WTF Is Going on Now With the Anti-Vax ‘Freedom Convoy’ in Canada?

The convoy continues to harass residents, while its supporters clogged traffic in cities across Canada over the weekend. One supporter even threw shit at another person.
Anya Zoledziowski
Toronto, CA
anti-mandate trucker convoy in Ottawa, Canada.
Ottawa is basically under siege, officials say, as the anti-mandate trucker convoy continues to blockade the city's downtown core and harass residents. Photo by Amru Salahuddien/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The mayor of Ottawa has had to call a state of emergency as the “freedom-fighting” anti-vax trucker convoy enters its second week of protests and continues to cripple traffic, erect encampments, block off the downtown core, blare their horns nonstop, and aggressively harass residents. 

The convoy started out by protesting against vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border, but quickly devolved into a catch-all demonstration against all lifesaving COVID regulations.

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The well-funded group of self-described “freedom fighters” says it’s not leaving until Ottawa gets rid of all COVID-related mandates, and has set up networks that provide fuel and food to its members. The group raised nearly $10 million on GoFundMe, but the fundraising site has since blocked them from accessing the funds. 

In a statement, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the demonstrations pose a “serious danger and threat” to residents, and declaring the state of emergency highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government. 

Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly called the ongoing occupation a “siege.”

"This is a siege… It is something that is different in our democracy than I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Sloly said.  

Ottawa police reported on Sunday they have made multiple arrests and opened more than 60 criminal investigations related to the convoy, mostly for mischief, thefts, property damage, and hate crimes. The force’s hate crime hotline has received more than 200 calls. While they have said anyone who is found to be helping the blockade like bringing in gas could be arrested, they’re still facing a lot of criticism for being too kind to the occupiers. 

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Meanwhile, convoy supporters in cars, trucks, and tractors continue to block the Canada-U.S. border between Alberta and Montana. They’ve cleared one traffic lane so that people can make it across, but there’s still such a bottleneck that RCMP are encouraging people to avoid the area. 

“We are aware not all individuals are following the law and have several open investigations underway,” Alberta RCMP tweeted. Despite Alberta’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which makes demonstrations that block major highways illegal, no arrests have been made at the border. Several onlookers have called out the lack of police enforcement by pointing out how Black and Indigenous-led movements typically face harsher punishments and treatment than the majority-white trucker convoy has so far. 

Demonstrations supporting the convoy have also spread to and disrupted other Canadian cities over the weekend. In Winnipeg, a man has been arrested after a hit and run injured four people on Friday outside of the Manitoba legislature, where people in semis were staging their own anti-mandate protest.

In Toronto, a man who attended a rally in support of the truckers allegedly threw shit at another person, and incessant honking echoed through the city’s downtown core. 

In Vancouver, five arrests were made after thousands showed up to protest mandates and some demonstrators reportedly threw eggs and rocks, kicked cars, and placed nails along roadways. Downtown traffic was congested, and counter-protesters showed up to demonstrate against the lack of nationwide police enforcement.

In Edmonton, a full day of protests—made up of up to 2,000 participants—paralyzed several main routes across the city and gathered at the Alberta legislature. They sported Qanon and pro-Trump flags, along with anti-vax and anti-mandate posters. One restaurant owner told CBC News the convoy is so disruptive it’s threatening his revenue.

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