I’ve been waiting a long time for a rational protest against government pandemic mandates to emerge. With the “Freedom Convoy” sweeping towards Ottawa and growing like a prairie fire, I finally have one.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been sporadically attending anti-restriction protests in hope of seeing the basis for a groundswell of public opposition to government mandates emerging. I have invariably left these events disappointed.
To be blunt, the lunatic fringe has been dominating anti-restriction protests since day one and it has kept common Canadians from taking part in them.
I went to one protest last year in front of Calgary’s city hall. The turnout was OK with perhaps a few hundred in attendance. Once the speakers took the stage though, things quickly went off the rails. Members of the Proud Boys flanked the stage as “security” while speakers harangued the crowd about government conspiracies and long disproven rumours about vaccines such as the one claiming they cause autism. Meanwhile, another table was set up in the back where loud music blared and a fellow occasionally took up a megaphone to add his two cents while others were speaking.
While all this was happening, protesters approached and verbally harassed drivers on the street who were waiting for the light to change and happened to be wearing masks.
Slowly but surely, attendees on the periphery drifted away. Frustration and disappointment were evident on their faces. They had hoped to take part in a rational demonstration against government mandates and restrictions but clearly wanted no part of the circus they encountered.
I observed this happening at protest after protest in these last two years. Despite the public growing weary and stressed over what appears to be interminable government restrictions upon their lives, the numbers at anti-restriction protests never grew. The protests remained small, strange, and ineffective.
The emergence of the trucker’s convoy for freedom has changed all that.
Canadians have now found a protest against government restrictions they can comfortably support and they are doing so by the tens of thousands. It has been amazing how something that began as a small group of truckers pushing back against cross-border vaccine mandates has turned into a massive, well-funded, and huge movement across the country in less than two weeks.
Clearly, citizens were eager to find a mechanism to express their discontent with government pandemic restrictions and now they have one. Thousands of trucks are converging on Ottawa while tens of thousands of citizens line the streets and cheer the convoys as they pass through their towns and cities. Nearly 60,000 people have donated to the cause on one fundraising site and the total is nearing $5 million in donations so far. More than half a million members have joined their Facebook group to date. Never have we seen a protest rocket into such broad public support so quickly.
During the first week of the convoy organization, legacy media ignored them. Through alternative media and social media, the movement expanded despite the lack of mainstream attention. Once the mainstream media was forced to take notice, their coverage was dismissive and critical.
Opposition to the convoy is becoming hysteric and panicked.
Power brokers, such as Justin Trudeau’s close friend and advisor Gerald Butts, took to Twitter to try and label the convoy as being a secessionist movement. He sounded outright deranged as he tried his hardest to foster mistrust within the convoy.
Swarms of newly created social media accounts are appearing and spreading unfounded rumours about the convoy. They are accusing it of being a terrorist movement and falsely claiming the GoFundMe site has declined to release the funds raised.
While annoying and almost offensive, the opposition to the convoy has been utterly ineffective. If anything, it is galvanizing supporters further.
Authoritarians recognize and realize the threat the convoy presents to their world of government control. They have been able to tighten the leash upon Canadians for nearly two years with virtually no well-organized opposition. The convoy has changed all that and the establishment doesn’t know what to do.
The protest began with truckers protesting against vaccine requirements and has quickly evolved into a general protest against government pandemic restrictions.
The nation finally is seeing a tangible and huge push-back against government pandemic restrictions and mandates which are increasingly absurd and appear to have no end.
This is it. This is the movement I have been waiting for. Ottawa had best get ready. I don’t think they fully understand what’s about to hit them and it’s about time.
Cory Morgan is Assistant Opinion & Broadcast Editor for the Western Standard