Thousands of people gather in downtown Ottawa to celebrate Canada’s 155th anniversary as police and city officials brace for possible protests over COVID-19 vaccines and restrictions.
It marks the first in-person Canada Day in Ottawa in three years, after COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of events in 2020 and 2021. The main Canada Day festivities are held at LeBreton Flats Park, west of downtown Ottawa, and at Place des Festivals Zibi in Gatineau.
Key events include a daytime ceremony and evening show at LeBreton Flats, family activities, and fireworks at 10 p.m. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds were forced to cancel their annual fly-by over Ottawa on Canada Day after a recent technical problem.
While no Canada Day events are planned for Parliament Hill this year due to construction work on Center Block, several protests are planned for the area Friday afternoon. The Freedom Fights Canada website says a “March to Freedom” will be held at 3:30 PM, followed by speeches, live music and DJs on Parliament Hill from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
A “Family Day Picnic” organized by the Police on Guard for Thee group at a nearby park was cancelled, with organizers citing “a recent incident in Ottawa”. However, no more details were given.
A visible police presence patrolled the parliamentary district and roads around downtown Ottawa Friday morning, with a motor vehicle control zone to prevent vehicles from stopping or protesting.
All vehicles stopping or parking in the control zone will be ticketed and towed, while police say vehicles participating in protests will not be allowed to enter the area.
Friday morning, Ottawa Bylaw Services officers issued 275 parking tickets and towed 72 vehicles out of the vehicle control zone. Ordinance officials have also increased fines for the unusual noise, yelling, urinating or defecating on roads and sidewalks, blocking a freeway and idling. The fines are now $1,000.
Despite their presence, Ottawa Police say it is safe for families to come to the center for Canada Day events.
“Come on, don’t worry. This is a festival. This is to celebrate Canada, that’s why we’ve gone so far as to realize the plans and the resources around it,” interim chief Steve Bell told The Evan Solomon Show on Thursday. . “It’s going to be a safe environment, so we’re here to take care of that.”
Four people were arrested after an incident at the National War Memorial Thursday, shortly after Canadian Forces veteran James Topp completed his march across the country to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“We are reviewing the video and investigating the incident at the National War Memorial tonight,” police said on Twitter on Thursday evening. “The initial investigation shows that an interaction with agents became confrontational and that 1 agent was suffocated. Other agents responded immediately, 4 people were arrested.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling on Canadians to recommit to the country’s values on Canada Day, which include respect, hope and kindness.
In his official Canada Day message, the prime minister said July 1 is an opportunity to commit to the values the Maple Leaf represents.
“It is also a promise — a promise of opportunity, a promise of security for those fleeing violence and war, and a promise of a better life,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press