Ottawa Occupation Ends, but Far-Right Threat Remains

The far-right occupation of Ottawa against public health protections came to an end last month after placing workers and vulnerable residents in the capital under siege for three weeks.

Although the occupation itself is now over, observers have warned that similar protests are likely to continue, and that the occupation likely served as an important recruiting drive for far-right organizers. The larger ramifications of the occupation are expected to reverberate for weeks and months to come.

The Maple put together a mini series examining the lessons from the far-right occupation and its long-term impact on communities.

In a special feature, Gabrielle Peters spoke to disabled residents in Ottawa about how the occupation cut them off from their support networks, and how the occupation’s far-right politics threaten disabled people in unique ways.

Alexander Jasper-Jay, a disabled trans man who grew up in Ottawa's suburbs, told Peters: “The mental impact of seeing so many people openly saying that their choice to not wear a mask is worth more than my life on its own is devastating.”

Convoy Occupation’s Politics Pose Unique Threat to Disabled People
“I don’t think people realize the actual freedoms that disabled people have lost – and many were already underserved and isolated.”

The Maple also spoke to workers impacted by business closures caused by the occupation. Juliana Cruz, who works as a cleaner at a store in the Rideau Centre mall, told The Maple she lost hundreds of dollars of wages after mobs of unmasked protesters forced the mall to close during the first weekend of the occupation.

“[The occupiers] just don't respect anyone else,” said Cruz. “They think the virus is a joke.”

Workers Speak Out Against Ottawa Occupation
“We’re not going to get paid for lost wages. We don’t know when these people are going to leave and we’re afraid they’re going to close us down again.”

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