Canadian vehicle protest, “Freedom Convoy,” blocks essential U.S.-Canadian port over Canadian vaccine mandates

international politics, Politics

Ceara Grady, Staff

Header Image: Rebel News

A vehicle blockade has been built at one of the busiest ports of entry between the United States and Canada in support of what has come to be known as the Freedom Convoy.  The Freedom Convoy started as an assembly of Canadian truckers protesting a new Canadian COVID-19 mandate that requires unvaccinated truckers to quarantine and be tested after returning from any trips to the United States.

Since then, the movement has evolved to protest all of Canada’s vaccine mandates and other COVID-related restrictions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that he has no plans to engage or comply with the Freedom Convoy and their demands, saying, “my focus is standing with Canadians and getting through this pandemic”.

Additionally, a change in Canadian policy wouldn’t resolve the protestors’ objections, because the United States made vaccinations mandatory for Canadian truckers entering the United States at the end of January. Meanwhile, the blockade extends for miles from the entry port along the main highway, even extending into surrounding neighborhoods. The disruption of the line-up of trucks in these neighborhoods has blocked residents’ access to necessities like the grocery store and has even impacted services like postal delivery and school bus routes. 

On the United States’ side of the port in Montana, officials have started to turn away people trying to cross into Canada. The Freedom Convoy also protested outside of Canada’s Parliament in a massive but relatively peaceful demonstration. Despite this, there are concerns that the protests could turn violent and become more invasive. Such fears have caused Prime Minister Trudeau and his family to leave their official residence out of an abundance of caution, though he has and continues to emphasize that this coalition of truckers represents a small minority, as 90 percent of Canadian truckers are vaccinated. 

The Freedom Convoy has raised over $7 million through its GoFundMe campaign, which officials are taking as a sign that the protesters don’t plan to disband soon. Additionally, influential United States public figures like former President Donald Trump and Elon Musk have come out in support of the Freedom Convoy and its mission. There have also been reports that a similar group of protestors could make a cross-country trip, from California to Washington D.C., to protest similar COVID-19 vaccination rules for American truckers. 

Among safety and public health concerns, officials are also worried about the impact this blockade will have on both the Canadian and American economies, particularly as both are still working to recover from the height of the pandemic. Supply chain issues have been plaguing both economies due to complications in starting industries back up after reduced COVID-19 restrictions, but this blockade at the border and strike of truckers will continue to exacerbate those issues. 

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