Monday, February 7, 2022

Canadian Truckers

This is Joseph.

As of Friday, Feb 4th, Truckers and assorted right wing persons have been holding an anti-vaccine blockade of the Canadian capital for a week. Some of the more extreme, if rare, symbols on display are Swastikas and Confederate flags. Insofar as Canada was involved in the Civil War, there were a 100 times more Canadians fighting on the union side than the Confederate. And I think it is well known that Canada was not a part of the Axis in world war 2. Like, so well known that I am not even including a link. So it is a little confusing why these symbols are a part of a protest, being part of neither Canadian heritage or historical vaccination policy (one might make an argument that pro-vaccine policy was associated with the US continental army, but I don't see Union Jacks in evidence). 

That said, it has been terrible for people who have the misfortune to live in Ottawa:
But as tensions rise between protesters and local officials, analysts say the recent events could signal the birth of a growing populist movement which could potentially reshape Canadian politics.
Despite the cold, Aubue said he’s been well taken care of by organizers and some residents who oppose public health measures. He says he’s received hot meals and fuel to run the truck’s generator for heat.
Another protester, Philip Grenier, said he would remain in Ottawa “for as long as it takes” for the federal government to repeal pandemic restrictions – although almost all such rules fall under provincial jurisdiction.
But local people say the protests – which have included honking truck horns, but also allegations of assault and intimidation – have left them frustrated, fed up and – at times – in fear of leaving their homes.
A local woman who gave her name as Jennifer said that she’d been harassed by a group of men wearing Canada flags as capes and shouting “Freedom!” before two other men in an idling truck called her a “dumb cunt sheep” for wearing a mask.
“I’m just done with these people,” she said.
When Tim Abray, a communications consultant, attempted to take a picture of the protests, he was confronted by three men who grabbed and shoved him. He said nearby police officers failed to intervene.

And they are being treated with kid gloves because, well, guns:

Police say that a number of blockade members are believed to armed, and amid growing calls for counter protests, there is growing of fear that violence could erupt
But the spectacle has caught the attention of influential far-right voices in the United States, including former president Donald Trump and his son, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Tesla founder Elon Musk also tweeted his support of the truck convoy. On Wednesday, Ottawa police said a “significant” amount of the funding and organizing was coming from the United States.

What I find most fascinating about this development is, in addition to showing that the rise of the extreme right is an international anglosphere phenomenon (US, UK, and Canada now), is just how much better I feel about the Jan 6th movement in the United States. It lasted a single day. There have been more than 700 arrests, with probably less significant property damage.  Nobody even considered building a fuel and food depot on public land to support the protest. Like seriously, there is a depot of fuel and propane tanks (look at pictures) being build to support a right wing protest and there is no police response (at least as of mid-day Feb 4th). 

In Washington DC there was no stockpile and it seems unimaginable that it would have been permitted to be built during a period of civil unrest. 

I must admit that this has made me greatly upgrade my assessment of US state capacity in the response to the Jan 6th insurrection (which was in favor of the current US president, whereas the Canadian truckers are opposed to Trudeau and Biden). It was a one day event and followed by significant engagement in dealing with the consequences (there is even a congressional committee investigating this event). I mean there is a website and everything including a tip line. 

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