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Ottawa police warn of road closures, increased presence for demonstrations this weekend

Ottawa police say there will be an increased presence and some road closures downtown this weekend because of planned demonstrations, including another march for Palestine and a repeat of the “1 Million March for Children.” 

The protest against teaching children about LGBTQ2S+ people in schools brought hundreds of people to Parliament Hill last month. A second protest was scheduled for Saturday; however, a note on the organizer’s website said the rally had been cancelled. 

“Due to unforeseen circumstances and the Safety and well being of our Canadian brothers and sisters in this fight for our children, we regret to inform you that the 1MillionMarch4Children on Saturday October 21, 2023 in Ottawa, ON and several other cities across Canada have been CANCELLED. Please check your city to confirm if there is a march still taking place there,” the note, attributed to Kamel El-Cheikh, said.

Some people still turned out, however. Around 1 p.m. Saturday, there was a small demonstration on Parliament Hill. Later in the afternoon, about 30 to 40 people marched through the ByWard Market.

Local community groups had also planned a “Protect Trans Kids” rally in Ottawa Saturday that was to begin at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street at 11 a.m.

Ottawa police said in a news release Friday that Metcalfe Street would be closed between Queen Street and Wellington Street on Saturday. Other temporary road impacts may include Wellington Street, Elgin Street, Laurier Avenue and Bank Street.

The closures will add to traffic headaches caused by a rapid bridge replacement on Highway 417 that has the Queensway closed in both directions downtown.

Police warned that there would be zero tolerance for unlawful behaviour and vehicle-based demonstrations and also warned about displaying hate symbols.

Five people were arrested at the last “1 Million March for Children” demonstration, including three for inciting hatred.

On Sunday, another “All Out for Gaza” demonstration is planned in Ottawa.

There have been rallies every weekend in Ottawa since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in support of Palestinians and Israelis. Last weekend, thousands of people marched through Ottawa.

Ottawa police thanked residents demonstrating about the war for remaining peaceful.

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