By Jonathon Van Maren
For weeks, the world has been riveted by a unique populist uprising in one of the most docile nations on earth: Canada. The Freedom Convoy, a cavalcade of semis, pickups, and other vehicles crossed the country and set up camp in the capital to demand that the government lift vaccine mandates, ditch vaccine passports, and give Canadians their freedom back.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, once the darling of the international left, has proven an utterly ineffectual leader in the face of the protests. Recent polls put approval of his performance at a devastating 16 percent, with 65 percent of those surveyed saying he has made the situation worse. The convoy may well end his leadership. In response, on Monday, Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, claiming special powers to freeze the finances of those involved in the protest. The move has sparked controversy and the situation is developing rapidly.
A primary reason Trudeau and other progressive politicians are floundering is because mass movements of this sort just don’t happen in Canada. Insofar as Canada has a national identity beyond being mildly anti-American, it consists of being insufferably left-wing both at home and abroad—which is why the Telegraphrecently referred to Canada as “the world’s first woke nation.” Regardless of what their government does, Canadians seem to put up with it. Until, one day, they didn’t.
The Freedom Convoy began as a trucker protest against cross-border vaccine mandates, with out-of-work truckers and their supporters heading from Vancouver to Ottawa. But as the convoy rolled across the country, it became a flashpoint for pent-up frustration—about draconian restrictions, job-stealing vaccine mandates, and the near-total unwillingness of any major political party to address the concerns of working-class Canadians who felt crushed by the Covid regime. Tens of thousands of people—likely more—lined the highways and began packing overpasses, waving hand-held signs and the Canadian flag.
Trudeau, who had previously accused the unvaccinated of being “often misogynistic, often racist,” responded by calling the protestors a “fringe minority with unacceptable views.” The New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh accused them of being white supremacists. Conservative leader Erin O’Toole dithered, unsure of how to deal with the populist uprising—and botched it so badly that his own caucus voted to remove him from leadership. As the Freedom Convoy descended on Ottawa with thousands of supporters, Trudeau claimed he had been exposed to Covid-19 and retreated to the wilderness. Weeks in, he still refuses to meet with the protestors on his front lawn to hear their concerns.