The “Freedom Convoy”, a convoy of trucks reportedly some 70-kilometres long — formed to protest Canada’s recently enforced vaccine mandate on all cross-border truckers — has descended on Ottawa, Canada’s capital. While organizers of the convoy have stressed that violence and extremist views will not be tolerated at the protest numerous Canadian mainstream media outlets, as well as some abroad, have been pushing the narrative that the organizers of the convoy and some participants harbor extremist views and that Canada’s capital is bracing for violence.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada’s state-funded media outlet, is simultaneously downplaying the scope of the protest while emphasizing the police presence reporting that the “Ottawa Police [are] drawing extra officers from forces in Toronto, Durham, London, York and OPP (Ontario Provincial Police).”
A recent CBC headline reads, “Ottawa ready to deal with violence, extremists as protest convoy arrives, says public safety minister.”
Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of public safety, told the CBC that there have been signs of “flagrant extremism” by some organizers of the protests, with some displaying Confederate flags — a symbol of white supremacy — and “inciting people to overthrow the government through violence.”
Mendicino is referring to a single photo that has emerged online of a truck displaying the Confederate flag.
Live stream feeds of the protest show thousands of participants, many draped in or waving the Canadian flag, gathering outside Canada’s parliament.
The Washington Post published an article on Jan. 28 stating, “officials have warned of disruptions. Analysts have raised concerns that what might have ostensibly started out as a protest against vaccine mandates has garnered support from people with a host of other grievances — conspiracy theorists, far-right agitators and anti-government types — and could devolve.”
Michael de Adder, a political cartoonist for the Washington Post published a cartoon blatantly stating the truckers involved in the protests were fascists.
While his tweet garnered over 5-thousand likes, a tweet responding to the cartoon stating, “This is garbage. The idea for this is garbage. Making this is garbage. Promoting this is garbage. Body autonomy is not fascism. I don’t understand why I have to say that,” has attracted over 8.2-thousand likes.
Police on scene have said the protests have been peaceful and respectful.
Trudeau in ‘secure location’
As Canadians, by the thousands, gather in frigid sub-zero temperatures to voice their support for the convoy and the lifting of vaccine mandates enforced by both their provincial and federal governments reports that Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has been whisked away to a secure location have emerged.
The CBC is reporting that the Prime Minister and his family have been transported to an undisclosed location out of fear for their security.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign, launched to assist truckers participating in the convoy with fuel, food and lodging costs, has raised its fundraising goal yet again. Originally the campaign sought to raise $4-million for the truckers. After reaching its goal several times the campaign is now aiming to raise $9-million. Currently the campaign has raised over $8-million in donations.
Organizers of the campaign are stressing protesters not to “enter any government building or government property under any circumstances” to “treat all police officers with respect”, to remain calm and “if you see individuals attempting to bait other truckers and attendees into conflict, report them to the police and our staff.”
Show of support
While media outlets insinuate that the protests are driven by “extremists” several notable Canadian politicians have come out in support of the demonstration.
Scott Moe, Premier of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan issued a statement in support of the truckers.
“THANK YOU for delivering the food and household products we all use everyday, the parts and equipment that keep our farms and industries running, and every other kind of goods and products you can imagine,” Moe said in his statement adding that, “because the vaccination is not reducing transmission, the current federal border policy for truckers makes no sense. An unvaccinated trucker does not pose any greater risk of transmission than a vaccinated trucker.”
He goes on to state that the federal mandate poses a “significant risk” to Canada’s economy and to the supply chain and that his government supports the call to “end the cross-border ban on unvaccinated truckers.”
Canada’s Toronto Sun, has published an op-ed titled, “Media’s handling of trucker convoy one-sided, inflammatory, shameful.”
“I’ve covered all kinds of political protests from the Summit of the Americas riots in Quebec City to riots in Montreal, violent protests in Ottawa and the Idle No More campaign that took hold near Parliament Hill for weeks. Never have I seen our national media, led by those on Parliament Hill, spend so much time digging into the comments and views of a group of people trying to find those they can demonize,” the op-ed reads.
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre, tweeted on Jan. 29, “The truckers I’ve met today have been peaceful, kind and patriotic. I’ve not seen anyone dressed up in blackface or other racist costumes.”
Conservative opposition leader, Erin O’Toole, after refusing to make a direct comment concerning the convoy met with some truckers in Ottawa on Friday saying that the convoy to Ottawa is a symbol of the fatigue and division being felt in Canada.
O’Toole said, “Everyone deserves to have their voice heard in a peaceful protest. That is a democratic right. So let’s take the temperature down. And make sure we work together as Canadians in a time of crisis. Not against one another,” Canada’s National Post reported.