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One of the best articles on Canada, the historic truckers’ convoy and the awakening of Canadians against the health measures imposed by Justin Trudeau’s government was written by journalist Rupa Subramanya, in Bari Weiss’s Substack, Common Sense.
“What the Truckers Want,” reads the headline of this journalistic piece that unpacks, in detail, the sentiment of the demonstrators who have been in Ottawa for three weeks protesting against what they believe is state abuse.
There, with outstanding literary skill and magnificent photographic work, Subramanya gives a noteworthy space to the truck drivers and demonstrators in Ottawa, who explained that they went to the capital—at the risk of alienating family, friends, and even losing their jobs—because they felt completely marginalized, especially the unvaccinated people.
But, beyond the fact that the convoy evidently had the support of the minority of Canadians who are not vaccinated, this is not an outright anti-vaccine protest, as the Canadian government and the local and international media wanted to portray it. In fact, the bulk of the protest is driven by a good part of Canadians, most of whom are vaccinated. Without going too far away, the truck drivers, the media face of the convoy, are a union whose vaccination rate reaches 90%.
Is Justin Trudeau committing suicide?
That was Justin Trudeau’s first cardinal sin, turning his back not only on the unvaccinated but on the bulk of Canadian civil society that is fed up with confinements, curfews, discriminatory health measures like the health passport; or even the mandatory vaccination mandate. The Prime Minister, in fact, had a lot to do with pushing the convoy when he called the truckers a “small fringe minority” with “unacceptable views.” His words were the preamble to his own historic ridicule, for just days later, Canada and the world witnessed the largest protest ever seen in the country.
Then cowardice made its appearance, becoming the second cardinal sin of the Prime Minister, who hid for a week without showing his face to the country, while the streets of Ottawa were overflowing with citizens from all over Canada. It was no longer a question of going against health restrictions, but of freedom, of taking back a country that is rapidly veering towards authoritarianism.
Hubris was his third serious political mistake. In his first words after the first few days of protest, Trudeau, instead of seeking to de-escalate the conflict by accepting the few sensible requests of Canadians (return to normality), missed the opportunity to play the card of national reconciliation.
A brief speech selling the quest for unity among Canadians, accepting a couple of mistakes, and handing a victory to the protesters would have been enough. But the prime minister chose to double down and start a fierce smear campaign against the truckers.
Associating the convoy with racism, white supremacy, and even Nazism, Trudeau, and the like-minded media —in Canada much of the press is government-funded— sold the world the idea that the protests were solely driven by far-right white anti-vaxxers seeking an insurrection against the progressive government.
Doing this was a declaration of war, as it began to play on the perceptions of the public and the world, seeking to impose its version of the narrative. The protesters felt this as a betrayal.
Nevertheless, and despite a vast majority of the media being on Trudeau’s side, the convoy became a reference for freedom lovers and an inspiration for Canada. The images and videos speak for themselves. A peaceful and multicolored movement, replicated in several countries, with people of all ages and races, uniting against a prime minister who turned his back on them.
“They came from across the country. Vaxxed, unvaxxed, white, black, Chinese, Sikh, Indian, alone or with their wives and kids. They huddled around campfires. They set up pop-up kitchens and tents with block captains doling out coffee and blankets. They honked (and honked and honked). They blasted ‘We Are the World.’ And everywhere you looked, someone was waving the Maple Leaf,” wrote Subramanya.
That paragraph was enough to shatter the entire liberal-progressive media narrative and also the Canadian government’s rhetoric about the convoy.
As a result, the narrative pushed by Trudeau and the world’s media did not end up coming together. And that is when anger erupted to become Justin’s fourth cardinal sin.
Trudeau elevated his anti-convoy speech, calling the protesters violent and a danger to national security. Overnight, law enforcement began arresting and harassing citizens; generating outrage on social media and further fueling discontent against the government.
Far from abating, the protests continued, and a politically cornered Trudeau —with criticism from his own party and facing a conservative opposition with renewed leadership— decided to take a very risky gamble: to pull out the tyrant’s handbook.
The fifth cardinal sin committed by Justin Trudeau, which could be fatal for the Prime Minister, was to have invoked the Emergency Act this past February 14. This sort of State of Alarm, which has not been activated since the Second World War, empowers the government to curtail civil liberties under the pretext of safeguarding national security. This Emergency Act, to be properly understood, only applies in very specific and determined situations, such as war contexts, and Trudeau is using it to undermine peaceful protests.
Several provincial premiers, once allies of the Prime Minister, criticized Trudeau for turning their backs on him. Prestigious Canadian democratic organizations, such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, followed suit. Legal experts questioned Trudeau’s basis for invoking the Emergency Act and explained that this decision sets a very bad precedent for Canada’s democracy.
With this Emergency Act, moreover, the Canadian government empowered banking and financial institutions to block accounts, insurance, or wallets of protesters or people who are supporting the convoy. The intention is clear: to financially stifle the protest.
This sin of Trudeau, although it is rightly earning him the label of a tyrant, may also be the card that saves him from political suicide. He got himself into this compromising situation, cornering himself with unforced errors in a short time. However, choking off convoy funding may work for him to end this uncomfortable protest.
Justin Trudeau is basically playing a game of chess with the goal of survival. He knows that for many people, falling into financial ostracism is not an option and, as a result, they will drop their support for the truckers. But, if his calculations fail, and the protesters stand firm, the Prime Minister runs the immense risk of sentencing his political career; with a suicide that began by marginalizing a large part of society and ended up consummated by doubling down on his own failed gamble.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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