Freedom Convoy in the Global Trend of COVID-19 Protests

By Brandon Leonard

Freedom Convoy 2022 is the latest ongoing protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, specifically those in Canada. 

The primary motivation, at least initially, for the convoy was Canada’s termination of the exemption for truckers to not be vaccinated for COVID-19 on Jan. 15. Under the new rules, truckers would be quarantined for two weeks and have to be tested for COVID-19 upon arriving at the Canadian border.

The protest is large in size, with approximately a thousand vehicles involved in the protest, more than two hundred trucks at most, and hundreds more vehicles from the more than 8,000 protestors who followed the convoy to its primary destinations, Ottawa.

The convoy’s popularity, however, can be traced to the wider debate about COVID-19 vaccine mandates and vaccine passports. Canada Unity, an associated organization to the protests, put out a memo calling for the end to all vaccine mandates on top of reemploying those who were terminated due to not getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The convoy is largely peaceful, save for seemingly isolated incidents. 

According to Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly, there have been arrests made and currently, there are three protestors known to have been arrested.

Regardless, the protest’s message and these incidents caused sharp criticism from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who stated that the “fringe minority” protesting held “unacceptable views.”

In contrast, Candice Bergen, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, expressed her support for the truckers as did a number of other conservative Canadian politicians.

International support can be seen in the approximately ten million dollars that came through a GoFundMe set up by Canada’s Maverick Party, although most of the funds were seized by the company due to the aforementioned arrests. 

Most of the donations appear to have come from America where the support for the Freedom Convoy can be traced to anxieties over mandates, prominently seen in how the Supreme court blocked President Biden’s mandate for companies with over a hundred employees.

Another likely bastion of support can be found in the United Kingdom, which recently dropped all of its mask and vaccine passport mandates due to the Omicron variant. The rising number of breakthrough cases with the Omicron variant has brought questions about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, alongside the changing number of doses needed to constitute someone being fully vaccinated.

The Freedom Convoy is hardly unique from these other protests, as seen in multiple European countries, most prominently France. 

Another example is Australia which has been host to numerous protests over its intensely restrictive lockdown measures and vaccine mandates. Whether the ideals of these protests are held by a minority of their respective nations or not, they are still representative of a growing mistrust towards the government’s responses to the ongoing pandemic.

“Trust is a social compact that requires social renewal,” said Edward Pompeian, assistant professor of history at the University of Tampa. Whether or not Prime Minister Trudeau can regain the trust of his people has yet to be seen and only time will tell whether the Freedom Convoy will fizzle out and die or continue to burn on defiantly in the midst of the pandemic.

Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg

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