Politics

Psaki Defends Canadian Truckers’ Freedom Of Speech, But Says Protests Are About More Than Vaccine Mandates

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Sebastian Hughes Politics Reporter
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White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the right of the “Freedom Convoy” to protest, but argued the demonstrations had transformed into something more than opposition to vaccine mandates.

“We of course support, as you know, the right to freedom of speech and protest, but while we do see some of these congestions due to protests, it is clear that those disruptions have broadened in scope beyond the vaccine requirement implementation,” Psaki said at a briefing on Tuesday.

She was asked what the administration’s response was to the Canadian truckers shutting down Ambassador Bridge, which carries a significant amount of trading goods between the U.S. and Canada, on Monday.

Psaki said the administration was continuing to speak to its Canadian counterparts about the situation, but could not provide any specific steps that would be taken. She emphasized that the congestion and disruptions facing Canada were not due to the vaccine mandates themselves.

“Across what we’ve seen with these requirements … vaccination requirements have been implemented with no disruption, have helped increase vaccinations. These requirements help protect more people from COVID and there’s been zero indication across these industries that they would lead to disruptions, including on this policy,” Psaki said.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency on Sunday due to the protests, arguing they were a “serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents.” An estimated 500 vehicles stayed in the “red-zone” downtown, with hundreds of people continuing to participate in the demonstration. (RELATED: GoFundMe Nukes Canadian Trucker Fundraiser, Refuses To Distribute Donations)

The truckers have engaged in disruptive and unlawful behavior such as “excessive noise, use of fireworks, driving through a ‘no truck route,’ failure to drive in a marked lane, and failure to produce documents, according to CTV News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called the protestors “a few people shouting and waving swastikas,” and his family were reportedly moved from their home in Ottawa to a secret location in late January over security concerns.

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