Why are Canadian anti-vaccine truckers converging on Ottawa?

A convoy of Canadian anti-vaccine truckers and their supporters heads for the nation’s capital, Ottawa.

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” was formed in response to a vaccination mandate requiring truckers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in order to cross the land border between Canada and the United States.

But over the past week, observers and experts have pointed out that some of the event’s organizers, as well as some of its most vocal supporters, have embraced anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and racist views – and authorities have warned that the rally on Parliament Hill could turn violent.

“The ‘Freedom Convoy’ is nothing but a vehicle for the far right”, according to at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit organization that monitors hate groups. “They say it’s about truckers…but if you look at its organizers and promoters, you’ll find Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism and incitement to violence.”

Here’s an overview of what’s going on:

First, what is the vaccination mandate for truckers?

Since January 15, Canada has obligatory essential service providers previously exempt from vaccination requirements, including truck drivers, must be fully vaccinated. “Unvaccinated Canadian truckers entering Canada will need to meet pre-entry, arrival and Day 8 testing requirements, as well as quarantine requirements,” he said.

The United States also imposed a similar requirement on its side of the border; starting January 22, non-nationals traveling to the United States for essential and non-essential reasons need to show proof of vaccination at land border crossings.

How many Canadian truckers are unvaccinated?

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CCA), a federation of provincial trucking associations, says a “vast majority” of Canadian truckers are vaccinated – about 85 percent – consistent with immunization rates for the general Canadian population.

Nearly 90% of Canadian truckers are vaccinated, says Transport Minister Omar Alghabra noted.

The CTA distanced itself from the convoy, saying it “does not support and strongly disapproves of any demonstrations on public roads, highways and bridges”.

Convoy supporters gather in Toronto, Ontario on January 27, 2022 [Carlos Osorio/Reuters]

How many people are in the convoy?

It’s not clear. Police in Kingston, Ontario, noted that as of 9:35 a.m. local time (1435 GMT) Friday, 17 full tractor-trailers, 104 tractor-trailers, 424 passenger vehicles and six recreational vehicles were heading east on Highway 401. More are believed to be arriving to Ottawa from Eastern Canada.

According to the organizers, what is the convoy about?

The convoy is organized under the banner “Freedom Convoy 2022”.

“On January 15, a small team of Alberta truckers, their family members and friends decided that the Government of Canada had crossed a line with the implementation of passports and Covid-19 vaccination mandates” , the group said in a statement. declaration shared on Facebook.

“We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our federal government and demanding that they end all warrants against their people,” reads GoFundMe. page in support of the convoy, which has raised approximately $5.5 million (over $7 million CAD) to date.

Radio-Canada News reported Friday that at least a third of those donations came from anonymous donors or were attributed to false names.

So the convoy is really about Canada’s COVID policies?

“It’s not about the mandate anymore,” said Jason LaFace, whom CityNews described as the lead convoy organizer in Ontario. “This is about Canada, this is about our rights and how the government manipulates people and oppresses us all the time,” said LaFace, who is not a trucker.

Although some attendees have legitimate grievances about the Canadian government’s pandemic policies, experts have pointed to known far-right activists who have espoused racist views as among the organizers.

Some participants also openly expressed radical views this week. “I advocate civil war”, Jim Doerksen, a supporter of the convoy, says Global News in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in central Canada. “If people won’t stand up, we have guns – we’ll stand up and get them out.”

Canadian media have also reported on a widely shared video posted on social media that showed a convoy supporter saying he would like to “see our own January 6 event” – a reference to the deadly riot at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Barbara Perry, a professor at Ontario Tech University and director of the Center on Hate, Bias and Extremism, said that “this protest against a mandate – a specific mandate in a specific industry – was then covered with a anti-vax feeling, anti-confinement feeling, anti-government sentiment – and then even beyond, the extreme right [is] get in the game “.

“They call themselves the ‘Freedom Convoy,’ so I think that says a lot about the extent of the concerns that are being raised under the umbrella,” Perry told Al Jazeera. “It is also the language of anti-staters. It’s also the language of the far right… It’s really part of this larger trend of a convergence of the far right with conspiracy theorists and other kinds of grievances.

Who are the far-right leaders concerned?

The organizers listed on the GoFundMe page are Tamara Lich and BJ Dichter.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network reported that Lich was “an organizer for Yellow Vests Canada, a regional coordinator for the Western Exit or ‘Wexit’ separatist movement in Alberta, and now as secretary of the Maverick Party – another separatist movement and fringe political party”.

Lich posted “conspiracies about the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ operating in Canada,” the network said, while pointing out that Dichter had also made Islamophobic comments. In 2019, at a national convention of the far-right People’s Party of Canada (PPC), Dichter noted, “Despite what our corporate media and political leaders want to admit, Islamist entry and the accommodation of political Islam is rotting in our society like syphilis.”

Patrick King, listed as a contact for the northern Alberta group participating in the convoy, regularly adopted anti-Semitic views on social media. “He publicly distorted established facts about the Holocaust…then invoked the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that the Jewish people covertly control global governance, media and finance,” the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said.

King said last month: “The only way to solve this problem is with bullets.”

What have Canadian politicians said?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that “the small minority of people who head to Ottawa, or who have objectionable views they express, do not represent the views of Canadians.”

“We know the way to get through this pandemic is to get everyone vaccinated – and the vast majority, almost 90% of Canadians, have done just that,” Trudeau told reporters.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party, said he was concerned “by the dangerous rhetoric” in the convoy. “I am concerned about extremist elements spreading misinformation and trying to turn the convoy into a Canadian version of the terrorist attacks on the US Capitol,” he said. wrote on Twitter.

But Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole said he planned to meet the leaders of the convoy, while denouncing “anyone who encourages violence” within the group. “The thousands of people who will be coming here in the next few days – the convoy of truckers – are a symbol of the fatigue in our country right now,” O’Toole told reporters in Ottawa on Thursday.

And now ?

Members of the convoy began arriving in Ottawa on Friday, ahead of a demonstration on Parliament Hill on Saturday. Organizers, seeking to distance themselves from more extreme participants, insisted the event would remain peaceful.

Another group associated with the convoy, Canada Unity, wrote a “protocol of agreementhe plans to present to the Senate and Governor General, demanding an end to vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions.

Police in the capital said they were focused on ensuring a safe environment, but were aware of the “inappropriate and threatening language on social media linked to this event” and warned of the consequences for anyone ” engages in criminal behavior, violence and/or activities promoting hatred”. ”.

In a letter to Canadian lawmakers on Thursday, the Sergeant-at-Arms for House of Commons security said there were reports that protesters were trying to ‘dox’ politicians with homes in the area. Ottawa. He told them to ‘go to a safe place’ if a protest formed outside their home or office, CTV News reported.

Canadian journalists covering the convoy also received death threats and were spat on and verbally and physically harassed, the Canadian Association of Journalists noted. A CBC/Radio-Canada van was also vandalized.

Source link

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button