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Ontario crowd cheers on convoy of truckers protesting vaccination mandates

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Ontario crowd cheers on convoy of truckers protesting vaccination mandates

| Today Headlines | World News

TORONTO (AP) – Crowds cheered, waved flags and hoisted signs in Ontario on Thursday as members of a trucking convoy headed for Ottawa to protest the Canadian government’s mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine for cross-border drivers.

In a crowded parking lot at a mall north of Toronto, supporters threw cash and food at truckers in their vehicles on Thursday, while others held up signs to protest the government as the transport trucks were gradually deployed. Some people harassed journalists covering the rally. Others cheered on the trucks from the overpasses.

The convoy of truckers due to descend on Canada’s capital has prompted police to brace for the possibility of violence and politicians to warn against escalating protest-related rhetoric. A senior parliament official has warned lawmakers to avoid the protest and lock their doors amid reports their private homes could be targeted.

Truckers are in part protesting a new rule that came into effect Jan. 15 requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully immune to the coronavirus. The United States imposed the same requirement on truckers entering that country on January 22.

“Canadian truckers rule,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted in support of the convoy.

Some with far-right views clung to the protest against the mandate. Online video shows a man expressing hope that the rally will become the Canadian equivalent of the January 6, 2021 riot in the United States Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Conservative Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole said he would meet the truckers, but not the convoy organizers.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has estimated that about 15% of truckers in Canada — up to 16,000 — are not fully vaccinated

Mike Fabinski, a truck driver from Barrie, Ont., said the warrant means he will no longer be able to work on cross-border roads.

“You want to get vaccinated, go ahead, your choice. I don’t want to be vaccinated, it’s my choice,” he said.

Fabinski said he has been driving trucks for 20 years but has not been able to travel to the United States since the warrant went into effect Jan. 15.

“I was going non-stop until they started last Saturday,” he said. “Now I can’t go. I can no longer work.

The federal government ended the exemption for truckers from the vaccination mandate two weeks ago, which means Canadian truckers must be fully vaccinated if they want to avoid a two-week quarantine when entering Canada from United States.

Ottawa police said they expected up to 2,000 protesters.

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