Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the “Freedom Convoy” protesters Monday for “waving swastikas.”
During an emergency debate Monday regarding protests against pandemic-related restrictions and COVID-19 vaccination requirements, he called the protesters “a few people shouting and waving swastikas.” The “Freedom Convoy” protests began as demonstrations against a mandate that requires truckers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to cross the U.S.-Canada border, BBC News reported.
“This is a story of a country that got through this pandemic by being united, and a few people shouting and waving swastikas does not define who Canadians are,” he said.
Trudeau, who has been criticized by some for his handling of the protest, spoke out after not addressing the protest in nearly four days, The Toronto Star reported. He and his family were reportedly moved from their home in Ottawa to a secret location in late January over security concerns amid the truckers gathering to protest.
During his remarks Monday, Trudeau also accused the protesters of blockading “democracy,” CBC News reported. The protesters are “trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives. It has to stop,” he said, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Ottawa Police Arrest ‘Several’ People For Bringing Gas To ‘Freedom Convoy’ Protesters)
The protests have increased across the country, with truckers obstructing key border crossings such as the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit on late Monday, according to Bloomberg. Ambassador Bridge, which is vital for car parts suppliers and manufacturers, is the busiest land crossing between the U.S. and Canada, the outlet reported.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency Sunday, hoping to get police and city staff more resources, according to NPR.