Slow down trucker vaccine rule, business groups say as PM, Tories trade barbs
OTTAWA — Business leaders are urging Ottawa to ease vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers to relieve the congested supply chain with the United States, while Liberals and Conservatives sparred over the extent of the problem and how to resolve it. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the mandate Monday as a necessary step to keep supply chains open, arguing that COVID-19 itself is the biggest risk to Canada's economy. The mandate, whichPrime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the mandate Monday as a necessary step to keep supply chains open, arguing that COVID-19 itself is the biggest risk to Canada's economy.
There's been a major show of support for a protest convoy of truckers within Hamilton and Niagara.
Hundreds of people gathered along streets and sidewalks in the Barton Street and Centennial Parkway area Thursday morning, and hundreds more waved flags and signs along Queen Elizabeth Way overpasses.
Many of the demonstrators carried signs opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates and supporting freedom of choice.
‘Freedom convoy’ demonstrators gather in Greater Toronto Area
People are 'fed up': Quebec follows Ontario's lead and loosens COVID-19 restrictions
The Quebec government announced the loosening of some COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday, following the lead of Ontario and other provinces amid indications the Omicron surge may be peaking in some areas. Quebec Premier François Legault said the province would adopt a go-slow approach, which will see gathering limits raised on Monday for private functions, as well as the reopening of restaurants at 50 per cent capacity and a resumption of some sports activities for those under 18. Other restrictions will be eased for religious, entertainment and sports venues on Feb. 7. "We are all aware that a lot of Quebecers are fed up, they're fed up with the restrictions.
The truckers honked in gratitude, as they make their way to the nation's capital for a demonstration on Saturday, against the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for truck drivers entering Canada from the U.S.
Vehicles not only left Niagara Region on the QEW early on Thursday hitting Hamilton and Halton Region before the afternoon.
OPP say trucks used all 400 highways in Ontario including the 400, 427, 403 and 401 to meet up with other routes coming from across Canada converging on the nation's capital.
Southern Ontario routes kicked off from Windsor, Sarnia, Niagara and Toronto. All expected to stop in Kingston on Thursday night before heading on to on Parliament Hill.
"The truckers are the backbone of our nation," said one protest supporter, "and now they are the metaphor backbone for us standing up for our rights."
Far-right groups hope trucker protest will be Canada’s ‘January 6th’
Whatever legitimate grievances protesters might have, far right and white nationalist groups see the “Freedom Convoy” headed for Ottawa as an opportunity. Canadian far-right and white nationalist groups see the so-called “Freedom Convoy” as an opportunity, with some hoping the protests will be Canada’s version of last year’s Jan. 6 riot in Washington.
"I'm sick of the mandates, sick of the vaccines, sick of them taking away our freedoms," said another, of the federal government.
Video: Ottawa police prepare for protest as trucker convoy nears capital (cbc.ca)
Truck convoy draws large crowd in London, Ont. on Thursday
Demonstrators gathered throughout parts of Southern Ontario including the GTA, Waterloo and London with some on top of overpasses in anticipation of convoys moving through.
Organizers of the protest describe the mandate for cross-border truckers to avoid quarantine as an example of political overreach resulting in economic harm, arguing the policy hurts small businesses and denies some workers the means to survive.
Some business leaders and conservative politicians have also urged the government to reverse course on the mandate, with supply chain issues being a reason cited.
GoFundMe causes confusion over freezing multi-million dollar fundraiser for truck protesters
A GoFundMe campaign for a massive transport truck protest convoy has reached almost $5 million — but there are conflicting report the money may have been frozen. The fundraiser, started Jan. 14 by Tamara Lich — an official from the western separatist Maverick Party — is proving wildly successful, recording nearly 58,000 donors over the past 10 days, with at least seven giving in excess of $10,000. The largest donation so far, made early Tuesday evening, was for $13,000. Organizers of the campaign said on the GoFundMe page, “Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods.
The United States has also imposed a vaccine mandate for truckers.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted on Monday as the “biggest trucker association in Canada,” has spoken out against the convoy, saying protests on public roadways are “not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed.”
Trudeau has also said that the vast majority of truckers in Canada are vaccinated and won’t be impacted by the cross-border vaccine mandate.
‘Fringe minority’ in truck convoy with ‘unacceptable views’ don’t represent Canadians: Trudeau
“What I’m calling for is basically lockdowns and restrictions to be lifted like the rest of the world is starting to do,” protester Mark Smith told Global News in Drumbo, Ont.
“There’s a freedom movement actually across the world right now and we’re all getting together just trying to get our lives back. And we’re hoping with all this rally and freedom convoy going on, we’ll accomplish this.”
Some with extreme, far-right views have latched onto the protest, though many demonstrators who spoke to the media have rejected suggestions that there may be violence.
Government officials say current COVID-related mandates and restrictions that are in place are necessary to protect public health.
The traffic backlogs created by the demonstration caused the HSR to detour a number of bus routes in Hamilton's east end, 2 Barton, 4 Bayfront and 44 Rymal, on Thursday morning.
Ontario Provincial Police have warned of more possible delays on provincial roadways between Kingston and Ottawa on Friday.
Video: Trucker convoy makes its way through Toronto
— with files from Kevin Nielsen, Rachel Gilmore, Ryan Rocca and The Canadian Press
Big rigs, passenger vehicles snarl downtown Ottawa as trucker convoy parks by Parliament .
Traffic was snarled by big rigs lining Wellington Street, in the shadow of the Parliament Buildings, while passenger vehicles circled honking their horns.Traffic was snarled by big rigs lining Wellington Street, in the shadow of the Parliament Buildings, while passenger vehicles circled honking horns.