North Shore’s “Trip Report” on the Freedom Convoy

Three Way Fight


The anarchist website North Shore Counter-Info recently posted an insightful eyewitness commentary on the Freedom Convoy truckers’ revolt in Canada. “Trip Report: Ottawa on Saturday, February 5” offers no illusions about the protest’s right-wing character but tries to present the protesters in human terms and avoid reflexive stereotyping. The author encountered “signs and pamphlets everywhere about every wingnut conspiracy I’ve ever heard and even some that I haven’t – microchips in vaccines, THE JEWS, lizards, you name it” but little evidence of overt fascist or white supremacist involvement. “I have heard of people of colour being harassed by members of the convoy protest but that is definitely not most of their main activity most of the time and I don’t see a single sign about immigration, race or colonialism the whole time I’m there.”

Without romanticizing the Freedom Convoy, the author of “Trip Report” wants to understand its appeal and is critical of those who look down on the protesters or call for the State to crack down on them. Here are some more excerpts from the report:

“I suspect a lot of the growth of this movement is happening among people who did not show up and would not have shown up for right-wing movements of the past but are simply genuinely tired of Covid restrictions. At one point I saw a group of children with cute signs bearing the outline of a truck filled with lists of the things they’ve missed since 2020 – soccer, seeing my friends, smiling at my grandmother, choir practice. My heart sinks as I imagine what worldviews these kids are encountering at what may well be many of their first protest. I empathize so hard with their desire to engage in normal, playful, collective activity after two years of pretending to be satisfied with zoom calls, masked conversations and freezing-cold outdoor meetups. I hate that so much of the left acts as if these concerns are not even a thing, telling people that if they care at all about vulnerable, elderly and disabled people they must simply suck it up and get on with it. One sign reads ‘This is existence, I want to live.’ Me too, man, 100%. If only it were true what the theorists of this movement say, that actually Covid is only a cold, the government has inflated the death toll and all we need to do to find an end to the pandemic is take the red pill, pull off our masks and dance in the streets again. If I squint really hard I can almost see what they’re seeing, they’ve been locked inside for so long and the truckers are the first with the courage to actually speak up and say enough is enough, we need to go out there. If it weren’t for the right-wing racists directing the movement, not to mention the millions of actual deaths due to Covid-19 that no amount of good vibes and lies will prevent, it would make a lot of sense.”

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“In the afternoon we check out a counter-demonstration organized primarily, it seems, by residents of downtown Ottawa… Countering the trucker protest before it becomes a full-blown neo-fascist revolutionary movement is so, so important but I honestly felt zero affinity with this counter-protest in particular. Most of the signs were either calling for more police, complaining about inconveniences like sound and traffic, or making fun of the demonstrators for being unvaccinated and/or stupid…. I feel a surge of rage at downtown liberal elites who think the problem is that these people just didn’t go to school long enough.”

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“Freedom is a very real and very important goal, and Covid restrictions genuinely constrain people, often in ways that are genuinely unethical. I do not support vaccine mandates, even though I do support encouraging people to get vaccinated in other, less coercive ways. Unlike the right, we know that real freedom will only be attained collectively, that it isn’t about simple individual choice. Refusing to wear a mask when a friend or neighbour asks you to do so for their own health is a busted understanding of freedom. But I do think the world has become even less free since the pandemic, that governments have gained new kinds of powers and new forms of surveillance. In Canada I think they’re also enjoying a new level of defeatism, pacification and obedience displayed by a large segment of the population who can’t imagine a solution to the problem of Covid-19 that is any more complex than simply doing whatever the government says to do and shaming anyone who doesn’t.”

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“I have no doubt that if this protest became a revolutionary movement it would absolutely be a fascist one. The elements of it that want to depose the Prime Minister would install someone much, much worse. There is no hope for common cause with this thing but we need to find creative, probably new ways to counter it. It does not make sense to treat these protesters as potential comrades (at least as a group), but it will not work to treat them as we have treated known, overt neo-Nazis either.”

We encourage people to read the full report here, as well as the discussion in the Comments section, and also check back to Three Way Fight for more commentary and discussion of the Freedom Convoy.

Photo credit: 

Freedom Convoy, Ottawa, February 1, 2022. Photo by ΙΣΧΣΝΙΚΑ-888, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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