‘I had to do something’: 21-year-old silences trucker protest honking in downtown Ottawa

·2 min read

A 21-year-old resident of Ottawa’s Centretown is being hailed for her role in silencing the constant blaring and honking of truck horns by the protest convoy.

Zexi Li is the lead plaintiff in a proposed C$9.8m class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of local residents after the noise had gone on for more than a week, terrorising the community.

“This situation, quite frankly, really ruffled my feathers,” Ms Li told CTV Morning Live on Tuesday. “I really, really felt that no matter what, I had to do something.

“If that something is to be a voice and be a face — and even be even a target — for people to understand what really is going on here, I was more than willing to do so.”

On Monday an Ontario Superior Court judge granted a 10-day injunction putting a stop to the endless honking of air horns by protesters who have been parked in downtown Toronto for 11 days.

The injunction has more teeth than any change in by-laws as anyone who breaks the order could be found in contempt and face stiff penalties.

“It’s a big win, but it’s also a baby step,” Ms Li said. “We really did deserve some peace and we’re glad to have some, at least for the next 10 days.”

Ms Li notes that she has not even experienced the worst of the noise from the protests, but still found it unbearable. Since stepping forward she has been abused online because of the lawsuit.

Her co-counsel on the suit, Christine Johnson of Champ & Associates, described Ms Li as “very brave” and said that a lot of “vile hatred” had been directed at her client, though there had also been an outpouring of support from across the country.

“It takes a lot of courage, as you can imagine, for a young woman to stand up on behalf of her neighbours … It’s been stressful. It’s been overwhelming and I think she felt as though it was the right thing to do.”

Ms Li says she agrees with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has not met with the convoy protest leaders.

“I fully agree that these people cannot be negotiated with,” she said, noting that she was surprised the situation had reached the point where she was being asked how she thought the protest could be brought to an end.

A follow-up hearing for the class action lawsuit is set for 16 February. It will be decided then if the injunction against the honking can be extended.