[Rushtalk] The truckers have changed Canada forever

Carl Spitzer {C Juno} cwsiv at juno.com
Thu Mar 3 09:24:52 MST 2022

The truckers have changed Canada forever

The Freedom Convoy has shaken Canadian politics to its core.

Rupa Subramanya 

18th February 2022
The truckers have changed Canada forever

Topics Covid-19 
On Monday 14 February, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau sent an
unlikely Valentine’s gift to his citizens, invoking rarely used
emergency powers, which came into effect the next day. This was in
response to the ‘Freedom Convoy’ of thousands of truckers and protesters
who have gathered in the nation’s capital, Ottawa. Trudeau claimed that
the protests were not peaceful, implying that the crisis could not be
solved by normal policing under existing statutes. The reality is that,
during more than two weeks of protests, Ottawa’s protesters are guilty
of little more than municipal traffic and noise infractions. There has
been no violence. Nevertheless, two of the protest leaders, Tamara Lich
and Chris Barber, have been detained by police under the emergency

The threshold for invoking emergency powers in Canada is supposed to be
high. Indeed, similar powers have only been used in the two world wars
and, controversially, in 1970, when then prime minister Pierre Trudeau,
Justin’s father, used emergency powers to suppress a separatist movement
in Quebec. His son’s use of emergency powers, in the context of a
peaceful protest, has been criticised by the Canadian Civil Liberties
Association, which has argued that the necessary threshold has not been
met to justify invoking these draconian powers. It should also be noted
that Trudeau and his government have consistently refused to meet and
even to listen to the protesters’ grievances, despite the protesters
themselves being willing to engage in dialogue.

Strangely, the most problematic element of the protest – a trucker
blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor, Ontario to
Detroit, Michigan, over which 25 per cent of US-Canada trade travels –
was peacefully resolved the weekend before Trudeau’s proclamation, by
the provincial police. Meanwhile, on the same day that Trudeau declared
his emergency, another blockade – on the border between Alberta and the
US state of Montana – ended peacefully and without the use of force. The
police and the protesters ended up hugging each other after the issue
was resolved. 

As the protests have gone on, sections of Canada’s governing class,
especially in Ottawa, have started to sound more like Soviet-era
authoritarians than friendly local officials. Earlier this week,
following a hack, a list of donors to a Freedom Convoy crowdfunding page
was leaked and shared with the media. The illegally obtained donor list
has been gleefully shared by public officials, who have relished the
chance to expose the private details of their fellow citizens as
punishment for exercising their constitutional right to donate to a
peaceful protest. Norms of privacy and basic decency appear to have
totally collapsed. While those characterised as ‘insurrectionists’ and
‘mercenaries’ continue to seek dialogue and peaceful engagement, large
swathes of Canada’s ‘progressive’ elite stand exposed as little more
than a latter-day lynch mob.

One root of the present crisis is that the political class and its echo
chamber in large sections of the mainstream media had already fixed on a
narrative before the protesters had even arrived in Ottawa. Trudeau
asserted that the truckers were a small fringe of extremists who held
‘unacceptable views’. It was widely assumed that the protests would
fizzle out after a day or two, and the whole thing could be forgotten. 

The peace that could have been

The peace that could have been

Tim Black
I walked through the protests on the first day, as truckers and other
protesters were arriving, and realised immediately that the reality on
the ground was nothing like the received narrative. The protesters
spanned the demographic diversity of Canada, including young and old
people, people of colour and new immigrants. The signs and messages they
held up were largely about love, unity, peace and inclusiveness – not
the hate and divisiveness I had been told to expect. The many stories I
heard shattered the stereotypes that the protesters and truckers were
all anti-science, anti-vaxxers, racists, misogynists and would-be

In fact, some of the protesters, including the convoy organisers, are
vaccinated. Others have taken vaccines in the past, such as the annual
winter flu shot, but are wary of the Covid-19 vaccines. Some noted the
politicisation and divisiveness caused by vaccine mandates, while others
objected to the mandates in principle, as a violation of bodily autonomy
and freedom of choice. Others were animated by the larger cause of
protesting against what they saw as government overreach and the
encroachment on individual liberty represented by the whole slew of
Covid measures, including lockdowns and other restrictions – many of
which remain much more stringent in Canada than in most of the advanced

The peaceful civil disobedience that Trudeau is cracking down on has at
times felt like a winter carnival, featuring community kitchens, live
music and bouncy castles. The reality on the ground is very different
from the ‘insurrectionist activity’ and ‘violent intentions’ that the
government and large sections of the media seem determined to see. 

Ironically, whenever Trudeau meets a foreign leader who is dealing with
large-scale protests, he always preaches the gospel of dialogue rather
than crackdown. Most notably, when India’s capital was similarly
paralysed by a blockade of tractors and trucks, as farmers protested
against PM Narendra Modi’s agricultural reforms, Trudeau went so far as
to throw his support behind the protests, which lasted more than a

Why Ukraine must win

Why Ukraine must win

Brendan O'Neill
Canada’s protesters have not, as yet, achieved their stated objective of
removing all federal vaccine mandates and other pandemic-related
restrictions. But their impact has been nothing short of seismic on the
Canadian political scene. Within days of the convoy’s arrival in Ottawa
at the beginning of February, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, who had
been studiously neutral on the protests, was sacked by his own
parliamentary party, some of whom are sympathetic to the protesters’
demands. Ottawa’s police chief, Peter Sloly, resigned on Tuesday
following widespread criticism of his mishandling of the protests.
Meanwhile, facing the heat from a public frustrated and fatigued by
restrictions, the premiers of Canada’s two largest provinces, Ontario
and Quebec, hastily announced plans to accelerate the return to
normality. A proposal in Quebec to ‘tax’ the unvaccinated has also been

Polls show that while many Canadians disagree with the convoy’s tactics,
an increasing percentage are sympathetic to the protesters’ goals of
ending pandemic-related restrictions on normal life. Even Trudeau was
forced to concede that the very protesters he had derided as an
extremist fringe had in fact struck a chord with many Canadians. 

Canada’s state of emergency is a bad look both for Trudeau and the
country he leads. His carefully cultivated ‘progressive’ and ‘woke’
image, which remarkably withstood even images of him in racist
blackface, lies in ruins, as does Canada’s reputation as a country of
pragmatic and caring folk who resolve matters peacefully. What the
protests have made clear is that Trudeau and the power elite surrounding
him have totally misjudged what can only be described as a grassroots
awakening among those Canadians who do not share the presumed
progressive consensus on big government and rule by mandate. 

Remarkably, Trudeau has faced little pushback from the mainstream
political parties, who are fragmented and ineffective. So far, they have
allowed a leader with a minority in parliament, who lost the popular
vote in the last two elections, to essentially have his way. That may be
beginning to change.

Rupa Subramanya is a columnist for the National Post. Follow her on
Twitter: @rupasubramanya.


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