Police in Ottawa have stated that they have intelligence that the number of protestors joining the Freedom Convoy to protest vaccine mandates and Wuhan coronavirus restrictions will increase this weekend.
Trish Ferguson, acting deputy chief for the police force, stated that hundreds of trucks were in Ottawa and while the crowds have declined since last weekend, police intelligence suggests that more people will join the protests this coming weekend.
The intelligence report was echoed by a search of local hotel availability in downtown Ottawa for the weekend, which as of Thursday showed most downtown hotels completely sold out on the booking website Expedia.
The Freedom Convoy protest has gone on for nearly a week and local government officials have expressed their displeasure with the continued actions of the protestors, which has included truckers and others constantly honking their horns in downtown Ottawa.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson also condemned members of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), including former CPC leader Andrew Scheer, after Saskatchewan CPC MPs took photos with the Freedom Convoy protestors and expressed support for the protest, broadcaster CBC reports.
“This is an absolute disgrace that you would come out & praise this illegal action that has caused stress and hardship to residents who have been putting up with horns blasting throughout the night and residents harassed for wearing a mask & businesses forced to close. Apologize,” Mayor Watson said Wednesday evening.
Ottawa city councillor Catherine McKenney has also called for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to manage the Freedom Convoy demonstration on Parliament Hill and stated, “Residents downtown have been abandoned during a national crisis and an occupation of our city.”
As the protests continue, Ottawa police have expressed a desire to end the protests entirely, with Police Chief Peter Sloly suggesting that the city may request aid from the Canadian armed forces to halt the protestor’s activities.
Sloly added that bringing in the military could increase tensions and came with significant risks but admitted the city’s police force did not have the manpower to stop the protest.
A spokesman for the Canadian Defence Ministry, meanwhile, responded to the police cheif’s remarks saying, “The Canadian Armed Forces are not involved in law enforcement in this situation, and there are no plans for such CAF involvement.”
The local Ottawa government has also discussed taking court action against the fundraising platform GoFundMe, which hosts a fundraiser for the Freedom Convoy that has reached over ten million Canadian dollars but is currently paused for review.