A person walks in a beam of afternoon sunlight as trucks are parked on Metcalfe Street part of a rally against COVID-19 restrictions, which began as a cross-country convoy protesting a federal vaccine mandate for truckers, which continues throughout downtown Ottawa, on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

A person walks in a beam of afternoon sunlight as trucks are parked on Metcalfe Street part of a rally against COVID-19 restrictions, which began as a cross-country convoy protesting a federal vaccine mandate for truckers, which continues throughout downtown Ottawa, on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Remaining protesters say they will not leave until all COVID restrictions are lifted

Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said Trudeau ‘gaslighting’ the protesters

Crowds have thinned out considerably on Parliament Hill and the surrounding area, where anti-COVID restrictions demonstrators have been protesting for days.

But those that remain say they are staying put until all the restrictions are lifted, with the president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association saying some protesters have been extending their stays at hotels, or are asking to rebook for the coming weekend.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday he will not meet with anyone involved, noting reports that some participants have been seen harassing local businesses, waving Nazi flags, defecating on residential lawns, urinating on National War Memorial and stealing food from the homeless.

The Ottawa Paramedic Association reported that paramedics asked for police escorts after rocks were hurled at an ambulance from a truck in the convoy.

But Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said Trudeau was “gaslighting” the protesters, who deserve the chance to be heard and be given some respect.

She said the protesters she met with from her home province of Manitoba on Sunday are “good people, patriotic, peace-loving.”

Canada Unity, the group behind the convoy, originated during the 2019 pro-pipeline convoy to Ottawa but morphed into an anti-COVID restrictions protest after the pandemic began.

The vaccine mandate for truckers that took effect on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border earlier this month added more fire to the demands and helped trigger the bigger convoy that descended on Ottawa in the last week.

—The Canadian Press

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