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What are the Canadian Trucker Protests all about?

Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year journalism student

To understand the ongoing Canadian Trucker Protests, we need to first understand the distinction between the Left and the Right wings of politics.

By I Kid You Not , in World News , at February 25, 2022 Tags: , , ,

Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year journalism student

It is true, dear readers, that protests and resistance are highly important in a democracy. Why? Because it voices what the people want; protests act as opposition to the government and bring the general public to the forefront of decision making in a democratic State.

Why are protests important?

Basically, protests give people the right and the freedom to voice their concerns and disagreements over a decision taken by the government, or an act in general. Common examples include the CAA NRC protests in New Delhi in 2019-20 and the Black Lives Matter Protests in 2020.

However, as democratic as they are, some protests have the tendency to take an interesting turn and might not seem so logical and ‘democratic’.

The difference between the Left and the Right Wing in Politics

To understand the ongoing Canadian Trucker Protests, we need to first understand the distinction between the Left and the Right wings of politics.

Let us view the wings as a spectrum, two ends of a continuum, two extremes of a double-headed arrow.

On one hand, the Left Wing in politics is defined by ideals such as freedom, liberty, equality, progress, and all things that indicate global development. The Right-Wing, on the other hand, places more emphasis on ideas such as authority, order, duty, tradition, nationalism, religion, etc. For example, in the United States, the Democratic Party can be seen as the Left Wing and the Republican Party as the Right.

A brief of the political structure in Canada

In Canada, the Liberal Party, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, forms the government in power. This is the Canadian Left Wing. On the other hand, The Conservative Party, forms the official opposition as a center-right party.

What started the protests?

Canada announced in November 2021 that, from January 15, all cross-border essential employees, including truck drivers, will be required to provide proof of vaccination in order to enter the border. Unvaccinated Canadian truckers who enter the nation from the United States must undergo Covid-19 testing and two weeks of self-quarantine under this rule. A similar restriction was implemented in the United States, which went into force on January 22. Around 90% of drivers were listed as vaccinated when the restrictions went into effect. However, other workers spoke out against the order, citing anti-vaccine, anti-mask, and anti-lockdown views as reasons.

The rally in Ottawa

Hundreds of trucks came to the national capital of Ottawa on January 29 as part of a planned protest against the orders. Though initially peaceful, the protests spiralled into violence, with demonstrators — many of whom were unmasked — waving Nazi and Confederate flags, assaulting local businesses and people, yelling anti-Prime Minister slogans, and defacing national sites.

Let us take a quick detour to understand what the Anti-vaccine and Anti-mask movements are all about

Since the Covid-19 outbreak and extended lockdowns, people around the world have expressed their concerns over the science behind masks and vaccines. While some believe that Coronavirus is a hoax, others simply don’t trust cherry-picked scientific information given to them about masks and contents of the vaccine. Due to these, and many other reasons, people across the globe have refused to get themselves vaccinated and wear masks in public.

Coming back, what do the protesters want?

In short, the protestors want all the restrictions on vaccines and mask regulations to be lifted. Trudeau’s resignation has also been demanded by protesters.

Even if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caved tomorrow and lifted the government vaccination requirement for truckers, the US vaccine mandate set in January for international truckers would still prevent them from crossing the border.

What impact does this have on trade between the United States and Canada?

By far the most significant interruption is the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge (which connects Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario). That bridge carries almost a quarter of all trade between the United States and Canada. This jeopardises Canada’s economy and stability.

How did Trudeau’s government respond?

Prime Minister Trudeau refused to reverse the mandates or meet with the protesters. On February 15th, Justin Trudeau used the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history to provide the federal government interim powers to deal with continuous blockades and protests over pandemic restrictions.

On 18th February, authorities conducted the largest police operation in Canadian history, detaining hundreds of Ottawa protestors and stepping up the pressure until the streets in front of Parliament were free of protesters. At least 191 persons were detained, and 79 vehicles were towed away. As the pressure mounted, several demonstrators withdrew.

However, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole has declared his opposition to vaccination mandates and has criticised Trudeau’s failure to interact with truckers.

What is the relationship between these protests and the Canadian Right Wing?

As of 21st February, the Ottawa demonstrators who swore to never give up have mostly dispersed. The demonstration was in reaction to the spread of misinformation in Canada, as well as boiling nationalist and right-wing rage.

While most experts do not believe the protests will be a defining moment in Canadian politics, they have unsettled both of the country’s major parties.

On one hand, Trudeau’s Liberals appear poorly for allowing protestors to cause weeks of havoc in Ottawa, while the Conservatives look bad for supporting protesters, many of whom are on the extreme right of the political spectrum.

The issue here is also the fact that Fox News celebrities and conservatives like Trump have praised the protests.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been sent across the border to the protestors.

Key points summarised

  • Protests give people the right and the freedom to voice their concerns and disagreements over a decision taken by the government, or an act in general.
  • Left-Wing in politics is defined by ideals such as freedom, liberty, equality, progress, and all things that indicate global development.
  • Right-Wing, on the other hand, places more emphasis on ideas such as authority, order, duty, tradition, nationalism, religion, etc.
  • In Canada, the Liberal Party, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, forms the government in power.
  • The Conservative Party forms the official opposition as a center-right party.
  • Canada announced in November 2021 that, from January 15, all cross-border essential employees, including truck drivers, will be required to provide proof of vaccination in order to enter the border.
  • Hundreds of trucks came to the national capital of Ottawa on January 29 as part of a planned protest against the orders.
  • In short, the protestors want all the restrictions on vaccines and mask regulations to be lifted. Trudeau’s resignation has also been demanded by protesters.
  • By far the most significant interruption is the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge
  • Prime Minister Trudeau refused to reverse the mandates or meet with the protesters
  • On February 15th, Justin Trudeau used the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history to provide the federal government interim powers to deal with continuous blockades
  • Fox News celebrities and conservatives like Trump have praised the protests. 

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