Quebec Premier François Legault said Friday he was confident a trucker protest planned in Quebec City for the weekend against COVID-19 public health orders wouldn't be a repeat of what happened in Ottawa.
Legault said demonstrators would not be permitted to park their cars and trucks around the legislature and cause traffic chaos, adding that there would be zero tolerance for citizens being impeded from moving about freely, as the Québec Winter Carnival kicked off on Friday.
“We may have benefited from the experience of what happened in Ottawa," Legault said. "We will not at all tolerate trucks preventing citizens from circulating.”
He said tow trucks are ready to remove heavy vehicles involved in the demonstration, which is inspired by an ongoing protest at Parliament Hill in Ottawa that began a week ago. The protest against vaccine mandates and other pandemic measures has immobilized the city's downtown with scores of large trucks.
The premier said none of the sitting members of the legislature have agreed to meet protesters, which he said would give legitimacy and credibility to them.
"Yes, they can pass a message," Legault said of the protesters. "But we will not accept that they interfere in the normal life of citizens."
Police reinforced their presence in and around the legislature in anticipation of demonstrators. Only a handful of protesters were present on Friday afternoon under the watchful eye of police.
A group organizing a convoy of trucks from the Côte-Nord region said their protest would begin at 5 p.m., coinciding with the opening of the Québec Winter Carnival. Other groups were expected Saturday but it was unclear how many people would show up for the loosely organized event.
Similar gatherings calling for an end to health measures were also expected in other Canadian cities over the weekend, including Winnipeg and Toronto.
Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand said the protesters and trucks that arrived noisily to the city late Thursday were respectful, and he called on them to remain that way.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2022.
The Canadian Press