UPDATE: Since this article was posted last week, the “Freedom Convoy” protest has grown and changed. It is reported that most of the protesters are not truckers, but people who want the government to eliminate COVID-based restrictions. Protests are taking place in cities across Canada. Many people have complained that the protesters are creating big problems for people who live in Ottawa and the other cities in which there are protests. Because TKN publishes once a week, this article–which can be used a starting point for a thoughtful discussion–reflects the situation that was happening at the time. Please note that we have changed the headline from “Canadian Truckers Protest Vaccine Rules” to be more reflective of the current situation.
Many Canadian truckers—people who drive the big trucks that bring products to and from Canada—are protesting. (In this case, a “protest” is a public demonstration.)
Hundreds of vehicles and thousands of marchers gathered near Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city this weekend. Demonstrations and marches took place in other cities across Canada as well.
The protesters headed, many of them in big rigs, to the country’s capital city on Friday. The main demonstration took place on Saturday and continued throughout the weekend and could continue into next week.
They were protesting against new rules that say truckers must now be vaccinated in order to enter Canada, or they have to quarantine (stay inside away from others) for two weeks. The truckers say they don’t want to be forced to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to be able to do their jobs. The United States has imposed a similar law.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said in a statement on its website that it “strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways … (and) believes such actions … are not how disagreement with government policies should be expressed.”
The CTA says most truckers are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The protest has grown beyond the truckers’ demands. Many people across the country joined the demonstrations to protest against other COVID-19 laws such as the requirement to wear masks in certain indoor situations and to be vaccinated in order to do certain jobs or use public transit, for instance. In most cases, these laws are created by the governments in each province, not the federal (all-Canada) government.
The group is known as the Freedom Convoy. (Convoy in this case means vehicles travelling together.)
The protest has been non-violent. However, some of the people who joined the protest, who are likely not truckers, were seen holding signs with upside-down Canada flags and rude and disrespectful statements against Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
Some protesters put protest signs on the statue of Terry Fox, which has angered many Canadians who say it is disrespectful to one of Canada’s biggest heroes. Police in Ottawa said in a tweet that they are investigating the desecration of that statue and the National War Memorial as well as some threats against police and others.
The protest has divided Canadians and politicians. Some Conservative politicians have said they agree with what the truckers are doing. They say that the vaccine rules prevent Canadians from getting the supplies and products they need. For instance, more than $20 billion ($17 billion US) worth of food products is imported (purchased and brought) into Canada from the United States every year.
Some Canadians staged their own protests against the truckers’ demonstration.
THINK & DISCUSS
- Some people are comparing this protest to the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, 2021 in the United States. What happened on that day? List three ways in which the two are similar and three in which they are different.
2. The article mentions the effect of the vaccine rules on Canadian “imports.” What does this mean? Why is it important? (Also: what does “supply chain” mean and how does it apply to this issue?)
3. What is a protest? What kinds of protests are there? What kind of protest is this one?
4. Do you think this was a good way for the truckers to protest the vaccine laws? Why or why not?
5. Have you ever believed in something so strongly that you wanted to hold or join a demonstration to make your views known? What was it? If not, what is an example of something that you might want to protest for or against? How would you protest?
6. Do you agree with the truckers’ protest? Use evidence from the article to support your opinion.
7. The article mentions that most vaccine laws are created and enforced by the provinces. Why do you think the main protest was held at the government buildings (Parliament) for the federal government?
8. This protest is known as the Freedom Convoy 2022. Do you think this is a good name for the protest? Why or why not? (Think about what the word “freedom” means to you and whether it applies in this case.)
9. This protest happened in Canada but it has been reported by many news media around the world (see below for links to US, UK and Japanese articles). Why do you think the protest has gained international attention?
10. Do you think the photo with this article is good (ie, appropriate and/or unbiased)? Why or why not?
Thank you to educator and TKN user Mrs. Szwed (@MrsSzwedV) for her assistance with the Think & Discuss questions for this article.
LINKS TO RELATED INFORMATION
Statement by the Canadian Trucking Alliance: https://cantruck.ca/canadian-trucking-alliance-statement-on-road-border-protests/
Article in the Ottawa Citizen: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/trucker-convoy-more-trucks-expected-on-saturday-traffic-impacts-expected-to-worsen
Article in The Guardian (UK): https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/28/canada-truckers-covid-vaccine-mandate-protest-government
New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/29/world/americas/canada-trucker-protest.html
Japan Times article: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/30/world/covid-vaccine-protests-canada/