Canada’s public safety minister has said that US officials should stay out of his country’s domestic affairs, joining other Canadian leaders in pushing back against prominent US Republicans who have offered support for demonstrators protesting Covid-19 restrictions and have besieged central Ottawa for more than a week.
Prominent Republicans including Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Texas attorney general Ken Paxton complained after crowdfunding site GoFundMe said it would refund the vast majority of the millions of dollars raised by demonstrators, Associated Press reported.
The site said it cut off funding for protest organisers after determining that their efforts violated the site’s terms of service by engaging in unlawful activity. Ontario provincial premier Doug Ford has called the protest an occupation.
In response, Paxton tweeted: “Patriotic Texans donated to Canadian truckers’ worthy cause.” Texas senator Ted Cruz said on Fox News that “government doesn’t have the right to force you to comply to their arbitrary mandates.”
Public safety minister Marco Mendicino shot back: “It is certainly not the concern of the Texas attorney general as to how we in Canada go about our daily lives in accordance with the rule of law.”
“We need to be vigilant about potential foreign interference … Whatever statements may have been made by some foreign official are neither here nor there. We’re Canadian. We have our own set of laws. We will follow them,” Mendicino said.
Many members of the GOP have made comments supporting the demonstrations, including former president Donald Trump, who called Trudeau a “far left lunatic” who has “destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates.”
Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Sunday and on Monday the mayor pleaded for almost 2,000 extra police officers to help quell the raucous nightly demonstrations staged by the so-called Freedom Truck Convoy, which has used hundreds of parked trucks to paralyse the Canadian capital’s business district.
The protests have also infuriated people who live around downtown, including neighbourhoods near Parliament Hill, the seat of the federal government.
“Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives,” prime minister Justin Trudeau said in an emergency debate in parliament, while the protest continued outside. “It has to stop.”
Trudeau said everyone was tired of Covid-19 but this was not the way. He said the restrictions wouldn’t last forever and noted that Canada had one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. “Canadians trust science,” Trudeau said.
“A few people shouting and waving swastikas does not define who Canadians are.”