A working-class cause for freedom
David C. Innes | The Canadian truckers represent ordinary people pushing for pre-pandemic liberty
A police officer delivers a notice to a trucker earlier this week in Ottawa, Ontario.Associated Press/Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
Canadians are like Hobbits. We go quietly and nicely about our business. But we can also rise with surprising courage and resolve against our administrative overlords and throw them suddenly off a political cliff when pushed too hard and taken too much for granted.
With amazement, this is what the world is witnessing as the Freedom Convoy has extended from sea to sea, focused on bringing the Canadian capital, Ottawa, to a standstill. Honking horns and blocking major thoroughfares, the truckers and their foot-traffic supporters (families, moms and kids, grandparents) surround Parliament Hill—but with no breach, no violence or destruction, and barely any litter. Since then, sympathetic fellow citizens in dump trucks, farm equipment, front-end loaders, and even a few folks on horseback have joined them.
The truckers were prompted initially by their own concerns. The Canadian government required unvaccinated truck drivers delivering goods to the United States to quarantine after returning to Canada. If this had been a rare circumstance, it would have moved no one to revolt. But Canada is the United States’ major trading partner. Billions of dollars’ worth of goods are trucked back and forth across the border all the time. This restriction was extremely burdensome to these people on whom we depend for so much.
But their demands quickly broadened. The truckers want federal and provincial governments to lift all pandemic restrictions: vaccine mandates, border restrictions, quarantine requirements, and the use of digital vaccine passports to control who can participate in the ordinary activities of daily life. In other words, with a milder COVID variant and 89 percent of adults fully vaccinated, they want pre-pandemic liberty.
These people are the working class, not an ideological fringe. They are not trained Marxists, or a moral underclass such as the Canadian media portray them to be. They are not unhinged Antifa felons or unemployed youth with too much passion and too little to do. They’re ordinary people trying to get their government to be representative. They are blue-collar, ethnically diverse, and sick and tired of being kicked around like sidewalk stones by the managerial class. Even the New Democratic Party, Canada’s labor party, has abandoned them. The party’s leader, Jagmeet Singh, without any credible evidence, called the truckers white supremacists—even though they include Sikhs and other visible minorities.These people are the working class, not an ideological fringe.
Five provinces have now lifted COVID restrictions, including Canada’s largest, Ontario, though this may have nothing to do with the protest. It may simply be following the end of restrictions in Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and even in states south of the border governed by Democrats like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It may also be a response to new polling that reports 54 percent of Canadians saying “it is time to remove restrictions and let Canadians manage their own level of risk.”
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refuses to budge on his COVID regime or even talk to the discontents. Instead, he slandered them as insurrectionists and racists. Trudeau called this massive national convoy a “small fringe minority of people” who hold “unacceptable views.” Having made his point, he fled the capital with his family ahead of the convoy, claiming an asymptomatic COVID infection. His cowardice aside, he is no doubt emboldened by the polls against these grumbling subjects. Fifty-six percent of Canadians don’t support the truckers in any way at all, and 64 percent think the protest threatens democracy and must be ended immediately, even by military force.
Canada’s working class is not historically poor. They once had powerful trade unions and strong political allies. But now working-class interests are easily sacrificed in favor of the more connected and glamorous.
God established government to love our neighbor in the ways appropriate to government action and policy. That includes defending the vulnerable in their freedom and capacity to go about their legitimate divine callings. For these truckers, and the millions more for whom they are advocating, this includes lifting obsolete pandemic restrictions from people who are now suffering more harm than good from them.
When Canadians rise up and protest, pay attention. Something big is happening.