VICTORIA – British Columbia’s public safety minister says Victoria residents should plan for a potential truck convoy protest against COVID-19 measures this weekend at the legislature as the government works with police to prepare for possible disruptions in the area.
The expected protest comes as residents in downtown Ottawa endure blaring truck horns and blocked streets in a situation the city’s police chief called an “increasingly dangerous demonstration” on Friday.
In B.C., Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says in a statement the government supports the public’s right to engage in peaceful protest and lawful assembly.
While the police will respect lawful protests, he says “they will also consider all the tools and options available to them to protect people, preserve public safety and investigate unlawful conduct.”
Farnworth says it’s “unfair” for one group to disrupt the lives of others, as has been seen in Ottawa and other cities.
Earlier, Premier John Horgan said while he hears the “voices of disappointment,” he also wants those people to respect the rights and liberties of others.
“When your desire to have your voice heard starts to interfere with the lives of other people, that’s when lines are drawn,” Horgan said after a meeting of the Council of the Federation.
In a statement, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the city expects protests, but emails from residents and businesses after protests last weekend show that some protesters “went beyond the right to peacefully gather and infringed on the well-being and safety of others.”
Reports included the egging of homes that had signs supporting health-care workers, people using anti-Semitic and racist language, and people violating health orders by entering businesses without masks, Helps said.
“This kind of behaviour is unacceptable. My request is that this weekend’s protests respect the values of our city and do not promote hate or put our already struggling and much-loved local businesses at further risk,” she said.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart noted that the proposed route of protesters heading for Vancouver this weekend passes three health-care facilities.
“As the mayor of a city with an over 95 per cent vaccination rate, my message to the convoy is this: Vancouver doesn’t want you here. Make your point and then go home,” Stewart said on Twitter.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2022.