Let’s be clear. The Trucker’s so-called Freedom Convoy wending its way to Ottawa across the Trans Canada highway is NOT a fine example of free speech, or the defence of democracy and civil liberties. Quite the contrary. As some of its own organizers and supporters have stated, it is coming perilously close to the disgraceful anti-democratic insurrection that took place in Washington on January 6, 2021. [i]
In that case, the rioters were egged on by the disgraced and twice-impeached former president Donald Trump. In our case, they are being encouraged by none other than several leading MPs in the Conservative Party of Canada, including former leader Andrew Scheer. This shocking display of irresponsible political opportunism needs to be seen for what it is. In case you missed it, here are some of their dangerously over the top tweets:
Scheer: “Thank you Truckers! Trudeau is attacking personal liberty and threatening everyone’s ability to get groceries because of his overreach of vaccine mandates. He is the biggest threat to freedom in Canada.”
Deputy Leader Candace Bergen: “Conservatives have been opposed to federally mandated vaccines since Trudeau introduced them, and we oppose the mandatory vaccine on truckers.”
And the ever vitriolic Pierre Poilievre, potential future leader of the party: “COVID has become a never-ending excuse for power-hungry authorities to replace our freedom with their control. Enough. Re-open our businesses. Let our truckers drive and restore freedom for all.”
Hogwash. But dangerous hogwash. The truckers’ own union, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, has stated categorically that they do not support the convoy or the position taken by the rogue truckers, noting that vaccination rates are at least on a par with the general population and that the protesters represent only a very small percentage of their cohort. All federal political parties except the Conservatives have also condemned the plan. But leader Erin O’Toole bobs and weaves, trying hard not to commit to anything, and certainly not to appear critical of the truckers.
Keep in mind that this vaccine mandate has not come as a surprise to these malcontents. The government announced its decision to require truckers to be vaccinated in order to return to Canada (without a 14-day quarantine) in early November, or three months ago. Taken by surprise?
Worse still, what seems to have been lost in the wash is the fact that the Biden administration has now imposed a vaccination mandate on truckers entering the U.S. So what is the point of this protest? These same outliers will not even be allowed to enter the U.S., never mind return….
And now the whole thing is morphing out of control, with the lunatic fringe of anti-vaxxers and other lost causes attaching themselves like leeches to the protest. Some estimates place the number of trucks heading to Ottawa at 2,000, a figure that, if accurate, will surely cause chaos in the nation’s capital over the weekend at the very least.
You know things are getting out of hand when even that stalwart supporter of all things Conservative, the Globe and Mail, has roundly criticized the whole plan in no uncertain terms. The last word goes to that paper’s editorial of January 27, 2021:
“Why are some Conservative MPs loudly supporting a small group of denialists in big rigs? Why are they buying into an anarchic, anti-social distortion of freedom” that’s imported from the U.S.? …Mr. O’Toole needs to stand up for the silent majority of Canadians…who understand that the past two years have been a real public-health crisis, not a hoax. He would be doing himself, his country and his party a favour.”