Writer: Lois

Truck drivers gather on the Don Mills bridge over Highway 401 to support the Freedom Convoy headed to Ottawa, January 27, 2022. Photo: Steve Russell / Getty Images / Toronto Star

The crowds of truckers and citizens in the “Freedom Convoy” protesting Canada’s vaccine mandates for truckers have pledged to stay in the country’s capital of Ottawa until officials end the measures.

The group has raised over 9.7 million CAD in donations, which is reportedly enough to sustain the protest in the capital for up to four years.

From January 15 this year, the Canadian government imposed a rule on all truck drivers entering Canada from America to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated or otherwise be denied entry and put in a two-week quarantine.

The US government enforced the same policy last week for truckers entering America from Canada. The measure will affect 26,000 to 160,000 truck drivers who regularly pass across the border, and the anger and frustration among many truck drivers at this rule sparked the Freedom Convoy.

On Monday, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said all options are on the table to end the Freedom Convoy, from negotiation to enforcement.

RT News reported that the protest organisers estimated 1,600 trucks would participate in the convoy. This number then shot up to 36,000 trucks, then up to 50,000. However, mainstream media and law enforcement have reported protest participant numbers as between the hundreds to low thousands in the past week.

The peaceful protest began on January 23 and arrived in Ottawa on January 29. However, Canada’s mainstream media, which is 70 per cent funded by the government, has attempted to portray the convoy as violent.

Gord Magill, a convoy participant and trucker with over 25 years of experience in the industry, has stated that mainstream media only interviewed a couple of protestors who do not represent the views of the convoy.

“. . .tarring a demonstration that drew in excess of 100,000 people as racist and full of fringe extremists based on the actions of two people is quite a reach, proof of nothing so much as the fact that the media is clutching at straws to smear us—which are in short supply,” Mr Magill stated in an op-ed published in Newsweek.

“Despite temperatures around -20C, I saw and met many women and men, from across the political spectrum, from disparate socioeconomic backgrounds, French- and English-speaking alike, young and old, vaccinated and unvaccinated, gathered to donate their time and the fruits of their culinary talents, such as hot bowls of chili and fresh baked goods, plus sandwiches, snacks, and beverages for the road,” wrote Travis Smith, an associate professor of political science at Concordia University in Montreal who attended the rally.

“They delivered additional items donated by people who couldn’t make it in person, helped to shuttle people around, and offered what other assistance they could — including offers of accommodations or a place to take a hot shower.”

Various videos and posts show protestors cleaning the streets and washing statutes.

“After a night of protests, Canadians band together to ensure the streets are cleaned up. The world is watching. Keep it peaceful, keep it powerful, keep it Canadian,” reads one post from Monday.

“It’s just awesome to be part of the fringe minority,” said a trucker who woke up in the morning with over 50 boxes of donated food with notes thanking the truckers for their fight for the freedom of Canadians.

Mr Trudeau referred to the protestors as a fringe minority with unacceptable views last week.

“It would appear that the so-called ‘fringe minority’ is actually the government,” tweeted Elon Musk, in support of the truckers.

“Taking a break from politics for a while. Here’s a nice photo of trucks,” he said in another tweet, adding a photo of dozens of trucks along a highway.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stayed away from the protest.

“I have also chosen not to go anywhere near protests that have expressed hateful rhetoric, violence toward fellow citizens, and a disrespect not just for science but the frontline health workers and 90% of truckers who have been doing the right thing to keep Canadians safe and put food on our table,” said Mr Trudeau on Monday.

Mr Trudeau, who is fully vaccinated and received his booster shot on January 4, then announced he has tested positive for COVID-19. He is currently staying in an undisclosed location.

Meanwhile, Scott Moe, premier of Canadian province Saskatchewan, has stated for the second time that he plans to end the vaccine passport system in his region soon.

“It [the vaccine passport system] increased our vaccination rates tremendously, but I think we’re getting to a point now where those that are not vaccinated likely aren’t going to get vaccinated,” said Mr Moe in an interview with John Gormley from CJME/CKOM radio.

Australian truck drivers are also gathering in Canberra to protest vaccine mandates, as Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews has declared that he will soon make COVID-19 booster shots mandatory.

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