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Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ Spells Hot Water for Some Supporters; Canadian Leader’s Responses Vary

Published: January 25, 2022
Constable Erin Howard may have found herself in hot water over her voiced support for the “Freedom Convoy” currently making its way across Canada bound for the nation’s capital, Ottawa. (Image: Screenshot via Twitter)

As the rolling protest dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” consisting of hundreds of  truck drivers opposed to the Canadian government’s recently implemented vaccine mandate on cross-border truckers makes its long journey between Vancouver and the nation’s capital, Ottawa, some voices in support of the convoy are being questioned while Canada’s leaders remain divided over the matter. 

Const. Erin Howard, an officer with the Durham Region Police Services (DRPS) in the Canadian province of Ontario, voiced her support for the convoy in a now viral video.

“I wanted to give a shout out to all the truckers. I think what you guys are doing is incredible. You’re fighting for our rights and freedoms, and, right now, it feels like we’re a little bit at war and those rights and freedoms are at stake,” Howard said.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada’s state-funded media outlet, in a recent article stated that the officer is now under “investigation” due to the comments she made in the video. 

“Durham police say they are investigating after one of their officers posted a video online expressing support for truckers who are protesting against a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” the CBC reported. 

In a tweet the DRPS said, “We were made aware today of a video circulating on social media from one of our uniformed members regarding the Freedom Rally. The views expressed in that video do not reflect the views and opinions of DRPS. We are currently looking into this matter.” It remains unclear whether a formal investigation has been opened. 

The “Freedom Convoy” which began its trek across Canada on Jan. 23 and is scheduled to arrive at its destination, Ottawa, on Jan. 29  was convened in the face of what supporters are calling severe “overreach” by the Canadian government.

A GoFundMe campaign created to fund the protest originally had a goal of $4-million (US$3,171,360) however quickly reached its goal and is now aiming to raise $5-million (US$3,963,956) to support the truckers. Currently, the campaign has attracted over $4.5 million (US$3,567,560) in donations. 

The campaign has reportedly been placed on hold until the organizers can come up with a plan to distribute the donations, The Canadian Press reported however, funds continue to roll in.

Reports have surfaced that the convoy has only grown as it traverses the continent and is now upwards of 70 miles long. 

READ MORE: Canadian Trucker’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ Against Vaccine Mandates Met With Mixed Reactions

Canadian leaders divided over freedom convoy

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said on Monday that the vast majority of truckers in Canada are vaccinated and that they will not be impacted by the cross-border vaccine mandate while blasting his conservative counterparts saying that they are only “stoking fear” that “COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truckers are contributing to supply chain disruptions and fueling inflation,” Global News reported.  

“I regret that the Conservative Party and Conservative politicians are in the process of stoking Canadians’ fears about the supply chain. The reality is that vaccination is how we’ll get through this,” Trudeau said. 

Reports of empty shelves in grocery stores, particularly in Canada’s most populous province of Ontario, have surfaced over recent days prompting many to point to the Trudeau government’s vaccine mandate on truckers as a contributing factor.

When the policy was implemented on Jan. 15, numerous Canadian politicians spoke up in opposition to the mandate.

Last week, Jason Kenney, the conservative leader for the province of Alberta, called for a pause of the mandate while posting photos of empty shelves in supermarkets to Twitter and calling for “immediate action” by both the U.S. and Canadian federal governments. 

The United States, under Joe Biden’s leadership, has also implemented a vaccine mandate for cross border truckers. 

Pierre Poilievre, the opposition’s finance critic, referred to the mandate as a “vaccine vendetta against our hardworking truckers” that will only worsen inflation and result in “empty shelves” at stores. 

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole refused to express support for the convoy instead stating, “At every occasion, I encourage truckers to get vaccinated. That’s the best way to keep supplies flowing … that’s how we have to tackle this pandemic, get as many people vaccinated as possible and also use all the other tools that we have to make sure we don’t see shortages on shelves.”

“It’s not for the leader of the opposition or a political party to attend a protest on the hill or a convoy. It’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions in a cost-of-living crisis, in a supply chain crisis in a way that’s responsible and respectful of the public health crisis we’re in,” O’Toole said. 

O’Toole said he was in discussions with the “biggest trucker association in Canada” referring to the Canadian Trucker Alliance (CTA) who has come out and denounced the convoy. 

Maxime Bernier, the leader of Canada’s People’s Party of Canada (PPC), that failed to win a single seat in the most recent Canadian Federal election despite garnering close to 5 percent of the popular vote, has expressed support for the convoy and has been a consistent figure at protests being held in opposition of Canada’s stringent COVID-19 measures.