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Quebec version of 'freedom convoy' hits Quebec City as SQ patrols National Assembly


A handful of demonstrators gathered before the National Assembly to protest COVID measures early Thursday evening.

In anticipation of the so-called “Quebec Freedom Convoy” passing through Quebec City, the esplanade in front of the building was closed to traffic, with police patrolling the area. Water trucks were parked in pairs to block off several intersections and retractable roadblocks were set up on the street behind the National Assembly.

Unable to squeeze through on wheels, some protestors drove around the surrounding area, honking their horns, while others travelled to the Parliament Building on foot, waving Canadian flags and holding signs with slogans such as “No to dictators.”

The Quebec convoy was inspired by a cross-Canada protest that culminated in front of Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa last weekend.

The goal of that demonstration, which is on its sixth day, is to demand an end to all public health restrictions, as well as calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

However, nearly all vaccine mandates and other public health rules are the jurisdiction of provincial governments.Starting Jan. 15, COVID-19 vaccination is mandatory for all truckers entering Canada from the U.S. The U.S. also has the same mandate on its border, making it impossible for unvaccinated Canadian truckers to cross the border.


In a Facebook live video posted Thursday morning, two of the convoy’s organizers, Bernard “Rambo” Gauthier and Kevin Grenier, told their followers they are on their way to Quebec City from the Baie-Comeau area, 420 kilometres northeast of the provincial capital.

“There are people who say, ‘Oh, there are only about a hundred cars,’ but remember there are others leaving this afternoon, another gang leaving tomorrow, and another gang leaving the day after tomorrow,” said Grenier.

“Our goal isn’t to ‘jam up’ the city. It’s to go to Quebec and be heard.”

At a news conference in Sherbrooke Thursday afternoon, Premier François Legault said Public Safety Minister Geneviève Guilbault and others are following it closely.

“Yes to protest, no to mayhem. No to preventing citizens from functioning normally,” he said, adding that families have some well-deserved recreation coming up this weekend with Quebec City’s winter carnival, or Carnavale, and the protest can’t interfere with that.

When asked to describe what he considers “mayhem,” Legault said, “Mayhem is when people can’t function normally,” adding that it means “families going for walks on the weekend, enjoying themselves as a family, circulating normally.”

Quebec City police (SPVQ) said they are ready for the convoy’s arrival, but will “respect the right to protest.”“Protesting is a democratic right guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Quebec City police deputy director André Turcotte Wednesday.

“At the moment, the SPVQ has been in contact with different people participating from various groups who wish to mobilize in Quebec City in the coming days. Discussion is open and we have very good cooperation with these people,” he said.

Quebec provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec, released a YouTube video Thursday saying it will work to ensure the safety of the National Assembly and local highways.


Meanwhile, Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade is criticizing the Legault government for not being proactive in preventing any outbursts that could occur from the demonstrators. Anglade said she understands the need to protest, but fears the consequences for Quebec City residents, restaurant owners and businesses.

On Wednesday, Minister Guilbault said that the various police forces were preparing a concerted strategy to contain the influx of protesters, while Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx urged protesters to give a break to the tourism industry, restaurateurs and hoteliers who have suffered greatly during the two-year pandemic.

Québec solidaire parliamentary leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois invited Quebecers to instead demonstrate for better treatment of schoolchildren, seniors, health-care workers and factory workers.

- With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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