Canada Trucker Convoy was Predicted by the Simpsons
Freedom Convoy 2022 – Wikipedia
The Freedom Convoy 2022 is an ongoing protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates introduced by the Government of Canada on January 15, 2022. Composed of several routes traversing all of the Canadian provinces, the truck convoys are expected to reach Ottawa on January 29, 2022, with a rally planned at Parliament Hill. Fundraising was organized by Tamara Lich, the secretary of the Maverick Party—a Western Canadian separatist party.
Prior to January 15, 2022, truck drivers and other essential workers had been exempt from the two-week quarantine for unvaccinated travellers crossing Canada’s borders. The exemption’s abolition has been criticized by some truckers and politicians for having the potential to exacerbate the supply chain disruptions already experienced in Canada, although nearly 90% of truckers working in Canada have been vaccinated and would not be affected by the quarantine requirement. The United States also has a vaccine requirement for non-US individuals which began on January 22, 2022.
The protest convoy has been condemned by the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association while extremists taking part in the protest have been denounced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable views”. The movement is supported by several Conservative politicians, while Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole encouraged truckers to get vaccinated instead. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce supports vaccination but has called for extending the deadline for enacting the vaccine mandate, while the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition expressed support for lifting the mandate immediately.
Background and goals
On November 19, 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced upcoming adjustments to Canada’s border measures. Included in the announced adjustments was the requirement for essential service providers, including truck drivers, to be fully vaccinated after January 15, 2022. When asked in the House of Commons to produce data linking truckers to COVID-19 infections in Canada, neither the minister of health Jean-Yves Duclos nor the chief public health officer Theresa Tam were able to do so. As well, the announced adjustments clarified that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign national truck drivers would be prohibited from entering Canada after that date. The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously announced on October 29, 2021, that proof of vaccination would be required to enter the United States starting in January 2022. On January 22, 2022, like Canada, the DHS implemented proof of vaccination requirements for all non-US individuals entering the country by land and ferry.
One of the groups associated with the protest, Canada Unity, put out a memo on January 25, 2022 calling all levels of government cease all vaccine mandates, reemploy all employees terminated due to vaccination status and rescind all fines imposed for non-compliance with public health orders. Jason LaFace, Canada Unity’s Ontario organizer for the convoy, has stated that the intent of the protest is to dissolve government. They plan to present the memorandum to Governor General Mary Simon and the Senate.
In a Facebook post on January 26, organizers estimated as many as 50,000 trucks would be participating in the convoys. On his blog, Fox News commentator Sean Hannity reported that the convoy was made up of 10,000 heavy trucks, and Toronto Sun editor-in-chief Joe Warmington reported that the event may set a Guinness World Record for the largest truck convoy on record. Snopes described the claims as a “gross exaggeration”, suggesting the total count was “likely hundreds”, and pointing out that the convoy includes many cars and smaller vehicles. Agence France-Presse also fact-checked the claims as false: the current record is 480 trucks, set in Cairo, Egypt in November 2020, and the Freedom Convoy did not submit an application for an attempt at setting a new record.
The first convoy departed Prince Rupert on January 22, arriving in Prince George in the evening. The following day, another convoy left from Delta with supporters gathering along British Columbia Highway 1.
On January 24, a convoy drove through Regina, Saskatchewan and was greeted by supporters. According to police in Regina, about 1,200 vehicles reached the city. On January 25, another convoy passed through Kenora, Ontario, where Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in contact with the convoy stated that 200-300 vehicles would be passing through Kenora. The convoys consist of three main routes across Canada, which will converge for the Ottawa protest on the weekend. The Ottawa Police Service estimated up to 2,000 demonstrators in the city on the weekend.
As of January 26, the OPP estimated approximately 400 vehicles had entered Ontario from the Manitoba border as part of the eastbound convoy. The Kingston Police estimated approximately 300 vehicles (17 full tractor-trailers, 104 tractors without trailers, 424 passenger vehicles and six RVs) to go through Kingston.
On January 27, winter weather closed a portion of Highway 17 in northern Ontario, causing the eastbound convoy to be divided. Some of the truckers continued on to Sault Ste. Marie, while others diverted to Highway 11 and drove towards Cochrane.
Truckers from the Maritime provinces planned to meet in Moncton before departing for Ottawa. On the morning of January 27, supporters gathered in Enfield, Nova Scotia where fireworks were set off as 10 to 15 trucks departed for the New Brunswick border. RCMP in PEI reported that approximately 70 trucks and supporters’ vehicles crossed the Confederation Bridge into New Brunswick, but that most immediately turned around and returned to the island. About 24 trucks reportedly passed through Fredericton in the afternoon, bound for Ottawa. On January 27, one convoy group passed through the Greater Toronto Area. Hundreds of protesters gathered at highway overpasses in support of the convoy.
On January 27, Patrick McDonell, Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons, sent a letter warning of possible doxing attempts to discover the addresses of Members of Parliament in the Capital Region. The letter further warned MPs not to get involved in any demonstrations, to “go somewhere safe”, and to keep all doors locked. The OPP tweeted “OPP advises motorists to avoid travel on Hwy 417 and Hwy 416 in the Ottawa area, beginning Friday afternoon and on Saturday.”
On January 28, a convoy was seen passing through Quebec. About 600 convoy vehicles are expected stay the night in Arnprior before heading to Parliament Hill the following morning. Also on January 28, as the first trucks began to arrive in the city, the Ottawa Police Service disclosed that it had called in reinforcements from the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and were working to identify threats in the convoy. Police Chief Peter Sloly advised people to avoid downtown Ottawa during the weekend protest, adding that “we are prepared to investigate, arrest if necessary, charge and prosecute anyone who acts violently or breaks the law in the demonstrations, or in association with the demonstrations”.
More than CA$6.4 million has been raised as of January 27, out of the CA$7 million goal. Some donors were anonymous and some were from outside Canada.
Fundraising started on January 14, 2022, through the crowdsource fundraising platform GoFundMe. The Taking Back Our Freedom Convoy 2022 GoFundMe quickly raised over CA$5 million by January 25, 2022. On January 24, 2022, GoFundMe responded to questions by CTV News stating funds raised would not be distributed until the fundraising organizers could demonstrate how the funds would be properly distributed. On January 27, GoFundMe released the initial CA$1 million of the funds after the organizers have provided a distribution plan.
Evan Balgord, a researcher and the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said that “There’s a wide range of grievances that are bringing people to this thing — but it really is a far-right thing.” adding that “This convoy is an evolution of what the far-right has been doing since 2016”. Protestors use Zello chat to communicate.
In the lead-up to the planned arrival in Ottawa, it was anonymously reported on January 25 that alleged far-right and white-supremacist groups with no association to the Freedom Convoy were hoping for violence on Parliament Hill and redress of grievances akin to the 2021 United States Capitol attack. This has caused organizer Tamara Lich to address convoy members and denounce political violence, saying that protesters should “hold a peaceful protest” instead.
Links to far-right and separatist groups
- The Facebook page for the convoy has shared content from and listed as an organizer Wexit co-founder and Yellow Vest Canada organizer Patrick King, who has previously hosted counter-protests to anti-racism rallies, spread COVID-19 misinformation, and spread the Great Replacement conspiracy theory. Canada Unity, organizer for the convoy, continues to host Patrick King’s livestream on its website.
- Maverick Party – Tamara Lich, the protest’s fundraiser, is Secretary for the Maverick Party, a western separatist group formerly known as Wexit Canada. Lich was previously the regional co-ordinator for Wexit in southeastern Alberta and board member for Wexit Alberta. The Maverick Party has denied involvement in fundraising for the convoy, issuing a statement on January 24 saying that the party is not involved in the protest.
- Action 4 Canada – associated with the Canada Unity group inside the Freedom Convoy – Islamophobic and anti-LGBTQ conspiracy group with webpages about the dangers of political Islam, health consequences of 5G technology and underreporting of adverse vaccine reactions. Founded by Tanya Gaw who actively supported the Yellow Vests protests of 2019.
- No More Lockdowns – Jason LaFace, Canada Unity’s Ontario organizer for the Freedom Convoy is also a main organizer for No More Lockdowns Canada – An anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine mandate organization primarily associated with expelled Ontario MPP Randy Hillier which holds anti-lockdown rallies across Ontario.
- Peoples Party of Canada – Benjamin Dichter who is listed as an organizer on the Freedom Convoy GoFundMe page and who is an organizer of the Freedom Convoy was a speaker at the inaugural 2019 PPC National Convention where he claimed political Islam has infiltrated the Conservative Party and is “rotting away at our society like syphilis”. Jason LaFace, Ontario organizer for Canada Unity (who also goes by Jason LaFaci) is the President of the People’s Party of Canada Sudbury Electoral District Association with a previous background in anti-Black Lives Matter activities.