Maple Ridge residents weigh in on the Ottawa protest

Although the “freedom convoy” was dismantled three weeks later, it started a nationwide debate on where the country is headed

A group of Canadians announced on January 23 that they would be gathering and moving across the country to protest the COVID-19 mandates. 

A large group of truckers began to gather in downtown Ottawa and demanded the government cancel the vaccine mandate for truckers travelling across the border to the U.S. 

Although the “freedom convoy” was dismantled three weeks later, it started a nationwide debate on where the country is headed. 

Read: Explainer: What we know so far about the CP Rail yard expansion project in Pitt Meadows

In the wake of the Ottawa protest, several local rallies also sprung up in the following weeks. 

Mana, 38, is a resident of Maple Ridge and attended one such protest from Langley to downtown Vancouver. 

“When we drove from Langley meetup to downtown Vancouver a few weeks ago for the convoy, it was quite a pleasant experience. It wasn’t until we arrived downtown that we noticed pedestrians fingering our convoy. And then down on [Burrard St.], we caught a young man egging cars who were part of the convoy,” she said. 

She also said that “extreme pro-COVID-19 vaxxers” are often the ones exhibiting aggressive behaviour. Mana is not vaccinated but has nothing against the vaccines. 

“I am saddened by a lot of individuals and how much division has occurred.” 

But the other side thinks differently…

Olivia said she has participated in several protests which blockaded railway tracks, roads and bridges, but the Ottawa protest infringed on the rights of the city with 24/7 honking, business closures and public transit halted for weeks. 

“You have the freedom to not get vaccinated, but that freedom being exercised might come with a loss [of] privileges. This is a normal part of living in a society with rules, to maintain social order.” 

A person might be free to drive drunk but when they are caught, that offence is punishable. The driver loses the privilege to drive for breaking the rule and putting others at risk. This is an example Olivia shared to explain the stance of the convoy protesters. 

She added that while the protest might have started with lending support to a trucker, it became an opportunity “to further push far-right ideology and politics to the forefront.” 

Another resident who refused to share his name in the story added that 95 per cent of what he saw at the protest was “pure love and unity.” 

He expressed love for the five per cent he believes opposed the protest and held up slogans such as “gas the un-vaxxed”. 

When questioned about the extremist slogans and signs at the protest, he refused to respond. 

Residents confirmed that local protests in Maple Ridge have been peaceful but a state of emergency was declared in Ottawa on February 6 in the wake of the truckers’ protest. 

The city officially lifted the state of emergency on February 24 after the police moved protesters and made several arrests. 

For the safety of residents, only first names have been used. 

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