Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unprecedented move to strengthen state power in response to the ongoing “freedom convoy” protests has many within the movement going into conspiratorial hyperdrive.
Trudeau announced Monday he was invoking the Emergencies Act, which allows the federal government extra power in times of national crisis. He indicated he wouldn’t be calling in the military to deal with the cross country anti-vaccine mandate protest. Rather, his government will strengthen the power of cops to imprison and fine people, suspend truckers’ insurance and operating licences, freeze bank accounts of some people connected to the protest, and scrutinize crowdfunding campaign donations.
Trudeau said the Emergencies Act will only be implemented for a short time and in a geographically specific area. But it has been a triggering moment in the COVID-conspiracy movement. Within the ecosystem the rhetoric and tension has ratcheted up to new levels.
In this bubble of wild misinformation and speculation—not in reality, to be clear—Trudeau has openly declared martial law or has begun a “war” on his citizens. Some conspiracy influencers are telling their followers this means people may be thrown into camps. “Canada is, for all intents and purposes, a dictatorship now,” says one post being shared widely on Telegram among “freedom convoy” supporters.
Stew Peters, a popular far-right conspiracy streamer whose work is routinely shared among the convoy community, titled his video on the Emergencies Act “Trudeau Prepares Slaughter.” In the episode, in which disgraced former Conservative MP Derek Sloan makes a guest appearance, the host said that all people can do is “arrest Trudeau” and that Trudeau is out for blood.
“Trudeau stood in front of the world and said, ‘Get your kids out of there.’ That to me looked like a king getting ready to be violent towards his own people,” said Peters. “He’s saying, ‘I will do whatever it takes, I will use whatever force necessary. If your kids are there I will crush and kill them; that’s what I will do.’ And now we have the Emergency Act. He’s signalling to the world that he will use unilateral authority to go take the lives of people fighting for freedom. Is that hyperbolic?”
“I think it’s very clear that Trudeau is willing to up the ante here,” replied Sloan. “I don’t want to speculate if people are going to lose their life. I certainly hope that is not going to happen.”
Peter Smith, a journalist for the Anti-Hate Network, has been covering the protests in-depth and has been analyzing the COVID-conspiracy movement. He told VICE World News the Emergencies Act has long been a fixture in the conspiracy community as it’s seen as the precursor to martial law.
“As soon as the act’s use was announced as likely to become a reality, fear and theories around the coming consequences accelerated massively,” said Smith. “For some, these worries are very real concerns about the impact on their finances or employment, but for others, this spells an end to democracy, a coming takeover, or the rounding up of the unvaccinated.”
The conspiratorial mindset isn’t just from people gawking from the outside in; it permeates deep into the leadership of the “freedom convoy.” As the Guardian reported, the group routinely scares itself with paranoid “intelligence reports” they put together daily.
On Monday, Daniel Bulford, a convoy spokesperson who used to be a member of Trudeau’s security detail, warned his audience of an impending “false-flag” operation, citing the recent theft of 2,000 firearms as a government plan to plant them on supporters. (Police said the theft of the truck carrying the guns was not targeted but a crime of opportunity.)
For the entirety of the freedom convoy’s duration, the protesters have enjoyed the unconditional support of the COVID-conspiracy movement, but with things heating up in Ottawa, infighting is breaking out. A small group in the vaccine conspiracy community now think the trucker protesters are actually the feds, and that it’s all yet another false-flag conspiracy.
“That’s why they started the Truckers movement,” one conspiracist wrote. “Martial Law in countries has always been (part) of the plan.”
“Imagine if this is indeed a false-flag operation,” a person responded. “Just like Jan. 6.”
As is always the case, the deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the weirder it gets.
A few have also floated the idea that the truckers were initially a false flag with an outcome of “riots or even civil war” but then it was seized by the “good guys” and turned into a “convoy of freedom.” (Got all that?)
The QAnon figure who has convinced thousands of Canadians she’s the true Queen of Canada—and got a welcome greeting for a speech she made on Parliament Hill—has turned on the truckers. (This could be because they didn’t embrace her, however.) Romana Didulo has started calling the protest the “unlawful truckers” and has ordered her “military” to “clear out the unlawful truckers and their trucks from downtown Ottawa” and arrest those funding the convoy.
“What IF, the truckers are being used to prevent U.S. Special Forces and Allied Special Forces from arresting the Pissositos [an insulting term used to describe her enemies]?” she wrote on her Telegram channel, which has 76,000 followers.
“Let that sink in.”
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.