The Canada Truck protests, which have also been referred to as the ‘Freedom Convoy’ have ended after 3 weeks. This article will look at why the protests happened, the government response and if they achieved their aims.
Protests began on the 29th January, when hundreds, drove trucks to Ottawa and blocked the entry to certain streets. This initially was a response to the government implementing a covid-19 vaccine mandate, requiring all truck drivers that cross the border from the US to Canada to be fully vaccinated. Although, the protests turned into a general protest of how the government responded to the pandemic and what restrictions were put in place.
The effects of protests have been widespread, affecting citizens living in Ottawa, but also through there being disruptions to the supply chain, causing many firms to reduce production, in both Canada and the United States.
As a result of the protests, Trudeau enacted the Emergencies Act, which has never been used, since it was passed in 1988. It allows the banning of public assembly and travel to and from specific areas. This act allowed the government to begin freezing the bank accounts of truckers that were taking part in the protest. The freeze in bank accounts, also covered money that had been raised in support of the protests. However, after only 2 days of enacting this legislation, it was repealed, with Trudeau stating that the situation was no longer an emergency.
The protests have drawn a lot of criticism. There are 3 main groups of criticism of these protests, the effect on other truck drivers, the presence of symbols such as swastikas and the confederate flag and the failure of the government to act quickly or effectively.
Other truck drivers were frustrated with the presence of the strikes as it caused some of the main border crossings to be blocked, for example the Ambassador bridge, which connects with Detroit. Further to this, many were also frustrated that the protests didn’t cover any of the other issues that were affecting Canadian truck drivers, including unpaid wages and workplace abuses.
There was the inability of the government to act effectively and quickly, resulting in the capital being at a standstill for almost 3 weeks. On the 11th February the province of Ontario declared a state of emergency, in which it was made illegal to block ‘crucial infrastructure’. This state of emergency allowed the state to have the power to cancel personal and commercial licenses for truckers. Checkpoints had been set up around the capital that prevented more protesters from joining the already thousands in the area.
Swastikas and the confederate flag were seen repeatedly through the protest, again making many angry that protests that were able to provoke hate were allowed to continue for so long.
Now the protests have ended after 3 weeks, there have been no changes to the government implementing a covid-19 vaccine mandate, although there is currently a gradual reduction in restrictions which have been announces, following data suggesting that the peak of omicron has passed. Thus far there have been over 100 people arrested and many vehicles towed.