Convoy demonstrators gather downtown to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Hundreds came out to a counter protest in Toronto to ensure patients had no issue accessing care. Maleeha Sheikh takes a look at how the movement went and speaks to medical professionals who say they won't be intimidated. 

By Michelle Morton and The Canadian Press

Protestors met at Queen’s Park on Saturday with signs that read “freedom = no mandates” and “let love guide you, not fear,” as part of a number of demonstrations planned across Canada in opposition of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and measures.

Weekend protests in solidarity with the Freedom Convoy were also organized near provincial legislatures in Quebec City, Winnipeg, Regina, and Victoria, as well as the Coutts, Alta., border crossing.

Around 2,000 demonstrators had gathered by the afternoon in downtown Toronto.

A Toronto police cruiser was seen shaken by the crowd at Bloor Street and Avenue Road, but it appears the officer inside of the vehicle was not injured.

Toronto police say they arrested a 22-year-old man for allegedly igniting a smoke bomb. They say he was arrested around 2 p.m. at the ongoing demonstration at Queen’s Park.

On Sunday, police said a 34-year-old man was charged with assault with a weapon after allegedly throwing dog feces at someone else in the area of Bloor Street West and Bedford Road.

The man faces one count each of assault with a weapon, administering a noxious substance and public mischief.

Police also say at one point Peel medics were slowed down at Avenue and Bloor because of the protests.

CityNews reached out to Toronto police for comment but did not get any further details.

The demonstration also caused some service disruptions for the TTC on Saturday afternoon, including detours and pausing service.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the protest was “largely peaceful and respectful,” giving credit for the plan implemented by police.

“I can say from my own vantage point that the Chief and his entire command team had a clear plan which was carried out capably and carefully and which I supported,” Tory tweeted Saturday night.

“I am most grateful for the outcome and extend my thanks as well to Toronto residents and businesses who showed great patience and understanding while the protest was taking place.”

The head of the Ontario Trucking Association said earlier the vast majority of demonstrators at the provincial legislature appear to have no connection to the industry and harbour grievances that go “beyond the cross-border vaccine requirements.”

Association President Stephen Laskowski issued a statement saying the trade organization “strongly disapproves” of any protests on roads, highways and hospitals.

He notes that the vast majority of Canada’s 300,000 truck drivers are vaccinated and reminds any big-riggers who participate in rallies across the country Saturday that their behaviour reflects on them and their colleagues in the sector.

Laskowski is calling on demonstrators to protest peacefully and then return to their homes.


In Toronto, volunteers stood by at subway stations along Hospital Row to escort hospital staff to work if they felt unsafe around protestors.

Police previously advised staff at Mt. Sinai Hospital to wear street clothes instead of their hospital apparel so they are not identified by demonstrators angry about vaccine mandates.

On Friday, out of fear the protestors would impact the number of hospitals close to Queen’s Park, road closures in the area were put into effect by Toronto police.

The closures are expected to be in place all weekend. Police also say more officers will be deployed to downtown and more CCTV security cameras would be installed.

RELATED: GoFundMe removes donations to ‘freedom convoy’ after violations of service, will offer full refunds

Meanwhile, a couple hundred health-care workers and their supporters marched from the University of Toronto to Hospital Row on Saturday afternoon to counter protest.

They held signs saying “free-dumb” and “N95 masks for all.”


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