Police and enhanced security welcome protests and celebrations in downtown Ottawa
OTTAWA — Downtown Ottawa is once again awash in red and white and packed with people draped in the maple leaf.
But the cries of « Freedom » that were a hallmark of anti-COVID-19 mandate protests that have been going on and on since February are so far absent from the nation’s capital today.
Ottawa is in a festive mood as Canada Day events begin, although protesters are in town planning a march from Parliament Hill later in the day.
Protest organizers have canceled one event, a planned picnic at Strathcona Park in the morning, citing a violent incident at the National War Memorial on Thursday night where a large crowd gathered to mark the end of a event dubbed the « March for Freedom ».
Ottawa police say four people were arrested after an altercation and allege an officer was strangled.
Police officers from a number of forces are present throughout downtown Ottawa and in Gatineau, Quebec, where a secondary event site is set up, and those in attendance are checked with metal detectors and bag searches.
Authorities have warned there will be zero tolerance for « unusual noise », road blockages or the setting off of fireworks this weekend.
Ottawa’s by-laws department says it has issued 275 parking tickets and towed 72 vehicles since Wednesday.
The more traditional Canada Day festivities will also be different this year. The main celebrations are being moved off Parliament Hill for the first time in 50 years, according to Canadian Heritage, citing ongoing construction at the Center Block.
Main events at LeBreton Flats Park and Place des Festivals Zibi in Gatineau include a daytime ceremony and evening shows, acrobatic shows and activities for families.
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, however, won’t be flying over the capital as planned — a recent technical glitch has been fixed, but the team needs time for training and maintenance flights before returning to the air over the weekend next.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 1, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press