Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will not speak with Freedom Convoy organizers who are occupying Parliament Hill.
Trudeau says he has chosen not to go near protests that express hate, violence toward fellow citizens and, “[are] not only a disrespect to science, frontline health care workers and a vast majority of truckers.”
He says freedom of assembly and association are cornerstones of democracy but “Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials are not.” He called on organizers to denounce these actions.
Ottawa Police say they have opened investigations into what happened at the National War Memorial on Saturday as well as the adornment of Terry Fox’s statue in messages of support for the protest as well as an upside-down Canadian flag.
When asked about addressing the concerns of some of the protesters about how safe vaccines are, Trudeau said, “Vaccines are safe and effective the way we get through this public health crisis to get back to the things we love is by trusting science, by trusting the facts, by being there for each other by stepping up for each other. We have been hearing from people hesitant about getting vaccinated for well over a year now and we have been reaching out to them.”
He says the concerns expressed by a “few people” on Parliament Hill right now are not new, not surprising, and are heard, “But [they] are a continuation of what we have unfortunately seen in disinformation and misinformation online, conspiracy theorists about micro-chips and God knows what else that go with the tin foil hats. We have been clear every step of the way the work our frontline healthcare workers are doing, the work our researchers and scientists are doing the people at Health Canada are doing, people working on these vaccines all around the world is the work that will get us through this, get us back to the things we love.”
Monday’s media briefing marks the first time Trudeau has spoken publicly about the protest that began Friday night.
Organized by truckers opposed to the vaccine mandate for cross-border drivers and other public health restrictions many involved in the Freedom Convoy say they will stay in Ottawa until their list of demands is met.
That list of demands includes; an end to vaccine mandates, no mandatory masking, and the rehiring of every person who has lost their job for not being fully vaccinated.
A Memorandum of Understanding from the group Canada Unity also sets out a plan to dissolve the federal government and replace it with a committee made up of Senators, the Governor-General, and other members appointed by Canada Unity.
So far there have been no arrests.