Arnprior – As police cleared out the remaining protesters occupying various sections of the Parliamentary District in Ottawa on the weekend, about 20 to 30 individuals associated with the three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa fled to a private farm field near Arnprior to regroup and assess the situation.
On Sunday morning, this section of the convoy had dwindled down to a total of three transport trucks, seven pickup trucks and eight passenger vehicles. The encampment is located on White Lake Road near Mountain View Road, about five kilometers outside Arnprior.
Although there was no heavy police presence similar to Ottawa, there was one OPP SUV parked on Mountain View Road outside a residence about 300 meters away from the entrance to the camp. It was not a gated entry and traffic was allowed in.
They originally planned to use the Arnprior Airport for a rallying point on the directions of Pat King, one of the leaders of the “Freedom Convoy.” Mr. King told Facebook video followers to “retreat and regroup” in Arnprior, on airport land across from Antrim Truck Stop. “There is a contingency plan in place … to get to the Antrim Truck Stop. The airport is being plowed.”
Mr. King was in the process of rebroadcasting when he was taken into custody by police officers. His arrest, in combination with the Town of Arnprior’s refusal to allow the convoy members to park at the airport citing the plowing operations are for aircraft, left the small group with the field as their last choice.
For some, they had come to the realization they had probably come to the end of the line for a national movement. Many put on a brave face and there was little open talk of quitting the 24-day protest.
When approaching the encampment a few members of the group were driving out of the camp and agreed to answer some general questions on the condition their names or photographs not be used.
“I am not going to say it’s over, but for now we are drawing back and we are already planning our next move,” said one protestor who called himself John. “One thing we want to make certain is that it is on a national scale just like this one. It is pretty big when we had fellow freedom fighters willing to stand at the border crossings and defy the government.”
The original protest was labelled the Freedom Convoy and it was led by hundreds of involved with the trucking industry who initially demanded the cancellation of COVID vaccines. They argued it would limit the ability of some truck drivers to pass through any Canadian-U.S. border due to mandatory vaccinations on both sides of the border.
Since the “Freedom Convoy” movement began on January 25, the majority of truck drivers left Ottawa within a matter of days leaving behind about 300 protesters in the core of the city until Ottawa Police, in conjunction with other police forces, forced the majority of protesters out of the area and impounded 80 vehicles in the process.
However, for the individuals camping out in the private field, they remained defiant with many vowing to continue their acts of civil disobedience, with their vehicles intact.
“We may look small, but there is a lot of silent support among many Canadians and that is why we are here,” he said. “A lot of our brothers went home because they have to work to put food on the table, but they went back to work because all of Canada depends on truckers to keep the store shelves full.”
When asked who is to blame for the protest going well beyond what was originally planned, another member of the group immediately yelled out “Trudeau.”
Referring to himself only as “Bob,” he laid the blame on the prime minister.
“He is why a lot of good folks are being called thugs and criminals by the mainstream media,” Bob said. “Before he went into hiding, he called us criminals and fringe elements and that Canadians don’t support what we are doing. If that is the case, then why were the streets in every city the trucks drove through on the way to Ottawa a few weeks ago lined with supporters? The last time I saw that many Canadians out in force was when Terry Fox ran.”
When asked what they will do if all the mandates are slowly lifted resulting in no government directive, many said it was just a matter of time before the government finds another excuse to restrict the freedoms they are protesting against.
“We saw Trudeau bring in the Emergency Act because he said it was a national emergency, but what it does is give him almost unlimited power like seizing bank accounts and that is not right in a democracy like Canada,” one man said. “I don’t think the majority of Canadians understand this power takes away most of their rights and that is why we won’t stop until he stops abusing our rights and freedoms.”
There were no campfires present in the camp Sunday around noon, but there were some small campfires within the area and one portable toilet was located about 50 metres west of the main compound.
The members of the group would not identify their place of origin, but there was a mix of Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan licence plates. The group also declined to identify the property owner who is allowing them to stay there.