Canada convoy protest

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Crowds of convoy protesters gathered outside the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council Building (which is located across from Parliament Hill). Many protesters are waving Canadian flags or holding signs with slogans like "wake up" and "my body, my choice". A truck is parked next to the office building so as to block the road to Parliament Hill. The truck has the text "Fuck Trudeau" painted on its side, except that the U in "Fuck" is replaced with a maple leaf exactly like the one on the Canadian flag.
Might as well be living in North Korea. Or worse, Australia.[1]
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The Canada convoy protest or the Freedom Convoy was a series of protests in Ottawa[2] and provincial capitals such as Toronto and Edmonton,[3] as well as blockades at Canada-US border crossings[3] against COVID-19 restrictions, especially vaccination requirements and vaccine passports[4] during January[4] and February[5] of 2022. It became a cause célèbre of the far right in both Canada and the US, and over time the protests' goals morphed from ending COVID-related restrictions to a generic airing of right-wing grievances, including several protesters who demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.[6]


During 2021, several provinces implemented "vaccine passport" laws requiring people to show proof of vaccination to participate in various activities in public spaces, such as indoor dining.[7][8][9][10] These laws remained in effect at the start of 2022.[11][12] In addition, the federal government required unvaccinated travellers entering Canada to quarantine for 14 days.[12] On January 15, Canada began applying this quarantine requirement to unvaccinated truckers crossing the border.[13] The convoy formed in opposition to these restrictions.[12]

Protesters began arriving in Ottawa over the weekend of January 28th.[14] Around this time, convoys also began forming blockades along parts of the Canada-US border.[15] The Windsor-Detroit blockade did not form until more than a week into the protests, on February 7th.[16]


101. OMG I'M LAUGHING SO HARD: Paul from California writes that…you ready? "Without truckers there would be no Western Civilization."
—Katherine Blouin, professor of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Toronto[17]
Trucks lined up on Ambassador Bridge Feb 8: "civilization" at its finest
The Windsor-Detroit border crossing blocked by truckers.

The protests blocked border crossings between Canada and the US,[3][18] including major crossings such as the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. The blockades prevented both travellers from passing and obstructed shipments of goods between Canada and the US.[19]

The protests in Ottawa were intentionally loud because of truckers honking their horns, even at night, which disrupted the lives of Ottawans who lived or worked near the protests.[20][21] Many Ottawans complained that the protests prevented them from sleeping and distracted them from work.[20][21]

Despite the protesters' claims to be on the side of the people, and fighting for everyone's freedom,[22][23] protesters and supporters of the protests often revelled in the harms that the protests caused to Ottawans. One protester said that he honked in order to "make other people suffer the way he had already suffered."[24] An internet meme relating to the protests, "the honking will continue until freedom improves,"[25] circulated in far-right circles, referring to a quote by a protester confronted by an Ottawan complaining that the protests prevented him from sleeping.[26] These memes (and other alt-right memes related to the protests) often referenced alt-right memes such as Honkler.[25]

Convoy protesters in Ottawa also deliberately overloaded 911 lines.[27]


Members of the Ottawa convoy vandalized a statue of Terry FoxWikipedia by making the statue appear to be holding a sign in support of the convoy. They also vandalized the National War Memorial.[28]

Ottawan resistance to the convoy[edit]

Some Ottawans infiltrated Zello (voice chat) channels used by the Ottawa convoy to communicate. One infiltrator even became a moderator in some of the channels, and later created his own that became the main one used by the convoy.[29] He used this position to encourage some of the more tired protesters to go home.[29] On February 12th, he invited several opponents of the protests to the channel who blasted "Ram Ranch", a (very NSFW) song about gay cowboys, in the voice chat, rendering it unusable for communication.[29]

Law enforcement response[edit]

Ottawa Police declare protest peaceful so long as public avoids it for their own safety.
The Beaverton,[30] satirical news website

During the first few weeks of the protest in Ottawa, the police did little to control them despite the complaints of city residents. Prior to the arrival of the convoy, the police emphasised the importance of respecting the right to protest,[31][32] and mobilized few resources to controlling the protests. After the convoy was established, they avoided ticketing protesters on the basis that it would escalate tensions,[32] and suggested that attempting to control the protests would be too dangerous.[33]

The police handling of the convoy protest in Ottawa stood in stark contrast with their treatment of other protest movements.[34] Historically, Canadian police, including the Ottawa police and the Ontario Provincial police, have often swiftly and violently suppressed indigenous protest movements, and charged protesters with crimes rather than opt for "de-escalation".[35][36]

Police Chief Peter Sloly resigns[edit]

The Chief of the Ottawa Police Service at the start of the protest, Peter Sloly, resigned on February 15th amid criticism from lower-ranking leadership within the Ottawa police force blaming him for the ineffective initial response to the protest, and suggesting that he "bullied" his subordinates by criticising them in front of coworkers.[37] Notably, Sloly, who was the first Black chief of the Ottawa police,[38] had a reputation as a reformist when he took the job, developed from his previous work in the Toronto Police.[37] Several leaders of NGOs[note 1] concerned with the interests of Black Ottawans and Canadians argued that he was used as a scapegoat by officers who resented him because they opposed reform and even outright didn't want to work for a Black chief.[38]

Trudeau declares state of emergency[edit]

On February 14th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the unprecedented step of declaring a national emergency on the basis that the Ottawa police were incapable of restoring order. This allowed him to send the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (i.e. federal law enforcement) to enforce local laws.[39]

Clearing the protests[edit]


On February 17th, the RCMP began arresting the organizers of the protest.[40] Around this period, law enforcement was more successful at clearing protesters out of downtown Ottawa, finally succeeding on February 20th.[41] During this period, supporters of the convoy spread rumours that a police horse either seriously injured a woman or trampled her to death, but an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (which is responsible for overseeing Canadian law enforcement) concluded that it was a hoax.[42]

Border blockades[edit]

The Windsor-Detroit blockade was cleared by a combination of Windsor, Ontario Provincial, and RCMP police, and the Ambassador Bridge fully reopened on February 13th.[43]

Far-right ties[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Far right

The organizers of the protests sought the resignation of the entire federal government.[44] One organizer was affiliated with an Albertan separatist political party,[45] and another was a supporter of the People's Party of Canada.[46]

Some protesters displayed white supremacist symbols, including Confederate flags[44] and swastikas, although some of the swastikas were intended to compare Justin Trudeau with Hitler.[47] Symbols from Classical antiquity were also seen at the protests, including a misspelled Molon labe flag and a hoodie that depicted a Spartan helmet.[48]

Protest organizers used the platform GiveSendGo to fundraise[49] after getting banned from GoFundMe on February 4th.[50] GiveSendGo describes itself as a "Christian crowdfunding site" and has a reputation for facilitating fundraising to far-right causes such as to pay Kyle Rittenhouse'sWikipedia legal fees.[51] GiveSendGo refused to comply with an Ontario court order to stop sending funds to protesters.[52] Hackers leaked data on donors to the convoy through GiveSendGo on February 13th.[53] The hacked data showed that there were more American donors to the convoy via GiveSendGo than Canadian donors, although Canadians donated more total money.[54]

After the federal government cut the protesters off of crowdfunding services, some protest supporters attempted to use Bitcoin to send funds.[55] Proponents of Bitcoin often argue that it is "censorship-resistant", meaning that it can circumvent government restrictions on sending and receiving money because governments lack the means to control it.Do You Believe That? However, the federal government was able to block protesters who had received donations in Bitcoin from being able to use any of the donations they had received by ordering cryptocurrency exchanges to prevent them from moving any of the funds in their wallets,[55] proving that Bitcoin isn't so "censorship-resistant" after all.

Right-wing media in Canada such as Rebel News encouraged the protests,[56] as did American pundits such as Tucker Carlson and Ben Shapiro.[57]

Among international sites covering the protest, the Russian state media outlet RT covered the Freedom Convoy far more than any other international media outlet", and was also covered by other Russian state proxy sites (SouthFront and Global Research).[58] Based on previous analyses of Russian media's relationship to the Russian state, "it is reasonable to infer that RT's extensive coverage of the convoy may be just the most visible sign of a broader influence campaign encompassing other actors and activities including proxy sources, cyber operations, social media accounts/engagement, and involvement in activism/organizing."[58]

Ripple effect[edit]

The convoy protests in Canada inspired protests in several other countries elsewhere, such as France,[59] Australia,[60] and New Zealand.[61] In March, a trucker convoy protest in Washington, DC was brought to a crawl by a single bicyclist making an impromptu counter-protest.[62] In April, a trucker convoy protest was turned back by some well-placed eggs in Oakland, California.[63]

At the end of April, some of the former convoy protests returned to Ottawa and held a rally they called "Rolling Thunder", but they were quickly removed after only a couple of nights; it did not lead to a resurgence of the convoy protest.[64]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Non-governmental organizations


  1. No, Australia Is Not Actually an Evil Dictatorship, Van Badham, The New York Times. October 14th, 2021.
  2. Ottawa mayor declares state of emergency over trucker convoy protest, Ian Bailey and Mike Hager, The Globe and Mail. February 6th, 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 ‘Freedom convoy’ protests: Police commence enforcement at the Ambassador Bridge, Toronto Star. February 11th, 2022.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Heavy police presence as truckers arrive in downtown Ottawa, Michael Woods and Josh Pringle, CTV News Ottawa. January 28th, 2022.
  5. Ottawa police close in on final protesters, vow to hold all participants accountable, Catharine Tunney and Christian Paas-Lang, CBC News. February 19th, 2022.
  6. What's happening with the Canadian trucker convoy? Here's what you need to know, Myah Ward, Politico. February 14th, 2022.
  7. B.C. launches proof of vaccination to stop spread of COVID-19, British Columbia Ministry of Health. August 23rd, 2021.
  8. Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine passport plan unveiled, won't apply to retail, Lucas Powers and Adam Carter, CBC News. September 1st, 2021.
  9. Quebec to implement vaccine passport due to rising COVID-19 cases, premier says, Joe Lofaro, CTV News Montreal. August 5th, 2021.
  10. Across Canada, vaccine passports are a patchwork. Here's what that looks like, Temur Durrani, BNN Bloomberg. September 3rd, 2021.
  11. Ontario to end vaccine passports, ease capacity limits, but masks stay on, Jeff Gray, The Globe and Mail. February 14th, 2022.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 A look at Canada's vaccine mandates and public health restrictions, Michael Lee, CTV News. January 27th, 2022.
  13. Truck driver vaccine mandates loom for cross-border operations, John G Smith, Truck News. January 5th, 2022.
  14. The ‘Freedom Rally’ is rolling through Toronto on Thursday. Here’s what you need to know, Dorcas Marfo, Toronto Star. January 26th, 2022.
  15. Canada’s trucker protests: What is going on?, Al Jazeera. January 28th, 2022.
  16. 2nd day of Ambassador Bridge protest halts vehicles from leaving Michigan, limits Windsor to U.S. traffic, CBC News. February 8th, 2022.
  17. 101. OMG I'M LAUGHING SO HARD: Paul from California writes that…you ready? "Without truckers there would be no Western Civilization." I repeat: "Without truckers there would be no Western Civilization." by Katherine Blouin (2:51 PM - 14 Feb 2022) Twitter (archived from February 14, 2022).
  18. Scenes of truck convoy protests blocking Canada-U.S. border crossings, CBC News. February 10th, 2022.
  19. Auto sector, food transportation hit as border blockades spread across country, Eric Atkins and Susan Krashinsky Robertson, The Globe and Mail. February 10th, 2022.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Trucker protest: Ottawa residents face harassment, noise ‘all night long’, Craig Lord, Global News. February 1st, 2022.
  21. 21.0 21.1 More than annoying: What trucker convoy's nearly nonstop honking could be doing to people in Ottawa, Tyler Dawson, National Post. February 4th, 2022.
  22. Whose freedom is the ‘freedom convoy’ fighting for? Not everyone’s, Gerard Walton, The Conversation. February 6th, 2022.
  23. Protest organizers dig in and say only politicians can clear Ottawa's downtown, CBC News. February 2nd, 2022.
  24. The Ottawa convoy has 'shattered norms' for protest in Canada. Will we see more of it?, Stephanie Hogan, CBC News. February 19th, 2022.
  25. 25.0 25.1 'Honk Honk' Memes See Resurgence On 4chan Due To 'Canadian Freedom Convoy' And Its Loud, Honking Trucks, Owen Carry, Know Your Meme. January 31st, 2022.
  26. Ian Miles Cheong, on Twitter. February 1st, 2022.
  27. 'Completely unacceptable': Ottawa police say 911 lines being purposely flooded, Michael Talbot, CityNews Edmonton. February 10th, 2022.
  28. Multiple criminal investigations underway for 'desecration' of Canadian monuments after protests against Covid-19 mandates, police say, Paula Newton, Dakin Andone and Keith Allen, CNN. January 31st, 2022.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Ram Ranch Resistance: How a gay cowboy song became an anti-convoy anthem, Bruce Deachman, Ottawa Citizen. February 16th, 2022.
  30. "Ottawa Police declare protest peaceful so long as public avoids it for their own safety #cdnpoli" The Beaverton, on Twitter. January 31st, 2022.
  31. 'Avoid the downtown,' police urge ahead of trucker convoy protest, Brett Forester, APTN News. January 31st, 2022.
  32. 32.0 32.1 What the truckers’ convoy revealed about policing in Canada, Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, Al Jazeera. March 19th, 2022.
  33. No end in sight to Ottawa protests, not enough resources, says police chief, Joanne Chianello, CBC News. February 5th, 2022.
  34. Monaghan: Ottawa police have facilitated the 'freedom rally': Now what?, Jeffrey Monaghan, Ottawa Citizen. February 2nd, 2022.
  35. The way protesters were treated in Ottawa had an unexpected side effect: more support for defunding the police, Dakshana Bascaramurty, The Globe and Mail. March 3rd, 2022.
  36. Protesters rally outside police HQ after officers charge 12 and break up demonstration demanding change for Black and Indigenous people, Kelly Egan, Ottawa Citizen. November 21st, 2020.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Peter Sloly resigns as Ottawa's police chief, says force now 'better positioned to end this occupation', Travis Dhanraj, Stephen Hoff, Peter Zimonjic, CBC News. February 15th, 2022.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Prominent Black community leaders say Peter Sloly was 'sabotaged' and 'scapegoated' as police chief, Aedan Helmer,Ottawa Citizen. February 16th, 2022.
  39. Federal government invokes Emergencies Act for first time ever in response to protests, blockades, Catharine Tunney, CBC News. February 14th, 2022.
  40. Convoy protest organizers Tamara Lich, Chris Barber, Pat King arrested in Ottawa, Sara Frizzell, Shaamini Yogaretnam, CBC News. February 17th, 2022.
  41. Cleanup crews replace protesters in downtown Ottawa as heavy police presence remains, CBC News. February 20th, 2022.
  42. False trampling death rumours at Friday's Ottawa protests a sign of misinformation campaign, police say, Joanne Chianello, CBC News. February 19th, 2022.
  43. 42 arrests, 37 vehicle seizures made by police in Windsor protest, Melanie Borrelli, CTV News Windsor. February 14th, 2022.
  44. 44.0 44.1 The so-called Freedom Convoy was never about truckers, or border mandates, James Menzies, Truck News. January 30th, 2022.
  45. The murky matter of protests and the donations that drive them, James Menzies, Truck News. January 21st, 2022.
  46. Organizers of convoy protest: 'We have no intentions of staying one day longer than necessary', Blair Crawford, Ottawa Citizen. February 4th, 2022.
  47. Swastikas and Confederate Flags Seen at Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’, Jordan Liles, Snopes. February 17th, 2022.
  48. How Classics Made its Way into the “Freedom Convoy” (April 15, 2022) Pharos.
  49. GiveSendGo defends groups raising funds for trucker convoy in Ottawa, Claire Fenton and Stephanie Taylor, CityNews Vancouver. March 4th, 2022.
  50. Trucker convoy fundraiser removed from GoFundMe, Daniel Otis, CTV News. February 4th, 2022.
  51. Crowdfunding Hate in the Name of Christ, Talia Lavin, The Nation. April 5th, 2021.
  52. Crowd fundraising site says they will defy Canadian court order to stop disbursing funds to convoy protesters, Paul P. Murphy and Paula Newton, CNN Business. February 11th, 2022.
  53. More data on Canadian 'Freedom Convoy' donors leaked -website, Christopher Bing and Anna Mehler Paperny, Reuters. February 15th, 2022.
  54. Data leak reveals Canadians, Americans donated millions to fund trucker convoy protests, Tom Cardoso, The Globe and Mail. February 15th, 2022.
  55. 55.0 55.1 The ‘Freedom Convoy’ Bitcoin Donations Have Been Frozen and Seized, Ekin Genç, Vice. March 15th, 2022.
  56. 'Rolling Thunder' organizers were also part of the 'Freedom Convoy' protests, Jacquie Miller, Ottawa Citizen. April 27th, 2022.
  57. Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson cheer on Canadian trucker protest, February 11th, 2022.
  58. 58.0 58.1 Russia’s Role In The Far-Right Truck Convoy: An Analysis Of Russian State Media Activity Related To The 2022 Freedom Convoy by Caroline Orr Bueno (2023) Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare 5(3):1-22. doi:10.21810/jicw.v5i3.5101.
  59. French convoy against Covid restrictions heads to Brussels for another banned rally, France 24. February 14th, 2022.
  60. ‘Occupy Canberra’: behind the anti-vaccine protests at Parliament House, Josh Butler, The Guardian. February 3rd, 2022.
  61. A week on the ground at the ‘freedom village’, Stewart Sowman-Lund, The Spinoff. February 26th, 2022.
  62. Meet the Bike Man who brought the trucker convoy to a crawl by Ellie Silverman (March 26, 2022 at 1:01 p.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  63. ‘People’s Convoy’ truckers driven out after youths, residents egged them by Timothy Bella (April 26, 2022 at 3:47 p.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  64. ‘Rolling Thunder’ protesters rally in front of parliament as police stage operation, Laura Osman and Sarah Ritchie, Global News. April 30th, 2022.