As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to express outrage over a “Freedom Convoy” of truckers opposed to the government’s vaccine mandate for truck drivers, a group of truckers in the United States have announced their intention to travel to Washington, D.C., as part of a similar “People’s Convoy” next month.
In an announcement posted on Facebook Wednesday, the organizers of The People’s Convoy praised “our brothers and sisters of the highway” for successfully opening “Canadians' eyes about the unconstitutional mandates and hardships forced onto their people,” before declaring: “it’s time for the citizens of the United States of America to unite and demand restoration of our constitutional rights.”
The organizers of the U.S. convoy indicated that they would follow in the footsteps of Canadian truckers and embark on a journey to the nation’s capital to protest coronavirus mandates imposed by the Biden administration. “On March 4, truckers and all freedom-loving Americans will begin arriving at Coachella Valley in Indio, California, to participate in a rally being held the afternoon of March 4 and 5 to defeat the unconstitutional mandates,” they said.
“In attendance will be the world’s top doctors, representing the truth about the pandemic and related policies, supportive police, firefighters, military personnel, musicians, inspiring journalists, religious leaders, and people from all walks of life — gathering to support [the] convoy rally will prove that the American people are a powerful force.”
The organizers noted that they will provide “fuel reimbursement upon arrival for all attending this event” and that “the convoy will roll out of California following the rally.” While details of the convoy have yet to be released, the journey to Washington, D.C. is expected to take several days, as Coachella Valley is more than 2,500 miles away from the nation’s capital.
The announcement about the People’s Convoy comes as truckers continue to gather in the Canadian capital of Ottawa to protest the mandate that truck drivers who cross the U.S.-Canadian border as part of their job either have to get the coronavirus vaccine or quarantine upon re-entry into the country.
While Prime Minister Trudeau has attempted to portray the truckers participating in the Freedom Convoy as adherents to “anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-black racism, homophobia and transphobia,” on-the-ground interviews with the truckers revealed a diverse group of people. Independent journalist Rupa Subramanya, who lives in Ottawa, detailed his conversations with about 100 participants in the Freedom Convoy, in a Substack post on Thursday.
Subramanya insisted that “not one of them sounded like an insurrectionist, white supremacist, racist or misogynist.” While the opposition to the vaccine mandate for truckers served as the primary motivating factor for the Freedom Convoy, frustration with coronavirus vaccine mandates in general influenced both vaccinated and unvaccinated Canadians to participate.
Subramanya spoke to several immigrants, including Sikh immigrant Kamal Pannu, who lives in Montreal. “He had joined the convoy because COVID restrictions in the surrounding province of Quebec had become too much to bear,” Subramanya reported. “He said that he and his wife used to do their grocery shopping at Costco, until the government decreed that the unvaxxed would be barred from big-box stores. Since then, their monthly grocery bill had jumped by $200.”
According to Subramanya, the Freedom Convoy participants have had some degree of success in achieving their desired outcome: “The protesters feel the mood shifting. On Tuesday, the premier of Saskatchewan, Scott Moe, announced the end of his province’s proof-of-vaccination policy. ‘It is time for us also to heal the divisions in our communities over vaccination,’" he said.
“Joel Lightbound, a leading member of Parliament from Quebec and a member of the Liberal Party, Trudeau’s Party, slammed the federal government,” Subramanya added. “The government, Lightbound said, had gone ‘from a more positive approach to one that stigmatizes and divides people.’ The truckers say they won’t leave Ottawa until the mandates, the lockdowns — everything — are dropped.”
In addition to denouncing participants in the Freedom Convoy as racists and white supremacists, government officials have seized fuel from the truckers. Ottawa police officers and city officials contend that helping the truckers obtain fuel, necessary for both further travel and as a source of heat for truckers sleeping in the cabin of their truck, constitutes “mischief.”
While the primary goal of the truckers in the Freedom Convoy in Canada and the forthcoming convoy in the U.S. is to influence public policy in their respective countries, the convoys are also having an economic impact. Truckers have shut down the Ambassador Bridge in Michigan, which Fox News described as “the busiest international crossing in North America, carrying 25% of all trade between Canada and the U.S.”
The blockage of the Ambassador Bridge and other international crossings has affected the ability of the auto industry to do business. It has forced the shutdown of a manufacturing plant operated by the Ford Motor Company and has prevented Toyota from manufacturing vehicles in the Canadian province of Ontario. Additionally, General Motors cannot operate one of its plants in Michigan due to part shortages caused by the blockade.
The Freedom Convoy in Canada has relied on donations to cover the cost of fuel, food and lodging associated with the protest. The crowdfunding platform GoFundMe removed a fundraiser for the convoy from its website purportedly because of “multiple discussions with local law enforcement and police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.” GoFundMe then attempted to confiscate the millions of dollars that had been raised before being forced to return the funds after public backlash.
Following the dissolution of the GoFundMe fundraiser, the Christian crowdfunding website GiveSendGo has become the new home for fundraising efforts on behalf of Freedom Convoy participants. As of Friday afternoon, the GiveSendGo fundraiser has raised nearly $9 million out of a $16 million goal.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org