By Richard Moore — February 12, 2022 Updated: February 13, 2022
OTTAWA, Ontario—The center of Canada’s capital city was flooded on Feb. 12 by thousands of protesters demanding an end to the country’s COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
Many more joined the ongoing trucker-led protest in Ottawa with the arrival of the weekend. Its numbers grew from the night of Feb. 11 into the next morning, as supporters seemingly poured into the city.
Greater masses of people were particularly noticeable on Parliament Hill and then later on the streets, where they spilled out from the immediate vicinity of the truck blockade.
At about 10 a.m., several thousand protesters were marshaled into groups to form the word “freedom.” They then waved their red and white maple leaf flags and sang the national anthem, “O Canada,” with passion and rousing volume. On finishing, they burst into loud cheering and the maple leaves waved again.
The effort helped rouse the spirits of the protesters on what was a very cold winter’s day, as the morning temperature reached as low as negative 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit), and snow was being whipped into the air by a gusty wind.
Denis Cadieux, a carpenter from Orléans, told The Epoch Times that he liked almost everything about the protests and the way that people had behaved. If there were one thing he would change, it would be to cut out the negative signs and messages.
“They make us sound violent,” he said.
Cadieux said the main phrase he didn’t like was the one that said, “[Expletive] Trudeau.”
“Trudeau is a human being like anybody,” he said. “He makes mistakes and, unfortunately, he is making such a big mistake he needs to step down. And that we understand, but we cannot hate him for that. Hate is a big word.”
“I think we all need to be respectful of everybody. I respect Trudeau for what he did. But for us, it doesn’t work and he needs to step down. But take down the signs. As supporters, we need to take [expletive] out of the equation.”
And there were other things Cadieux saw that he viewed as negative.
“This morning, I saw a video of a gentleman who is against the truckers. What I didn’t like about the supporters was that instead of being positive, they were burying him with chanting ‘Freedom, freedom.’
“The poor man was overridden by these people, and that was negative. So now we are losing viewers as well. If we had treated this gentleman with dignity and honest respect, he would probably have said, ‘OK, well, they were nice.’ Instead, we lost that gentleman for good.”
But overall, Cadieux said he expected the protesters would win people over by the way they have behaved.
“We won’t win everybody, but honestly, I think this is great,” he said.
He also noted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and “the mainstream news had made it sound like we are disrupting the economy, but actually, it is their delays in not sitting down to speak with us that are disrupting the economy.”
The mass gathering on Feb. 12 had a carnival atmosphere along Wellington Street near Parliament Hill, and spirits were sent soaring as people stood and sang along in unity with a very well-received song list.
Speeches were made throughout the day, during which key words and phrases—such as freedom—earned cheers and whistles from the packed-in crowd. Regular cries of “Freedom” were shouted out and answered in similar fashion, while vehicles with national emblems fluttering above their flatbeds honked their horns as they cruised the snow-covered streets.
Business, Protest, and COVID-19 Regulation
At one restaurant at the edge of the city center, a small group with a Canadian flag came in without masks and were asked for proof of vaccinations. They didn’t have them and were told that they couldn’t be served.
“We didn’t want to eat here anyway,” one member of the group said as they left.
A server at the restaurant said of the protest and the situation, “This is killing our business.”
Less than a month ago, the restaurant had eight servers.
“Now, we have two,” the server said.
The eatery has been very careful about taking COVID-19 restrictions seriously. But just two weeks ago, it was reported for not checking for a woman’s vaccination card.
She was a regular customer who had left her card at home. A customer reported the incident, and the restaurant was fined $1,000.