Canadian Truckers Stage Major Protest Against COVID Laws
Protesters demand an end to COVID mandates, blocking roads and taking over the capital.
By: Kirsten Brooker | February 11, 2022 | 708 Words
Protests in Canada’s capital city and the Ambassador Bridge have many Canadian officials outraged. The protest was started by truckers who are against new vaccine laws. It began on January 22, 2022, and soon the city of Ottawa was occupied by trucks.
The Ambassador Bridge is a major crossing between Canada’s Ontario province and the U.S. city of Detroit. Traffic has been blocked for several days by truckers. The drivers of the big rigs show no signs of relenting until they get what they want.
What Started It?
What began as a “Freedom Convoy” against vaccine mandates has escalated into an all-out revolt against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his handling of the coronavirus. The convoy drove cross-country from Vancouver to Ottawa, where they set up base. The group started a rally that has lasted about two weeks and is still going.
The truckers and other citizens are unhappy with a new law on the pandemic and refuse to move their vehicles until it is changed and their freedoms restored. The order requires any citizens returning to Canada from the U.S. to be vaccinated or spend 14 days in quarantine upon re-entry. This especially affects truckers, as they may have to travel over the border regularly. The demonstrators would also like to see the end of mask rules, lockdowns, and other restrictions.
A lot of goods travel from the U.S. to Canada over the Ambassador Bridge. Any efforts to remove the blockade have been unsuccessful. Canadian police have tried to redirect traffic to another bridge, but with so much traffic now clogging that area, travelers are often at a standstill.
Moving the Truckers
Government agencies are working to try and find ways to get the truckers to move. So far, the protesters have shown no willingness to back down. So, what will happen next?
One idea is to simply tow the trucks away, but towing companies are not helping. Some companies support the protest, and others fear that the job would not be easy without cooperation from the truckers.
The second idea is to deny the protesters food and fuel. An online GoFundMe account earned the truckers nearly C$10 million, but the company refused to hand out the donations. Another website set up a crowdfunding page that people could use to donate, but the Ontario government froze the money and outlawed the page.
Should Canada call in the troops? The Canadian military has been suggested as a way to end the domestic conflict. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose not to involve the military and said, “One has to be very, very cautious before deploying military in situations engaging Canadians.”
Seemingly the final option is to work out a deal. That may be difficult since Trudeau has refused to meet with or speak to any of the protest members. He refers to the protesters as a “fringe minority,” meaning that they are a small group of radicals with strong opinions that very few people agree with. Contrary to Trudeau’s view, a survey showed that nearly half of the population agrees with the truckers’ overall goals, but many do not support the protest itself.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency and threatened to punish the protesters with fines. He said, “It’s an illegal occupation. It’s no longer a protest,” adding that the truckers are blocking key services. He said he will push for new laws to crack down on the event.
How long will this continue? Will the Canadian government work out a compromise with the protesters? Or will it create new laws to punish them?
Update: The Ambassador Bridge was cleared by Canadian police on Sunday, February 13. Several protesters were arrested. The bridge is now reopened for traffic – but the city of Ottawa is still occupied by protesters. The demonstration has been copied in other countries, including New Zealand and France.