5 min read
Canadian Trucker Protest: Voices In The Crowd

his month's Voices in the Crowd covers the impact of the Canadian Trucker Convoy over the Covid-related government imposed measures on the public like the vaccine mandate. We spoke to Canadians to see what their thoughts were about the effectivity of the movement, whether they thought that the government was in the right over its impositon of emergency powers to deal with the movement, and whether they support the Covid-related government measures.

Q1: How impactful do you think the trucking efforts will be on the vaccine mandates policy?

Aaron, mid 20s, from Toronto: My knowledge here is limited in regard to what happened but I think the truckers’ convoy was very impactful. May it wasn’t so impactful in pressuring those in power to make certain executive decisions but it was certainly impactful in inspiring others to stand up for their rights and stand up for freedom. That is how I think the truckers’ efforts were impactful.

Carolyn, 55, from Alberta: Very effective! The provinces began changing their mandates almost immediately.

Colin, 77, from Ontario: No effect.

Courtney, 38, from Alberta: Very, we have already seen the majority of Canadian provinces reverse their rhetoric on the usefulness of the vaccine. They have also started to reinstate the unvaccinated employees positions at work. I would say that the pressure the convoy applied by garnering a large amount of the countries and worlds participation attention and support in the convoy was the driving force behind the governments swift change of mind as it coincided immediately with the convoys departures from their provinces and homes and their arrival in Ottawa.

Jason, mid 20s, from Toronto: I think initially the truckers rally wasn't having much of an impact. I didn't really expect them to. Most Canadians view them as more of a fringe group. The people that I saw protesting were people that have been against vaccine mandates to begin with and I think the people that supported vaccine mandates, did not change their opinions that much. Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, over 80% for both doses. However, what I didn't anticipate as much and what has made the truckers rally very impactful in effecting the vaccine mandate, albeit indirectly, is Trudeau totally botching the handling of the trucker protest. I think he handled everything wrong. He equated the protestors with neo nazis racists and conspiracists and I think Canadians are smart enough to not view them all in that way, even if there is a small minority amongst them that's like that.So I think because of Trudeau’s response it actually had the effect of making Canadians less into vaccine mandates and so we’re seeing provinces like Ontario and Alberta actually move towards removing mandates and green passports. So the protests have had an effect but indirectly and as result of Truadeau’s mishandling of the protests.

Jessica, 27, from Toronto: The impact can only be indirect- it seems politicians will never allow mandates to break in the face of protest (understandably, because it would only set precedent for more/future riots). The indirect impact is that an awareness was built around the autonomy of the people; their choice to forgo vaccination and their yearning for freedom and lack of segregation. I think it’s no coincidence that mandates fell shortly after.

Rachel, late 20s, from Ottawa: I think there will be (already is) an indirect impact, certainly not something that politicians will admit. In Ontario and Alberta, for instance, there are elections coming up for conservative leaders Rob Ford and Jason Kenny and many in the trucker convoy are conservative voters. Saying this, I believe the restrictions would have been reduced or even eliminated around this time anyway, with the warmer weather, like in the past 2 years. The federal government, on the other hand, is unlikely to lift the vaccine mandate at the border for truckers as the Canadian public (voters) would interpret that as giving in to the demands of the so-called Freedom Convoy.

Steve, 49, from Alberta: This is extremely difficult to measure. If the government had come out and said, “you have been heard. We will lift all mandates immediately” then it would be very obvious that the protests were effective. However, no government will ever admit to caving to protesters, so we ended up with what we saw happen in Alberta - the mandates and restrictions being lifted over a longer time frame. This enabled the government to lift the mandates while saving face.

Leslie, 64, from Alberta: Yes. The truckers convoy brought much awareness of the lost freedoms that have transpired over the last few years, not to mention the last 50years. Effectiveness to end the mandates, huge domino effect.So, did the protests have an impact? Probably. How much of an impact? Very difficult to say.

Q2: Do you agree with Trudeau’s decision to invoke emergency powers to end the protests?

Aaron, mid 20s, from Toronto: I am not too sure of what is entailed when a Prime Minister declares emergency powers but from my knowledge it was uncalled for, and it was definitely not needed. It was a move to intimidate those that stood up for their freedoms and what they believed in. It was to show that we have the power and you guys are the sheep; that is what Trudeau did. That is why I and a lot of people do not like Trudeau at all.

Carolyn, 55, from Alberta: No! Justin Trudeau should never have invoked the emergency measures.

Colin, 77, from Ontario: It was not needed.

Courtney, 38, from Alberta: No! The actions of the PM will forever go down in history as an act of war against humanity! He has done a great disservice to Canadians and has tread over the liberties and freedoms of peace loving citizens exercising their rights to peacefully protest! People showed up with Canadian flags and patriotism for their country and were met with an abusive display of power and cowardice from their leader and his corrupt cronies.

Jason mid-20s, from Toronto: With a problem such as truckers disrupting trade, you should have the police remove them but instead he activated the emergency powers, which are only meant to be used in times of war, in extreme circumstances. I don't think truckers peacefully protesting, even if they are disrupting trade routes, falls into that category. More importantly, Trudeau freezing peoples bank accounts is just unnecessary. You don't expect to happen in free societies, especially when they're being done because of dissent.I think it's totally inappropriate. It put Canada on the front page of newspapers around the world for all the wrong reasons. A thriving democracy should be able to handle disobedient protestors and remove them with the police and the rule of law. Whether Trudeau should have met with the leaders or used the police effectively to handle it, is a question but he definitely messed up by declaring emergency powers.

Jessica, 27, from Toronto: I feel uninformed about this part of politics. I don’t know enough about why he felt it was necessary and felt it would infringe more on his people to violate those rights than to protect that of those living in Ottawa.

Rachel, late 20s, from Ottawa: From what I understand, and from what I observed driving through the streets of downtown Ottawa during the recent stand-off, Trudeau hadn't much choice but to invoke the Emergency Act. Had the police been given more back-up at the start of the protest, and had they been better prepared to manage the situation ie. corralling the trucks away from residential streets, Trudeau may not have needed to use emergency powers.

Steve, 49, from Alberta: Absolutely not. It was a vast and completely unnecessary abuse of government power. I suspect that, since it seemed that the level of support in the Canadian Senate was not as high as Trudeau thought, that is why he revoked the measures implemented and rescinded the order before the Senate could vote. If the vote had failed in the Senate, it would have completely undermined his ability to govern; and Trudeau is so bent on keeping his job he doesn’t care what he does to Canada in the process.

Leslie, 64, from Alberta: No! Bringing in the Emergency Act was totally wrong and not necessary.

Q3: Do you support the vaccine mandates?

Aaron, mid 20s, from Toronto: No, of course not! I think there should be a way to vaccinate people. There should be alternatives to just firing them from their jobs because they don’t believe in a vaccine. Taking away their livelihoods and things that are essential for people to be happy is fascist in a way. I use that word very lightly here but that is what I would say.

Carolyn, 55, from Alberta: Mandates never worked - it was all about government control of people.

Colin, 77, from Ontario: Yes.

Courtney, 38, from Alberta: No! For 2 years we have been asked to follow the science. Whose science? Is it a fact that covid can be contracted and spread by vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, yes! So why does it matter if you are vaccinated or not if the shot is just to protect yourself from hospitalizations or death? You having it does not prevent your neighbor or co-worker from getting it! So how would it stop the spread? It is a personal health choice and in light of waning efficacy of the vaccine, increase of severe adverse effects of the vaccine, lessening of severity of the variants and the addition of natural herd immunity being achieved worldwide, what purpose does it serve other than alienating and creating second class citizens?!?!

Jason mid-20s, from Toronto: First and foremost, I’m not a medical professional. I think every country and area should follow or at least heavily consider the advice when possible of a consensus or majority of the relevant health authorities, disease or epidemic specialists when formulating policy. I do largely view mandates like I do seatbelts. The government can make policy for the public health and require you to wear a seatbelt to protect the public health of its people. It does go into more of a grey area when the government requires you to be vaccinated to fly into the country which touches more on constitutional rights and could be more of a legal issue.

Jessica, 27, from Toronto: I do support them to some extent. I understand the rationality behind segregating those vaccinated from unvaccinated because it objectively reduces the spread of Covid. The negative impact of that segregation, however, is arguably much worse than the rise of Covid, especially with Omicron being less lethal. My stance is and always was that the best alternative would have been to aggressively enforce lockdown (as they did in China) for 3 weeks and annihilate the disease in the country. As uncomfortable as it would be, it does not compare to the effect of these last 2 years.

Rachel, late 20s, from Ottawa: That's a tough question. I support vaccine mandates in certain situations such as in long-term care and other senior and communal living and hospitals, where residents are at a greater risk to contract the virus and have serious physical consequences as a result. Border crossing, I have less support for mandates because I don't understand why they're necessary for truckers who for the most part work solo.

Steve, 49, from Alberta: No, and I say this specifically without making any comment on whether the Covid vaccine is, or is not, safe. This same answer applies to any vaccine situation. Forcing people to undergo any medical procedure - even something as simple and innocuous as a vaccination is a gross violation of the individual’s own bodily integrity.

Leslie, 64, from Alberta: No. Mandates were also totally wrong, against the law and Charter of Rights.

* The email will not be published on the website.