From Heroes to Zeroes to Heroes: Go Freedom Convoy!

It’s very rare for anyone to see a Canadian stand up and shout, “No!”. Let alone tens of thousands of Canadians from all parts of this great big country to stand in unison, raise our fists and our flags to our government and say, “No more!”

We’re generally too polite for that. 

Yet even Canadians have our limits and, in the throes of the poorly managed pandemic, we hit a wall.  Mandates, lockdowns, and the fear-mongering kept escalating even as it was clear to most of the world that the recent version of Covid-19, Omicron, is mostly a “meh”. Not willing to let things go, though, the Canadian government pushed down hard on border controls and demanded that truckers who work alone in their cabs must have a vaccine passport to go to and from the U.S., otherwise they’d be subject to quarantine for two weeks. 

That’s when the Truckers’ Freedom Convoy was started, and it took everyone but especially the government, by surprise.

Canadians, just like our American cousins, love our freedom. We’re just generally a little more polite and soft-spoken about claiming our rights, saying “please” and “oh, sorry” a bit too much for our own good. This difference in approach can be seen in how each country claimed independence from British control. The Americans were triggered into a Revolutionary War and won their right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Meanwhile, north of the border, 100 years later, Canadians accomplished our freedom with paperwork. Shuffling papers back and forth across the Atlantic to England, we finally got a document called the “Constitution Act, 1867” which boldly called for, well, “peace, order, and good government”. Not a drop of blood was shed and we, too, claimed our freedom. Canadians are stealth, if nothing else.

The words “peace, order, and good government” are not really all that inspiring, but when you think about it, at their core, they mean that Canadians want the same things as Americans. We, too, want “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and we know it comes from “peace, order, and good government”. It’s hard to be happy living in chaos and war.

This calmer, quieter claim to freedom reflects the outwardly calmer and certainly quieter nature of the average Canadian. When traveling abroad, we’re the people at airports and train stations that complete strangers trust and ask for help. We’re the people who on 9/11 quietly went to airports across this huge country of ours and, without fanfare, picked up strangers suddenly stranded here and took them home for a good meal and a warm bed. In my case, the Nigerian Muslim family I took home, a family legally emigrating to the U.S.A. that very day, lived with my family for 10 days until we could arrange a flight for them to their new home: Philadelphia. We’re now good friends, and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting these American friends and staying with them in their lovely home.

After 9/11, when all of our stranded guests had left, we Canadians got back to our business and, as they say, “asked nothing of nobody”. Each of us had paid for our guests out of our own pockets and felt lucky to be able to do so.

But these days, many Canadians don’t feel so lucky and we certainly know we don’t have “good government.” What we have our newly minted self-declared overlords who were given an inch and have taken a mile (or, in Canada’s case, a few kilometers). Our elected officials have shut down businesses, locked people in their homes and away from families and places of worship, taken away their stress relievers like exercising at the gym and playing sports together, kept children out of school for longer than required, and arrested people for going outside or leading a church service.

Worst of all, we’ve been told time and time again that we’re only good people if we do what we’re told to do. We’re to question nothing, not even what amounts to what I feel is criminal theft of our livelihoods and hard-won businesses.

In the past two years, the world has seen the largest transfer of wealth from the average working person to the billionaire class and our own government actively contributed to this horror.  

So telling truckers who largely work alone that to earn a living they’d have to be jabbed was the final straw. The truckers would have none of this and in late January–a very cold time of the year here in Canada, let me remind you, thousands of trucks gathered first in Calgary and the Freedom Convoy made its way across this country, gathering steam as it went, to the meet other convoys from other parts of Canada in our capitol, Ottawa, to make their opinion about the vaccine mandates very clear: it’s time to drop them.

The vast majority of truckers and their fellow Canadians are vaccinated, something like 90% of us. I’m vaccinated and boosted, but I profoundly object to vaccine mandates. Profoundly.

Many, if not the vast majority of the tens of thousands of Canadians who cheered the truckers on, are also vaccinated. There is no meaningful need for a vaccine mandate any longer and we know it. We’re done. Omicron is here to stay, and it’s time to get on with our lives.

For a Canadian like me, someone who knows enough to know that no government should ever coerce citizens into medical treatment they don’t want, it was such a proud moment when I stood alongside of 500 fellow Canadians on a windy bridge in -10C weather, freezing our toes off together just to show support as hundreds of mighty trucks in convoy drove by. And that was just one bridge far outside of a major city. Big cities had bigger crowds.

Across Canada, in weather dropping down to as low as -30C, thousands and thousands of Canadians stood along highways and on bridges. Even more cheered from home. It invigorated us, inspired us, brought us to tears.

Maret Jaks on a bridge to cheer on the Freedom Convoy

Somebody, at long last, was speaking out and saying “No more!”, giving courage to the rest of us who had effectively given up, given in. Suddenly, citizens mattered again.

When legacy media got wind of citizens standing together, it started insulting the truckers and those who supported them. We’re white supremacists, we’re told. Yeah? Tell that to the Blacks and the Sikhs and Hindus and Muslims who showed up. Tell that to the Native Canadians drumming and dancing at our capital. Tell that to the Metis woman, Tamara Lich, who organized this and posted a GoFundMe page for the truckers. They’re the one who are taking time off work and paying for quite a lot of fuel on their own. Tell that to the plenty of white people who are sick to death of being slandered by the media in an attempt to shut us up.

We stand together as citizens of a free nation. It’s been clear for a long time, now, that the media and the government seem to hate that quite a lot. This is the same media and same government that fawned over the violent BLM movement in Portland, Oregon. Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, even offered a photo op so he could bend a knee and look solemn in his support of the BLM movement. This is the same Justin Trudeau who has jollied about in black face so often that he can’t remember how many times he’s done it.

After firing nurses and other health care workers who didn’t want to be vaccinated, the government complained our hospitals were short-staffed–justification for more lockdowns — and then turned its eye on the remaining heroes, the Truckers. Never mind that we have a supply chain problem, Justin Trudeau and his government insisted that the vaccine holdouts in the trucking profession–an estimated 10% in total — get jabbed or lose their livelihoods. Vaccine mandates have been held up by our mainstream media–the ones who slander anyone who doesn’t agree with their ideology — as the saving grace that will help us leave the soul-crushing, business-destroying state of lockdowns and loneliness we’ve been forced by government mandate to endure. Plus, they’ve claimed another target beyond the so-called “white supremacists” — the unvaccinated!

Here in Canada, friends and family who are not vaccinated are told to live segregated lives. They’ve been “othered”, made into scapegoats. If only these people would have some consideration for others and get the darn vaccine, demand the frustrated, fear-driven souls, we can all get out of this pandemic.

No, that’s not how it will happen. And the truckers know it. The virus is here to stay and no politician in a Mighty Mouse suit (“here I come to save the day!!!”–remember that?) will save us. It has been disheartening to know that so many of the Clean Ones (the vaccinated) like the fact that the Unclean (the unvaccinated) are banned from restaurants and have lost their jobs because they have made a personal health care choice that contradicts government orders. If you lose your job because you claim your right as to decide what does and doesn’t get shoved into your body, the Canadian government says you don’t qualify for unemployment. You were fired “with cause” says the Minister of Employment.

They even muse, the Clean Ones, that perhaps the unvaccinated shouldn’t get health care if they get sick. After all, it was their “choice” they say with that ever-so-polite but bloody-minded, mean streak boiling just under the surface of their polite faces.

Two years ago, when all of us lived in a measure of uncertainty, the frontline workers–health care workers, police officers, warehouse staff, and truckers–were busy keeping the rest of us cared for, safe, and fed. The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, rightly called the front-line workers and the truckers heroes and asked all of us to #ThankaTrucker. In this sparsely populated and mostly frozen country, truckers here drive huge distances across lonely highways. During the early part of the pandemic, the few truck stops and restaurants that do exist along the lonely stretches of highway were mandated closed, and so their bathrooms and shower services were closed, too. No food, no fresh coffee, no bathrooms, yet they carried on. They were our heroes. 

Then they suddenly became “Zeroes”, as one trucker recently lamented. From Heroes to Zeroes because suddenly the Canadian government demanded that all truckers be fully vaccinated, 100% of them. It won’t stop there, of course–some parts of Canada now demand that everyone get the booster shot as well, and we all know that this will never end until we make it end. If people want to walk around in masks and keep going back to get a booster every 3 months, fine. None of us care. But demanding that citizens relinquish our rights in this democracy put the truckers right over the edge, I’m proud to say.

Truckers in the western part of Canada stood in solidarity and said, “That’s enough!” and arranged a convoy that stretched for miles. Through 2,100 miles from Calgary to our capital city, Ottawa, crossing through town after town, thousands of Canadians cheered them on from the side of the road and from bridge to bridge to bridge. In many cities, the traffic cameras suddenly stopped working as the huge convoy made its way forward. No matter, they gathered support, and they gathered force as they made their way to Ottawa. It surprised the world.

It certainly surprised the Justin Trudeau. As the convoy got closer to Ottawa, he scrambled in front of the TV cameras and claimed he got exposed to Covid-19 and would now have to self-isolate for 5 days even though he had no symptoms (note: this is not health policy in Canada–if you’ve had Covid before, which he did, and have no symptoms, you don’t have to run and hide). It was clear that the Prime Minister had caught Coward-19 and, as cowards do before running away, he called the truckers nasty names and claimed they were just a “fringe minority with unacceptable views”.

Unacceptable views? That rubbed Canadians the wrong way and support for the truckers grew. 

In response, Trudeau continued to insult the truckers, and those who supported them, calling them “racists, misogynists” and later “transphobes”. I have no idea where he came up with any of that, but the leader of another party here, a Sikh named Jagmeet Singh, got on the bandwagon and tweeted out a claim that the convoy was led by people who “claim the superiority of the white bloodline and equate Islam to a disease.”

Instantly, Sikhs and Muslims and scores of others tweeted back pictures and videos of themselves in Ottawa supporting the convoy by being in the crowd and offering free pakoras and other food and a great show of support. One Sikh trucker videoed himself with a large smile saying, “I’m part of the fringe minority and I’m very, very happy!” A Sikh temple offered food and a warm place to stay to those in Freedom Convoy Canada and made a point to state that this offer was open to anyone regardless of faith, race, or vaccination status.  

Canadians of all races and backgrounds support the Freedom Convoys, not the attempts to divide us.

In the midst of a crowd with thousands from the “fringe minority” in Ottawa, two masked university-aged white people stood there holding a banner against the truckers’ goals. None of the protesters bothered with them or took much notice. Why were they here? They were asked by an interviewer. They parroted Trudeau’s insults and claimed–without any evidence–that this was a racist rally. Racist, racist, racist. The camera turned to the person standing to their right, a turbaned Sikh man who was asked why he came to the rally. He explained with a kind voice, but firmly, that he was here for freedom and to support democracy. 

Trucker-haters got busy in Ottawa and started making lists of all restaurants that dared to feed a trucker or let them use their restrooms. That incensed a Polish businesswoman in Toronto, so she and her staff loaded up a van with 1,550 sausages, bread, and hundreds of Polish donuts (delicious, btw) along with their barbeque and drove the 5 hours to Ottawa. “I came to Canada to escape Communism,” she said as she explained why she supported the truckers. “And I will be back here from Toronto with more food to feed the truckers every few days.”

            For the first four days, the police confirmed there hadn’t been one arrest, and that fact seemed to disappoint our mainstream media. When nothing bad happened except a lot of honking and some dancing and flag waving, the media wrote headlines like, “This can’t end well”–writing about the potential for violence. 

When a man was arrested on weapons charges, the media jumped on it. A man with a gun was arrested at the trucker rally! It was all over the news.

I’m sorry, I should put the word “news” in quotes.

Andre Lacassse was arrested on weapons charges. He is opposed to the Freedom Convoy.

But the “news” didn’t highlight that the fellow arrested wasn’t from the right-wing leaning Western provinces. The guy lived in Ottawa, showed up at the protest with a gun because he does not support the trucker protest. The media should have reported, if they’d been honest, that the man with the gun was a counter protester.            Naturally, another person with no respect for the truckers showed up with a Nazi flag and another with a Confederate flag. Each time one of them wormed his way into the crowd, he was told in no uncertain terms to leave. These two flags were generally seen together here and there, as the flag holders were not welcome. Wherever they were seen, they were away from the main crowd because the main crowd didn’t want them there.

And by the way, the fellow holding the Confederate flag—something that has nothing to do with Canadian history because we didn’t participate in the American Civil War and, besides; we weren’t a nation yet. He was wearing a full face mask, like an Antifa supporter would. No mention of that in the mainstream media, either.

My friends who have not yet had the wisdom to let go of the mainstream media breathlessly warn me not to go to Ottawa, not to let anyone with a Nazi flag get near me if I do go, and to “be careful”. 

But I do plan to go to Ottawa. There’s a big party going on and lots of free food and dancing and street hockey.  People are laughing, feeling alive again, feeling like citizens again. We expect our politicians to speak to us as adults, not naughty toddlers who need a time out.

The Freedom Convoy here in Canada has shown that our truckers were heroes at the beginning of the pandemic and even though the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to get us to make them zeroes, we’ll have none of that. Here at the end of the pandemic, the truckers are our heroes. They’ve shown all of us that we can still be citizens. In fact, we owe it to our children to protect this democracy.

Canada’s Freedom Convoy triggered freedom convoys all over the world, from Bolivia to Brussels. Truckers by the thousands, and their supporters in the tens of thousands, have converged on capitols everywhere thanks to the Canadian Truckers standing up and saying, “Enough!” Even American truckers are at our border in support of our collective love of freedom.

I want to go to Ottawa and personally thank as many truckers as I can. Yes, it will be cold, but as an old outdoorsy Canadian once told me, “There’s no such thing as bad weather. There’s just bad clothing.” I’ll bring an extra set of that good winter clothing with me and an extra set of boots, too. But most of all, I’ll be bringing an uplifted spirit and a sense of hope for our future.

I have the truckers to thank for that. And Justin Trudeau, they’re still our heroes.

PS – Just as I finished this blogpost, I learned that GoFundMe had removed $9 million in donations from the truckers’ $10 million. There were a lot of forces at play in this decision and I don’t doubt that the false media coverage contributed to this. Sad. But I’m sure the truckers will keep on truckin’ and I know that Canadians will quietly figure out another way to get them their money!

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