On Friday, January 28th, realizing I had no pressing obligations, I drove to Ottawa. A convoy of Canadian truckers and other workers was about to descend on the city. I felt something important was about to happen and wanted to see it for myself. Arriving well after dark, I checked into my hotel and went to bed. The following day, I wandered around downtown, speaking to people from across the country and reading the various signs on display.
There was an almost festive energy of optimism that pervaded the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa. Complete strangers from different sides of the continent chatted amicably in the biting cold, their conversations punctuated by the semi rhythmic honking of truck horns. I found myself impressed with the proceedings and was struck by just how Canadian it truly felt. For all the rhetoric describing Canada as a place without culture or subsumed within the American cultural complex, the Freedom Convoy protests have an inescapably Canadian essence to them.
The Canadian nature of the event is made apparent in ways both big and small. People from different parts of a vast and frozen continent are realizing they have a great deal in common. Shared unconscious traditions of hospitality, trust, order, and above all a rugged humour that finds a way to smile despite the biting cold permeate the streets. These values may be anathematic to Canada’s sheltered urban ruling class but they are instinctual to the majority of the country.
Despite temperatures nearing thirty degrees below freezing, the prohibitive expense required to drive big rigs and other heavy vehicles across Canada, and the cost of food and board; Canadians across the country have come together to make their voices heard in a system that they felt not only was ignoring them, but was actively trying to harm them.
In the face of this bubbling resentment, most countries would erupt into violence, vandalism, or general disorder. Popular examples abound, be they the yellow vest riots of Paris, France, or the BLM riots of the United States. The same can not be said of Canada, however. The protest in Ottawa was remarkably clean, and clean up efforts by the protestors have been extensively documented by news outlets such as The Post Millenial. The protest has even had the wherewithal to consider urban logistics: the Trucks in Ottawa have been arrayed to leave one lane of traffic open allowing for emergency services to pass.
This stands in contrast to the BLM riots of 2020 that occurred both in Canada and in the USA, not to mention the more recent Kamloops controversy that occurred here in Canada that cumulated in the burning of Canadian Churches and the destruction of various historical Canadian monuments, particularly the statue of Queen Victoria in Manitoba.
Although the behaviour of the Convoy protests differs vastly from the anti-Christian hate crimes and widespread looting that have characterized other protest movements, one would not have known this if one were listening only to the words of Canadian politicians. While remaining largely silent at the destruction of Canadian heritage and vile hateful attacks on the faith of the majority of Canadians, our political leaders have come out with words of outrage and indignation to condemn the Convoy protest.
Justin Trudeau is quick to praise the workers who have kept this country working during the lockdown; yet when they begin to advocate for their own interests his language quickly turns venomous and condemnatory.
Even theoretically conservative politicians like Erin O'Toole are deafeningly silent when the heritage of this country is destroyed. When the time comes for him to use his platform to speak for his constituents, he prefers to attack and criticize the people he should be leading. As a result of his political anemia, he was decisively removed from his position as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.This is a step in the right direction for a party that has been plagued with indecision and incompetence ever since the departure of Stephen Harper.
The political culture of Canada is one of obfuscation and deflection. Nothing is ever anyone’s responsibility; the government is always concerned and sympathetic. But prices at the local grocer and gas pump continue to climb and Canadians are forced to tighten their belts a little more year after year. For all of the placating rhetoric, this country feels like it is led by dishonest hucksters far more than it feels like a Confederation of equals led by the best among our ranks.
The Freedom Convoy has been overwhelmingly condemned by the urban bureaucrats and media personalities of Canada. For those familiar with Canadian history, this united front presented by the urban professional will seem eerily reminiscent of the tenure of John Diefenbaker, wherein his success with neglected rural and working-class Canadians invoked the ire of Canada’s governing class. Repeated attempts by the Canadian elite to dismiss criticism of their left-wing orthodoxy with accusations of intolerance and hate ring hollow when more and more Canadians live paycheque to paycheque than ever before.
I suspect that this protest is about much more than the mandates. We are seeing a clash between the liberal urbanite who has had an iron grip on this country for the last sixty years and the conservative rural worker who feels ignored and attacked. Rather than behave as the reasonable moderates they purport to be, the urbane rulers of this country will almost certainly double down on their attacks.
The partisan divide in this country will continue to worsen if the government refuses to reconcile with any of the demands of the people who ensure this country can continue to operate day after day. The working class forms not only the backbone of Canada’s logistical network in the forms of trucking and rail transport, but is also the driving force of forestry, mining, power generation, and other primary sectors of the economy. Regrettably for Mr. Trudeau, this “fringe minority with unacceptable views” wields considerable leverage over the systems upon which the elites of Canada rely for their power and wealth.
As of writing, these protests are developing both in Canada and around the world. Of particular note is the blockade of the Alberta-Montana border near Coutts, AB. The people involved in the Freedom Convoy are courageous to a degree rarely seen nowadays. They have my respect and support. God bless.