We are on day five of the Canadian anti-vaccine convoy wrecking havoc in that nation’s capital of Ottawa and in smaller protests around the country. Protesters blocked border crossings in tiny towns and main thoroughfares in the nation’s capital demanding an end to, among other things, Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The mayor of Coutts, Alberta, for instance, was near tears as he told the National Post protesters are disrupting life for the 250 residents living in the border town. In the capital, residents are fed up with the honking, blocked streets and combative protesters, Ottawa Citizen reports. Indeed, it seems a pretty grim time to try and get around Ottawa.
The protest is entering its fifth day and, while numbers have dwindled from the weekend, there are still dozens of trucks lining the streets. With hotel bookings indicating another week of shutdowns, you might be wondering, where are they getting the money for this? Wasn’t the protest about international truck drivers losing their livelihoods because they were unable to work without a vaccine?
An independent journalist in Canada says organizers told her they have enough cash on hand from a wildly popular GoFundMe (currently sitting a $9.6 million CAD) to keep Ottawa locked down for years.
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That GoFundMe has been a source of contention, especially as the organizers are involved in politics. At one point, GoFundMe froze payout of the funds citing a need for transparency for how the money would be paid out. It was set up by Tamara Lich, the secretary of a far right political party called the Maverick Party. The party claims it is not directly involved in organizing the Freedom Convoy, but when your secretary is the one raising millions to keep the protest going, that claim falls pretty flat. And they definitely need to make that claim, as it is clear many of the GoFundMe donations are from outside of Canada. Canadian political parties are barred from accepting foreign donations and individuals are barred from donating more than $1,500 a year and politicians must disclose the name of anyone donating more than $200.
Originally, the Maverick Party was known as Wexit Canada, which was devoted to the secession of Canada’s western providences. They now claim merely to advocate for Canadians living in the west half of the country. The party wasn’t particularly popular just a few months ago, when it pulled in just 1.4 percent of the vote in Saskatchewan and 1.3 percent in Alberta in October 2021. In British Columbia, it picked up 0.1 percent of the vote, according to CTV News. That might change after this big flashy protest that Maverick Party insists it isn’t a part of. The fundraiser also now has a new co-organizer is just as problematic. From Alberta Politics:
Despite the party’s portrayal of the convoy protests as moderate and compatible with its policies, past social media statements by supporters are coming to light that suggest the protest harbours people with troubling associations with extreme identity politics.
For example, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network tweeted yesterday that the B.J. Ditcher whose name now appears as an organizer on the truck protest GoFundMe page alongside Ms. Lich is the same person identified in an August 2019 Toronto Star story about a People’s Party of Canada activist who claimed in offensive language at that party’s first national convention that “political Islam” had infiltrated both the federal Liberal and Conservative parties.
Global News yesterday reported that some right-wing activists hope to use the truck protest to duplicate the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C.
Others involved in the convoy appear to think they can overthrow the government of Canada by talking to the Governor General – a notion that will sound familiar to Albertans who experienced some of the opposition to premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government in 2016.
When you look at the political players behind the money, the old adage cui bono comes to mind. Demands and scope of the protest have far exceeded its original stated aims of ending vaccine mandates for truckers entering and returning from the U.S. (one of the organizing groups came up with a pseudo legal document that would give political leaders the choice of ending all health mandates or resigning en mass.)
It’s extremely unlikely that this protest would intimidate Canada’s leaders into changing vaccine rules for truckers but it certainly isn’t going to get the U.S. to change its laws. Even if this mob were successful in ending the health mandates, the unvaccinated truckers still wouldn’t be able to cross into the U.S. This comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, generally regarded as a federal agency you don’t really want to fuck around with:
Starting on January 22, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security will require that non-U.S. individuals entering the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along our Northern and Southern borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy.
I haven’t seen this fact pointed out much yet in coverage of the trucker protest, likely because the whole movement isn’t really about international shipping at all. Indeed most of the mob currently filling the streets of Ottawa aren’t truckers and, while a big rig is used as the banner photo, truckers aren’t even mentioned in the GoFundMe description until the very bottom, where two footnotes detail what the money will be used for (room, board and fuel for truckers.) As the protest’s GoFundMe states:
We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamental necessities to survive. It’s our duty as Canadians to put an end to this mandates.
Maverick Party claims to be for vaccine choice, but its secretary is driving a huge movement to end all mandates for Canadians and depose elected officials that don’t think like they do. This unpopular political party is now forefront on an international stage, no matter how they try to distance themselves from it. And I certainly hope they aren’t successful in that distancing, considering how disgusted many Canadians are with the bald-face racism and destructiveness on display. Something the Maverick Party should keep in mind is that actions speak louder than press releases. If your party’s secretary is in a room with 99 unvaccinated activist and one is allowed to remain while carrying a Nazi flag, you now have a room with 100 Nazis.