Freedom Movement Convenes in Ottawa for Two-Year Anniversary of Convoy Protest

by EditorL

People gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to mark the two-year anniversary of the Freedom Convoy protest, on Feb. 17, 2024. (Annie Wu/NTD)

OTTAWA—Near the two-year anniversary of the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act, hundreds of people gathered on Parliament Hill on Feb. 17 to celebrate the original Freedom Convoy and a recent victory in Federal Court.

“This is like coming home again. It’s a big family reunion,” said Edward Vachon, who attended the original trucker protest in early 2022.

“The spirit that was there two years ago is still here. We still have the same convictions and we’re standing up.”

Hundreds of people, many of whom attended the original truckers’ Freedom Convoy, gathered on Parliament Hill and on Wellington Street, waving Canadian flags and holding signs against government overreach.

Dozens of vehicles drove by the protest honking and waving Canadian flags throughout the day, but the Ottawa Police Service ensured that none of them parked in downtown Ottawa. The police wanted to avoid a repeat of the original Freedom Convoy protest, which saw trucks encamped in the downtown core for weeks.

Later in the afternoon, the crowd participated in a march through downtown Ottawa, which was done under the close watch of Ottawa police.

Bethan Nodwell, who helped organize the original Freedom Convoy, said that event “changed the course of Canadian history.” She said many of the people attending this weekend’s event were “forever changed” by the convoy, and will continue to meet every year to celebrate “the new Canada that was born in 2022.”

The event comes a few weeks after a major victory for Freedom Convoy protesters. Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled that the Liberal government’s use of the Emergencies Act did “not bear the hallmarks of reasonableness—justification, transparency, and intelligibility—and was not justified in relation to the relevant factual and legal constraints that were required to be taken into consideration.”

The judge found that the invocation of the act infringed upon the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ Section 2(b), which deals with “freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression,” and Section 8, which deals with the “right to be secure against unreasonable search seizure.” The freezing of protesters’ bank accounts was also not “minimally impairing,” Justice Mosley said, as the directive was overly broad and there were “less impairing options available.”

His findings were in contrast with that of the Public Order Emergency Commission created in the aftermath of the invocation of the act to evaluate if its use was justified. Justice Paul Rouleau, who oversaw the commission, ultimately said that the government was within its rights to invoke the act on Feb. 14, 2022, to clear the protests.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government will appeal Justice Mosley’s decision, claiming the decision to invoke the act was done following “careful deliberation” and was “the necessary thing to do.”

Emboldened by the court ruling, the original organizers of the Freedom Convoy filed a $2 million lawsuit on Feb. 13 against the federal government for violating their charter rights when invoking the Emergencies Act. On Feb. 14, a total of 20 people who had their bank accounts frozen due to the act also filed a tort lawsuit against federal ministers and financial institutions behind the decision.

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