(The Center Square) – Tens of thousands of truck drivers have formed a caravan to draw attention to their cause and protest new vaccine mandates.
The “Freedom Convoy” departed from Vancouver, Canada, Sunday, with some estimates at 50,000 truck drivers heading for Ottawa, the nation’s capital, to protest new vaccine mandates to cross the U.S-Canada border. Canada implemented the mandate Jan. 15.
Trucking groups estimate the mandates will affect about 16,000 Canadian truckers, who would be required to get tested and quarantine when crossing the border. That, the organizations say, will add to ongoing supply chain issues.
The large trucks have been joined by regular vehicles in opposition to the mandate, one of several COVID-19 policy protests to break out around the world in recent months.
Photos and videos of the convoy have flooded social media sites like Twitter, furthering the reach of the protest and rallying anti-mandate sentiments in the U.S and abroad.
A GoFundMe online fundraiser has raised about $6.5 million for the cause.
“Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods,” says the online fundraiser’s page. “We are a peaceful country that has helped protect nations across the globe from tyrannical governments who oppressed their people, and now it seems it is happening here. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamental necessities to survive. It's our duty as Canadians to put an end to these mandates. We are doing this for our future Generations and to regain our lives back.
“We are asking for Donations to help with the costs of fuel first, and hopefully food and lodgings to help ease the pressures of this arduous task,” the post adds. “It's a small price to pay for our freedoms.”
The convoy has been welcomed in many towns with onlookers, gathering often in the snow to wave at the truckers as they pass.
“My wife Val and I honked and waved on Sunday to show our support for our local truckers as they took to the road to protest the newly-imposed truckers mandate by Justin Trudeau,” said Canadian MP Bob Zimmer. “Imposed at a time when we are already seeing supply chain shortages and skyrocketing inflation, the Prime Minister is implementing a mandate that will leave tens of thousands of truckers unable to work and puts our food security at risk. Conservatives have always supported Canadians’ right to determine their own health choices. For those who are unvaccinated, we continue to believe in reasonable measures, such as rapid testing, to help protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable.”
The protest has garnered international attention, both through media outlets and wide social media sharing and retweeting.
Even billionaire Tesla and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk weighed in on the rally.
“Canadian truckers rule,” he wrote on Twitter.
Steven Del Duca, leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, responded to that message.
“Especially the vast majority of truckers who made the responsible decision to get vaccinated and are working hard to keep our grocery stores stocked and families fed,” he said.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance has spoken out against the protest, but that hasn’t stopped thousands from joining the movement.
“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,” said CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or any other vehicle, is to get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he has tested positive for COVID.
"Last night, I learned that I have been exposed to COVID-19," he announced. "I feel fine and will be working from home. Stay safe, everyone – and please get vaccinated."