The Bikers Are Coming

News reports say there is a protest planned for downtown Ottawa this weekend. Motorcycles not trucks this time.

Police have told the organizers that protest vehicles are not permitted downtown at the moment. The bikers say they are coming anyway. Do you see a potential conflict here?

I’m not going to comment on the cause. Indeed, I haven’t looked at the website to see exactly what the cause is. Presumably a protest against government policies. 

The city can restrict vehicles as it sees fit. Wellington Street is still not open in front of Parliament Hill. No-one seems to know when or if vehicles will be allowed there again.

I don’t think anyone is worried about this protest turning into a repetition of January’s Freedom Convoy, which paralyzed downtown Ottawa for three weeks. Clearing out 18-wheelers was a challenge.

If the bikers overstay their welcome this weekend then one bulldozer would probably solve the problem. Given that, I might have let them onto Wellington, but I understand the city’s concerns. It won’t hurt anyone oif the bikers have to walk a few blocks.

The idea of this rally brings back memories though. Twelve years ago this Spring, I was involved in a biker rally on Parliament Hill. 

I was not a participant. I have never driven a motorcycle. But I was working for a Member of Parliament who had been asked to sponsor an event pout on by the Jewish Motorcyclists Association.

It was the annual Ride to Remember, which brings together bikers from different countries to remember the horrors of the Second World War Holocaust, and to jointly pledge “Never Again.”

 Organizers had promised 10,000 bikes and thousands of non-bikers at the rally. We asked the city about closing Wellington Street to alow the bikes to be parked there. The city said no.

Turns out the organizers were optimistic. I think in the end there were about 500 motorcycles and perhaps 1,500 at the rally. Still fairly impressive when the bikes all lined up. It sounds from news reports as if a similar number of bikes is being expected this weekend.

In 2012, the city did close a portion of Metcalfe Street at Wellington to give the participants a place to park their bikes. Nobody minded having to walk a block on a sunny Spring day.

I suspect this weekend there will be a fair amount of anger in the speeches. There wasn’t back then. Just sorrow as we remembered six million dead Jews. Once the speeches were over, everyone went their separate ways. 

Those times seem so different. I still have the t-shirt.



  1. “If the bikers overstay their welcome this weekend then one bulldozer would probably solve the problem.” This sounds like you have a prejudice against motorcyclists. Would you suggest the same action if it was a bicycle or an electric car rally?

    You say you are a journalist. If that is the case, why didn’t you do the research? Bias in journalism is why people don’t trust the media much any more.

    “What we are there to do is to celebrate our freedom. We are going to put a wreath at the foot of the monument. This is not a protest of the government.” – Neil, the organizer –

    1. No prejudice against bikers, quite the contrary. I was poking fun at the city that in January couldn’t figure out how to call a tow truck and now feels it has to ban motorcycles from the core.

      Even if the bikers wanted to occupy the city (of which there is no evidence) it wouldn’t be hard to remove their vehicles, so there is no reason to ban them from downtown.

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