It was Jan. 28 when Canada faced a whole new challenge. The Freedom Convoy made its way to Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Making global headlines, the Freedom Convoy sparked numerous debates and pitted Canadians against one another. The convoy, comprising an estimated 15,000 people – unvaccinated truckers and their supporters across Canada – came together to protest the trucker vaccine mandates and other public-health measures that were implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Freedom Convoy was an unnecessary protest that caused various problems and generated debates across the nation. The convoy was met with conflicting opinions which ultimately left their mark on Canadian history. A reminder of when Canadian values such as respect, kindness and dignity were swept under the rug. The protest lasted three long weeks and should have been stopped earlier.
On Parliament Hill and its surrounding areas, the protestors spewed hatred to perpetrate their ideologies concerning COVID-19, restrictions and government officials. Such hatred can be identified by the vast presence of waving confederate flags, alongside the display of swastikas, and comparing the COVID-19 restrictions and mandates to the experience of Jewish people in the Holocaust.
Such comparisons are dangerous, as they are outrageous, and take away from the reality that the Holocaust was imposed on innocent men, women and children. Victims of the Holocaust were persecuted for their race, religion, disabilities and many other characteristics. This genocide included gas chambers, death camps, intensive labour camps, constant degradation and violence. Over six million people were murdered. The truckers don’t have it half as bad and they shouldn’t even think to compare the two situations, as the Holocaust is incomparable.
Secondly, prominent statues representing/reflecting Canadian culture and history were utterly disrespected: Terry Fox’s statue had a “mandate freedom” sign thrust into its right hand and an upside-down Canadian flag in its left; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was danced upon by several individuals and a man placed a Quebec flag onto the monument.
Other than defacing Canadian history for the promotion of their cause, those who brought their trucks with them to the protests endlessly honked their horns, which continuously disturbed the peace in the city of Ottawa. Many students couldn’t concentrate on their studies. It even came to the point where some students were filled with anxiety when leaving their residences in fear of being met with hate speech, violence or harassment. Small businesses that were [unfortunately] located where the protest took place, were forced to shut down until the protests subsided.
Many restaurant owners from Ottawa filed a class-action lawsuit against the truckers in order to get an injunction to stop the honking. This ultimately worked, as the truckers received legal notice to stop honking for 60 days.
It’s ironic that while the Freedom Convoy preached for the right to freedom for themselves, they stripped the freedom of business owners and the citizens of Ottawa. Various other inconveniences occurred throughout the tenure of this unnecessary protest — border blockades, blocking traffic and appalling incertitudes.
The Federal Government implemented the Emergency Act on Feb.21 when the city of Ottawa was finally declared to be in a state of emergency. The act provided for freezing the assets of the participants, with a view to deterring others [from participating]. The Act was necessary to put an end to this protest.
The Freedom Convoy also inflicted unfavorable environmental effects on the city. Continuous idling of trucks led to emitting more fumes into the atmosphere, which in the long-term would damage the earth, not to mention increase air pollution which was found to be 14 times higher than Ottawa’s normal rate. Such fumes contain nitrogen dioxide, leading to an irritated throat and nose among passerbys.
Additionally, the fumes contain a noxious pollutant, named PPM 2.5. This pollutant can effectively aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions. Barring high winds, both pollutants will remain in the city, continually polluting the air and adversely impacting everyone near the protest site; short-term effects may harm people’s bodies; some may even become immunocompromised.
The Freedom Convoy was a disservice to the people of Ottawa. Many protesters harassed the people walking through the protest areas simply for wearing masks and not aligning with the cause. Moreover, the lack of respect and dignity for Ottawans and their lives within the city was unbearable to hear about, in the media every day.
Had the roles been reversed, protesters would not have put up with it. The hypocrisy was evident in this incident. True colors were shown among Canadian citizens during the tenure of the Convoy. By continuously disrespecting and harassing the residents of Ottawa, forcibly shutting down businesses – who already had two difficult years – and by defacing important Canadian statues, the aggressive and the hateful acts among the participants should be ashamed of their behavior.
Complaining that one’s freedoms are being suppressed when actively suppressing other people’s freedoms is counterproductive and outright disrespectful. Finally, the continuous heavy presence of protestors instilled the fear of the unknown and disbelief among residents. Not knowing when the protest would be over, caused much distress and instability while trying to plan daily activities and get to work.