Thousands of protesters join Quebec City truck convoy – and more are on the way

Organizers had planned to blockade Quebec City, but they followed the rules, parking trucks in designated areas, and are expected to leave Sunday evening.

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QUEBEC CITY — Undeterred by police shutting down protests against health restrictions in Ottawa, thousands of protesters jumped into their trucks and other vehicles on Saturday and drove to the provincial capital.

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For the second weekend of this month, trucks, tractors and semi-trailers appeared on the streets near the National Assembly despite the cold weather and a snowstorm. They were allowed to blow their horns for two blocks of time, but not continuously as part of a negotiated deal with the police.

Even though an organizer had said they planned to blockade Quebec, they followed the rules by parking their trucks in designated areas. They are all expected to leave on Sunday evening, as happened the last time such a protest took place on February 5-6.

Police confirmed around noon there had been three arrests, but the mood was festive, with parents pushing prams and colorful mascots offering free hugs. It was better organized than last time with food, drinks and t-shirts on sale. Some trucks transported in portable toilets.

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At the end of the day, police said the total number of arrests for the day was four. Two of the arrests were for assault and two for indecent acts. A total of 46 tickets were issued for municipal code violations, 40 for traffic violations and 13 for parking violations.

The demonstrators are not satisfied with the Legault government’s schedule to gradually relax all health measures related to COVID-19 by March 14. They want the government to revoke the health emergency declaration and mask mandates in schools. They also fear that Quebec will bring back the vaccination passport if a sixth wave of the virus hits.

Some of the more radical elements of the group want Prime Minister François Legault removed from office.

But the situation in Ottawa was on the minds of many protesters who seemed determined to fight.

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“I want to tip my hat and congratulate the Ottawa Warriors,” Bernard “Rambo” Gauthier, one of the convoy organizers, told the crowd after stepping onto the stage set up in front of the Legislative Assembly. “There, it was a seat. Here, it is a peaceful demonstration.

Protest organizers are seen on a stage at the National Assembly in Quebec City on Saturday, February 19, 2022.
Protest organizers are seen on a stage at the National Assembly in Quebec City on Saturday, February 19, 2022. Photo by Francis Vachon /Montreal Gazette

He and another organizer, Kevin “Big” Grenier, wore Quebec Nordiques hockey jerseys. They were treated like rock stars by the crowd.

Gauthier also appears to be negotiating with the Legault government, saying his group wants to be heard and see something in exchange for a peaceful protest.

“We didn’t break anything,” Gauthier said. “We are here peacefully. This is the second time we’ve done this despite the media still nailing us. I hope the government will reciprocate.

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“We are not giving up. We do it for our children and grandchildren and our elders.

“We are here to denounce all the suffering experienced by the people of Quebec,” added Grenier in his speech. “We are here to cry out on behalf of the less fortunate, the disabled and the people who cannot defend themselves; unvaccinated or kidnapped people and all the elderly who have been trapped in their CHSLD and deprived of human warmth.

Grenier then called for a minute of silence to remember all the collateral victims of the government’s pandemic policies.

The rally ended with the crowd shouting “freedom, freedom, freedom”.

While the protest was peaceful, media crews were regularly harassed by some protesters, particularly during live reports.

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This is the second time in two weeks that such a protest convoy has gone to Quebec. The last was during the Winter Carnival. While thousands of people converged and many tickets were issued, there were no major incidents. Carnival took place as usual.

This time, organizers encouraged protesters to bring all kinds of heavy machinery. Some, including a large tree puller, were parked on boul. Rene Levesque. near the National Assembly. Most were adorned with anti-government posters and Canadian and Quebec flags.

The police blocked two lanes where they tolerated the parking of trucks. At 5 p.m., they were about 60 parked.

As promised by the mayor of Quebec Bruno Marchand, the police have refined their tactics since last weekend.

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Heavy municipal vehicles were strategically parked on various side streets to channel protesters to certain areas. Police said they would allow the protest, but would not tolerate any acts of vandalism or foul play.

The group had planned to hold a music festival which they labeled “Woodstock for Freedom”, but Quebec City officials say they must hold a permit to stage it, so the idea has been abandoned.

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Police actions aimed at clearing downtown Ottawa do not seem to have dampened the energy of the protesters.

“It’s been two years and (the battle) is not over,” said one protester as she stood in the street waving her flag in front of passing vehicles.

A woman was seen holding a large yellow sign which read: ‘Hold the line’.

“Did you get the message correctly? she told a reporter.

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Meanwhile, the province released daily COVID-19 figures showing six more people have died from the virus in the past 24 hours and one more person has been admitted to an intensive care unit. Hospitalizations continued to fall, with 1,789 people admitted. Of these, 120 are in intensive care.

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  1. Protesters gather along boul.  Rene-Levesque.  in Quebec on February 6.  More protests are expected in the provincial capital this weekend.

    As health restrictions ease, why have protests continued?

  2. A crowd of a few thousand gathers to support the convoy of truckers in Montreal on February 12, 2022.

    Convoy supporters march in Montreal: “I hope the demonstration in Ottawa will not stop”

  3. A protester waves a Quebec flag in front of the National Assembly in Quebec City on Saturday, February 19, 2022.

    Demonstration in Quebec: “Everyone is full of joy here”, but the horns of trucks set an angry tone

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