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Military response not in cards for COVID protests: Trudeau

OTTAWA, ONTARIO (AP) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday a military response to the ongoing Ottawa protest against COVID-19 measures is “not in the cards right now”.

Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said this week that all options are on the table, including calling in the military, to end the ongoing demonstration that was being called an “occupation” by some on the city council.

Thousands of protesters railing against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions descended on the capital last weekend, deliberately blocking traffic around Parliament Hill. Police estimate about 250 remain.

Trudeau said one must be “very, very cautious” about deploying troops on Canadian soil, adding there has been no such request to the federal government.

He said any formal requests for assistance from the City of Ottawa or Ontario will be considered.

Organisers, including one who has espoused white supremacist views, had raised millions for the cross-country “freedom truck convoy” against vaccine mandates and other restrictions.

It has attracted support from former US President Donald Trump. Ottawa’s mayor, meanwhile, is calling on several opposition Conservative lawmakers to apologise for praising the protesters and posing with them.

A protester stands in front of vehicles in Ottawa. PHOTO: AP