Toronto, January 29: Thousands of protesters gathered in front of Canada’s Parliament on Saturday in a raucous demonstration, which began as a movement by truckers to challenge a government vaccination mandate but spread to include a wide array of anti-government grievances.

A loosely organized “Freedom Convoy” of trucks set out last weekend from the western province of British Columbia.

The convoy was organized in response to a regulation, implemented this month, that requires truckers returning from the United States to show proof of vaccination. But it recent days, it has broadened to include Canadians, critical of pandemic restrictions in general, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular.

Ahead of Saturday’s protest in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the group as a “small fringe” that held “unacceptable views” and didn’t reflect the majority of Canadians.

The convoy, which left Vancouver earlier this week, had more than 275,000 supporters on Facebook, nearly 40,000 supporters on the encrypted messaging app Telegram and has raised 5.5 million Canadian dollars from around 70,000 donations on GoFundMe.

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