February 10, 2022

Freedom Convoy

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson on Sunday declared a state of emergency to help deal with an unprecedented 10-day occupation by protesting truckers that has shut down much of the core of the Canadian capital… The ‘Freedom Convoy’ began as a movement against a Canadian vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers but has turned into a rallying point against public health measures and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government.” Reuters

GoFundMe removed the donation page for the ‘Freedom Convoy’ on Friday, claiming it violated the crowdsourced fundraising site's terms of service that ‘prohibit user content that reflects or promotes [behavior in support of violence].’ It announced the next day that it would refund all of the donations made so far. More than $8 million had been raised at the time.” AFP

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From the Left

The left criticizes the protests and conservative commentators in the US for inflaming tensions.

“At its peak, the protests reached 8,000 people. That’s nothing compared to American protests. To be honest, I think Americans are more obsessed with this story than Canadians are. This Saturday’s Globe and Mail didn’t lead with it. It didn’t make the cover of any of the sections. It’s my American friends who are worried, not my Canadian ones…

“First, the protests are massively unpopular. About 60 percent of the country find the truckers ‘offensive and inappropriate.’ Close to 70 percent disapprove. Significant numbers of conservatives are in that number…

“Secondly, they have virtually no mainstream political support. Both Doug Ford and Jason Kenney (the premieres of Ontario and Alberta, respectively, and by far the most conservative Canadian politicians out there) have been clear that they are against the truckers, and are now some of the truckers’ main targets. Third, this could not be a less effective form of protest. They are disturbing middle class people trying to get to work and put their children to sleep.”
Stephen Marche, Slate

“The energy on the political right has led to the spread of false claims about the protest on social media. CNN’s Daniel Dale documented several, including the assertion that 50,000 trucks had participated in the protest. That would constitute a line of trucks more than 500 miles long, which obviously didn’t happen. Numerous images have also circulated that purport to show the protest, but, in reality, show past, unrelated events… As you might expect, coverage of the protest has been far more common on Fox News than on other major cable-news networks…

“Support for the protest, particularly from the United States, constitutes something akin to foreign interference in the country’s domestic politics. If you imagine a scenario in which D.C. was rendered partially immobile by an anti-gun protest funded heavily by a concerted campaign led by prominent Chinese officials, you can get an understanding of the frustration that Canadian officials feel."
Philip Bump, Washington Post

"[There is] a barely concealed effort to portray the Canadian truckers as part of some grassroots movement of patriots who are fed up with Covid-era coercion and control, who are now taking matters into their own hands. This is, to say the least, a misleading portrait. Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, and 90 percent of Canadian truckers are vaccinated; the Canadian trade group, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, has vocally opposed the protests. Two-thirds of Canadians both oppose the protest and believe that it represents the views of a ‘small minority’ of Canadians…

“Not exactly the Braveheart-like movement of working-class heroes that [Fox News host Tucker] Carlson et al have been been keen to portray it. Nor does it seem to be the start of a Canuck version of the Tea Party, with chapters sparking off across the country in opposition to Trudeau’s heavy-handed approach to the pandemic. But the point isn’t really to pressure Trudeau to meet with the truckers, nor is it to influence Canadian politics at all. Rather, Fox is pushing the convoy as a movement to be emulated here in America.”
Alex Shephard, New Republic

“There are a couple of interesting things going on here. The first is that the American right increasingly sees itself as part of a transnational movement, embodied in its embrace of both bottom-up populist protests like the truckers, and top-down authoritarianism like what we see in Hungary or Russia. The second is that the party of ‘law and order’ has come to fully embrace law-breaking and disorder, as long as it’s performed by people the party has sympathy for…

“Just imagine if a bunch of Black Lives Matter protesters shut down half of D.C. with their vehicles, then sat on their horns for hours on end. What do you think Carlson would say about them? What sort of tactics would [Florida Governor Ron] DeSantis suggest might be used to clear the area?”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

From the Right

The right supports the protests and criticizes GoFundMe for removing the campaign to support them.

The right supports the protests and criticizes GoFundMe for removing the campaign to support them.

“Canada’s Liberal government is getting frustrated. They’ve tried everything and still the Freedom Convoy is camped out in front of the Canadian Parliament, honking horns, blasting music, dancing in the streets, playing hockey, handing out free food — and refusing to go home. Well, they’ve tried almost everything — except, you know, actually talking to the truckers. From the very beginning, Justin Trudeau made it clear that the government was not going to engage with the protesters…

“Trudeau is terrified of talking to peaceful Canadian citizens, because he’s afraid engaging with them will legitimize a public conversation about ending the government’s dictatorial emergency powers. He would find himself on the losing side in that conversation: as a new Angus Reid poll shows, a majority of Canadians want Covid restrictions to end. What Trudeau would like to talk about is the supposed violence, hatred, racism, antisemitism, vandalism and disorderly conduct of the truckers, all of which he bravely condemned from his undisclosed hideout…

“But he’s having a tough time of it, since the truckers are in fact orderly, racially diverse and remarkably peaceful… Of the two main spokespersons for the convoy, Tamara Lich and Benjamin Dichter, one is part Indigenous and one is Jewish. Many participants are not white, including numerous truckers of Indigenous and South Asian origin. A Confederate flag and a swastika flag were made much of in the mainstream press, but they were disavowed by participants, who asked the balaclava-wearing individual with the Confederate flag to leave.”
Jane Stannus, Spectator World

“Canadian truckers opposed to a Covid-19 vaccination mandate used their rigs on Monday to block the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, the busiest international land-border crossing in North America. This latest act in a week-long show of civil disobedience is more akin to political life in France or the U.S. That it happened in restrained Canada is a signal to the political class across the West: Large swaths of humanity are done with Covid-19 restrictions, mandates and excessive meddling in their lives. They want to go back to making their own health-risk assessments…

“The Canadian left is sneering at the truckers and their supporters, suggesting they’re nothing more than right-wing Trumpians. Mr. Trudeau has smeared them as ‘a few people shouting and waving swastikas.’ But the push-back against Covid-19 overreach has gone global. In January police fired water cannons at an estimated 50,000 European protesters in Brussels registering their exhaustion with restrictions and mandates. Since December protesters have gone to the streets elsewhere in Europe and in New Zealand and Australia…

“The lesson for the Covid-19 police is that when you’ve lost even Canadians, arguably the most law-abiding people on the planet, you’ve lost the political plot.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“GoFundMe claims it shut down the truckers and won’t release their funds to them because of ‘reports of violence and other unlawful activity’ violating the company’s terms of service. That’s a joke. Even CNN reports ‘no bloodshed.’ The New York Times concedes the worst is snarled traffic and blaring truck horns. As of Friday evening, when GoFundMe permanently shut the site down, there had been only three arrests despite thousands protesting…

Compare that with the mayhem and violence in Portland, Ore., in 2020. Truth is, GoFundMe had no problem with that disorder. The site raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Portland General Defense Committee to defend rioters who set fire to police stations, vandalized city hall, wielded weapons and injured police officers. Even now, GoFundMe is raising money for Black Lives Matter NYC to engage in ‘civil disobedience and disruption.’… GoFundMe’s attack on the Freedom Convoy is the latest red flag that Silicon Valley’s power over us has to be stopped.”
Betsy McCaughey, New York Post

A libertarian's take

“The protests have been peaceful and largely without incident—which makes reactions to them from media outlets and Canadian leaders especially odd. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders, along with press in and outside of Canada, have been keen to condemn the protesters as a whole based on reports of a few distasteful antics…

“It's never really fair to tar entire protest movements based on the antics of a few people—something folks on the left should know well. During protests for racial justice and police abuse, violent behavior and vandalism by a few has frequently been used by opponents to slam the whole movement. It was dumb then, and it's dumb now.”
Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason

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