Toronto police and mayor John Tory warn trucker convoy not to block hospital access
News that a possible trucker convoy is heading to Toronto for a rally outside of Queen's Park this weekend has police and the mayor on alert, both having issued statements cautioning demonstrators against blocking access routes to healthcare facilities along the city's Hospital Row.
According to promotional material shared online by the organizers, the demonstration is expected to roll into the city on Saturday, Feb. 5, the rally to take place at Queen's Park at 12 p.m. that day, putting the mass of heavy vehicles in close proximity to the linear cluster of hospitals to the south of the Ontario Legislative Building.
Police made it clear that they were ready with a tweet issued Wednesday evening, stating, "We are aware of a demonstration planned for Saturday, February 5, 2022, in the downtown core."
"The Service will have a policing operation in place to ensure public safety and keep emergency access routes to hospitals clear," the tweet from the police reads.
Since that statement was issued on Wednesday evening, Toronto mayor John Tory met with City Manager Chris Murray, Chief Matthew Pegg and senior City staff, and Police Chief James Ramer for a police update on the situation.
On Thursday morning, Tory addressed city council and released a statement warning protesters that the city is ready to deal with any blockages to hospital corridors, specifically the stretch on University Avenue.
My statement to City Council this morning on possible “convoy” protests in Toronto. pic.twitter.com/pgDgeLvVS6— John Tory (@JohnTory) February 3, 2022
"I support the right of all Canadians to peaceful, respectful protest and the City of Toronto has been no stranger to protests of all kinds throughout the pandemic," the statement reads.
Tory stresses that he supports "Toronto Police taking necessary action to prepare for this protest with a focus on doing everything they can to protect the safety of Toronto residents and businesses and to minimize any disruptions to Toronto residents and businesses as much as possible."
"Any protest in the area of Queen's Park absolutely cannot block off access to the hospitals around the legislature," Tory continued. "People should not be blocked from receiving emergency care or any medical care and hospital workers, who have been frontline heroes throughout the pandemic, should be able to freely and safely come and go from their workplace."
Though Tory makes it clear that he and no other elected official has the power to direct police enforcement, he has "made it clear to Chief Ramer that we must do everything we can to avoid the type of situation currently faced by Ottawa residents and businesses."
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