Skip to content

The latest on anti-vaccine mandate protests happening on Parliament Hill

OTTAWA — The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government. All times Eastern. 7:30 p.m.

OTTAWA — The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government. All times Eastern.

7:30 p.m.

Ottawa police have pegged the cost of policing the protests against COVID-19 measures at $800,000 per day. 

They say officers have avoided ticketing and towing vehicles in an attempt to stave off confrontations -- an effort they say has not been entirely successful. 

The police service says officers have frequently needed to de-escalate confrontations. 

Police say they're trying to clear protesters' vehicles out safely, but they know some plan to stay.

They continue to urge Ottawa residents to stay out of the downtown area if possible.


6 p.m.

Ottawa's largest school board says classes across the city will take place in-person on Monday except at one school near the site of massive protests that have brought the downtown core to a virtual standstill. 

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board issued a statement saying classes at Centennial Public School will be held online, adding teachers or the school principal will contact families with more information. 

The board is urging parents to allow extra travel time in light of major traffic disruptions stemming from the protests, which are expected to stretch into a third day on Monday.

The statement also condemned swastikas, confederate flags and similar symbols that were seen during the weekend demonstrations. 

The board says such images "promote hate, instill fear and are intolerable," adding that resources are available for parents fielding questions about the imagery from their children.


4:45 p.m.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says a truck convoy that's blockaded a highway at a U.S. border crossing as part of a protest against vaccine mandates violates the province's Traffic Safety Act and must end immediately.

Kenney, who has been attending a National Governors Association in Washington, says in a statement that the current blockade "is causing significant inconvenience for lawful motorists and could dangerously impede the movement of emergency vehicles."

He also notes that Alberta's Critical Infrastructure Defence Act gives police and prosecutors additional penalties they can levy to address blockades of highways and other infrastructure.

The Canada Border Services Agency says the U.S. border crossing at Coutts, Alta., remains open despite the blockade, but RCMP say only foot traffic is able to get through.


4:30 p.m.

The organizers of the anti-vaccine protest that has gripped Ottawa’s downtown say they have more demonstrations planned for the capital on Monday.

A statement on the Canada Unity website says speeches will take place at Confederation Park, just east of the parliamentary precinct. 

The website also suggests the demonstrators plan to arrive at shopping centres en masse without masks to flout public health rules, throw loud block parties, and pressure the media. 

Several demonstrators said Sunday that they intend to leave at the end of the day, but others have sworn to stay “as long as it takes.”


3:30 p.m.

The Canada Border Services Agency says the U.S. border crossing at Coutts, Alta., remains open, but RCMP say only foot traffic is able to get through.

Cpl. Curtis Peters says both lanes of Highway 4, which pass through Coutts before the border crossing, remain closed due to a convoy of trucks that have been protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

After the highway was first blocked on Saturday, Peters had said emergency vehicles were also unable to enter Coutts if they were needed.

But today he says an ambulance has been able to enter the village.

He says access to Coutts is available via a gravel road through a field that's open to  passenger vehicles but not semis.

Peters says no arrests have been made so far, despite calls by some who say the protest violates the province's Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.

The law, passed by Alberta's United Conservative government last year, protects railways, highways and pipelines from anyone trespassing, interfering with operations and construction, or causing damage.


3:20 p.m.

Businesses near Parliament Hill in Ottawa are struggling to remain open as protesters against COVID-19 vaccine mandates spillover into nearby stores, many flouting public health measures like mask rules and capacity limits.

The Rideau Centre, one of the largest shopping malls in Ottawa, has shut down amid the melee while the Liquor Control Board of Ontario announced the closure of several stores.

Business groups say while hospitality facilities in the area are used to large demonstrations in the federal capital, the trucker protest has brought the city to a near standstill.

Kevin McHale, executive director of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Association and Mall Authority, says congestion caused by the large trucks could make it difficult for workers to get to downtown area shops on Monday.

He says protester vehicles also risk impeding supply trucks from delivering goods businesses need to operate, which could force some to close.

Zach Dayler, executive director for Ottawa Markets, says businesses are trying to make a comeback after nearly two years of restrictions — making the disruptions from the protest all the more challenging.


12:15 p.m.

The president and CEO of Shepherds of Good Hope says donations are pouring in after protesters allegedly harassed staff at an Ottawa soup kitchen.

Deirdre Freiheit says the rally against COVID-19 restrictions and the Liberal government roiling the capital's downtown has disrupted social services and blocked road access to their shelter.

Freiheit says several protesters showed up at the soup kitchen on Saturday and allegedly verbally abused staff and volunteers while demanding they be served.

She says some protesters were given food to defuse the situation, and going forward meals will only be given to those who need them.

She says since Shepherds of Good Hope tweeted about the incident, the organization has been overwhelmed with tens of thousands of dollars in donations.


12:10 p.m.

Police in Ottawa say several criminal investigations are underway in relation to the ongoing demonstration on Parliament Hill against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions.

The Ottawa Police Service says its investigating the desecration of the National War Memorial and the Terry Fox statue.

It's also investigating what it describes as threatening, illegal and intimidating behaviour by protesters towards the police, city workers and other individuals as well as damage to a city vehicle.

The announcement on Twitter comes after protesters drew condemnation for fastening an inverted Canadian flag and anti-vaccine sign to a statue of Terry Fox.

Others were seen jumping on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National War Memorial.

Ottawa police say illegal behaviour will not be tolerated and will be fully investigated.


11:15 a.m.

A random symphony of truck horns is blaring across downtown Ottawa as protesters gear up for their second full day.

But the effects of the ongoing demonstration are being felt far beyond Parliament Hill.

Several city bus routes have been redirected to avoid the area around the Hill.

The nearby Rideau Centre shopping mall remains closed after shutting down early on Saturday.


9:30 a.m.

The Ottawa Police Service says crowds and vehicles clogged the capital's downtown core through the night as a protest of COVID-19 restrictions and the federal Liberal government extends into its second day.

The force says officers encountered several "challenges" with demonstrators, including trucks sporadically blocking off access to roads, but the incidents were resolved with no arrests.

Police say they continue to monitor the demonstration with a focus on "keeping the peace," maintaining access to emergency lanes and addressing any "threatening high-risk behaviour."

They say national monuments will be protected and barricades are installed to block vehicles from accessing the path in front of the National War Memorial.

Public officials condemned the "desecration" of monuments to Canadian heroes after some protesters were seen jumping on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2022.

The Canadian Press