Americans like to think of Canada as a tranquil place where it’s too cold to protest. While Canadians tend to be unfailingly polite, the stereotype of political stability is not entirely accurate. There’s been upheaval over issues involving indigenous people and the Quebecois, but nothing quite like the trucker’s protest that has paralyzed the nation’s capitol, Ottawa.
American observers have compared it to the Dipshit Insurrection but that was over in a matter of hours. The Canadian trucker protest is in its second week. Americans don’t have the attention span to effectively occupy a city for a prolonged period. This protest is more like the “yellow vest” protests against French President Emanuel Macron in 2018-19.
The Canadian truckers seem to have staying power. Why are they protesting? Freedom, man, eh.
Thousands of Canadian truckers are participating in the so-called Freedom Convoy, fighting a vaccine mandate that is forcing all Canadian truckers crossing the US-Canada border to be fully vaccinated or face quarantine in their homes for two weeks when they return.The new rule went into effect in mid-January in Canada and January 22 in the United States. The US Department of Homeland Security now requires non-citizens entering the United States via border crossings or ferry terminals along the US northern and southern borders be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Before this mandate, truckers were exempted from the vaccine requirement and permitted to cross the border, at times testing for Covid-19, even during the 18-month period that the border was closed to non-essential traffic. Truckers were considered vital to keeping supply chains functioning normally.
According to the Canadian government, nearly 90% of Canada’s truckers are fully vaccinated and eligible to cross the border.
90%? I wish any group of Americans had such a high vaccination rate.
It turns out that US Republicans are stirring the pot and encouraging the protestors:
Many members of the GOP have made comments supporting the demonstrations, including former President Donald Trump, who called Trudeau a “far left lunatic” who has “destroyed Canada with insane COVID mandates.”
Florida Man Ron DeSantis and Texas AG Ken Paxton are also stirring the pot despite the distance between their states and the Canadian border. Why? Freedom, man, eh.
The city of Ottawa has declared a state of emergency in the face of big rig madness. The city is paralyzed and not just because it’s winter: the mere thought of a Canadian winter has a paralytic effect on me. There’s also a growing tent city. Canadian truckers are hearty people: winter urban camping sounds most unappealing.
The pandemic and the lockdowns associated it with it have left many stir crazy and others just plain crazy. The so-called Freedom Convoy makes no sense given the high vaxx rates, but it’s turned into a second “yellow vest” fest.
Other than watching Canadian election results, I claim no expertise about Canadian politics. There *has* been a rightward shift, especially in Western Canada. For a supposedly tranquil and stable country, Canada is surprisingly polarized. The cracks have always been there, but they’ve widened during the pandemic. Sound familiar?
Populist anti-vaxx/lockdown fervor has spread across the globe, but it usually comes in short outbursts. The situation in Canada bears watching. It’s unlikely to be as contagious as the Omicron variant but it could spread. Stay tuned.
Freedom, man, eh.
After finishing this post, I read an interview Slate legal eagle Dahlia Lithwick conducted with the Canadian writer Stephen Marche. He doesn’t think Canada is on the verge of civil war. Neither do I.
The last word goes to those Canadian zanies, Barenaked Ladies: