Canada Truckers Vow to Keep Protesting as Govt Threatens to Freeze Bank Accounts
Meanwhile, Ottawa's police chief resigned after being criticised for not doing enough to stop the protests.
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Protesting truckers in the Canadian capital of Ottawa showed no indications of backing down on Tuesday, 15 February, despite the newly invoked state of emergency that gave the federal government sweeping powers to initiate a crackdown.
Holding signs that read, "hold the line", the truckers said that they're "not going anywhere".
With six large white tents consisting of electricity and heating, and with hot dogs and soup being served to protestors, hundreds of truckers continued to resist the Trudeau government's vaccine mandate and the imposition of emergency powers, NYT reported.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has threatened to freeze the personal bank accounts of anyone linked to the protests.
The emergency powers mean that his government doesn't need a court order to do the same.
"This is about keeping Canadians safe, protecting people's jobs," the prime minister argued at a news conference on Monday, 14 February.
He added that the police would be provided with "more tools" to crack down on protesters and protect critical infrastructure.
Canada's Ontario province had declared a state of emergency on 11 February due to protests.
Ottawa Police Chief Resigns
Additionally, the police chief of Ottawa resigned on 15 February after being criticised for not doing enough to stop the protests that have halted economic activity in the capital.
In his resignation statement, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said he had done "everything possible to keep this city safe and put an end to this unprecedented and unforeseeable crisis", as quoted in a Reuters report.
The Story So Far
Thousands of truckers have been protesting the Canadian government's vaccine mandate, which had been imposed on 15 January.
It required truckers to provide proof of vaccination before entering Canada from the United States.
As the mandate was imposed, the border bridge between Canada and the US was blockaded by protestors.
The bridge was eventually cleared, but protests continued to rage.
Some arrests were also made.
What had started out as a protest against the vaccine mandate has now become about the government and its overall COVID response.
Federal officials announced on Tuesday that the government would ease some checks and rules for vaccinated travellers.
For instance, PCR tests would not be required.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said that these changes "are possible not only because we have passed the peak of Omicron," but because Canadians had been following public health guidance "to protect themselves, their families and their communities", reported the BBC.
(With inputs from Reuters, BBC, and NYT)
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