said – and what the Conservative Party in Canada’s view is in terms of lockdowns or COVID policies, “she said.

Byrne added that she wants to see a clear demarcation between those who protest against vaccines, all of them and those who accept mandates.

“Everyone is getting lumped together … the frustration the Canadians have is that if you had told the Canadians last year in January 2021 that we would be one of the most vaccinated countries in the whole world, and we were, especially in our largest provinces in Ontario and Quebec, we would still be in the same lockdown … I think people would be just as frustrated as they are now, ”she said.

“They keep an eye on countries around the world that are actually scraping their vaccine mandates and also passports.”

Alghabra said that while his government’s role is to listen to all perspectives, the trucker vaccine mandate is carried out to protect “the health and safety of Canadians … the economy … truckers … and all the workers working in our supply chains. “

With files from CTV News’ Christy Somos.

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