Canadian leftists and corporate media this week have begun denouncing the “Freedom Convoy” – a trucker-led protest against civil rights abuses in the name of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic – by associating it with former President Donald Trump, the “alt-right,” and the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
In reality, the “Freedom Convoy” movement refers to a series of protests in which truckers – who have been most onerously affected by interprovincial vaccine mandates and other coronavirus-related edicts – have used their vehicles to occupy cities and border crossings. The largest such protest is in Ottawa, the national capital, where thousands have convened to demand the federal government lift mandates. The main form of protest in Ottawa has been honking truck horns, resulting in a court injunction banning the use of car horns.
Despite the overwhelming numbers of protesters in Ottawa – and Toronto, Quebec, Vancouver, and crossings all along the southern border – police have reported very few incidents of violence, some of them directly caused by police.
The Canadian left has begun to accuse the domestic movement of being associated with President Trump, disregarding his effusive campaign for vaccination and his role in implementing the first wave of lockdowns in the United States, as well as elevating celebrity doctor Anthony Fauci to household name status. At the top of the list of accusers is the head of the radical leftist New Democratic Party, Fidel Castro sympathizer Jagmeet Singh, who has attributed the popularity and success of the “Freedom Convoy” to “Trumpism” and “foreign actors,” without evidence.
“The spread of Trumpism into Canada must be stopped,” Singh declared on Twitter, encouraging followers to join his campaign to “shut down U.S. interference” within the convoy. His party’s website blames, among others, Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Fox News, and the “alt-right” – a term popularized in the 2016 election and largely out of use to describe any political group today – for Canadian anti-mandate protests.
“It is time for national leadership – the federal government must contact the US administration to shut down funding coming from the US,” the New Democrats declare. “Add your name to protect our democracy by shutting down the flow of foreign funding coming from the US.”
Writing at the Globe and Mail on Tuesday, columnist Gary Mason adopted Singh’s terminology and branded the Canadian civil rights protesters with the 2016 terminology “alt-right,” describing the entire concept of “freedom” as having been hijacked by extremists and no longer legitimate.
“Freedom, as an ideology, has been appropriated by the Make America Great Again (MAGA) wing of the U.S. Republican party. There is a strong MAGA fan base in this country, apparently with prominent supporters such as Candice Bergen, the new interim leader of the federal Conservative Party of Canada,” Mason lamented. “Undated photos circulating on social media appear to show Ms. Bergen sporting a camouflage MAGA hat.”
“The word ‘freedom’ could be found on most signs being touted by the protesters. For many, it’s a word that has become code for white-identity politics and the far-right’s weapon of choice in the culture wars,” Mason asserted.
A similar column published last week by the Edmonton Journal compared the protests to the January 6 incident, which had no ties to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
“It became clear early on that the convoy’s leadership was a partisan mix of anti-science, anti-vax, libertarian cranks, with a wholly overblown sense of their importance,” the column read. “Calling for a Jan. 6-like overthrow of the Canadian government, issuing pretentious twaddle in the form of demands, and carrying around Nazi or Confederate flags will not — fortunately — win the hearts and minds of most Canadians.”
The Washington Post also seized on calling the trucker convoys “Trumpian” on Tuesday.
“Canada is becoming an unlikely symbol of the radicalization of the anti-vaccination movement in the West that shares more than a few similarities with the militancy of Trump Republicans,” the Jeff Bezos-owned publication claimed. “Parallels to the Jan. 6 insurrection may be limited in Ottawa — protesters are not knocking down the doors of Parliament. But anti-government slogans flooding Ottawa’s streets suggest similar grievances, even as their trucks serve as a flashback to the Trump caravans that menaced U.S. highways during the 2020 campaign.”
The comparisons omit Trump’s own history with coronavirus mandates, initially imposing the “two weeks to slow the spread” lockdown campaign and extending restrictions beyond Easter 2020 when he had promised the American people they would end. As president, Trump held daily televised events with Fauci and other public health officials, granting them a nearly unparalleled platform to impose their views, which align with the opponents of the “Freedom Convoy.” Trump eventually spoke out against vaccine and mask mandates as they became politically unpalatable among conservatives.