Truckers Protest Covid-19 Mandates
In response to the new federal regulations that required truckers crossing from the United States into Canada to show proof of vaccination, convoys of trucks from British Columbia headed to Ottawa, Canada’s capital. The truckers threatened to disrupt the economy and make daily life more difficult until the federal regulations were lifted. The protest represented the minority of trucker opinion’s within Canada as “90 percent of all truckers are vaccinated and a majority of Canadians support public health measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus” (Horowitz, 2022). The trucker’s traffic blocking maneuvers of disruption eventually spread to other areas of Canada such as Toronto, Quebec, and Calgary and even “jammed” the Ambassador Village, a route that carries goods of $300 million in value and connects to Detroit in the United States. After Ottawa’s mayor, Jim Watson, declared a state of emergency the protests were gradually dispersed.
The effects of the protest would eventually spill over into the United States, resulting in a convoy of 18 wheelers heading to Washington, D.C. in protest of vaccine mandates despite the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. The American trucker’s movement has been summarized to be about American freedom and concern the government promoting a mandated vaccine regardless if someone wants to be vaccinated. The convoy consists of various groups, including the People’s Convoy and over 300,000 Facebook followers that contain doctors, teachers, pilots, etc. who primarily believe in “medical freedom.”
However, various interviews with some of the participants in the convoy have identified that participants are present because they feel like the 2020 election was rigged while others are there for reasons as simple as supporting President Trump. This contradicts the medical freedom explanation for protesting as it was President Trump who issued the Covid-19 state of emergency on March 13th, 2020, and President Biden who extended the state of emergency.
On March 6th, convoys of trucks, minivans, and an assortment of other vehicles ventured to complete two full trips around Interstate 495, also known as the Capital Beltway, a 74 mile highway that circles Washington D.C. The People’s Convoy, the group behind the trucker’s convoys, similar to the convoys that occurred in Canada, demands an end to the national emergency, removal of vaccine and mask mandates, and congressional hearings for the origin of the pandemic (Ngo et al. 2022). However, many of these demands seem rather futile or insignificant as the United States continues to lift Covid-19 restrictions.
The People’s Convoy’s peaceful protest has not produced any major disruptions to transportation, but there has been an increase of 249 personnel and 15 heavy vehicles to respond to roadway disruptions. Although one of the convoy organizers, Brian Brase, stated they did want to head towards the capital in fear of replicating a similar incident towards what happened on the January 6th incident that occurred on Capitol Hill, it has not been ruled out completely. Mr. Brase has stated that he does not believe anything will change immediately, but the convoys were meant to establish that “[they are] in their backyard and that we are huge.”
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