Canadian journalist says 'softer approach' didn't work with protesters

Source: 1News

A Canadian journalist says the "softer approach" being used by NZ police against Parliament protesters didn't work in Ottawa with the trucker protest.

Ottawa Police have made a lot of progress in clearing protesters out, Globe and Mail reporter Marieke Walsh told Q+A's Jack Tame.

Globe and Mail reporter Marieke Walsh told Q+A's Jack Tame she knows the New Zealand Government and police are taking a “softer approach” to the protesters.

“That’s what the police did the first three weeks here in Ottawa, it did not work and led to a lot of unsafe and illegal activity, so now they are going in with force," Walsh says.

READ MORE: Alternative to protest de-escalation strategy tear gas, batons - Coster

The Canadian government has taken steps to invoke the “emergency act” in the past few days, Walsh said this is the first time the act has ever been used.

“It essentially gives the government sweeping powers as well as allowing it to then give police and other businesses sweeping powers.

"So, for example, they are compelling tow truck companies to work with police, they are allowing banks to freeze accounts without a court order,” she said.

Walsh said the emergency powers are also allowing police to declare the parliamentary precinct a protected area, “to ban people from being there, to declare areas critical infrastructure that will prevent the protests from happening".

One measure the government has enforced is that it’s now illegal for protesters to bring their children, “those people who are bringing kids [to the protest] can face fines and prison time".

There is public support for the protest in Canada, but it’s a minority of people Walsh said, “about 30 per cent early in the protest said they support the cause of the convoy but now we’re seeing a big change and shift in sentiment, about how they are behaving.

"They have completely upended the lives of downtown Ottawa residents for three weeks now, people are angry at how they are behaving.”

In Canada, truckers have used their vehicles to block critical infrastructure which currently isn’t happening in New Zealand.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told Q+A: “We are doing what we believe is the right thing to do to achieve the safest outcome for everyone involved in the situation.

"There’s no doubt that this protest is unlawful and unreasonable, but our law does protect the right to protest and it’s a balancing act.

“Clearly this protest has crossed a line, our focus right now is making sure we can get the safest resolution for all concerned.“

Coster said currently, the police have no plans to force protesters off Parliament grounds.

Sunday marks day 13 of the anti-mandate protesters camped outside Parliament in Wellington.