Canada's Politicians Only Have Themselves to Blame for Trucker Protests | Opinion

If the prime minister of a North African or Middle Eastern nation was forced into hiding by a protest occupying his capital city, Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton would materialize from thin air to call for U.S.-backed regime change.

"Government Loses Popular Support," newspaper headlines would blare, amid calls for sanctions, State Department-NGO initiatives and the inevitable "nation-building" exercises.

Justin Trudeau can rest easy, however. No such song and dance routine is in store for America's northerly neighbor despite thousands of protesting truckers in Ottawa sending the prime minister underground. While imagining intervention in America's northerly neighbor rightly seems risible, it does bring President George W. Bush's "soft bigotry of low expectations" to mind. We expect Canadians can handle their own affairs. Those Arab Spring nations of yesteryear obviously needed the Western man's help, though.

But increasingly, it appears Canadian politicians are not actually demonstrating an ability to manage their own affairs, nor to bring logic or rationality to this scenario, brought about by some of the most restrictive COVID-19 policies in the world. Nor, until now, has it appeared they cared when anyone raised objections to those policies.

Only when thousands of truckers replete with their 18-wheel freedom-fighting machines descended on Ottawa did the Canadian government begin to acknowledge the existence of dissenters in their midst. This very fact is the political casus belli for the protesters on Parliament Hill. It is also why they shouldn't leave until some very concrete demands are both met and kept. There should be a prolonged presence of truckers in Canada's capital. It appears to be the only language Trudeau's government understands.

Were it not for a compliant national media willing to almost exclusively echo the claims of the government, the situation could have already resolved itself with a hasty Trudeau exit from office.

Canada's broadcasters have focused their attention on the appearance of two flags—one Nazi, one Confederate—at protests over the past week. The culprits remain as elusive as the January 6th pipe bomber, though their presence has allowed the government to paint tens of thousands as extremists, racists or worse.

Ottawa trucker protest
Supporters arrive at Parliament Hill for the Freedom Truck Convoy to protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Ottawa, Canada, on January 29, 2022. - Hundreds of truckers drove their giant rigs into the Canadian capital Ottawa on Saturday as part of a self-titled "Freedom Convoy" to protest vaccine mandates required to cross the US border. Lars Hagberg / AFP/Getty Images

Even when acting Conservative Party leader Candice Bergen (no, not that one) tasked the government with offering an olive branch and reaching a resolution to the impasse on Parliament Hill, Trudeau's stand-in, Chrystia Freeland, pivoted to blanket statements condemning the swastika, as if such condemnation were even necessary in the Canadian parliamentary chamber circa 2022.

Bergen rightly riposted, "That, I'm afraid, is classic gaslighting."

It's an appropriate characterization of the Canadian government's approach thus far. A prime minister in hiding, a national capital in counter-lockdown, and the government's most critical concern is the freshly unfolded flag of a defunct foreign navy that existed almost 200 years ago and 1600 miles away.

Meanwhile, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta are bucking the national trend, announcing an end to COVID-related restrictions. It's quick progress for an actual peaceful protest that has yet to cause billions of dollars in damages, injure or kill any cops or seek anything but constitutionally guaranteed liberties.

It is of course a back-handed compliment to right-populism that the antagonistic shrieks are less, "Oh my God, what are they doing?" and more, "Oh my God what might they secretly believe in?" It's also a sign that there is a long road ahead, as politicians and the media attempt to ascribe ulterior motives to the protesters' actions.

Like France's gilets jaunes, Canada's "freedom convoy" may find itself entrenched against its own establishment for some time, and they might just inspire American counterparts.

Yes, the old communist call of "workers of the world, unite!" may have been successfully appropriated by the political Right. The next line isn't, "No, not like that!" but, truer to what Marx originally expressed, "You have nothing to lose but your chains."

In other words, keep on truckin'.

Raheem Kassam is the editor in chief of The National Pulse, a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute and a senior fellow at the Bow Group in London. He covered the Maidan revolution in 2013 from Kyiv.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.