Truckin’

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Let’s see now, what’s happening these days? Well, there’s a problem with the supply chain because there aren’t enough truck drivers available to get food and parts to stores and factories. Not a new problem, but certainly made worse by the pandemic restrictions. What else? Well, we’re about to get away from those restrictions, as more and more countries lift their various regulations. Of course, things in the US are still pretty bad, with only 63% of the people fully vaccinated, and more than 882,000 deaths, with around 3,000 new deaths every day. Not a place you would want to be, all things considered.

And so, a certain number of truck drivers decide this is a perfect time to take hundreds, if not thousands of trucks off the delivery system so they can drive all the way to Ottawa to demand their freedom. Freedom! That’s the cry. Personal choice, not mandatory vaccinations for those crossing the US border. Of course, even if the Trudeau government give in to their demands (mob rule!), it would make no difference, since the US government have the same law in place.

But let’s look at this plea for freedom. They are against mandatory vaccinations. But were they against mandatory training in order to be allowed to drive those trucks? Were they against mandatory licences to be allowed on the road? Were they against mandatory regulations governing how long they could drive before taking a break, or how far they could drive in a shift? Were they opposed to regulations, laws, dictating how carefully their rigs have to be maintained? Were these mandatory impositions on their freedom not serious enough to drive them to Ottawa to demand freedom?

The thing is, that this convoy is composed of more than those objecting to the laws designed to keep them and their fellow citizens safe. There are others who want all covid restrictions removed immediately. The fact that this is happening anyway seems to be make their journey to Ottawa a little less urgent. Then there are the real crazies, as one trucking association leader called them: the ones who want the Senate and Governor General to somehow get involved and remove the Trudeau government. Sounds like a coup, and there are those who have expressed a hope that this rally in Ottawa could be “Canada’s January 6″.

The official organisers of the convoy dissociate themselves from such ideas, and encourage others to report them to authorities. That’s good, and necessary, and maybe even more helpful than most of the Conservative Party’s comments on the situation. But here’s the thing: organisers cannot always keep control of what they start. I am all for protests, as long as there’s a rationale and a clear and achievable end result.

But I am also someone who has been on their share of protests, and I know how easily a crowd with genuine grievances can be manipulated by a small fringe group of extremists. Coincidentally, last Sunday was the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Derry, Northern Ireland, when the British 1st Parachute Regiment shot into a peaceful civil rights march, killing 14 completely innocent people. In response to that, we in Dublin marched on the British Embassy to protest, about 200,000 of us. In the emotional context, some extremists from the IRA firebombed the Embassy, which burned to the ground as we all cheered happily. Later on, we could appreciate how we had been used. Organisers cannot always control what happens to their protests.

At the time of writing, no-one knows how this whole convoy thing will work out. Will it simply be a peaceful occupation of Ottawa’s downtown? No problem there: people have a right to protest, no matter how vague and unrealistic their demands may be. But if it turns into something else, if the crazies have their way, then thousands of people will have been used, manipulated.

Look, it’s easy to shout for freedom, and some local businesses have gone public with their support of the truckers. But, to repeat the questions above, why is this mandate so much worse than all the other mandates truckers acquiesce in? We can actually see the end of the pandemic restrictions coming soon, so why this demonstration of anger and grievance now?

Part of me is concerned that there are some, maybe many, Canadians who envy the Americans their January 6 Insurrection. They look to the south and want to mirror what they see there, to have their own right-wing militias, their own Fox News fans, their own Trump conspiracy theories in a Canadian context. This is not a ridiculous idea, because that fringe has been happy to spout their rhetoric and hatred throughout the pandemic, and before. Waving the Canadian flag (some upside down) does not make this event any more Canadian.

But this is not the Excited States of America. This is a country with a very different history, different culture, different political system. There is absolutely nothing that Canadians need to envy about other countries and their ways. It may seem more exciting. It may seem that they can adapt American ways to Canadian contexts, but that is a dangerous and damaging belief. Mandatory vaccinations have saved us from polio, for example, even within the lifetimes of people living free as a result. We all put up with mandates, whether it’s speed limits, driving licences, age limits on voting, limitations on foreign travel with passports and visas. We usually accept that these are necessary to keep us safe, to provide security and prevent chaos and accidents and death. We accept them because we know they keep us, and our friends and neighbours safe. We consider those limitations a price we’re willing to pay for that reason. None of us are completely free, as a result, and that we accept. Is that concept so hard to grasp?

2 COMMENTS

  1. one thing we did learn about protests in the 60s and 70s is 1)you had better research the people behind it – their personal history (much easier to do these days). Some involved are Tamara Lich & Benjamin Dichter – not good people…2)be clear on what exactly they are asking of you…3)and what is their “end game” **and see if all of these pass the cynicism tests**. A lot of the truckers have no idea about any of these things and are just doing what they are told – no thinking involved. Peter Smith (on Day 6 last weekend) is part of the Anti-Hate Network and is in Ottawa watching events, confirms that it and the funding part of it are run by conspiracy groups and far right groups out of the U.S. with ties in Canada…so between the Nazi flags, confederate flags, white supremacist groups there are all the rest misguided souls. It is a useless endevour for all of the reasons in your article >and they have to go! We need them to help the country by being on the road. Centre town & Canadians are starting to fight back. There will be violence for absolutely no reason I am afraid.

  2. Great read, but please allow me to point out what I believe is a red herring and really what the core of this article is missing, and what many who don’t understand the urgency so many people protesting feel about this.

    First of all, I am fully vaccinated and so is my wife. But we do have a lot of very intelligent and compassionate vaccine hesitant friends.

    This article references previous work related mandates, but this is where the red herring lays:

    1) Most of those mandates were in place BEFORE they became truckers, so they could make the decision whether those mandates were in line with what they felt comfortable taking on as a career to support their families.

    2)(And this is *BY FAR* the more important one) Those mandates have nothing to do with putting a substance that certain people feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable, if not TERRIFIED to put into their bodies.

    So regarding the second. Let’s examine and unpack this for a moment. Is it logical for them to be so hesitant or afraid? Mainstream media and the government say it’s not. But look at governments the world over, both in ancient history and currently as well. We cannot always trust what they say. But even more importantly. Let’s look at the science. If we look at the short term data, it’s almost a no brainer yes. But if you look at the long term data… well… that’s another story and is where most people’s hesitations lay.

    The thing is… There is NO long term data.

    If this where a vaccine using the technology we’ve been using for decades, there would be very, very, very little room for concern because we have had long term experience with something that effectively works on the same mechanics. This is NOT the case with mRNA vaccines. It is a completely different mechanism giving genetic instructions that has never been done before. The THEORY is DECADES old. The practice of putting it into peoples bodies is completely new. There are NO long term clinical trials on a significantly large sample size of humans using this new technology pre-COVID at all. None what-so-ever. And in that, I can completely understand people’s hesitancy putting it into their bodies. And in that I can see the logic and validity in the worry. And it is for that reason I can understand, support and sympathize with those would would protest mandating it.

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