Ottawa's 'Rolling Thunder' biker convoy won't be 'replay' of occupation: Mendicino

WATCH: As ‘Rolling Thunder’ motorcycle convoy nears Ottawa, police to receive ‘tools and resources’ from feds

Canada’s public safety minister said Tuesday that the “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle convoy entering Ottawa on Friday will not be a repeat of the “Freedom Convoy” occupation earlier this year.

“We’re not going to have a replay of January or February,” Marco Mendicino said during a media scrum.

“We’re going to provide the tools and the resources that are necessary for law enforcement to uphold the law.”

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Mendicino said that residents of Ottawa are still recovering from the trucker convoy occupation that saw the closure of the city’s Rideau Mall, trucks loudly honking at all hours and reports of harassment.

“It’s still very fresh in their mind,” Mendicino said. “People’s lives were completely upended. I would say there’s still exceptional sensitivity.”

Ottawa invoked the Emergencies Act in response to demonstrations across the country that allowed the personal finances of those involved to be frozen. An inquiry into the invocation was launched on Monday.

The “Rolling Thunder Ottawa 2022” motorcycle convoy plans to arrive in Ottawa on Friday and will hold a rally on Saturday that organizers say will include a motorcycle procession around the National War Memorial. The memorial was a place of contention during the previous occupation in Ottawa, with allegations that protesters against COVID-19 restrictions had desecrated the monument erected in honour of Canada’s armed forces.

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Convoy organizer warns of ‘free for all’ if police ban protest from downtown Ottawa

Rolling Thunder organizers say veterans involved with the Freedom Convoy were tasked with guarding the monument 24 hours a day by law enforcement but they were removed during efforts to end the occupation in Ottawa’s downtown, which they say was a “desecration.”

“Rolling Thunder Ottawa will restore dignity to the War Memorial,” an official statement from the group’s Facebook page read.

However, Ottawa police said vehicle protests will be banned from designated downtown Ottawa areas, including near Parliament Hill and the National War Memorial, and there will be an increased number of officers patrolling over the weekend with aid from the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police.

Rolling Thunder organizer Neil Sheard warned of possible consequences if the planned route is obstructed.

“Thousands of people are coming to the city. There could be over a thousand bikes coming to your city. We had a route nailed,” Sheard said in a YouTube video posted Sunday.

“Now it’s going to be a free-for-all.”

— with files from Isaac Callan and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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