Ottawa to Canberra — How Canada’s trucker protest went global

What started as a protest by Canadian truckers against their government’s COVID vaccine mandate, has turned global with copycat protests in New Zealand, Australia and France.
Ottawa to Canberra — How Canada’s trucker protest went global
FREEDOM convoy taken in Central Alberta on their way to the Legislature Building in Edmonton, Alberta.Naomi Mckinney

Since January 28, 2022, the Freedom Convoy of truckers have occupied the downtown core of the Canadian capital city of Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates and COVID-19 measures. The protests were sparked by a mandate that forces all Canadian cross-border truckers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or face quarantine in their homes for two weeks upon return.

The blockades on the Ambassador bridge, the busiest international crossing in North America, which connects Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario have caused production issues for car manufacturing plants on either side of the borders.

According to the Canadian Trucking Alliance 85% to 90% of the 120,000 Canadian truckers who work cross-border routes are vaccinated and denounced their support for the protests. Meanwhile truckers currently working cross-border routes have to take longer trips to avoid the border blockades and not all support the movement. Ted McNeill, who took a five hour detour told City News in a video message to the protesters posted on Twitter, “Stop it. You are making us look bad.”

The truckers began their cross-country journey from the western provinces of Canada eventually reaching Ottawa, with the intention of not leaving the capital city until the vaccine mandate is lifted.

On Friday, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau urged the truckers to go home stating “We’ve heard you. But there are consequences for breaking the law and those consequences are becoming increasingly severe”

Anti-vaccine demonstrators descend to Canberra

Similar to that of the Canadian protests, anti vaccine demonstrators blockaded the Australian capital city of Canberra last Sunday ahead of the return of the federal parliament last week.

Almost 94% of the population over 16 has received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, making it one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. Though the government has ruled out any vaccine mandate, most of the population is required to be fully vaccinated in order to return to work, including healthcare professionals. As a result, a small proportion of the population have been vocal and blocked roads and targeted businesses in Canberra. As seen in the video below, the local media estimated the total number of attendees to be close to a few thousand.

Demonstrators converge on Paris to join the convoy

Traveling from Lyon, Strasbourg, Cannes, Nice and other cities in France, a mix of cars, trucks and camping vans made their way to the capital city of Paris on Friday.

Inspired by the demonstrations in Canada, the convoy is protesting the COVID-19 restrictions in the country. France requires proof of vaccination in order for an individual to enter public places like restaurants, museums with a negative test no longer being acceptable.

On Saturday, the convoy breached police defences and reached central Paris leading to sporadic scuffles with riot police who threw tear gas grenades at demonstrators to maintain order on the Champs Elysees.

How social media is fuelling the global protests

The main Facebook group behind the French movement ‘Le convoi de la liberté’ attracted nearly 350,000 follower within just a few days. While in the US, 27,000 members came together on a Facebook group named Convoy to DC 2022.

After more than two weeks, the Canadian government is taking a more forceful approach towards ending the blockades. But similar protests inspired by the Canadian truckers are just getting started.