Protesters at the ongoing trucker convoy in Ottawa are prepared to be arrested.
During a Wednesday evening press conference, Tom Marazzo, the organizer of the “Freedom Convoy,” said, “We are prepared to be arrested.”
Marazzo says there has been a “significant amount of pressure” from city officials and law enforcement over the past few days and he says if protesters are arrested as a result, “we will be taken into custody peacefully.”
The convoy organizer says the “Freedom Convoy” has a team of pro-bono lawyers in the nation’s capital who have set up an entire clinic to help drivers and protesters deal with “nuances tickets” and “nickel and dime issues.”
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Marazzo reiterated that the demonstration’s issues are “not with Ottawa and residents, but with the federal government.”
“I have been working very hard to work with city officials to relieve some of the pressure on city managers, law enforcement, and residents,” he continued. “We have shovelled snow, cleaned garbage, fed the homeless, helped out medically, and done everything in our power to find a way to get our message across while remaining relevant where the pressure is due: on the federal government.”
Speaking on behalf of the movement, he says the convoy has “no interest in federal politics. We have one mission: to end the mandate and stop this from ever happening again. We do not have any interest in meddling in internal political strife.”
Again, he stressed that protesters “will not be tricked into giving a violent outcome,” claiming the convoy has been villainized and that elected officials are attempting to incite violence. “We are a peaceful convoy.”
Marazzo also said protesters are “not afraid of the armed forces,” referring to potential involvement from the Canadian Army. “Everybody here in this convoy is here for their children. And if you can’t understand that, I’m sorry.”
Citing presiding Ottawa Justice Hugh McLean, Marazzo says the judge “reaffirmed” in his courtroom that “Canadians have a constitutional right to protest” and affirmed that the protesters are not doing anything illegal.
“We have a legal right to be here. We just want to end the COVID-19 vaccine passports, the masks, and the mandates, We want the laws to be reaffirmed.”
Marazzo says the protest will remain in Ottawa for “as long as the Canadian public wants us to be here.” He says he knows the public wants them to stay because citizens are continually sending them money, food, fuel, letters, and “their stories.”
On numerous times, Marazzo says he’s tried to sit at a table with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “find a way to resolve this.” He says Trudeau does “not want to end this through his leadership, he wants to end it by his own playbook.”
“I will sit at a table with you, Mr. Prime Minister,” he continued. “I will work out a deal with you that is amicable for everybody.”
On Wednesday, Trudeau said he is holding firm on vaccine mandates and travel rules as some provinces drop COVID-19 restrictions. The prime minister stressed that the federal government will always be guided by science when it comes to making these decisions.
“You can’t end a pandemic by legislation. You need to end the pandemic by relying on science, by public health measures, and by vaccinations,” said Trudeau.
On Thursday, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) released a statement affirming that all Canadians have the right to peaceful protests.
The CTA says that individuals engaged in preventing vehicles from crossing into Canada and the US are not “peaceful protesters” and that blockades spreading across border points have resulted in “significant losses” while also impairing the hard work of truck drivers who continue to keep our essential goods moving throughout the supply chain during this critical time.
“The patience of drivers and the vast majority of the trucking industry regarding these blockades has long-since expired,” says Stephen Laskowski, president of the CTA. “The trucking industry and its drivers are paying a heavy price for the unlawful actions of those who choose to politicize and target our borders and highways and choke off trade between Canada and the United States. Their actions simply hurt Canadians and they have shown a blatant disregard for all the lives they are impacting.”
Laskowski says truck drivers who are simply “trying to make a living and get home to their families” have been stuck at blocked border crossings for four to eight hours, many of whom have gone without access to washrooms or food.
On Thursday, Ottawa police tweeted that the force was aware of a “concerted effort to flood” the 911 and non-emergency policing lines, without referencing anything about the convoy.
We are aware of a concerted effort to flood our 911 and non-emergency policing reporting line. This endangers lives and is completely unacceptable. (1/2)
— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) February 10, 2022
Marazzo concluded his press conference by saying protesters and organizers have no interest in speaking to the mainstream media, saying, “They’re not fair.” He says media outlets are “too busy making the news instead of reporting on it.”
He ended by thanking Canadians for the support, supplies, videos, and love and stressed that before every meeting, organizers start with a prayer. “We talk about the safety of protesters, citizens, and law enforcement. We’re trying to be responsible with every decision we make.”