- A Canadian judge ruled that protesting truckers in Ottawa have to stop honking horns for 10 days.
- Demonstrators have filled the streets of the capital since January 28 to protest vaccine mandates.
- The noise from their horns interfered with Ottawa residents’ “right to quiet,” the judge said.
An Ontario judge on Monday banned protesting truckers from honking their horns incessantly or blowing airhorns for 10 days after hundreds of demonstrators in large vehicles and trucks filled the streets of central Ottawa to challenge Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Truckers and protestors have blocked roads in the Canadian capital since January 28 in a mass demonstration that led Ottawa’s mayor to announce a state of emergency earlier this week.
In his Monday ruling, Superior Court Judge Hugh McLean said that the noise from the truckers blaring their horns interfered with “citizens’ right to quiet,” according to The Ottawa Citizen.
While Canadians have a right to protest, he said, the noise from the horns could potentially cause long-term hearing damage to residents, per the outlet.
“Tooting a horn is not an expression of any great thought,” said McLean, according to CBC News.
McLean’s ruling emerged from a $9.8 million class-action lawsuit filed by 21-year-old downtown resident Zexi Li against nearly six dozen truckers, reported The Toronto Star.
At the hearing, Paul Champ, the lawyer representing Li, said that horns were blasted in Ottawa at volumes of 105 to 120 decibels (about the volume level of a rock concert), CBC reported.
“Every hour this goes by, there is harm to the people of Centretown,” he said, referring to an area of downtown Ottawa.
Li claims the noisy protests have caused her emotional distress, sleeping difficulties, and disrupted the peace of her home, among other things, and is seeking damages, The Star reported.
In her complaint, she said all members of the suit were “living in daily torment” due to the truck drivers’ actions.
Lawyer Keith Wilson, who is representing three of the respondents in Li’s case, said at the hearing that the protests were an issue of freedom of expression, per the Citizen.
“This is a spontaneous grassroots phenomena that started in Canada and is now spreading around the world in response to what we’ve all had to endure for the last two years. It’s an effort to end that harm and that hardship,” he said.
Judge McLean said the injunction is temporary as he will need to be presented with more evidence in the case, reported Toronto-based news outlet CP24 News.
It is not immediately clear how the ruling will be enforced, but anyone who defies an injunction in Canada may be charged with contempt of court.