As “freedom convoy” leaders finally answer to charges for taking over downtown Ottawa in 2022, it makes one wonder what this group and other like-minded protesters have been up to these days. 

What immediately comes to mind is their confrontation with RCMP in North Shuswap where a highway checkpoint was set up to stop people from entering a fire evacuation zone. These so-called “truth and freedom” activists challenged the authorities on their right to block the road. The protest reportedly prompted the BC Wildfire Service to pull its crews out of the area. 

The freedom convoy was born after Canada set COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates to protect citizens during the pandemic. Protesters in many cities gathered to challenge these edicts, saying the public should not be forced to abide by these arbitrary rules, adding that it should be an individual’s choice whether to get the rushed-to-market vaccine injected into their bodies. That argument alone did not seem unreasonable, however, it was countered that the mandates were established for the greater good. 

Certainly, people have a right to challenge something they feel will negatively impact their health and well-being, but many of these activists went beyond the law and disrupted the lives of millions of people by blocking roadways and disrupting commerce, such was the case in Ottawa. Protesters even set up outside public schools causing confrontations with students and parents, yet another example of this movement entering the realm of inappropriate behaviour.

The convoy had no legitimate reason to gather in the North Shuswap in their attempt to circumvent what the RCMP were tasked to do – protect the safety of the public during an evacuation order that had nothing to do with COVID-19 restrictions or mandates.

Speaking of which, most if not all of these restrictions have long been lifted, so why are convoys still holding up signs on street corners and waving the Canadian flag? Try living in Syria and see how much freedom you have there.

Interestingly, one researcher told the CBC that without anger and a feeling of injustice, the freedom convoy cannot thrive. Now we see them attaching themselves to any issue as long as it challenges Trudeau and his government.

Freedom of speech and assembly are cornerstones of democracy and should never be curtailed, and yes, authorities should be questioned when their decisions, such as lockdowns, have a negative impact. But when your actions disrupt, agitate, and intimidate, you have crossed the line and weakened your cause to the point of losing support and respect.                   

Lyonel Doherty, editor