Vehicles and pedestrians carrying Canadian and Dutch flags gathered in downtown Ottawa Saturday afternoon in solidarity with farmers protesting new government environmental regulations in the Netherlands.
Freedom Fighters of Canada organized “We Move as One” demonstrations in cities across the country “as a united sign of solidarity with our Dutch brothers and sisters,” according to the group’s website.
In Ottawa, dozens of cars were involved in a “slow motorcade” along Hwy. 417 to the city center, where they joined hundreds of people in a protest outside the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Albert Street. Farmers in the Netherlands have held a series of demonstrations to protest the Dutch government’s new environmental targets.
“The government is trying to put all these family farms out of business,” Jerry said. “I read about one farmer who has to destroy 95 percent of his dairy just because he lives next to a forest.”
“When we had a truck action, they supported us,” said a woman who participated in the demonstration.
A visible police presence followed the motorcade to prevent protesters’ vehicles from entering the area near Parliament Hill, and Ontario Provincial Police temporarily closed some highway exits to vehicles while the protesters moved.
Ottawa police and bylaws have also imposed a temporary no-stopping/parking zone in the area from Bronson Avenue in the west to the Rideau Canal in the east and Wellington Street in the north to Laurier Avenue in the south. The area where the Dutch embassy is located was included in the no-stop zone and the prohibited protest zone.
The Ottawa ordinance says 74 parking tickets were issued and 12 vehicles were towed in the temporary stop zone.
Signs at the rally read ‘Freedom’, ‘Hold On’ and ‘Stand with the Farmers or Eat Crickets’.
“We want freedom of conscience, the ability to live, the ability to farm, buy as many animals as we want, farm as much as we want,” Stephanie said. “The freedom to sell what you produce, not to have it bought and destroyed by government.”
Police said they saw farm equipment on the streets of the city, reminding farmers that the equipment is off limits in the area.
“We want to remind everyone that in Ontario you cannot drive farm equipment on highways like the 417 and 416 unless there is no other access to the farmland you are working on and the land must be adjacent to the 400 series highway,” police said on Twitter.
Ahead of the downtown rally, convoys were scheduled to leave from Brockville, Kempville, Renfrew and Arnprior to Ottawa’s west end.
Canadian Freedom Fighters outlined rules for protest etiquette, including “no blocking of roads, exits, bridges or highways” during the event and “make sure flags are properly secured.”
Farmers in the Netherlands have held a series of demonstrations to protest the Dutch government’s new environmental targets.
Authorities have unveiled plans to cut emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50 percent by 2030 to help protect the country’s more than 150 nature reserves.
In recent weeks, farmers and supporters have protested outside government offices and on highways, and blocked food distribution centers across the country.
TEMPORARY SIGN FORBIDDEN
Ottawa’s ordinance says a temporary no-stop zone will be in effect in downtown Ottawa, and vehicles with warnings will be ticketed and towed on Saturday.
No stopping signs were posted in the area from Bronson Avenue in the west to the Rideau Canal in the east and Wellington Street in the north to Laurier Avenue in the south.
Police are reminding everyone that Wellington Street remains closed to traffic between Elgin Street and Bank Street.
The Ottawa Ordinance says a temporary no-go zone will be in effect in downtown Ottawa on Saturday. (Ottawa Ordinance/Twitter)
Ottawa police have warned motorists of possible protests in the city centre.
“There is zero tolerance for motor vehicle demonstrations or events in the city’s designated downtown area,” police said on Twitter.
“Groups that choose not to respect these designated areas will face an immediate police response involving enforcement and comprehensive towing options.”
Police say motor vehicle demonstrations and events are prohibited in an area that stretches from Bronson Avenue in the west to Waller Street in the east and Wellington Street/Rideau Street in the north to Laurier Avenue in the south, as well as Booth -Street and Sussex Drive. and Mackenzie Ave.
Ottawa police say demonstrations or vehicle-based events are prohibited in the designated area. (Ottawa Police/Twitter)
Roads remain open, police said.
“The downtown core remains open and accessible. The only exception is vehicles that wish to do a car-based demonstration,” OPS says.
The police also remind farmers about the rules for driving agricultural machinery.
“In Ontario, you cannot drive farm equipment on highways such as the 417 and 416 unless there is no other access to the farmland you are working on and the land must be adjacent to the 400 series highway,” Ottawa police said.
“You must take the shortest route when you use the highway to get to your land.”
–With files from the Associated Press