The Canadian “Freedom Convoy” trucker continues to gain momentum, but as a dissident movement in the United States gains support, it’s important to understand exactly what the protests demand.
The ‘Convoy’ claimed its initial protest of 1,600 trucks had grown to 36,000 in the first week, although The Washington Post puts the number closer to 8,000. The cause has garnered attention and support from the international community, a demonstration by American truckers possibly beginning this weekend in Los Angeles around the Super Bowl, the Department of Homeland Security has announced.
In a statement posted to Facebook on January 26, Canadian truckers made their demands clear, which they tied to personal freedoms against government excesses: The truckers demanded in the letter that the Canadian government remove vaccination mandates and end all digital tracking platforms such as the COVID-19 vaccine passport and contact tracing programs.
The convoy also pushed to “end the divisive rhetoric,” which Trudeau referred to when he accused the country’s Conservative Party of “fueling Canadians’ supply chain fears,” reported the Canadian media Global News. Trudeau also accused the truckers of “hate, abuse and racism”, according to the Independent.
“Specifically, it’s about getting rid of warrants,” Canadian trucker Mat Mackenzie told America’s Newsroom last week. “A lot of people think it has to do with truckers’ mandate in terms of border crossing, but really it’s about giving freedom back to all Canadians.”
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“It’s freedom of choice,” he added. “So no more restrictions with masks, leave it up to the people. Most of us are vaccinated, it’s not about vaccinations.”
The demands now include a request for the resignation of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Vox reported.
Truckers cited the UK as the best model to follow: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated on January 19 that the country would remove all COVID restrictions from January 27. He officially announced on February 9 that all restrictions would be lowered in two weeks, the Guardian reported.
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The United States and Canada have each implemented vaccination mandates for incoming foreign travelers, with the Canadian mandate beginning January 15 and the US mandate beginning January 22.
“After January 15, 2022, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will only be permitted to enter Canada if they meet the criteria for limited exceptions,” the Public Health Agency of Canada wrote in a statement. “Non-exempt unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will be barred from entering Canada.”
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The “freedom convoy” began on January 22, but really came to a head on January 29 as various smaller convoys converged in Ottawa to begin the most sustained part of the protest outside the Canadian Parliament.
Trudeau and the Canadian Trucking Alliance said 90% of Canadian truckers have been vaccinated.
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Alan Bedard, president and CEO of Canada’s largest trucking company, TFI International Inc., said companies are reassigning unvaccinated truckers to domestic routes to avoid the warrant, National Newswatch reported.
And a poll published by Maru Public Opinion on January 25 found that 77% of Canadians believe it is acceptable to prevent unvaccinated people from entering public spaces and premises.