A convoy of hundreds of transport trucks, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” departed the Metro Vancouver area on Sunday, Jan. 23 en-route to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, some 4,440 kilometers (2,758.9 miles) away, to protest a vaccine mandate — currently being enforced by the Trudeau Liberal government — implemented on all cross border truckers.
The convoy is expected to arrive in Ottawa on Jan. 26 where a general protest will be held.
The mandate requires Canadian truckers to quarantine if unvaccinated against COVID-19 when crossing the border into Canada. Unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated non-Canadian truckers are being turned away from the Canadian border if they are unable to show proof of vaccination or a valid medical exemption.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates that the federal vaccine mandate could potentially take 10 to 15 percent (12,000 to 16,000) of all truck drivers off the road exacerbating existing supply chain disruptions in the country. Approximately 70 percent of all goods traded between the U.S. and Canada are transported via truck.
The convoy is running a GoFundMe campaign to fund the protest which has to date attracted CA$3,416,410 (US$2,692,507) of its goal of CA$4,000,000 (US$3,152,440).
“To our Fellow Canadians, the time for political over reach is over. Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods,” reads the campaign.
As the convoy moved through the country Canadians have been lining up along transport routes in support of the protest.
Reports are surfacing online stating that supporters of the convoy were witnessed on nearly every overpass between Vancouver and Chilliwack, British Columbia a stretch of highway approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) long.
Similar shows of support have occurred along the convoy’s route throughout the country.
The convoy has also attracted the attention of Constable Erin Howard, a police officer operating in the province of Ontario, who posted a video to Twitter in support of the convoy.
“I really wanted to give a shout out to all the truckers. I think what you guys are doing is incredible … you are fighting for our rights and freedoms and right now it feels like we are a little bit at war and those rights and freedoms are at stake. So, you guys are honestly true heroes … what you are doing is just incredible,” Howard said in the video.
She continued stating that she will be in Ottawa when “you guys roll in” and will be speaking at the protest in Ottawa on behalf of Police On Guard, adding that the organization is “thrilled and honored” to be able to be there.
National truckers group denounces highway protests
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has denounced the convoy saying in a statement published on Saturday that “The Canadian Trucking Alliance does not support and strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways, highways, and bridges,” adding that, “CTA believes such actions — especially those that interfere with public safety — are not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed.”
The CTA has asserted that the “vast majority” of Canadian trucking industry members are vaccinated, noting that the inoculation rate within the industry is on par with what is seen among the general Canadian population.
Stephen Laskowski, the Alliance’s president, called for compliance with the mandate in light of the fact that both Canada and the United States have cross-border vaccination rules in place.
“This regulation is not changing so, as an industry, we must adapt and comply with this mandate. The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or any other vehicle, is to get vaccinated,” Laskowski said in the statement.