Editor’s Note: Unfortunately disruption has made this edition of The Badger a little different. Unavoidable circumstances meant that this edition was delayed. Consequently, some of these articles are a little older and we haven’t been able to get the newest stories to you this time. However, we think that it is fair that those who wrote great articles have them published, and these important stories are read by you.
Words by Dexter Clark, Staff Writer
Thousands of people descended into the Canadian capital, Ottawa, on the 28th of January for protests sparked by the requirement that truckers passing through the US-Canadian border must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The protests followed a ‘Freedom Convoy’ where some truckers travelled over 5,000 kilometres in order to join the protests in the capital. As Sky news covered, The protest has now morphed into a movement against Canada’s COVID rules in general.
The convoy was organised by a group called Canada Unity, who suggests that vaccine passports and mandates are against the Canadian Constitution. While most truckers are vaccinated, these protests wish to highlight the fact that this vaccine mandate could create supply issues in Canada. The convoy started in Western Canada and a coalition of truckers and Conservative groups have moved across the country, assembling in the capital on the 28th January.
The founder of Canada Unity, James Bauder, has endorsed the QAnon conspiracy theory, a conspiracy theory which suggests that the world is run by satan worshippers which Donald Trump was fighting a secret war against. They have also called for Justin Trudeau to be tried for treason, reports The Guardian. Bauder claims that a document that the protesters created, calling for the Canadian government to rescind all vaccine requirements or resign from their office, would cause an election to be triggered if enough signatures are obtained.
The Canadian police stated that around 5,000 people demonstrated in Ottawa, while thousands protested in other areas which include Toronto and Quebec City. On the 7th of February, Ambassador Bridge was blocked by truckers which accounts for 25% of all trade between Canada and the United States.
The protests have shut down downtown Ottawa and insistent honking has been continued by truckers. Reports of windows being smashed and harassment against those wearing masks have been made by Ottawa residents. On the 7th of February a Judge ruled that truckers are banned from honking due to widespread reports of harassment throughout Ottawa. Ottawa police have been criticised by these residents for not doing enough to end the blockade but Ottawa police chief, Peter Sloly, has stated that they are outnumbered by the protesters and lack the resources to end the protests.
The ‘Freedom Convoy’ received much support on the fundraising platform GoFundMe, raising 10.1 million Canadian dollars. However, the page was taken down on the 4th January by GoFundMe as they stated that it violated the site’s terms of service due to it being related to unlawful activity. On the 5th, GoFundMe stated that they would refund all donations automatically, which faced much criticism particularly from Tesla CEO Elon Musk who branded GoFundMe as “professional thieves”.
It seems unlikely that Justin Trudeau will meet the protestors’ demands, especially considering most vaccine requirements are administered within the provincial level and not the federal level. He seems unable to remove the group by force as the police are outnumbered, and Trudeau has ruled out the use of the military. Ottawa’s mayor Jim Watson seems to suggest that the protesters should not be met by force and mediation should be the course of action. The group’s support is only growing from this protest with similar conveys planned in the United States, Europe and Australia.
Editor’s note: information correct at time of writing