Justin Trudeau says military intervention to stop trucker protest over vaccine mandates ‘not in the cards’

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said that he has no plan to send the military to assist the police in Ottawa in the “Freedom Convoy” protest.

Police had previously said that Canada’s military may be needed to clear the anti-vaccine mandate protest, which has paralysed the capital for almost a week. Mr Trudeau said on Thursday during a press briefing that introducing the armed forces is “not in the cards right now.”

Police Chief Peter Sloly said local law enforcement is overstretched and the city has considered various options to disband the protesters who have occupied city streets for six days in their trucks, blocking roads around Parliament Hill.

“We’re looking at every single option, including military aid to civil power,” he said. “None of the options create a beautiful, elegant, simple, safe solution. They all come with massive risks. That option in particular, would come with massive risks,” Chief Sloly told the National Post.

More protesters are expected to join the demonstration this weekend. The “Freedom Convoy” began as a stand against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, but now includes people who are against masks and other Covid restrictions, and the liberal leader in general. It has also evolved into a range of “range of illegal, dangerous and unacceptable activities,” said Mr Sloly.

There have been reports of hate crimes, trucks running their engines 24 hours a day and sounding their horns at all hours, and desecration of public property, plus individuals bringing guns to the protest.

“The more this demonstration continues, the more the risk to public safety increases,” said Mr Sloly. “Every option is on the table to resolve this demonstration. That said, there may not be a policing solution to this demonstration.”

Local businesses and attractions have been affected but the demonstration. The Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian War Museum, The National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History are closed due to safety concerns during the protest. The nearby Rideau Centre, with nearly 200 stores, has also been closed since Saturday and will remain closed until at least 6 February.

“Out of an abundance of caution as the events in downtown Ottawa continue to progress and based on direction from Ottawa Police Services and the City of Ottawa, Cadillac Fairview Rideau Centre will remain closed to the public for the remainder of the week,” the Cadillac Fairview said in a statement.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has told protesters to move on: “I get it, I hear you, but we have to let the people of Ottawa live their lives,” he told reporters on Tuesday.