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Truck drivers protest over COVID restrictions, disrupt supply chains

On Jan. 22, a self-proclaimed “freedom convoy” of Canadian truck drivers embarked from British Columbia to the parliament house in Ottawa. The truck drivers created a blockade around the Centre Block in protest of Trudeau’s vaccination mandate for truckers crossing the American border. On top of that, more truckers occupied and shut down the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit, MI with Windsor, Ontario. Despite being up for only five days, the blockade of this bridge shut down 25% of all Canadian exports to the U.S., and factories owned by Ford and General Motors were forced to cancel shifts due to a lack of parts according to “Freedom Convoy: Why Canadian truckers are protesting in Ottawa” by Jessica Murphy of BBC News Toronto.

 Although it is an extreme example, this protest serves as a reminder that the people have immense power over their government officials. In less than a week, a group of fringe citizens singlehandedly disrupted a crucial international trade route.

According to Paula Newton of CNN’s article, approximately 1,800 police officers are deployed in Ottawa to control the demonstrators, and 1,700 tickets and fines have been issued and 25 arrests and forcible removals have been made. Biden pressured Trudeau to remove the blockade from the Ambassador Bridge, but both countries ruled out calling in the military. The truck drivers have offered to peacefully end their protest when their demands are met. Refusing to comply with the trucker’s demands, Trudeau enacted the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14. By invoking the Emergencies Act, Trudeau has given the Canadian police more “resources and authority” to subdue the “unlawful and dangerous” protests. 

Although this protest started by a niche community, public support is growing according to Gitanjali Poonia of Desert News. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump spoke out in support of the demonstration and other American politicians such as Rob DeSantis and Rand Paul issued similar messages. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, American anti-vax groups have been planning their own “Freedom Convoy” on social media. The American protestors allegedly planned to drive from Sacramento to Inglewood, where they would disrupt the Super Bowl and drive from Inglewood to form a blockade in D.C., similar to the one currently in Ottawa. Since there was no disruption at the Super Bowl, this plan is unlikely to be carried out, but if similar anti-COVID restriction demonstrations are ever carried out in the Nation’s Capital, I believe major conflict would follow. 

These demonstrations exhibit a common theme in today’s political world: citizens are becoming fed up with the government. Both Biden and Trudeau’s approval ratings are below 40%. North American citizens, overwhelmed by COVID restrictions and the ever increasing cost of living, finally started to take action. I believe the current political and economic climate will lead to further conflicts in the future. Will this movement continue to pick up steam across North America, or will the Canadian and American governments finally compromise with their citizens?

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    Carol CorganFeb 15, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    Charlie–You pose important questions! Good article.