9 arrested as pro- and anti-migration protesters clash in Ottawa
Published Saturday, December 8, 2018 9:35PM EST Last Updated Saturday, December 8, 2018 10:05PM EST
Nine people were arrested after pro- and anti-migration protesters clashed in Ottawa on Saturday.
The protests on Parliament Hill centred around whether or not Canada should adopt the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration, which the federal government says it will sign. The non-binding document, which aims to help countries deal with growing numbers of migrants, including asylum seekers, is expected to adopted at a UN conference in Morocco early next week.
About 400 people attended Saturday’s protest and counter-protest in the capital. The two sides were separated by riot police.
“No hate! No fear! Refugees are welcome here!” one side chanted.
“I want to keep Canada Canadian!” an anti-migration protester told CTV Ottawa. “We’re not going to be able to say who’s coming into this country, how many are coming into this country.”
Although most of the nine protesters that were arrested were released, one man is facing charges after allegedly assaulting an RCMP officer.
The anti-migration camp was joined by Quebec’s far-right nationalist group, La Meute, which translates from French to “the pack.” The group opposes Islam and is known to protest at anti-immigration rallies.
“It gives all our control of the borders not to the people, and I think it’s unjust,” a protester with Quebec’s flag draped over his shoulders said of the UN pact.
“That’s what we’re all here for,” another anti-migration protester said. “We want closed borders and people want to come in here, they’re going to do it the proper way.”
People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, who is opposed to the UN pact, was initially expected at the protest but cancelled early Saturday morning, a member of his party said.
Speaking at a press conference on Dec. 4, Conservative leader Andrew Sheer said that his party is “strongly opposed to Justin Trudeau’s plan to sign Canada on to the UN Global Compact on Migration.”
“It gives influence over Canada’s immigration system to foreign entities,” Scheer said. “It attempts to influence how our free and independent media report on immigration issues. And it could open the door to foreign bureaucrats telling Canada how to manage our borders. Canadians and Canadians alone should make decisions on who comes into our country and under what circumstances.”
At the time, Scheer also said that he will put a motion forward in the House of Commons that will urge the government not sign the pact.
In the face of criticism from the right, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau firmly defended his government’s position.
“I think one of the things that Canadians can be proud of is that we are showing leadership on one of the important issues around the world, which is migrations and immigration,” he said in Ottawa earlier this week.
“We are demonstrating that rigorous systems and an open policy actually leads to economic growth and economic advantages and stronger communities. And being able to do this in a way that shows global leadership -- and, of course, it does not impinge upon on our sovereignty -- it’s something, I think, Canadians can be proud of.”
Many counter-protesters on Saturday mirrored Trudeau’s stance.
“We want to show that there’s more of a presence of people against white supremacy than for it,” said a counter-protester.
“We’re here to show them and everyone who is watching this that refugees and all migrants absolutely have a place here,” another added.
Similar protests and counter-protests were held across Western Canada Saturday in cities like Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton. As in Ottawa, many participants donned yellow reflective safety vests like the protesters that have been flooding France’s streets for the past four weeks. Many protesters on the anti-migration side also used Saturday to vent their frustrations against the carbon tax.