A convoy of truckers funded by online donations is driving to Ottawa, the Canadian capital, to oppose border vaccine mandates.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents truckers from all over the country, criticised a number of planned protests against the federal government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border travel.
In a statement issued on Saturday, a day before the convoy left British Columbia, the CTA said that they don’t support the demonstration and that they “strongly” disapprove “of any protests on public roadways, highways, and bridges”.
The truckers driving from British Columbia are set to be joined by groups of other truckers in Ottawa on 29 January. They are planning to organise a rally to protest the requirement that drivers crossing the border between the US and Canada have to be fully vaccinated.
The CTA said that actions “that interfere with public safety are not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed”.
“The vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated with the overall industry vaccination rate among truck drivers closely mirroring that of the general public,” the CTA said.
The alliance added that truckers “who want to publicly express displeasure over government policies can choose to hold an organized, lawful event on Parliament Hill or contact their local MP”.
“What is not acceptable is disrupting the motoring public on highways and commerce at the border,” they said.
The president of the trucking group, Stephen Laskowski, said in the statement that “the Government of Canada and the United States have now made being vaccinated a requirement to cross the border. This regulation is not changing so, as an industry, we must adapt and comply with this mandate”.
“The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or any other vehicle, is to get vaccinated,” he added.
But those opposing the mandate are still pushing back. One of the organizers, Tamara Lich from Medicine Hat in Alberta, said in a Facebook Live video on Sunday that “we’re not backing down and we are going to Ottawa”.
Organizers say the mandate is a case of political overreach and that it harms the economy, small businesses, and the ability of some to make a living, The Canadian Press reported.
Protest organizers have raised $2.7m CAD ($2.2m USD) on GoFundMe. They raised more than half of the funds in the last couple of days. The campaign page states that the money will be used for fuel, accommodations, and food for the protesters.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations has stated that out of the 160,000 truckers who regularly cross the border, around 26,000 would be taken out of action by the vaccine mandate. Around 30,000 trucks cross the border every day.
The Canadian government, led by the Liberal Party, announced in November that all Canadian truck drivers wanting to enter the US would have to be vaccinated by 15 January or go through a 14-day quarantine.
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