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Reviews |  Ottawa truckers’ protest is both dizzying and terrifying

Imad Arraj, who installs HVAC systems and helps his wife run a hunting and fishing store in Ottawa, was at the protest Tuesday night with a cousin. “It did a lot of damage,” he said of the pandemic restrictions. “Myself, I’m sitting at home, I feel so depressed because all those friendships that you used to have, getting together for a game of cards or whatever, it’s not more there. We disconnected from each other. He spoke bitterly about the 10-person limit for indoor gatherings in Ontario during the winter break. “Before, we had a lot of people at our house – my brothers, my sisters, my mother came to visit us,” he said sadly.

Before the Freedom Convoy arrived in Ottawa, Arraj said, he had never participated in a demonstration. “I was in depression, sitting at home. I thought I was alone. I thought I was going crazy. I thought I was the only person to think that way,” he said. “And when it happened, I went down to see.” What he saw relieved him. “The love you will receive here you will never see anywhere else,” he said.

For many other Ottawans, however, the protests were a siege, not a feast of love. Residents described the incessant blaring of car horns – which diminished, but not stopped, after an injunction – as a form of psychological torture. An Asian-inspired ice cream parlor closed for several days after a member of its staff who was walking to work was confronted by two men and pushed to the ground for wearing a mask. “Based on the stories we’ve heard from our neighbors, this behavior is not an isolated incident,” a statement on the store’s Instagram feed said.

Not everyone at the protests is from the far right, but the organizers are. Among them are Tamara Lich, a former leading figure in the fringe Maverick Party, which advocates the secession of three of Canada’s western provinces, and Patrick King, a “great replacement” conspiracy theorist who has mocked against a plot to use refugees “to depopulate the Anglo-Saxon race because they are the ones with the strongest bloodlines”.

The crowds themselves contain a number of extremists. At a camp at the border crossing in Coutts, Alberta, four people were arrested and charged with conspiracy to assassinate police officers. Two of them reportedly had ties to a white nationalist network called Diagolon, whose founder, Jeremy MacKenzie, was part of the Ottawa protests.

nytimes Gt

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