By Sofia Alberga
Exasperation, disturbance, and agitation- the common concern felt across the country. A story recorded on the news, in one ear out the other, until it hit close to home, delaying traffic on the way to work. Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ was first initiated by a series of ongoing protests and blockades against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions. Upset with the measures to require proof of vaccination for truckers crossing the US-Canada border, a convoy of bothered truckers and residents first gathered in Ottawa to protest against this directive. While preparing for the protest, organizers insisted that they would come in peace, although surrounding citizens explained that they were far from ready for this disturbance.
As the protest continued to attract attention of truckers all over Canada and The United States, it did not take long for six dozen trucks and a few hundred protesters to arrive - Ottawa braced itself for the approaching demonstration. With the protesters' plan in mind to stop the ‘copycat’ actions of the government (following suit after the restrictions in other countries and provinces), they arrived with genuine grievances and fears about how the pandemic had upended their lives. However, the serious negative consequences that came from their continued strike have critically affected the economy and the lives of the community. The disruption of the economy includes impacting thousands of employees, many businesses, and a steep economic toll on the country, losing roughly $500 million daily due to blockades. The trucking industry simply ‘drives the economy’. The trading and delivering of perishable goods is key in making sure that the economy has what it needs to continue running. This loss of employed truckers and closure of essential borders provokes a huge challenge and shortage in crucial deliveries.
Canada has allowed freedom of speech and expression for Canadians since 1982. This includes freedom of thought, belief, opinion, expression, and other medias of communication- as well as protesting. Canadians have the precious freedom to incorporate our own opinions and values into the country. Though, lately this power has been used and abused unfairly. The Freedom Convoy protestors have the right to protest, although disrupting the economy, frightening and being an inconvenience to citizens, and waving around offensive flags is not the acceptable way of protesting. With the announcement that the protestors have purposefully blocked access routes to healthcare facilities (as they believe they are the peak of the problem encouraging mandates), hospital workers are recommended not to wear their uniforms outside of their place of work. The risk of abuse and harassment is awful for what is supposed to be a ‘peaceful’ protest. Healthcare workers have earned their right to wear their uniforms, yet this demonstration has taken away their pride.
Along with the frightening circumstances for healthcare workers, the remaining public are both fearful and having trouble traveling to work or commitments. The blockage caused by the truckers is another set back in successfully running the economy as important jobs and businesses have a lack of employees. Through every decision that the government makes, there will always be a percentage of the economy that agrees and a percentage that opposes. Through that opposing population, some may gather to display their opinion to the public and try to adjust the governments ‘resolution’; which they have the right to do. However, threatening, blocking, scaring, and using insulting flags to express their point of view is not the ‘freedom of speech’ that Canada has allowed.