Canada protests over vaccine mandate reach Ottawa

January 31, 2022

Mark Schremmer


Protests over a cross-border vaccine mandate reached Ottawa over the weekend and were still going on Monday, Jan. 31.

According to multiple reports, thousands of demonstrators took part in a convoy that reached Ottawa on Saturday, Jan. 29. The convoy, which started Jan. 23 in Vancouver, is in opposition of COVID-19 vaccine mandates at the Canada-U.S. border.

Although the protest was started by truckers, many of the thousands of supporters appeared to be members of the general public opposed to all vaccine mandates in Canada.

The BBC reported that protests in Ottawa entered its third day on Monday. On Sunday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CBC News that its residents were being made prisoners in their own homes because of the protests.

“You have the right to protest,” he said. “You’ve had your protest. Please move on. Our city has to get back in normal stead.”

The CBC also reported that truckers and motorists traveling to and from the United States from southern Alberta have been caught in gridlock from the protests. According to the report, vehicles have been blocking the highway from south Lethbridge, Alta., to the U.S. border crossing in Coutts since Saturday.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is calling for an end to the blockade.

“(It) could dangerously impede the movement of emergency service vehicles,” Kenney said. “The blockade must end immediately.”

The United States and Canada each have mandates blocking unvaccinated foreign nationals, including truck drivers, from crossing the border. Canada’s mandate, which requires U.S. truckers to show proof of vaccination before entering the country, went into effect Jan. 15. The U.S. mandate, which requires cross-border truckers to be vaccinated, started Jan. 22.

Both rules have been criticized over concerns they would create more supply chain disruptions. Shortly after Canada’s mandate went into effect, Bloomberg reported that it already led to a surge in produce prices.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the vaccine mandates and said that unnecessary government mandates can force experienced owner-operators out of business.

A guest on Canada’s Roy Green Show podcast over the weekend, OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said several truckers have told OOIDA that they were going to stop delivering across the border because of the mandates.

“We do have members who have called in and say they’re not going to anymore,” Pugh said. “That’s the problem with mandates. It seems like you just knock more people out of something. I’m sure some people will quit.”

OOIDA also spoke out against the cross-border mandates when they were announced in November.

“OOIDA has always maintained that vaccination is a personal choice just like any health decision,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “Throughout the pandemic, essential workers like professional truckers have continued operating safely back and forth across the Canadian border to ensure North Americans have the food and supplies they need. Drivers have done so without having to disclose their personal health history.

“We have seen all too often how unnecessary government mandates can force experienced owner-operators and independent truckers out of business. These requirements are another example of how impractical regulations will send safe drivers off the road,” Spencer said.

In December, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and 13 other senators wrote to President Joe Biden asking for the United States and Canada to establish a reciprocal policy for cross-border truckers that does not include a vaccine mandate. LL