Canada's Trucker Convoy Challenges the Elites | Opinion

Over the last two years, Canada has descended into the kind of mass-surveillance state you read about in dystopian novels. In December, the country's public health agency admitted it has tracked data from 33 million devices monitoring people's movement and activity during the lockdowns—and plans to continue doing so for the next five years. In a country of only 38 million people, that's an extraordinary number. Other disturbing anecdotes of government overreach have emerged, from Canadian citizens being detained for weeks when entering the country with no ability to contact anyone, to Alberta police issuing tickets at unpermitted Christmas gatherings.

Now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his state-sponsored media would have you believe that a fringe group of miscreants have hijacked the Canadian trucking industry. They've formed a violent convoy and stormed across the country to wreak havoc on the capital city of Ottawa. These odious, white supremacist truckers have been hurling abuse at small business workers, stealing food from the homeless and vandalizing sacred monuments. With the aim of spreading their anti-vaccine ideology and giving everyone COVID, these truckers simply have unacceptable views and share none of the higher ideals of the average Canadian citizen.

But none of this is true. In reality, the tens of thousands of truckers and their supporters who traveled in a 45-mile-long "Freedom Convoy" to Ottawa have been overwhelmingly peaceful, well-organized and politically moderate when interviewed. After two years of tight-fisted enforcement of unrelenting lockdown measures and the erosion of civil liberties through draconian "public health" policy, ordinary Canadians have simply had enough of government COVID mandates. They are now situated at hotels throughout the city, where they will remain for the time being. Justin Trudeau and his family moved to an undisclosed location.

Early on, Canadian media framed the convoy as a protest about road conditions. But within 24 hours, the success of the convoy's GoFundMe page blew the lid off this false narrative that this was just a rogue rump. Clearly there was popular support. The convoy raised a million dollars in just six days, with an average donation of 75 dollars. The government's propaganda-press then shifted to portraying the protesters as white supremacists and selectively reported on their affairs to minimize the convoy's size and legitimacy. Daily news reports focused on a handful of rowdy individuals rather than a wide angle of thousands of joyous protesters.

Contrast this with the coverage of Black Lives Matter sympathizers who defaced statues and monuments throughout Canada and took to looting and vandalism in Quebec during the George Floyd protests. Trudeau—who is now making veiled threats against truckers critical of his administration after shows of solidarity with left-wing BLM activists—treats civil rights protests on the basis of ideological content, not law. He has the Kennedy look, but when it comes to the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, his outlook is textbook tyrant-talk.

Toronto trucker convoy
Demonstrators against mandates related to Covid-19 vaccines and restrictions gather in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on February 5, 2022. - Protesters again poured into Toronto and Ottawa early on February 5 to join a convoy of truckers whose occupation of Ottawa to denounce Covid vaccine mandates is now in its second week. Geoff Robins / AFP/Getty Images

Yet despite Trudeau's attempt at a testosterone-infused "We will not give in," small cracks are showing in the armor. The premieres of Saskatchewan and Alberta have already expressed either their support for the truckers or a willingness to sit down and talk with them. "This country right now is a raw nerve and the prime minister is jumping up and down on it again and again with his inflammatory rhetoric," opposition finance critic Pierre Poilievre declared to the House of Commons.

But Trudeau is part of an elitist political class which routinely takes the lower and middle classes in Canada for fools, and for granted. Just like the mandarin elites in America, they snub their noses at those who are not educated at Ivy Leagues, special colleges or exclusive prep schools. Sure, they make policies and move money, but they are profoundly detached from the working-class citizen. The elites have failed to see that the Canadians who work with their hands or serve them in restaurants are the ones who value freedom the most.

If these men and women remain steadfast in their revolutionary fervor and refuse to go back to work, the government will buckle. Truckers move hundreds of millions of pounds weekly in Canada and to America—its biggest trading partner and key ally. Without this vital labor, shelves will be bare and critical inventory will be in short supply. Progressives are generally fine supporting their ideological heroes as long as they don't have to make sacrifices. The residents of Toronto and Ottawa might make do without their favorite espresso in the morning or their ripened fruit from Peru. But the moment they can't drive because there is no gas being delivered or they can't get a servant cleaning the roads, they turn against their politicians. The truckers have real leverage.

Other countries are finally coming to their senses on the pandemic. In the past month, Britain, Ireland and Denmark rescinded the majority of their COVID restrictions. Even the tight-fisted French are talking about loosening significant health measures this month. In America, the Supreme Court rejected Joe Biden's OSHA mandate and many states have done away with mask and vaccine mandates. The world is slowly coming around to the idea that the "non-pharmaceutical interventions" imposed by bureaucrats and officials to combat this virus are myopic, and the benefits do not outweigh the costs for society.

The definitive meta-study released by Johns Hopkins University this month demonstrates that lockdowns have failed to curtail coronavirus around the world. As the authors wrote, "The evidence fails to confirm that lockdowns have a significant effect in reducing COVID-19 mortality. The effect is little to none." The science is clear. More reasons to support the truckers' cause.

But not to our northern neighbors' policymakers, who fear the thawing of the deep authoritarian freeze. The Freedom Convoy has now raised $10 million. American political campaigns regularly raise billions, but in Canada this is a threatening and humiliating sum to Canada's political parties, which cannot raise that kind of campaign money. It's stunning how little information we have on the tyrannical abuses of power COVID has engendered from Trudeau, and how far his government has gone to strip away citizens' freedom in a time of crisis. Health and safety matters, but societies cannot be oriented around health and safety, rather than the will of the people. The Canadian government must eventually answer to the creatures they picture primarily as viral vectors. As provinces begin to green-light the truckers' demands, the real victory transcends mandate emancipation, by restoring power back to the hands of the people.

We must all listen to their clarion call.

Karys Rhea is a writer and researcher with Canadian roots living in Brooklyn. You can follow her on twitter @RheaKarys.

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