Canadian officials have called in reinforcements and taken new security measures in preparation to the upcoming Canada Day “freedom” protests.
Anti-government “freedom” protesters are scheduled to hold Canada Day rallies for the first time in three years on Friday.
“This is expected to be a unique Canada Day, with larger crowds and a larger event footprint,” interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell said during a news conference on Monday.
Bell said police have been following online commentary and trying to talk to people who’ve said they’re coming to protest.
City officials and police in the capital Ottawa threatened that they were prepared for all events, with plans to subdue any anti-government protests. In previous crackdowns, police used chemical irritants, pepper spray and stun grenades against protesters, and detained hundreds of people in several cities.
Last month, heavily deployed police forces maintained a strong presence in the capital’s center amid a motorcyclists-led anti-government protest, after making multiple arrests.
The “Rolling Thunder Ottawa” rally came just two months after three-week-long trucker-led protests in the city.
Anti-government protesters have announced that the purpose of the protests have been to “defend their freedom,” while others have criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his policies.
Ottawa officials said Monday they had decided to close the roads to stop the event from turning into another occupation.
They said they expected more protests and larger crowds than usual during Canada Day as groups related to the Freedom Convoy continued to plan for demonstrations.
Some of the anti-government groups have already called on the “freedom” protesters to extend protests throughout July and August.