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The latest on protests against COVID-19 measures in Ottawa and beyond

OTTAWA — The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, in Ottawa and various locations across Canada, on Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. All times eastern: 3:47 p.m.
Police work checkpoints in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, after officers cleared a trucker protest that was aimed at COVID-19 measures before growing into a broader anti-government protest that occupied the nation capital’s downtown core. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

OTTAWA — The latest developments on ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, in Ottawa and various locations across Canada, on Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. All times eastern:

3:47 p.m.

Ottawa's mayor and councillors are proposing several relief measures for downtown businesses and residents impacted by the three-week-long demonstration that shut down stores and restaurants in the core.

The measures include deferred property taxes for eligible businesses, marketing funding for business groups, free transit on lines that bring passengers into the area, as well as a month of free parking.

Councillors are also pitching support for the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition to offer local musical performances in impacted neighbourhoods.

City councillors will debate and vote on the measures Wednesday.


2 p.m.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party plans to reluctantly vote in favour of using the Emergencies Act, but will pull that support as soon as New Democrats feel the measures are no longer needed.

He says there are clear signs not everyone who participated in the blockade in Ottawa over the last three weeks has left the area, with some still in the city and others regrouping in their vehicles at truck stops outside the national capital

Singh says once it is clear those people are gone and don't plan to return, it will be safe to lift limitations preventing them from accessing large sums of cash to finance their efforts.

Singh also says he is treating the vote on Monday night like a matter of confidence in the government because it is as important as a vote on a throne speech, if not more so.

Failure to gather the necessary support during a confidence vote would mean the minority Liberal government falls, which could plunge the country into a federal election.


12:32 p.m.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say the force is working with banks on accounts that were frozen as part of federal measures to bring an end to protests in Ottawa and at key border crossings.

The government orders under the Emergencies Act allow banks to freeze the accounts of people suspected of sending money to protesters who encamped in downtown Ottawa for three weeks.

There were also measures aimed at protesters themselves.

The Mounties say in a statement that investigators provided banks with identities of people who were "influencers" of the Ottawa protest, or drivers who didn't want to leave.

The Mounties say at no time did the force provide a list of donors to banks.

The statement comes as Conservative MPs are saying they have reports from constituents whose bank accounts were frozen after they made a relatively small donation to the protest. 


11:47 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government needs to reflect on the role of misinformation and foreign funding in destabilizing Canadian life once the crisis related to anti-mandate protests has passed.

Trudeau was asked whether any of the extraordinary powers invoked as part of the federal Emergencies Act could become permanent.

He says the government will need to think about how to keep borders open and protect critical infrastructure in the future.

The government has already signalled its intent to register fundraising websites like GoFundMe with Canada's financial intelligence agency going forward.


11:42 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the powers granted to police under the Emergencies Act are still needed, even now that the streets of Ottawa have been cleared.

The government used measures under the law for the first time in the face of protests in the national capital and border blockades.

MPs are expected to vote on the measures later this evening, but Conservatives have called on the Liberals to revoke the powers now that the situation in Ottawa has calmed and the border blockades are gone. 

Trudeau says there are still concerns about trucks returning to Ottawa streets and border crossings.

He says the government will continue to evaluate the situation every day to see when the powers under the Emergencies Act can be lifted.


11:30 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making an appeal to mend national rifts in the wake of protests that have gripped border crossings and the national capital over the last few weeks. 

He made the comments on the day Parliament is expected to vote on emergency measures used to quell an anti-vaccine mandate protest that gridlocked the streets of Ottawa for three weeks. 

He says Canadians must choose if they want to continue to see those scenes play out.

He suggests Canadians reach out to friends after a heated political argument, or family members they haven’t seen in a while because they are unvaccinated. 

Trudeau has faced criticism for polarizing the national conversation about COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press