I, like you, suffer from COVID fatigue. I fear for my friends and members of our community who seem to have transformed their fatigue into support for the convoy of protestors headed towards Ottawa.
This protest is dangerous and is being organized and led by fringe-political figures and extremists.
I sympathize with how everyone feels about the pandemic – and that includes those who are strongly opposed to vaccinations and mask mandates. However, I fear that groups are taking advantage of your COVID fatigue and weaponizing it to further the goals of their organization or ideology, or for their financial gain.
This convoy began as a protest against vaccine mandates that will keep unvaxxed Canadian truck drivers from entering the US. As a baseline fact, we all need to understand that even if they wanted to, the Prime Minister and Canadian federal government aren’t the ones stopping truckers from entering the US. The Biden government now requires all essential or non-essential travellers (including truck drivers) to be fully vaccinated to enter the US (source 1). The US government announced this back in October, so truck drivers have known this for several months (source 2). This issue is out of the PM’s hands.
Only 10% of truckers who cross into the US (not 10% of all truckers) are impacted by the US’s vaccine requirements (approx. 12,000 truckers total). This is a minority of the trucking industry, and thus will not significantly affect the supply chain (source 3).
Something we all need to remember as Jan 29th (the day of the protest) approaches is that these protesters – whether extremist, anti-vaxx or anti-mandate, are the very loud minority. Most Canadians have gotten vaccinated, complied with public health measures, and have done their part to stay united through COVID. This convoy does not represent popular opinion in Canada or our region despite what people say online.
But the convoy’s goals have changed from its original focus of vaccine requirements for international truckers to a protest about COVID-related mandates and public health measures, lumping multiple COVID-related concerns into one.
So I have to ask – what’s the likely outcome of this protest? Thousands of trucks drive to downtown Ottawa and then what? Do they honk their horns until they get what they want? (Which, as I said above, isn’t really possible.) What I do know is that their goal is to “gridlock Ottawa” (see picture below). My understanding then is that the goal of this convoy is to hold the City of Ottawa hostage until they get what they want (which, again, isn’t possible).
I keep seeing a Facebook post reshared about how regular citizens in Ottawa won’t be impacted and that truckers will move aside for emergency vehicles if need be. Have any of you driven in downtown Ottawa? Despite what’s being said by random convoy supporters, I don’t see how it will be possible to let emergency vehicles through when the goal is gridlock. I don’t understand what the endgame is for this protest – and I don’t think participants do either.
I’ve been following these convoy groups, on Facebook and on the two-way radio app Zello (where you can listen in on the truckers in real-time), and I’ve seen repeated discussions where convoy participants are drawing parallels between this convoy protest and the January 6, 2021 violent insurrection at the US Capitol. If participants are considering the insurrection as an event to look up to, I worry about what will happen on Jan 29th when the convoy reaches Ottawa.
To my Ottawa friends, consider staying home on Saturday. To my local friends, consider staying away from Ottawa this weekend. To everyone, be wary about this convoy; it doesn’t seem to have an achievable goal or an endgame and could threaten the safety of Ottawa residents. Plus, the movement is led by figures and organizations that are extremists, anti-science, and in some cases anti-Canadian.
Here’s a list of people/organizations involved with or in support of the convoy and why their involvement should make you stop and consider whether you want to support this movement:
Tamara Lich: she’s the organizer of the GoFundMe that’s now hit $5 million & the secretary for the fringe political group the Maverick Party (formerly Wexit), which is a separatist party for dividing Western Canada into a new nation. She also seems to be working with Canada Unity, which is the group that started and planned the convoy protest.
Action 4 Canada: a “participating group” according to Canada Unity; is an anti-LGBTQ, Islamaphobic, anti-abortion organization that also believes that 5G technology causes cancer, autism and brain damage.
Jason Kenney: the anti-science Premier of Alberta who’s actively sharing disinformation about the state of the supply chain.
Maxime Bernier: the leader of the People’s Party of Canada & frequent spreader of COVID-19 disinformation.
Randy Hillier: independent Ontario MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston who’s been a major spreader of COVID-19 disinformation, has taken photos of deceased Ontarians and lied about their cause of death, and is a spreader of hate speech.
You don’t want to align yourself with these people or organizations. Please stay safe this week, and think twice before you share or promote information about this convoy on social media. We’re all tired of the pandemic, but our common enemy is the virus itself, not each other. Please don’t misdirect your frustration.
Source 1: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/us-vaccine-mandate-freight-drivers-coming-canada-may-exacerbate-auto-s-rcna12649
Source 2: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/10/12/secretary-mayorkas-allow-fully-vaccinated-travelers-canada-and-mexico-enter-us-land
Source 3: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-federal-transport-minister-says-covid-19-vaccine-mandate-for-truckers/
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