Community Solidarity Ottawa, a coalition of local labour unions, community organizations and residents, says the Rolling Thunder Ottawa motorcycle ride that is expected to roar into town on Friday and Saturday is not the bike rally in support of veterans that it claims to be, but rather little more than an extension of the “Freedom Convoy” that tied up the city’s downtown core in February.
“’Rolling Thunder’ is a direct threat to our community, and the far-right politics it brings with it are a broader threat to our safety and democracy,” the group said in a media release Saturday.
Up to 1,000 motorcycles and other vehicles are expected to arrive on Parliament Hill for a rally at about 6 p.m. on Friday, April 29, with Saturday’s program featuring a parade of bikes escorted by Ottawa police from the St. Laurent Shopping Centre to the National War Memorial.
According to CSO’s release, other convoy groups are also planning events in Ottawa throughout the weekend.
Rolling Thunder Ottawa’s website contains little information about the group, but one of its three listed “partners” is Live From The Shed, a Waterloo-based Youtube channel that purports to share “the stories of truckers, volunteers, streamers and other heroes from the Freedom Convoy to Ottawa and the wider Canadian Freedom Movement.”
Another of the rally’s partners is Freedom Fighters Canada, whose stated goal is “the end of all government mandates; the end of all tyrannical bills and legislature.”
The third is Veterans for Freedom, whose mission is “to rally Canadian Armed Forces veterans across Canada by mobilizing and sustaining lawful civic action in order to restore the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians.”
Grassroots organization Horizon Ottawa, meanwhile, has launched a petition calling on city officials to condemn the rally, and for the Ottawa Police Service to withdraw its planning and logistical support.
“It’s important that the city and the police listen to community voices that are speaking out in opposition to this new extension of the occupation,” said Sam Hersh, director at Horizon Ottawa. “When it comes to the occupation, Ottawa residents are clear: never again.”
Ottawa Police Service interim chief Steve Bell is expected to provide an update on police preparations for the convoy during the Ottawa Police Services Board meeting on Monday.