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Canada’s truckers won’t truck it anymore

Dissent is a defining attribute of democracy, not a threat to it

19 February 2022

9:00 AM

19 February 2022

9:00 AM

The Freedom Convoy is the largest, longest and noisiest honkfest of a demonstration against a Canadian government in decades. It has laid bare the stark reality that lockdowns are a class war waged by the laptop class on the working class, by the cultural elites on the great unwashed outside urban centres and by the virtue-signallers on independent free thinkers. The world’s emoter-in-chief solemnly intoned in Parliament on 9 February that the truckies were ‘trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives’. That he himself has been guilty of all three charges for two years testifies to lack of self-awareness.

In 1971, I was living in Canada and visiting family in India. On Boxing Day a friend told me, ‘Your PM Two-door has had a son’. That’s when I first heard of Justin Trudeau, the epitome of ‘white privilege’. Maybe not two-door but he’s given every indication of being two-faced. He wore blackface many times and would have fired any minister before his own history surfaced for the offence, yet champions himself as a warrior against racism. He fired a First Nation woman from Cabinet because she showed competence and integrity enough to resist pressures to circumvent the law against a corrupt company in order to save Trudeau’s seats in Quebec – google ‘Jody Wilson-Raybould SNC-Lavalin’ – yet fancies himself as a global campaigner for women’s rights.

He mouths trite banalities about following the science. On 10 January, with 78 per cent (90+ per cent of adults with nearly 50 per cent boosted) full vaccination, Canada recorded its highest rate of 1,093 daily new cases per million people (7-day average), aalmost five times more than the previous high of 229 daily new cases per million people on 12 April 2021, when only 2 per cent of the population was fully vaccinated. The double-vaccinated and boosted PM (and Prince Charles) recently tested positive for Covid. Yet still they swear by vaccine passports for stopping transmission. He dismisses hard-working truckers and supporters as a fringe minority of far-right racists and misogynists who propagate ‘unacceptable views’. With 85-90 per cent vaccinated and the long hours spent alone in long-haul vehicles, the truckers’ defiance is more of a threat to government control than to public health. ‘Coward-19’ went into hiding rather than engage with or face the truckers as they rolled into Ottawa. A fringe minority doesn’t raise $10 million dollars within days nor attract thousands of flag-waving supporters along the route to Ottawa. The smears thrown at them are so brazen as to be scarcely credible. Politicians, the chattering class and fund-raising platforms who lined up to take the knee and turn a blind eye to actual and widespread violence by BLM activists, point to rare and isolated examples of relatively harmless words and acts, always with the possibility of complicity by agents provocateurs, to paint the whole movement as beyond the pale.

The convoy has proven to be a galvanising symbol of people power. It has inspired similar protest movements in Australia and New Zealand and may do so in America, once the land of the free and the brave, and dozens of other countries. Video footage of thousands of ordinary people lining up along the trans-Canadian highways to cheer on the truckers, braving the bitter Canadian winter and delivering food, supplies and well wishes to the truckers as the people’s champions, has fatally undermined the narrative that far-right extremists are disrupting the lives of everyday Canadians who’ve done their patriotic duty. The truckers and their cheer squads up and down the country mirror the race, age and gender demographics of modern Canada. The confrontation has pivoted in public perception to those with lockdown-proof incomes ordering the hard hats to stay in their lane and the latter saying they’ve had enough and are not going to take it any more. It has also for the first time opened up an honest debate about the science and data behind government diktats. And, perhaps most importantly, it has awakened ordinary Canadians to the realisation that there really are millions of others who share their scepticism, lockdown fatigue and mounting anger against the inner-city scolds and sneers’ arrogance and contempt for the deplorables across the country. The result is the wondrous sight of those who self-identify as champions of the little people cowering in fright at a broad-based movement led by real working people.

An especially heartening aspect is how it has demolished the attempt to frame dissent and protest as sedition and insurrection. The right to dissent is a defining attribute of democracy, neither a negation of nor a threat to it. No commentator seems to have drawn attention to what may well have been the antecedents of the Freedom Convoy. It began in British Columbia, where most Canadian Sikhs are concentrated. Their ancestral home, Punjab, is India’s agricultural powerhouse. In September 2020, the Modi government passed by brute force of parliamentary majority three controversial farm reforms. These may well have been merited but the autocratic manner in which this was done, with worried farmers told it was all for their own good, trust us, broke the trust in government, created a backlash and led to a convoy of vehicles that camped just outside Delhi from November 2020 onwards. The government tried to smear them in every possible way, including linking them to violent secessionists from the 1980s, but in the end Modi backed down a year later and all three laws were repealed. Reasons for the success of the farmers’ agitation were that they stayed united and peaceful, support for them spread to all parts of the country and their immediate grievances tapped into a much broader menu of resentments against Modi’s high-handed approach to governance that seemed to serve the interests of corporate donors against the little people. Sound familiar?

The narrative seems to be collapsing fast inside Canada. Trudeau’s own Liberal MPs have begun to attack his confrontational handling of the protests as divisive politics that’s pitting Canadians against one another instead of providing a roadmap out of the pandemic. Polls show around half of Canadians expressing sympathy and understanding for the truckers’ concerns and supporting an end to all Covid restrictions – even if most don’t support the protests. Five provinces have announced a rapid lifting of restrictions like vaccine passports and mask mandates. These developments might also be influencing other governments to begin dismantling increasingly unpopular restrictions. Who’d have thought that the country best known for its law-abiding and phlegmatic population would lead the world in trumpeting the message: we are done with Covid restrictions, mandates and government running our lives.

Whilst Australians, once famed for a larrikin, irreverent and authority-defying spirit, would help revive the tired old trope of worthy inheritors of prison guards?

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