Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police reclaim Canada capital, force trucker siege end

Police reclaim Canada capital, force trucker siege end

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ottawa interim police chief Steve Bell speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Canada, where the last big rigs were towed away on Sunday. AFP

Police reclaim Canada capital, force trucker siege end

The last big rigs were being towed on February 20 out of Canada’s capital, where the streets were quiet for the first time in three weeks after a massive police operation ended a drawn-out siege over Covid health rules.

A major cleanup was underway in Ottawa’s snowy downtown, where police in riot gear faced off with trucker-led demonstrators for two full days, finally driving them out of their protest hub outside parliament.

The last few protesters stayed late into the night of February 19, singing 80s protest anthems and setting off fireworks at a 4m-high security fence hastily erected around the parliamentary precinct.

But the last gasp protest-turned-street-party fizzled as a deep freeze gripped the city.

On the morning of February 20, police were manning checkpoints restricting access to a 200ha downtown area, while a sizeable force remained on standby to defend the ground reclaimed from the truckers.

An AFP journalist saw only a handful of protesters in the area, testing the perimeter.

Ottawa police issued a reminder that the core area remains off-limits except to local residents and workers.

Police tweeted midmorning that two people had just been arrested – and a total of 191 since police moved in on February 18.

It said 57 vehicles have so far been towed out of the city – paralysed since January 29 when hundreds of trucks, vans and other vehicles parked there in protest.

Meanwhile crews took down the last tents, food stands and other makeshift structures erected by demonstrators, and cleared heaps of snow from streets in preparation for a reopening of local businesses.

And for the first time in weeks, Ottawa residents were not startled awake by the incessant honking that had become a staple of the protests.

Refusing to admit defeat after being dislodged, many protesters said they would keep pressing their cause.

Although pandemic health rules in Canada have eased as case numbers trend downward, protesters have vowed to press for a full lifting of restrictions, which have been among the world’s strictest.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is meanwhile facing a lawsuit from a civil liberties group and pushback from political rivals over the decision to invoke rarely-used emergency powers to crack down on the unlawful protests.

This is despite polls showing Canadians, once sympathetic to the trucker-led movement, have turned against them.

Trudeau himself kept his distance as the police operation unfolded, refraining from public comment.

The convoy began a month ago as a protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccines to cross the US border. It has inspired copycats in other countries, with Washington girding for a possible trucker protest to coincide with this week’s State of the Union address.

The Canada convoy triggered economically damaging blockades at the US border, which police cleared a week ago.


  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro