Throngs of chanting anti-vaxxer types welcome trucker 'Freedom convoy' to Toronto
The trucker convoy police have been warning drivers about is officially starting to arrive in Toronto, meaning you should probably take a peek at some local traffic cameras before hitting any highways right now.
Four days after setting out from various points across Canada on a cross-country journey, thousands of truckers started to convene in the GTA en route to Ottawa late Thursday morning.
The self-proclaimed "Freedom Convoy" is set to arrive at Parliament Hill on January 29 as part of a largescale protest against federal vaccine mandates.
OPP are warning motorists about the potential for significant delays as a trucker convoy protesting vaccine mandates arrives in the Toronto area.— CTV Toronto (@CTVToronto) January 27, 2022
Watch live: https://t.co/GMbCvy5akP pic.twitter.com/oszmaZp0BW
The trucks themselves don't seem to be causing too much congestion yet. Some in the city are remarking that the traffic isn't bad, compared to what they're used to experiencing on the 401.
Convoy truckers - "We are going to protest central Canada vaccine mandates by clogging up its highways with our trucks!"— Marius Fortuna_2 (@marius_gs) January 27, 2022
Hwy 401 Toronto drivers on any given day - "Hold my beer!" #KarenConvoy #FluTrucksKlan #cdnpolitics #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/Ypc7WnYYY9
But it's getting busy out there — mostly on account of supporters who've arrived to stand along (and in some cases on) highway overpasses to cheer for the movement.
As of 1 p.m. on Thursday, thousands of people are lining the streets near Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre, where the convoy was scheduled to meet before embarking on their next leg to Kingston.
Just a couple dozen protesters...— WHITE WABBIT WARRIOR 🐇 (@wabbitwarrior) January 27, 2022
There are thousands here. And this is just one location: Vaughn, ON
The highway from Barrie to Toronto was packed. Flags everywhere. We will not lie down. We are Canada.#TruckerConvoy2022#TruckersForFreedom2022 @CBC @GlobalNational @CTVNews pic.twitter.com/KFjTlkEwCz
Volunteers were on hand with refreshments for truckers and whoever else showed up to scream about how much they hate everything.
Look at this crowd! Let’s go truckers 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/yDVdBlrjaB— Traditional Canadian Girl 🇨🇦 (@canadiangirls99) January 27, 2022
Some supporters at the scene have been recorded chanting things like "FREEDOM!" and "MY BODY, MY CHOICE."
Signs are plentiful throughout the crowd, many of them containing similar sentiments to the aforementioned chants.
BREAKING: Justin’s Trudeau’s unacceptable diverse “fringe minority” out in droves to support the trucker’s convoy against mandates at Vaughan Mills north of Toronto. #FreedomConvoy2022 #TruckersForFreedom pic.twitter.com/Rdsd3RrcAJ— Unacceptable Rowan (@canmericanized) January 27, 2022
There are also many Canadian flags being waved in support of the trucker convoy, as well as some flags that read "F*ck Trudeau."
North of Toronto highway 400 pic.twitter.com/MFoBFpFR2Z— Maria. P (@Maria_07_19_) January 27, 2022
Protest organizers have stressed that they are not necessarily anti-vaxxers — rather, they take up issue with government mandates that have forced truck drivers to get vaccinated in order to do their jobs.
"To our Fellow Canadians, the time for political over reach is over," reads a wildly-successful GoFundMe campaign set up for the cause.
"Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods. Canadians have been integral to the fabric of humanity in many ways that have shaped the planet."
Officials have nonetheless expressed worry about fringe groups, alt-right extremists and militant anti-lockdown types disrupting peaceful protest activities.
As of 1:30 p.m., most of the activity locally has been relagated to the parking lot of Vaughan Mills...
... as well as highway overpasses, which are filling up across the entire region.
Langstaff overpass, Vaughan pic.twitter.com/uN6cDcemTi— Simon 🇨🇦 (@SiWOism) January 27, 2022
Ontario Provincial Police warned have been warning motorists since Wednesday of potential "significant traffic delays" on highways in and around Toronto.
"We understand that these convoys may affect traffic flow. There could be potential disruptions with that so, if you are a motorist in that area, plan ahead, expect delays starting on Thursday, and avoid areas if you are aware of these delays that are coming through," said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt on Wednesday of the convoy.
"Protesters do have the right to peacefully protest, and for any participants involved in any types of protest, I know our provincial liaison teams are working diligently with the organizers to ensure public safety and traffic safety for everybody."
For those on the 401 Eastbound in Toronto this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/2Puq6s4HUH— Jay (@JayKana) January 27, 2022
Traffic is delayed in some areas of the GTA right now on account of protest supporters clogging overpasses along Highways 401, 400, 427 and the QEW.
A "finale event" with someone singing the national anthem is planned for later this afternoon on the Sheppard Ave. overpass about Highway 400.
"We do expect drivers to maintain a sense of movement and keeping the highways flowing for emergency vehicles and for other users of the highways," said Schmidt on Wednesday.
"Please be aware that officers will be monitoring and observing activities."
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