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Freedom Convoy

by on February 20, 2023

We are pleased to introduce a Canadian guest wiriter, Ray Rivers.  Ray has been a journalist for over eight years, writing mostly for the Burlington Gazette in Ontario. He has also written a book, two music CDs and three stage plays.  An economist (MA) by training, his career spanned twenty-six years with the Canadian government in a number of departments, including Environment.  Ray was also a university lecturer in public administration, economics and sustainable development at four universities including one in New Zealand, and has several professional publications.  He worked as a private consultant to both government and industry and CEO for the Ontario chapter of the Organic Crop Improvement Association and Clean Air Canada (emissions trading organization).  Ray is a former candidate for provincial office and was VP of Policy for the Ontario Liberal party for around seven years.


Let Them Truckers Roll – A Postscript

The report of the Commission of Inquiry into last year’s imposition of Canada’s Emergencies Act was tabled this past Thursday.   As most people expected Justin Trudeau was vindicated for invoking the legislation.  His government had met the high bar required to trigger the Act.

Moreover as the Commissioner noted…”I determined that the measures taken by the federal government were, for the most part, appropriate and effective, and contributed to bringing a return to order without loss of life or serious injury to people or property.”  

Most Canadians supported the government action so they will be relieved that this chapter is now all over and relegated to history.  That is except for the 122 people who had a total of 393 charges laid against them for assault and other criminal offences. And then there are those stuck with the clean-up bill. Still, most of the occupiers escaped without so much as a parking ticket.  Most of them who had been blocking traffic and jeopardizing public safety with their illegal gas cans and barbecues, just went home. 

The Conservative ‘PM in-waiting’, Pierre Poilievre blamed the occupation in Ottawa on Justin Trudeau.  He claimed that Trudeau had inflamed the occupiers by referring to them as a ‘fringe’ group.   Trudeau sort of apologized for his undiplomatic use of language, though this was indeed a fringe group.  If anything it was Poilievre himself who kept the flames of occupation burning by encouraging the occupiers, taking selfies and defending the occupation. 

This was never a peaceful protest, unless blocking streets, terrorizing neighbourhoods, polluting the air with diesel exhaust, blaring their horns, and urinating on people’s lawns and war monuments could be considered peaceful.  It was an unruly mob hoping to overthrow a sitting government.  It was an insurrection in the making, which failed from lack of leadership and purpose, despite the assistance of some skilled ex-military and police sympathizers.

This was never about vaccine mandates for truckers at border crossings.  Even if Canada had dropped its mandate the truckers would have faced the same requirement by the Americans.  This was an angry mob taking out their personal frustration with two years of COVID, and for some their unfulfilled dreams of more oil pipelines, on the federal government.  

It was the kind of vendetta one might expect of spoilt children being denied their regular playtime.  Though they lacked a unified leadership, several occupiers presented themselves as spokespeople.  And while the leadership may have included some hard core right-wingers, there were, no doubt, others just along for the ride and the excitement of it all.

It is unlikely that any of these folks supported the Liberals, judging from the number of elegant ‘Fuck Trudeau’ signs stuck on the side of so many trucks.  Clearly these occupiers supported the other team, the other tribe.  And their love was reciprocated when Tory House leader Candice Bergen advocated against asking them to leave.  Make no mistake, this was a partisan mob with a partisan mission.

The Emergencies Act might not have had to be used, the Inquiry concluded, had Ontario’s Premier done his job.   While the truckers were building their barricades opposite the nation’s parliament building, Doug Ford was off snowmobiling somewhere hundreds of kilometres away.  It was as if he was in denial, refusing to attend the meetings in Ottawa and even later refusing to testify at the Inquiry. 

In Ontario, municipalities are children of the province,  Ford had no problem arbitrarily overriding his municipalities whenever he wanted to.  He trashed and slashed the size of Toronto’s elected council only days before an election.  He barred municipalities from using ranked balloting; banned them adding development charges to new development, and so on.  

But when it came to the security of the people of Ottawa, his government hardly raised a finger, leaving the dysfunctional Ottawa police service to fail all on their own, and leaving the job of restoring civil order to the federal government.  The Emergencies Act should never have had to be invoked but for inaction by the province.

Was Ford just being partisan, under pressure from his federal party cousins to let the occupation run its course?  According to interim Tory leader Bergen that would put the issue on the PM’s plate – and possibly embarrass him as an impotent figure head if he did nothing.  Ford did, to his credit, eventually come out to support the federal government and the Emergencies Act.  But the question is why, after he had declared a provincial emergency, he didn’t use his powers to get the OPP tactical squad to end the blockade and occupation?  

This occupation in Ottawa had clearly been inspired by the insurrection in Washington only a few months earlier.  And it had been partially funded by some of the same folks involved in that mischief.  While the Ottawa mob didn’t actually get into the Parliament buildings, they had come with a manifesto to overthrow the government and set up one under their control.  

The parallels to what happened south of the border are too obvious to ignore.  It’s a sad comment on our democracy when groups of people who can’t win at the ballot box choose instead the path of violence and terrorism.  Partisan politics should never get in the way of overriding respect for our democratic values.  

This occupation may have eventually concluded on its own and everyone gone home with just their mess left behind them.  Or it may have ended up much worse with scenes like we saw at the US Capitol.  We should all take a moment to consider how close we really came.

Emergency Act Inquiry –

Gazette Article on Ottawa Occupation –

Candice Bergen Against Asking Occupiers to Leave –


From → Guest Authors

  1. Ray Rivers permalink

    Wow – great Job..

    Ray Z. Rivers 445 Mountsberg Rd., Campbellville ON L0P 1B0 Home and Mobile – 905-659-2069


  2. Gary permalink

    This was a flash in the pan until the truckers started to close down the border crossings between Canada and the US. And it had absolutely no relationship to the U.S. Capitol riot of January 6. It became a threat to international trade and harmful to the American economy. Biden told Trudeau to get a grip, or else. Trudeau jumped to attention and got in line. This commission report was a big PR exercise to make it look like Trudeau didn’t knuckle under to America. All the rest Rivers talks about is a load of BS.


  3. Dana permalink

    In 2019 I did some volunteer work for a 2020 Presidential candidate. He predicted something like this, even worse perhaps. His prediction was that truck drivers would take action like this post-automation of their jobs, obviously something that isn’t happening yet.

    But who would have predicted this in Canada? There is an American misconception that all Canadians are “nice.” Being Canadian I disagree with that of course.


  4. Ray Rivers permalink

    Gary – thanks for commenting. That is a very imaginative interpretation to the attempted right wing insurrection as they immobilized the heart of the nation’s capital for most of the entire month of February last year. Tow truck operators were afraid to move their semi-trailers. Damage in a class action lawsuit was estimated at almost $400 million. Almost 400 criminal charges were laid. Hardly a flash in the pan.

    To your point about American economic concerns the border crossings were pretty much resolved before the Emergencies Act was used. The Act was primarily about Ottawa.


  5. Gary permalink

    Thanks for confirming my point about Biden/Trudeau.

    The truckers arrived in Ottawa 18,000 strong on January 29. By February 1 they had dwindled to 250 remainders. The police have laid 553 charges for various acts related to the truckers being illegally parked and some sass they got back for their effort. These numbers mean fewer individuals were charged with multiple offences. Can we all say plea bargain?

    The two identified leaders are now jointly accused of mischief, counselling mischief, obstructing police, counselling to obstruct police, counselling intimidation, and intimidation by blocking and obstructing one or more highways. Note: no charges of sedition.

    The truckers set up barbeques, bouncy castles and hot tubs in the streets of Ottawa. No weapons offences were charged in Ottawa, although weapons were found near trucker lockdowns of the border with Montana – not surprising for folks from Alberta.

    In contrast, the January 6 rioters in Washington, had weapons (known to Trump), erected a gallows and took up a hue and cry to hang the vice-president of the United States, encouraged by Trump to so. these were Trump’s “good people”, as opposed to the utter contempt and disrespect shown to the truckers by Trudeau. Trump wanted to go the Capitol. Trudeau hid in his basement until the streets were clear. Many of the Proud Boy organizers have been convicted of sedition or similar charges because of their desire to overthrow the U.S. government, and have received stiff jail terms.

    Trump, at the time of this writing, remains uncharged.


  6. Thank you, Ray and Gary for presenting your information and your views. Americans have long been rightly accused of simply ignoring the events in other cultures and countries. Your presentation, on each side, offers Americans and anyone else interested in the preservation of their society an insight into the universal nature of the issues involved.

    Thanks to each of you for your invaluable contributions. And thanks to Dana for facilitating this exchange.


    • Dana permalink

      Thanks Marco for giving us a safe and respectful platform for engaging with others, including guest writers. It’s exciting and fulfilling to watch this unfold.


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