Ottawa: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family have left their home in the country's capital and shifted to a secret location after a large-scale protest opposing COVID vaccine mandates converged on Parliament Hill, media reports said on Saturday.
What started as a protest dubbed as 'Freedom Convoy' against a vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers has grown into a large demonstration against the Trudeau government's coronavirus regulations.
Thousands of truckers and other protesters converged in the Capital city on Saturday to call for an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Among the people were some kids with their kids, elderly and disabled people. Some even carried signs with aggressive and obscenity-laced rhetoric directed mostly at the Canadian prime minister, according to The Globe and Mail newspaper.
Some of the protesters were seen dancing on the prominent war memorial, prompting condemnation from Canada's top soldier Gen. Wayne Eyre and Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand.
Police are on high alert for possible violence after hundreds of protesters flooded into the parliamentary precinct, despite an extreme cold warning.
"I am sickened to see protesters dance on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrate the National War Memorial. Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not this. Those involved should hang their heads in shame," General Wayne Eyre tweeted.
Anita Anand also condemned this incident saying this "behaviour we're seeing today is beyond reprehensible."
"The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and National War Memorial are sacred sites for our country. I urge all Canadians to treat them with solemnity, out of respect for those who have fought and died for Canada," she said.
Police said nearly 10,000 people were expected to be on hand by day's end. Media reports say that by Saturday evening the force did not have an official estimate of the crowd's size.
On Friday, Trudeau told media he was concerned the protest would turn violent, but said the convoy represented a "small fringe minority" who "do not represent the views of Canadians."