'Freedom Convoy' protest: How did we get here?

Published Feb. 8, 2022 12:42 p.m. ET
Updated Feb. 23, 2022 5:50 p.m. ET

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After so-called 'Freedom Convoy' protesters occupied the streets of Ottawa for three weeks, police mounted a large-scale enforcement operation on Friday.

The protests sparked anger and frustration among Ottawa residents and businesses have closed as parts of the nation’s capital were seized by the occupation.

Elsewhere in the country, protesters blocked border crossings in several provinces, but those demonstrations were disbanded before the crackdown in Ottawa.

CTVNews.ca looks at the key events and dates that led to the demonstration.

JAN. 14, 2022

  • A GoFundMe fundraiser is started for the “Freedom Convoy 2022” by organizers Tamara Lich and BJ Dichter

JAN. 15, 2022

  • The trucker vaccine mandate comes into force that requires all travellers to be fully vaccinated before crossing the Canada-U.S. border
  • In a statement, convoy organizers say they came to the decision that the government “crossed a line” with the COVID-19 vaccine passport and vaccine mandates, announcing they plan to travel to Ottawa

JAN. 22, 2022

  • The U.S. begins barring unvaccinated truck drivers from Canada and Mexico as the country’s vaccine mandate comes into effect

JAN. 23, 2022

  • The Canadian Trucking Alliance condemns the planned protests 24 hours before a convoy of truckers left British Columbia en route to Ottawa

JAN. 24, 2022

  • One of the arms of the convoy passes through Regina

JAN. 25, 2022

  • Another convoy segment passes through Kenora, Ont.
  • GoFundMe suspends the “Freedom Convoy 2022” fundraiser for the first time to give organizers time to provide a plan for the distribution of funds

JAN. 26, 2022

  • Segments of the convoy enter Ontario from the Manitoba border

JAN. 27, 2022

  • GoFundMe releases an initial $1 million to the truckers from their fundraiser
  • A segment of the convoy passes through the Greater Toronto Area

JAN. 28, 2022

  • A new convoy passes through Quebec and plans to head to Parliament Hill for Jan. 29
  • Nova Scotia bans gatherings along the Trans-Canada Highway between the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Border in relation to the convoy protests
  • Some members of the convoy begin arriving in Ottawa and blocking major streets in the downtown core

JAN. 29, 2022

  • The main rally for the convoy takes place
  • Police estimate approximately 3,000 trucks and up to 15,000 protesters took part
  • Hateful and anti-Semitic imagery is seen in the crowd, including yellow stars, the Confederate flag and swastikas
  • Widespread condemnation is voiced on some of the protesters behaviours, including harassing a homeless shelter, dancing on the National War Memorial, putting flags and signs on the Terry Fox statue, and public urination on national monuments
  • Former U.S. president Donald Trump praises the convoy in Ottawa while addressing supporters in Texas

JAN. 30, 2022  

  • The Ottawa Police Service launches a criminal investigation into the desecration of the National War Memorial and the Terry Fox statue
  • A blockade at the Coutts, Alta., border crossing shuts down access to the U.S.-Canada border in solidarity with the main convoy in Ottawa

JAN. 31, 2022

  • Parliament resumes after the holidays
  • Ottawa paramedics confirm protesters threw rocks at an ambulance and used racial slurs against a paramedic, leading to a police escort being provided for all further calls for safety
  • Protesters host speeches on Parliament Hill
  • Trudeau delivers fiery remarks in a national address saying “we are not intimidated”

FEB. 1, 2022

  • Ottawa police set up a hotline for crimes related to the protest, including hate crimes, and announced two people were arrested and charged in connection with incidents that took place over the Jan. 29 weekend
  • Ottawa residents report being challenged, harassed and threatened with violence by protesters

FEB. 2, 2022

  • Freedom Convoy organizers issue a statement saying they plan to remain in Ottawa “as long as it takes” for all COVID-19 mandates to end
  • Ottawa Police Service Deputy Chief Steve Bell says at a press briefing the remaining protesters are “highly volatile” and that activities have shifted away from a protest to an occupation
  • GoFundMe suspends the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser for a second time

FEB. 3, 2022

  • Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announced the RCMP has approved all requests from the Ottawa Police Service to address the convoy
  • Convoy organizers hold a press conference where they decried being painted as “racists, misogynists…and even terrorists”
  • One of the leaders of the convoy, Tamara Lich, says through a lawyer that the convoy has provided GoFundMe with plans for the funds raised
  • A second blockade in Alberta in Milk River appears, close to the one near Coutts

FEB. 4, 2022

  • Former U.S. president Donald Trump expresses support for the trucker convoy, calls Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “far left lunatic”
  • GoFundMe takes down the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser page, saying it violated its terms of service. At the time, the fundraiser had reached more than $10 million
  • A $9.8 million class-action lawsuit is filed on behalf of downtown Ottawa residents against the protest over incessant truck honking
  • Ottawa police announce they are enacting a “surge and contain” strategy moving forward

FEB. 5, 2022

  • U.S. Republicans promise to investigate GoFundMe’s decision to pull the plug on the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser
  • Solidarity protests take place over the weekend in Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax and New Brunswick

FEB. 6, 2022

  • Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declares a state of emergency
  • Ottawa police seize more than 3,000 litres of fuel from protesters, according to demonstrators

FEB. 7, 2022

  • Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson requests an additional 1,800 officers in a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Trudeau, calling the protest a “siege”
  • Ottawa city council votes to ask the province to bring legislation to be able to charge the protesters for the costs of damages caused by the demonstrations
  • A judge grants a 10-day injunction in the class-action lawsuit by Ottawa residents against the convoy to stop the incessant honking
  • Trudeau addresses the House of Commons at an emergency debate requested by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh
  • Protesters erect a blockade in Windsor, Ont., at the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Canada to the U.S. through Detroit
  • Protest organizers say at an “emergency press conference” that they want to form a coalition of opposition parties with the Governor General of Canada

FEB. 8, 2022

  • Ottawa police estimate approximately 500 trucks and personal vehicles remain in the red demonstration zone of the downtown core
  • Liberal MP Joel Lightbound holds a press conference on Parliament Hill speaking out against Canadian COVID-19 policies
  • A new Freedom Convoy fundraiser on the U.S. crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo raises more than US$6.3 million
  • Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says he will call a special meeting of council to discuss next steps to address a protest outside of the Manitoba legislature
  • Ottawa Police Deputy Chief Bell says nearly 25 per cent of the trucks encamped on Ottawa streets have children living in them
  • The High Commission of India warns its citizens living in or travelling to Canada to "exercise a high degree of caution" due to the protests
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Parliamentary Protective Service close the Centre Block construction site on Parliament Hill, citing the "safety and security" of workers

FEB. 9, 2022

  • Alberta's proof of vaccination system ends
  • Demonstrators block the highway leading to Coutts, Alta., again overnight
  • The Ottawa Police Service warns protesters that anyone blocking streets in the downtown core may face arrest and have their vehicles seized
  • The City of Windsor and local police service request provincial and federal assistance with the continued blockade on the Ambassador Bridge
  • Stellantis, maker of Chrysler and Dodge vehicles, and Honda Canada resume operations after curbing manufacturing capacity due to border delays
  • Toronto police say they will close Queen's Park Circle after social media posts claim there will be a potential demonstration involving "a large number of vehicles"
  • The New Brunswick government announces it will amend its Emergency Act to ban the blocking of normal traffic flows on roads and highways, ahead of a planned convoy in Fredericton
  • Texas joins calls to investigate GoFundMe over its removal of the Freedom Convoy campaign
  • Federal Liberals propose expanding the House public safety and national security committee's study of the Freedom Convoy's fundraising efforts to include ideologically motivated extremism

FEB. 10, 2022

  • Manitoba RCMP warn members of the public to avoid the area near the border community of Emerson after trucks and farm equipment blocked the international port of entry with the U.S.
  • Federal Conservatives call for the blockades to end, present a motion calling on the federal government to lift all federal COVID-19 "mandates and restrictions" by the end of the month
  • Public Safety Minister Mendicino says the RCMP will send more "reinforcements" to end blockades in Ottawa, Windsor, Ont., and Coutts, Alta.
  • The office of Premier Ford announces it successfully applied for a court order to freeze the distribution of donations raised on GiveSendGo, the company responds on Twitter saying, "Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction" over how the company manages its funds
  • The City of Winnipeg explores potential court action to deal with a protest at the Manitoba legislature
  • A school in Steinbach, Man., goes into a hold-and-secure protocol after a protest against COVID-19 measures takes place outside
  • Ottawa police say their 911 line is flooded with calls, many from the U.S.
  • A City of Ottawa planning committee meeting is hacked briefly, with a message appearing during the livestream that says, "OTTAWA POLICE HAS FAILED ITS CITIZENS, Jim Watson has failed us, Sloly has failed us, Trudeau has failed us"
  • Protesters in Ottawa swear themselves in as "peace officers," vowing to "arrest and detain" anyone they deem as disturbing the peace
  • Demonstrators perform a drive-by at the Ottawa airport
  • Windsor City Council authorizes steps to seek a court injunction to stop the blockade on the Ambassador Bridge
  • The Biden administration urges Canada to end the blockades at the border
  • Prime Minister Trudeau holds a virtual meeting with opposition leaders on the protests

FEB. 11, 2022

  • The Ontario government invokes new emergency measures with a state of emergency aimed at protesters and ending the blockades at a key border crossing in the province, including a maximum penalty of $100,000 and up to a year imprisonment for non-compliance.
  • An Ontario Superior Court justice grants an injunction that gives protesters until 7 pm to leave the Ambassador Bridge. The bridge between Ontario and Michigan is the busiest Canada-U.S. border crossing
  • Manitoba announces it will end all proof of vaccination requirements and mask mandates by March 15

FEB. 12, 2022

  • Police begin forcibly removing protesters from the Ambassador Bridge
  • Protesters break through an RCMP barricade in Surrey, B.C., leading to the closure of a U.S. border crossing
  • Ottawa police form new command centre with RCMP and OPP to address downtown Ottawa protests

FEB. 13, 2022

  • The City of Ottawa and protest leaders reach an agreement to remove trucks from residential neighbourhoods
  • Counter-protesters block convoy vehicles in Ottawa
  • The RCMP makes arrests at a protest blockade near the border in Surrey, B.C.
  • The Ambassador Bridge in Ontario is fully reopened late in the day after first being blockaded by protesters on Feb. 7. Police make 42 arrests and seize 37 vehicles during the two-day operation to clear it. Border blockades continue in places like Coutts, Alta. and Emerson, Man.

FEB. 14, 2022

  • Alberta students are no longer required to wear masks at school
  • Ontario announces an upcoming end to most indoor capacity limits, and a March 1 end to proof of vaccination requirements
  • A purported hack reveals the identities of 92,000 alleged donors to the Freedom Convoy fundraiser on crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, which has raised more than $9.3 million to date. Fifty-five per cent of donors are in the U.S.
  • An Ontario judge grants an injunction to enforce noise and idling bylaws related to the ongoing protests in Ottawa
  • RCMP find guns, ammunition, high-capacity magazines and body armour at the Coutts, Alta. border blockade. Thirteen people are arrested
  • For the first time in Canadian history, the federal government invokes the Emergencies Act, which gives the federal government sweeping new powers to restore order and bring the ongoing trucker convoy protests and blockades to an end.

FEB. 15, 2022

  • Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly resigns, Deputy Chief Bell is named interim police chief
  • The federal government announces eased COVID-19 restrictions. Fully vaccinated travellers will only need an antigen test result, rather than a PCR test result, in order to enter Canada.
  • The blockade ends at Coutts, Alta. and the Canada Border Services Agency says operations have resumed at the crossing.
  • Alberta RCMP announce weapon and mischief charges against 13 people from the Coutts blockade, four are charged with conspiracy to commit murder

FEB. 16, 2022

  • Ottawa police hand out leaflets to protesters, warning they may be arrested unless they leave voluntarily.
  • The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa urges protesters who brought children to the protest make alternate care arrangements in the event they are arrested.
  • Ottawa councillors oust the chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board.
  • The Emerson, Man. border crossing reopens after convoy protesters leave with a police escort. The RCMP had assured the protesters that there would be no charges or arrests against those at the border.

FEB. 17, 2022

  • Ottawa police begin to make arrests, including convoy organizers Chris Barber and Tamara Lich, both of whom face charges of mischief and counselling to commit mischief.
  • Freeland says some bank accounts belonging to individuals associated with the protests have been frozen.
  • The Ottawa Police Services Board had bee set to hire former Waterloo police chief Matthew Torigian as the new chief of police, but Watson announces that Torigian had withdrawn.

FEB. 18, 2022

  • Ottawa police warn that anyone found within a ‘red zone’ may be subject to arrest. Police also set up approximately 100 checkpoints around the secured area.
  • Police and protesters engage in tense standoffs at times. Mounted police charge a group of protesters near the Senate in an apparent effort to corral the crowd, prompting shocked reactions and some yelling, "You are trampling us"
  • Ottawa police accuse protesters of assaulting officers and attempting to remove their weapons
  • Police allege a bicycle was thrown at the feet of one of the horses, resulting in at least one arrest
  • Police announce a total of more than 100 arrests, including high profile protest organizers Tamara Lich, Chris Barber and Pat King, and at least 21 vehicles towed
  • Barber is granted bail
  • The House of Commons postpones debate on the Emergencies Act due to the ongoing police operation

FEB. 19, 2022

  • Police appear to take a more aggressive stance with protesters, using pepper spray, deploying an Anti-Riot Weapon ENfield, carrying batons and wearing helmets
  • Some protesters are arrested with smoke grenades, fireworks and body armour
  • Arrests rise to 147, a total of 53 vehicles are towed
  • A judge decides to wait until Feb. 22 to decide whether to grant Lich bail
  • Members of Parliament resume debate on the Emergencies Act, however, the parliamentary precinct goes into a "hold and secure" position
  • Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says at least 76 financial accounts have been frozen since the Emergencies Act came into effect

FEB. 20, 2022

  • Authorities in Ottawa clear much of the city's downtown of protesters and vehicles
  • Ottawa police report at least 191 total arrests related to the protests and 76 vehicles towed
  • A total of 389 charges are laid to date, ranging from mischief and obstruction to assault of a police officer
  • Ontario's Special Investigations Unit says it will investigate two incidents in Ottawa, one involving a police officer on horseback and the other on the use of the Anti-Riot Weapon ENfield
  • Ottawa paramedics say, since Feb. 18, 21 people have been transported to hospital from the secured area of the downtown with non-life threatening injuries.
  • Deputy RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme says 206 financial accounts, 306 entities, 253 Bitcoin orders and an account worth $3.8 million that were connected to the protests have been frozen
  • Tyson George Billings, who appeared alongside King and others during a virtual conference the week before, is charged

FEB. 21, 2022

  • The House of Commons passes a motion approving the use of the Emergencies Act, with the New Democrats voting in favour alongside the minority Liberal government
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, while the federal government does not want to keep the Emergencies Act in place "a single day longer" than required, "This state of emergency is not over"
  • Arrests related to the Ottawa protests rise to 196, with 115 vehicles towed and nearly 400 charges laid

FEB. 22, 2022

  • A judge denies Lich bail, saying there is a substantial likelihood she will reoffend if released

FEB. 23, 2022

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces the lifting of the Emergencies Act, declaring that the “immediate emergency situation is over.” Trudeau seeks to reassure Canadians that law enforcement’s existing tools will be sufficient enough to defend against future disruptions

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