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Ottawa protesters vow to stay as Canada warns of extremists

While the demonstrators protest against vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions, they also have made clear their opposition to Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some have said they want to kick him out of office.

Truckers and their supporters continue to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa
Trucks block a downtown road as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates in Ottawa on February 15, 2022.
PATRICK DOYLE/REUTERS
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OTTAWA — Protesters continued their three-week-old blockade of the core of Canada's capital on Thursday after officials warned of extremist elements present among them who want to overthrow the government.

On Wednesday, police in Ottawa handed out flyers warning truck drivers and others paralyzing the downtown core that they should leave or face arrest, but there was little sign of imminent action to move the nearly 400 vehicles out.

While the demonstrators protest against vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions, they also have made clear their opposition to Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some have said they want to kick him out of office.

A portion of the protesters "have strong ties to a far-right extreme organization with leaders who are in Ottawa," Canada's Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said, referring to the arrest of 13 people in Alberta earlier this week linked to a border blockade there that has since disbanded.

They had guns and ammunition and police have charged four of them for conspiracy to commit murder. While the Ottawa protest has been loud and rowdy, it has been non-violent.

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"I'm not afraid," said a protester in Ottawa on Wednesday who declined to give his name. "We're here peacefully and we will remain peacefully. Even if they attempt to arrest us, we will be arrested peacefully."

On Monday Trudeau invoked emergency powers in order to end the protests. Justice Minister David Lametti said the emergency legislation would be presented to the House of Commons on Thursday.

"We are going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space," Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the action would be taken in "coming days" and that it would "take time" to do right.

The left-leaning New Democrats said they would support the minority Liberal government, ensuring the powers would pass.

Meanwhile on Thursday one of the protest organizers, Pat King, posted a video on Twitter warning police to stand down.

"Back off. Stand down. Put your badge on the ground... and stand with the people," King said. "When this comes to an end, just following orders is not going to be a good legal defense."

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; editing by Diane Craft.)

Related Topics: U.S.-CANADIAN BORDERCANADA
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