Freedom Convoy: Canadian truckers, more protest vaccine mandate
A vaccine mandate for truckers and travelers entering Canada was proverbially the straw that broke the camel’s back and a group of truckers who lost their jobs decided to drive to the nation’s capital Ottawa, Ontario to voice their dissention. The movement has grown exponentially with thousands of semis and private vehicles joining in convoys from across the nation converging on Ottawa on January 29.
The Canadian government has asserted that vaccination is an essential component in moving past the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective Jan. 15, 2022, all travelers entering Canada, including truck drivers, must use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel information, including proof of vaccination. The United States has also followed suit with a similar mandate for truckers coming from Canada and Mexico.
“The small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa who are holding unacceptable views that they are expressing do not represent the views of Canadians who have been there for each other, who know of that following the science and stepping up to protect each other is the best way to continue to ensure our freedoms, our rights, our values, as a country,” Prime Minster Trudeau said Wednesday the 26th of January.
Prime Minster Trudeau also said that Canadians who have stepped up to “do the right thing,” by getting vaccinated are the ones protecting “the freedoms and the rights of Canadians to get back to the things we love to do.”
These statements have angered many Canadians as they have come out in support of their freedoms regardless of their vaccination status and ethnic background in large numbers. The convoys officially broke world records on the longest convoys in history with many over 40 miles long and it was reported that the sound of their air horns was deafening. The total number of trucks is of yet unknown but it is in the tens of thousands. American truckers have also joined. The Canadians citizens have rallied to the cause and at every overpass and side road they gathered waving flags, holding signs and giving out supplies to the drivers.
Brian Hunstad of Saskatchewan said that on Monday the 24th when the convoy came through, it met with much support. “Probably a thousand people by the overpass, cars and lights as far as the eye could see. One of my friends joined the convoy for 60 miles and in Canada we have gravel side roads every two miles and he said on every road there were people waving them on.” Hunstad himself drove to Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan on the 29th to protest at the Provincial Legislature buildings. “It was pretty cool, it was different, we’ve been to a few protests but this was different. No anger, everyone was happy and ready to be done with all these mandates and lockdowns. Just regular people with their families ready for this to be done. Very joyful.”
Hunstad said that there were over 500 trucks registered for the Regina convoy and the numbers overwhelmed the police so they limited the number allowed in the city. Many of the trucks parked in fields and the group was so big there was no official count. “Canadians aren’t like Americans, we don’t wear our flag on our sleeve but it’s different now, I saw vehicles driving around with flags. Saskatchewan has announced that the mandates will be coming down soon but that has nothing to do with our deal, it is just that someone has got to be first.”
Since Jan. 23, 2022 the group’s Go-Fund-Me page has raised over ten million dollars Canadian to cover the cost of the journey and to take care of the truckers who have now settled into Ottawa for the long haul and are making sure their presence is made known by the blast of their horns. The Freedom Convoy organized by Tamara Lich, Benjamin Dichter and Chris Barber held a press conference on Jan. 30, and outlined their goals and plans. They plan to peacefully remain in Ottawa until the government restores the freedom of all Canadians by lifting all Covid mandates and allowing the country to return to normal. They said they have enough funds to remain in the capital for years if necessary. The Prime Minster has declined to meet with the truckers and is currently quarantining after a positive Covid test.
The organizers have joined forces with locals and are supplying the needs of the truckers, showers, hot meals and food. While some of the trucks are lining the streets of Ottawa, many are parked in fields around the city. The group is committed to remaining peaceful, are guarding monuments, shoveling snow, playing hockey, picking up garbage and feeding the homeless.
While many Canadians support the convoy there are some who feel that demanding all mandates be lifted and blocking streets is the wrong way to go about effecting change. Especially as many in the convoy along with flags are sporting F**k Trudeau signs.
In the last election Prime Minster Trudeau received 21 percent of the vote but Canada doesn’t have term limits for their leaders. The convoy leaders feel that they are representing the other 80 percent that don’t have a voice and have lost jobs and businesses due to the lockdowns. In some of the provinces those without a vaccine passport are restricted from shopping, going to gyms, attending sporting events and Quebec was even going to implement a tax on the unvaccinated but that plan is now going to be abandoned.
While thousands gathered in province capitals and in Ottawa, many from both sides of the border gathered at several major US/Canada entrances points. The Sweet Grass, Montana/ Coutts, Alberta crossing saw large numbers gather. Jake Zacharias was there with his drone filming on the 29th. “We saw people, all kinds, vaccinated, unvaccinated uniting, coming together for the first time in 2 years. We saw hope, we saw people who are done with all the mandates, we saw the Canada we used to have. Freedom to choose. Freedom of speech.” He estimated that over 1,000 vehicles were at that crossing.
The truckers, farmers and citizens have remained at this crossing ever since and have slowed traffic to a crawl, with estimates of over a seven hour wait listed on the border website. Yet the emergence lane is clear for emergence vehicles. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have been negotiating with the group with little success and they have threatened the peaceful protesters with arrest. But their efforts to hire tow trucks have met with refusal by local companies to tow the protesters. Residents have been delivering food, fuel and supplies by side roads as the police have barricaded the main highway near Milk River, Alberta and refusing to allow traffic through. On Feb. 1, farmers in tractors broke through the barricade by taking the ditch and going around it, leading a number of tractors, semis and smaller vehicles to join the border group.
“I haven’t been there since Saturday. But what I hear is that the RCMP have blocked all roads going to the border. They are not letting anyone in. The truckers are still holding the line. As far as I know any truckers that wanted to leave were able to leave. And now the RCMP is turning around all traffic at the blockade. Not allowing them to go to the border or to the convoy blockade,” Zacharias said in a recent update.
The Freedom convoy had sparked interest and support world-wide. Across Europe, Central America, Australia and the US truckers are organizing their own convoys for freedom. According to the press conference, “the convoy has started a cultural movement for cultural unity in Canada that has blossomed into a global cultural movement, pushing back against the political class who have failed us and are pushing us into serfdom.”
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