Canadian Truckers Over Covid Tyrants
After a week-long trek across Canada, a caravan of semi-trucks and their supporters, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” arrived in Ottawa to protest the Liberal government’s vaccine mandate for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border. It remains to be seen whether the Freedom Convoy’s efforts to overturn the mandate will be successful—unvaccinated truckers are a small minority, not just in their own industry, but the country as a whole. However, their demonstration has coincided with a collapse in Canadian’s broad-based support for continued Covid-19 mitigation efforts.
A new poll from the Angus Reid Institute found that a majority of Canadians, 54 percent, would like to see an end to Covid-19 restrictions and for those still concerned about the virus to self isolate. Angus Reid’s findings from their Jan. 27-28 poll is almost an exact flip from their findings from Jan. 7 to Jan. 12, just prior to the Freedom Convoy’s demonstration, when 55 percent of respondents said Covid-19 restrictions should remain in place.
In all but one of the provinces surveyed by Angus Reid, a majority of respondents agreed that it’s time to lift pandemic restrictions. The holdout: the Atlantic provinces, where 62 percent of respondents believe virus mitigation efforts should continue. Similarly, every age group except for respondents at least 55 years old said they’ve had enough of Covid closures.
The aforementioned shift in public opinion should not be credited only to the Freedom Convoy, though it has garnered international attention from the media and the support of prominent figures such as Elon Musk, Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Donald Trump Jr., and Russell Brand. Underlying factors, namely the subsiding wave of the not-so-deadly omicron variant, that have contributed to the truckers’ decision to protest may be causing Canadians to increasingly question Covid-19 restrictions.
According to Angus Reid, nine percent of Canadians have tested positive for Covid-19 since Dec. 1—a quarter of those tested in that time period. Out of those who tested positive, four in five claim to have experienced four or more Covid-19 symptoms. That figure increases to 86 percent when factoring in those who believe they had Covid-19, but did not take a test to confirm. However, among those who experienced four or more omicron symptoms, a majority of those with confirmed and believed Covid cases reported their symptoms were mild. Of those who tested positive, another 47% said their symptoms were at times serious, but manageable, like a case of the flu, whereas 40 percent of those who were not tested but believe they had Covid said the same. Just 1 percent of individuals who tested positive and 2 percent of those who believe they had Covid reported they had “very severe” cases.
Canada has managed to coast through much of the Covid-19 pandemic relatively unscathed, though omicron caused a spike in Covid cases that peaked in late December to early January. But, omicron, though highly transmissible, is a much more mild variant of Covid than the original or delta. With omicron, comparisons to the flu, which the global public health establishment declared verboten in the early stages of the pandemic, actually fits. Yet, Canada’s government keeps the nation teetering between closing and opening to justify laying the groundwork for a biomedical security state. In this environment, the truckers are more than justified in questioning not only their government’s response to omicron, but its motives in doing so.
The truckers still face an uphill battle when it comes to turning public opinion against vaccine mandates. Throughout the late stages of the Covid pandemic, other polls tracking Canadian public opinion show strong support for vaccine mandates and punishing the unvaccinated.
In August of last year, an Ipsos poll found that 80 percent of Canadians supported the government’s decision to mandate vaccination for federal public servants, and 82 percent supported government measures that required proof of vaccination to travel interprovincially either by airplane or train. Similar levels of support for vaccine mandates extended to teachers (81 percent) and healthcare workers (84 percent). Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they supported vaccine passports to enter restaurants, gyms, and other public indoor spaces.
Another Ipsos poll from Jan. 24, conducted for Global News, found that two-thirds of Canadian respondents want the Canadian government to impose more restrictions on unvaccinated Canadians, which nearly a majority (49 percent) are to blame for prolonging the Covid pandemic.
Similarly, a poll published by Nanos Research, also on Jan. 24, found that 60 percent of respondents supported or somewhat supported forcing unvaccinated Canadians, which make up a little less than one-fifth of the population, to pay fines or a higher health contribution to support the country’s nationalized health care system. In some provinces, governments are acting on public support for such measures. Quebec’s Premier, François Legault, announced on Jan. 11 that unvaccinated residents in the province without a medical exemption would be forced to pay higher health contributions, though the provincial government has not settled on the exact amount.
To broaden Canada’s shifting public opinion regarding Covid restrictions to vaccine mandates and other efforts to cement a Covid caste system, what the Freedom Convoy needs now is solidarity. Let’s give them just that.