By Casey Harper (The Center Square)
Tens of thousands of truck drivers have formed a caravan to draw attention to their cause and protest new vaccine mandates.
The “Freedom Caravan” departed from Vancouver, Canada, on Sunday, with some estimates of 50,000 truck drivers heading to Ottawa, the nation’s capital, to protest against new vaccine mandates to cross the US-Canada border. Canada implemented the mandate on January 15.
Trucking groups estimate that the mandates will affect about 16,000 Canadian truck drivers, who will be required to undergo testing and quarantine when crossing the border. This, the organizations say, will add to ongoing supply chain problems.
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Regular vehicles joined big trucks in opposing the mandate, one of several protests to COVID-19 policy that have erupted around the world in recent months.
Photos and videos of the convoy spread to social media sites such as Twitter, further spreading the protest and mobilizing anti-delegation sentiment in the United States and abroad.
Online fundraising company GoFundMe has raised about $6.5 million for the cause.
“Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, our industries, and our livelihoods,” says the online fundraising page. We are a peaceful country that has helped protect nations around the world from tyrannical governments that have oppressed their people, and now that seems to be happening here. Small businesses are destroyed, homes are destroyed, people are abused and deprived of the basic necessities of survival. It is our duty as Canadians to put an end to these states. We are doing this for our future generations and getting our lives back together.
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“We are asking for donations to help with fuel costs first, and hope that food and lodging will help relieve the stress of this arduous task,” the post adds. “It is a small price to pay for our freedoms.”
The convoy was greeted in many towns with onlookers, who often gathered in the ice to wave at the truckers as they passed.
“My wife and I shot and waved on Sunday to show our support for local truckers as they took to the road to protest Justin Trudeau’s newly imposed truckers mandate,” Canadian Representative Bob Zimmer said. “At a time when we are already experiencing supply chain shortages and spiraling inflation, the Prime Minister is implementing a mandate that will leave tens of thousands of truck drivers unable to work and put our food security at risk. Conservatives have long supported the right of Canadians to make their own healthy choices. For those who have not been vaccinated, what We continue to believe in reasonable measures, such as rapid testing, to help protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable.”
The protest garnered international attention, both through the media and through extensive social media engagement and retweets.
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Even billionaire Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk influenced this race.
“Canadian truck drivers rule,” he wrote on Twitter.
Stephen Del Duca, the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario, responded to that letter.
“Especially the vast majority of truck drivers who have made the responsible decision to vaccinate and are working hard to keep our groceries stocked and families fed,” he said.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance spoke out against the protest, but that didn’t stop thousands from joining the movement.
“The Government of Canada and the United States have now made vaccination a requirement to cross the border. This regulation does not change, so we as the industry must adapt and comply with this mandate,” said Stephen Laskowsky, president of the CTA. “The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or other vehicle, is to vaccinate. .”
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he has tested positive for the COVID virus.
“Last night, I learned that I was exposed to COVID-19,” he declared. “I feel good and I will be working from home. Stay safe, everyone – and please get vaccinated.”
Collected with permission from The Center Square.