David Krayden, OTTAWA – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the City of Ottawa are constantly looking at new and adventurous ways to remove the freedom convoy from the nation’s capitol but the truckers keep outsmarting and outmaneuvering them at every turn. The Ottawa Police Service is repeatedly warning the truckers that they are going to be raided.
The truckers have not responded to these threats with any incendiary language or violence and watching the action first hand, one is impressed at how much the convoy is actually doing to improve situations in the city, offering free food and clothing to homeless people.
Nothing has been more devastating to police than the release of a YouTube video showing a Ottawa police officer swearing, arresting and throwing a 78-year-old man against his car for honking his horn. The incident has essentially frozen any further aggressive police action toward the convoy and has embarrassed the police service.
The police service has also raised the issue of the number of children involved with the convoy as some social workers have mused about seizing them. That idea has been roundly condemned as another example of how COVID-19 restrictions have flagrantly violated basic democratic norms.
The Official Opposition Conservative Party Thursday demanded that the House of Commons vote on ending the COVID-19 mandates, while more provinces are announcing that they plan to withdraw vaccine passports and masking in all indoor public places.
Trudeau has continued to insist the protesters are displaying “Nazi symbols” although this claim is being increasingly dismissed and ridiculed by media outlets. The arrival of Fox News has turned the convoy into an international story and whenever the camera is on, the crowds of protesters and supporters cheer and offer their complete disdain for those Canadian media outlets that continue to parrot Trudeau’s version of the truth.
The prime minister’s Quebec caucus is furious at how Trudeau has ignored the protesters – because so many are from vote rich and usually Liberal-friendly Quebec. One of the truly amazing phenomena of this protest is how truckers from Quebec and Alberta – two provinces that have often sparred over4 language and energy issues – have literally embraced each other in their opposition to COVID-19 mandates and the Trudeau government.
With the protest poised to begin its third week, it shows no sign of collapsing and its participants continue to say they are not leaving town until they see change. More trucks are expected to arrive on Saturday as some truckers have gone to Toronto to expand the protest in Canada’s largest city.
A party-like atmosphere continues to pervade the protest. At a detachment organized at a ballpark about a five minute drive from Parliament Hill, the organizers have set up saunas and a food tent that also offers toiletries and winter clothing to participants. These saunas, combined with bouncy tents for the kids, apparently sent Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson over the edge as he complained that it was “disturbing” that the protest was turning into a “some kind of fun carnival.”
All Trudeau can say is that “these protests have to stop” and reiterate his apparent belief that white supremacists are behind the event. The Liberals are suggesting the convoy is being funding by American interests and want to expand an investigation into funding into whether it is “ideologically motivated.”
Longtime Ottawa resident Phiilip Lafleche discussed whether people in Ottawa were being inconvenienced by the protest.
“I’ve been here for six days and I have seen so much support,” he said, noting the piles of food, clothing and provisions that have been donated by locals. “They’re so behind us.”
He said in his analysis of history, he cannot recall a time when a government “locked up the healthy … we quarantine the sick and we make sure we take preventative measures for the vulnerable but we never have locked up the healthy. And I’ve been locked up for two years.”
He said one of the effects that the convoy has on local businesses is that people are increasingly refusing to wear masks when they go into stores. Lafleche said mandates have forced business owners to be “policemen for the government.”
“The truckers were the point. They broke through the barriers, They started the conversation. Even though [Trudeau] won’t talk to us.”
Lafleche said he is fed up with the “mainstream media,” much of which he says he “used to watch.” He criticized journalists for getting the news “from their Twitter feed” instead of engaging in investigating journalism and doing their jobs.
He says he plans to stay at the protest as long as he can. “But I’m willing to be arrested – yes.”