The convoy of Canadian truckers and supporters undertook a cross-country journey to Ottawa to protest over Covid restrictions
After a week-long drive from British Columbia province, a gaggle of Canadian long-haul truck drivers – dubbed the ‘Freedom Convoy’ – made its manner throughout the nation to Ottawa, the nationwide capital within the Japanese province of Ontario on Saturday. The large rigs now dominate the nationwide capital, casting an extended shadow over political discourse each within the nation and past. Hundreds of truckers, and supporters, proceed to protest towards the federal authorities’s vaccine mandates and different Covid-19 insurance policies – beneath the glare of legislation enforcement officers and the nationwide media highlight. Right here’s what we all know to this point.
1. So, what kicked off the ‘Freedom Convoy’ precisely?
Till mid-January, cross-border truck drivers in Canada had been exempt from vaccine necessities – that means they might drive to the US and again without having to show vaccination standing. After the federal government instituted a mandate that imposed quarantine on unvaccinated drivers, a band of truckers in western Canada organized a cross-country drive to protest in Ottawa.
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The motion gathered momentum and public help because it traveled east. It additionally garnered the backing of those that are against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal authorities and that of anti-vaccine mandate teams annoyed with pandemic restrictions that they view as “political overreach.” In keeping with an announcement by organizers, the convoy calls for that federal and provincial governments shut down vaccine passports and all different “compulsory vaccine contact tracing applications,” and “terminate Covid-19 vaccine mandates.”
Are there actually 1000’s of vans on the highway?
In its assertion on Wednesday, the organizers mentioned that “though our preliminary convoy [was] estimated to be 1,600 vans, that quantity considerably elevated to 36,000 vans in just some days. It’s now estimated that the variety of heavy vans heading to Ottawa is nearer to 50,000.” Nonetheless, nationwide media retailers and legislation enforcement our bodies have reported anyplace from “lots of” of vans to figures within the low 1000’s over the previous week. Some calculations have additionally accounted for vehicles and SUVs which have additionally apparently latched onto the convoy. The actual determine seemingly lies someplace in between – with the Canadian Trucking Alliance having estimated that the vaccine mandate would have an effect on some 16,000 drivers because it claimed that between 85-90% of the nation’s 120,000 cross-border truckers have been jabbed.
3. Do the truckers have widespread help?
Over the previous week, movies on social media platforms and information footage have confirmed vans and different autos chugging alongside highways and metropolis streets, cheered on by crowds of individuals gathered on the roadsides and overpasses. Giant teams of individuals have additionally been waving Canadian flags and holding up indicators that take purpose at each Trudeau and his insurance policies. The organizers have claimed to “have the help of thousands and thousands of Canadians from throughout the nation.” Whereas authorities haven’t launched figures concerning the quantity of people that arrived in Ottawa, native police sources informed media retailers that the crowds within the capital’s Downtown space and Parliament Hill had been much like these seen throughout massive gatherings on main public holidays – usually operating into the tens of 1000’s. Studies in Canadian media have additionally highlighted crowds gathering for native rallies being held at varied locations in help of the Freedom Convoy. One other metric that hinted on the motion’s wider reputation is a GoFundMe marketing campaign that has seen Can$ 8.6 million (US$ 6.7 million) raised from over 108,000 folks over the previous week.
Nonetheless, the truckers’ demonstration has additionally prompted criticism from those that take into account its individuals to be “far-right” and spreading “disinformation.” Ottawa police have informed the media they had been getting ready for counter-protests and that they’ve acquired a “direct risk” geared toward officers from an unspecified particular person. Officers have additionally been warning some “extremist” teams may attempt to capitalize on the mass protest, with New Democratic Celebration chief going so far as saying that some “components” had been “trying to show the convoy right into a Canadian model of the terrorist assaults on the US Capitol.”
4. How lengthy will the truckers’ protest final?
In keeping with a operating clock on the group’s official webpage, the “Countdown to Freedom” ends in lower than a day, as of the time of writing. The newest updates about their itinerary for Sunday present a prayer service for 11 am (Japanese Commonplace Time) and a press convention at 1 pm, the place further particulars could also be introduced. The protesters had deliberate to encamp in Ottawa for not less than the weekend, however police sources have instructed that the rally might probably proceed into the following week.
5. Has the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest in Ottawa been peaceable?
The town’s police pressure has reportedly been augmented by officers from different elements of the province in addition to members of the nationwide safety and intelligence group to cease potential unrest. Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly had described the state of affairs on Friday as “distinctive, fluid, dangerous, and vital” and warned of threats from “lone wolf” actors who could have infiltrated the crowds. He additionally warned of “social media actors” who’re “inciting hate, violence, and in some circumstances, criminality to happen.”
Nonetheless, no violence, arrests or accidents have been reported by authorities to this point and the convoy organizers have mentioned the “motion is a peaceable protest” and does “not condone any acts of violence.” In an announcement on Friday, the Freedom Convoy organizers had urged individuals to “deal with all cops with respect” and “not make any kind of risk.”
6. The place is Justin Trudeau in all of this?
Prime Minister Trudeau and his household had been apparently shifted to an “undisclosed location” in Ottawa on Saturday as a result of safety considerations. A number of vans within the convoy displayed slogans and indicators equivalent to “F**okay Trudeau,” with protesters apparently utilizing as a rallying cry his earlier dismissal of the motion because the voices of a “fringe minority” that harbored “unacceptable views.” Some have reportedly referred to as for Trudeau to be charged with treason or crushed up. In certainly one of his final interviews previous to being moved, Trudeau expressed concern on Friday concerning the potential for violence – claiming the motion has “morphed into one thing lots bigger” however was nonetheless “a really small, very offended group … who’re actually making an attempt to lash out.”
7. What are folks exterior Canada saying about truckers’ protest?
The weird scale and scope of the protest has captured public consideration exterior the nation. Former US President Donald Trump praised the convoy individuals at a rally in Texas on Saturday, noting that they had been “doing extra to defend American freedom than our personal leaders by far.” Different outstanding people which have spoken in help embrace Tesla CEO Elon Musk, podcaster Joe Rogan and comic Russell Model. Reactions from some liberal pundits and US media has been principally adverse, with some opinions linking the protesting truckers to far-right teams, white supremacist ideologies and Covid misinformation. The Washington Put up has printed an opinion piece calling on Canada to “confront the poisonous ‘Freedom Convoy’ head-on,” through which columnist David Moscrop described the truckers as “a fringe group” and claimed they had been “pushed by a generalized rage, misplaced anger about provide chain challenges and antigovernment sentiment.”