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'Freedom convoy' shifts gears to protest in Vancouver, not Victoria

The 'bearhug' operation could be in the Lower Mainland this Sunday
James Bauder is planning to lead convoy protests across the Lower Mainland the weekend of March 19 and 20.

One of the leaders of the Ottawa truck convoy protests is headed to the Lower Mainland this weekend and encouraging others to join him.

James Bauder, who helped start the truck convoy movement, had planned on driving to Vancouver Island last weekend and potentially staying in Victoria for months, according to videos he's posted online, in what he's calling 'Bearhug B.C.'. In more recent videos he said plans were to head to the Lower Mainland and Metro Vancouver as well as Vancouver Island, leaving Calgary for Kamloops on Saturday and probably arriving in the area Sunday.

While in many of his videos Bauder directs people to the Canada Unity website, which he leads, for plans and itineraries the site currently only shows a route from a Subway restaurant in St. John's to the Pacific Highway border crossing where protests occurred earlier this year.

There are also tips about participation in the convoy, and tops, but no dates or times.

In the videos, Bauder promises a variety of events, from media blockades to community clean-up, but his website doesn't list any yet.

While regulations around masks and vaccines are changing, Bauder says the convoy is still planning to move forward with the "bearhug" operation, focusing on B.C. public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and the NDP, though specifics aren't clear. In one video he says things will end when the laws end, but also that it won't end when the mandates are lifted because they could be brought back. Bauder also says he wants to see politicians criminally charged for the health regulations.

In B.C. nearly 94 per cent of adults have been vaccinated against COVID-19 at least once.

Multiple social media posts for an unrelated, though similar, event on March 19 led by anti-mask and anti-vax protester Chris Sky are also being shared online.

With files from Cindy E. Harnett and Tyler Orton