On a cold dark Sunday morning in January 24 big rigs gathered at the Nordel weigh scale in North Delta. So began a cross country truckers’ convoy that sparked a national discussion on what constitutes freedom during a worldwide pandemic.
The truckers took their anger to Ottawa, and refused to leave. They created a party atmosphere where anyone with an axe to grind was welcome and a protest soon became an illegal blockade.
Watching it unfold on television was emotional. It angered and saddened me. I sympathized deeply with the harassment local businesses and residents had to contend with for 22 days 24/7.
The images of people holding Canadian flags pleading for their freedom was confusing. Had they not got the memo? Health restrictions have been implemented successfully to contain a deadly virus that has killed thousands of people in Canada.
The pandemic is not a scam, nor is it a conspiracy, or a way to turn our country into a police state. It’s real and it is deadly.
I do believe that mandatory vaccines for truckers in North America came late in the game, considering the pandemic is becoming endemic. Somehow that message became muddled as extreme right groups, anti-vaxers and anti-maskers joined the blockade.
The protesters’ anger is real. There are disenfranchised people in this country who are suspicious of government, of globalization and science.
I do not believe those feelings represent the majority of Canadians, nor is there a deep divide between us.
To presume protesters will be silent because police cleared Wellington Street is naive. So how do we as a nation, and as a community mend?
We can start by listening. What I hear is fear. Fear of economic hardship, of government over reach, fear of academic elites and distrust in general. Add climate change to the mix too.
The last two years have been arduous and has fuelled the unrest we see now. Politicians must address Canadians who feel left behind or not listened too, or we risk becoming like the United States.
Living in Delta we know truckers are our friends. Let’s remember to tip our hat to their hard work in difficult times and share the road.
Ingrid Abbott is a freelance writer who follows her husband’s advice to always drive in front or behind a semi-truck on a two-lane highway. That way I won’t be in their blind spot.