Canadian anti-vax trucker protest fires up copycat protests

Updated: Feb 14, 2022, 03:41 PM(IST)

A protest movement by Canadian truckers angered over Covid vaccine rules has become a rallying point for opponents of pandemic restrictions, firing up crowds from New York to New Zealand.

Spreading protests

The "Freedom Convoy" demonstrations began January 9 in western Canada as protests by truckers angry with vaccine requirements when crossing the US-Canadian border.

They have since morphed into broader protests against Covid restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government.

Trudeau demanded an end on Monday to the protest that has paralyzed Ottawa, saying "It has to stop."

"This pandemic has sucked for all Canadians," he said. "But Canadians know the way to get through it is continuing to listen to science, continuing to lean on each other."


New York

In New York, dozens of municipal workers facing dismissal unless they get shots marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall on Monday carrying giant US and Canadian flags.

"Unvaccinated Lives Matter" and "Workers Are Essential, Mandates Are Not," read signs carried by the crowd, which included firefighters and teachers.


New Zealand

In New Zealand, inspired by the Canadian "Freedom Convoy," trucks and campervans blocked streets near parliament in Wellington on Tuesday to protest against Covid restrictions and vaccinations.

Hundreds of vehicles plastered with messages such as "Give Us Back Our Freedom" parked in streets surrounding the parliament building.

Others drove around the city center with horns blaring as over 1,000 protesters on foot listened to speeches.

"I'm actually vaccinated but I'm against mandating people to be vaccinated," said Stu Main, of Wellington. "I think it's disgraceful, forcing vaccination on people who don't want it."

Several Wellington protesters carried Canadian flags, including an expatriate named Billy, who declined to give his surname.

"I'm just supporting the brothers in Canada, fighting for freedom over there," he said.


Calls for rallies in France, Belgium

In France, calls were circulating on Facebook for protestors to descend on Paris for anti-mandate demonstrations this weekend.

Similar appeals were launched in Belgium.


Donald Trump approves

Some of the most vociferous support for the Canadian demonstrators has come from Republican officials in the United States, where Covid mask and vaccination mandates have become a highly partisan issue.

"The Freedom Convoy is peacefully protesting the harsh policies of far left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates," former president Trump said.

"Now, thankfully, the Freedom Convoy could be coming to DC with American Truckers who want to protest (President Joe) Biden's ridiculous Covid policies," he said in a statement.



There has been no protest in Washington so far, but more than 100 truck drivers in Alaska, drove from Anchorage to Eagle River on Sunday to support the Canadian demonstrators, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican, addressed a rally in Eagle River, ADN said, telling the crowd, he did not believe the federal government "has the power to look at American citizens and say 'either you get vaccinated or you get fired from your job.'"



Paris police said they would ban so-called "freedom convoys" inspired by a truckers' protest against coronavirus restrictions that has paralysed the Canadian capital Ottawa.

Paris' move comes after a number of convoys of cars, vans and motorbikes set off from around France on Wednesday, inspired by the two-week blockade of central Ottawa by truckers angry at testing and vaccine requirements for crossing the border with the US.



New Zealand Protest

In New Zealand's Wellington, hundreds of demonstrators gathered for a fifth day despite drenching rain. Inspired by truckers' demonstrations in Canada, the protesters have occupied and blocked several streets surrounding the distinctive "Beehive" parliament with their trucks, vans and motorcycles.


Israel joins the bandwagon

40 convoys will depart from 40 cities across Israel and will converge into one united 'Freedom Convoy' at Israel’s Knesset in Jerusalem. Thousands of trucks, tractors, cars and motorcycles are expected to join Freedom Convoy in Israel (Pic Courtesy: Adi Arad). 


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