Canadian truck drivers block roads to protest anti-vaccine mandates 

Convoys across Canada result in declaration of state of emergency

A convoy of truckers in Canada, self-proclaimed as the Freedom Convoy, have been on a mission to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in both Canada and the United States since Jan. 2022. Mandates in Canada required drivers from the United States to show proof of vaccinations upon entering Canada, starting Jan. 15, 2022—and the U.S. required Canadian drivers entering the country to show proof of vaccination starting a week later, on Jan. 22. 


85–90% of Canadian truckers are fully vaccinated, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance, while the remaining 12,000–16,000 unvaccinated truck drivers would have been removed from cross-border routes.


Though the details and dates of these restrictions were announced back in Nov. 2021, the mandates finally going into effect had reinvigorated dissension.


Starting from Vancouver, Canada on Jan. 23, the convoy headed to the capital city of Ottawa to oppose the vaccine mandates. The protesters disrupted several roads in Ottawa, but also obstructed border crossings in Alberta, Manitoba and the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada, the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.


Since then, both U.S. and Canadian media outlets have reported on the amount of money that was raised for the movement, along with the effect the disruptions caused for those living in Ottawa and other regions. The far-right presence in the demonstrations have also spurred similar movements around the globe, including France, New Zealand and Australia. In the U.S., similar demonstrations are being planned online and in chat groups for convoys across the country in March


The GoFundMe donation page entitled “Freedom Convoy 2022” was suspended by the website after it had already raised almost $8 million. After $1 million was already released by the site, GoFundMe suspended donations, as the page violated the company’s terms of service. GoFundMe has since refunded all donations that were made to the page. 


Once GoFundMe halted all donations, GiveSendGo, a Christian fundraising platform, stated it would accept donations for the movement. GiveSendGo’s site was hacked, with the leaked data revealing that, of the over 90,000 donations made to the convoy group, 56% came from the U.S. while only 29% came from Canada—equaling $3.62 million from the U.S. and $4.31 million from the Canadian donations.


The hack of GiveSendGo revealed that some of the donations made from the U.S. were made using .gov email addresses, including accounts associated with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and NASA.


Some conservatives in U.S. media voiced their support for the Canadian truckers, including Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. Carlson has since sold t-shirts on his online store, in support of the Canadian truckers. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky voiced their support of the truckers’ right to protest against the vaccine mandates. 


While supporters have claimed that the protests and blockades being largely peaceful, anti-Semitic writing, along with Nazi and Confederate flags, have been seen at the protests.


The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has claimed that many in Canada’s far-right population have not only been proponents of the movement, but at least two of the people behind the crowdfunding groups appear to be those known to voice Islamophobic and anti-Semetic views.


In Alberta, police arrested 11 people, and seized a cache of weapons and ammo from a group that were claimed to have been ready to use violence to defend the convoy.


Reports from Ottawa revealed intimidation and threats towards hospital workers, as well as staff and volunteers at a housing shelter.


On Feb. 11, Ontario declared a state of emergency due to the blockade on the Ambassador Bridge and the situation in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the federal government more powers to crack down on the protests by invoking the Emergencies Act. Peter Sloly, the police chief of Ottawa, resigned on Feb. 14, a week after requesting nearly 2.000 more police officers to help with the situation in Ottawa.