This past Sunday in Ottawa, police ended the weeks-long protests of the so-called Freedom Convoy, a band of Canadian truckers protesting Canada's vaccine mandates for truckers delivering goods across national borders. The group generated worldwide media attention with its blockade of border entry points that heavily delayed the delivery of goods and contributed to supply chain issues, all while being hailed by conservative media, especially in the United States.
The protesters did so under the all-too-familiar guise of patriotism, insisting they were fighting for freedom with their takeovers of multiple city blocks and their use of Nazi-era symbols, likening themselves to Jews facing the atrocities of the Holocaust.
But while the protesters present themselves as martyrs, trucking trade organizations have warned that the blockades are impacting hundreds of millions of dollars' worth in goods. At least one trucker, who said the protests were "making more and more people mad at us," recounted having to go five hours out of his way due to a Freedom Convoy blockade on the Ambassador Bridge.
Now, one Canadian official has called out the convoy's use of "freedom" as a defense for the disruptive demonstrations against lifesaving vaccines.
Canadian representative to the United Nations, Bob Rae, emphasized that these protests weren't about freedom at all.
"A truck is not a speech. A horn is not a voice. An occupation is not a protest. A blockade is not freedom, it blocks the liberty of all. A demand to overthrow a government is not a dialogue. The expression of hatred is not a difference of opinion. A lie is not the truth."
Social media users agreed.
For others, Rae's comments were enraging.
Conservative activists in the United States, which has also grappled with widespread vaccine disinformation, have looked to replicate the protests in America.