Updated Feb 7, 2022 - World

Ottawa declares state of emergency over pandemic restrictions protests

Protesters line the road by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia during a demonstration in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, on Saturday, Feb. 5
Protesters line the road by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia during a demonstration in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, on Feb. 5. Photo: James MacDonald/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency Sunday in response to 10 days of massive demonstrations in Canada's capital protesting pandemic restrictions, which have since spread to other provinces.

Driving the news: "Declaring a state of emergency reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government," per a statement from the mayor's office.

The big picture: Thousands of people protested across Canada on Saturday, demanding an end to pandemic restrictions.

  • Demonstrators opposed to a vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers have occupied Ottawa for two weeks, and have vowed not to vacate the city until the mandate is reversed.
  • The protest has since mushroomed to include opposition to all public health measures and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Washington Post notes.

Zoom in: Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly estimated that as of midday Saturday, there were 1,000 vehicles and 5,000 protesters in the capital's streets, alongside some 300 counterprotesters, per WashPost.

Zoom out: Hundreds of vehicles traveled through Vancouver on the way to the protest, and five people were arrested in the city Saturday after police received reports of "rocks and eggs being thrown, cars being kicked and nails being strewn on roadways," per CNN.

  • Both Toronto and Quebec City saw thousands of demonstrators take to the streets Saturday and block major intersections.
  • In Alberta, the blockade of a U.S.-Canada border crossing continued.

What they're saying: "This city is under siege," Sloly said before the city's emergency declaration, per WashPost.

  • "We do not have sufficient resources to adequately and effectively address this situation while adequately, effectively providing policing in this city," Sloly warned during a police services meeting Saturday, according to CNN.

Flashback: Trudeau says sending troops to disperse Ottawa protest "not in the cards"

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Ottawa's emergency declaration and further comment from the city's police.

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