Feb 04, 2022
By Christine Ross
Toronto police have a warning for anyone who blocks routes to hospitals at this weekend’s “Freedom Truck Convoy”.
“Anyone who attempts to disrupt hospital access and routes of emergency operations including ambulance, fire or police, will be subject to strict enforcement,” Chief James Ramer told a news conference.
Staff Superintendent Lauren Pogue outlines the planned police response this weekend.
“We have deployed a greater number of police officers to the downtown area, we have put road closures in place for the areas of University Avenue and College Street, we have implemented parking restrictions to the area surrounding University Avenue, we have installed additional CCTV cameras that will be used to monitor police operations to assist with any potential investigations,” said Pogue.
Police warn that traffic will be snarled downtown and they’ve already blocked University as far south as Dundas to prevent trucks blaring horns from getting too close to hospitals. The closures could remain in place all weekend.
A recently passed federal law makes it illegal to harass health-care workers or patients or to obstruct access to health-care facilities and police promise staff and patients will have access to hospitals during the protest.
Mayor John Tory joined Chief Ramer at Friday’s news conference.
“As Mayor, I don’t direct the police, no elected official does or should, but I have made it clear to Chief Ramer that I support his men and women doing everything they can reasonably do to avoid the type of situation currently being faced by Ottawa residents and businesses.”
This is the first weekend many businesses are able to open and Mayor Tory says it will be ‘unacceptable’ if the protest drives customers away.
Premier Doug Ford was asked about the protest during a virtual appearance at a meeting of provincial and territorial leaders.
“Any harassment or acts of hatred or acts of violence, we’ll have zero tolerance, absolutely zero tolerance and I have reiterated my support to Ottawa Mayor Watson, and Toronto Mayor John Tory, that if they need any additional resources, we’ll be there.”
Statement from Premier Doug Ford
“The Toronto and Ottawa Police Services have my unequivocal support as they work to keep the public safe. Harassment or acts of hatred or intolerance of any kind will not be tolerated. I reiterated to both Mayor Tory and Mayor Watson that the province stands ready to provide any additional resources they might require.
As I said earlier this week, Ontarians are united in their desire to put this pandemic behind us and to get back to life as we knew it before COVID-19, but the occupation in Ottawa is only hurting families and businesses that are trying to continue on with their lives. It’s time for it to come to an end.
To all Ontarians, we are moving in the right direction – please don’t lose sight of that. We are seeing brighter days ahead. Public health measures are beginning to lift as the situation in our hospitals stabilizes. We’re stronger as a province, and as a country, when we’re all pulling in the same direction. Let’s move forward together so we can be done with this pandemic once and for all.”