A Freedom Convoy organizer says trucks are on their way to Victoria from across Canada to gather and maybe stay on a rotating basis up to three months to protest vaccine mandates and indoor mask orders.
James Bauder, founder of Canada Unity and one of the founders of Freedom Convoy 2022 in Ottawa, said seven trucks loaded with supplies including 16,000 hamburgers are on the way.
The convoy is scheduled to arrive in Victoria on March 14, he said.
“We’re going to be occupying that area for two to three months,” Bauder said in a video posted online.
“This is a very intense, deeply rooted NDP-Liberal stronghold down there,” said Bauder. “And they’ve had their way for too long. It’s time we get down there and show them what the laws are and not your opinion, folks.”
In B.C., 93.7 per cent of all eligible adults have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 91.2 per cent have received their second dose and 58.1 have received a third. The province reported 997 new COVID cases Monday from a three-day period over the weekend including 204 from the Island Health region.
Victoria police Const. Cam MacIntyre declined to talk about potential preparations but said the department’s broad approach to protests is two-fold: “We protect public safety and ensure that people are able to exercise their rights to safe, peaceful and lawful protest.”
Dangerous or unlawful acts are responded to with de-escalation and enforcement, he said.
In his video, Bauder talked about 500 to 1,000 vehicles for what his group is calling Bearhug B.C. or Bearhug 11, consisting of multiple “rolling convoys” of up to 200 vehicles each over three months.
“Folks, there is so many laws that our government has violated, the media is supporting the breaking of these laws, and society has got to start getting back to the right side of the law and defending ourselves legally via lawsuits,” he said. “We’re going to be really really active.”
Bauder talked about daily “family friendly” events and guest speakers. Fundraising is taking place in Canada and the United States, he said.
“Like I said, Canada, we really do have to support B.C. right now, it’s one of the hardest hit provinces,” Bauder said, referring to B.C. being one of the last jurisdictions to still have vaccine and indoor mask requirements.
“We’re not taking it anymore. We are standing up for our lawful freedom of choice.”
British Columbia has from the beginning followed the evidence to keep people safe, particularly the most vulnerable people safe, and to keep activities going and schools open given how restrictions can have physical, mental and economic health consequences, Health Minister Adrian Dix has said.
“The result of that has been a consistent and thoughtful approach to measures,” said Dix. “I’m proud of B.C.”
B.C. has consistently based its approach to the COVID-19 pandemic on evidence “and I think in B.C. we have massive support for that.”
“There are some people who’ve chosen up to now not to be vaccinated and I encourage them to consider the new vaccines that have come forward,” said Dix. A person is 30 times more likely to require hospital critical care if not vaccinated, he said.