The organizers of the Canadian Freedom Convoy on Feb. 9 hit out at those labeling the protests as a form of insurrection and sedition.
The remarks came as trucker protests in Ottawa, Canada, entered a 13th day on Feb. 9.
The “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa consists mainly of truckers, and began as a protest against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for drivers crossing the U.S.–Canadian border. Protesters have vowed to stay put until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“Some politicians have been throwing around this dangerous term of sedition and insurrection,” said Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms lawyer Keith Wilson during a press conference Wednesday.
“At no time, has anyone involved in the core group of the Freedom Convoy asked for anything other than their Charter rights to be restored, the rule of law in Canada to be respected, and the mandates that arbitrarily discriminate against them and usurp their Charter rights be stopped,” he told reporters.
Multiple media outlets, including CNN and MSNBC, have described the growing protests as amounting to section and insurrection.
CNN’s “Inside Politics” referred to the protests against provincial and federal COVID-19 restrictions as a “threat to democracy.” The news outlet’s anchor John King quoted Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly describing the protest as “a nationwide insurrection driven by madness.”
“And just think of the language. I know it sounds familiar to you. A threat to democracy. An insurrection, sedition. I want to be clear things have quieted down a bit, but that does not take away from the basic truck in, right, the sit-in that’s going in right in front of the national Parliament,” CNN correspondent Paula Newton said.
An “MSNBC Reports” segment pushed the narrative that the Freedom Convoy amounts to a “nationwide insurrection,” according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, Mark Carney, an Ottawa resident and former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, penned an op-ed with The Globe and Mail titled “It’s time to end the sedition in Ottawa by enforcing the law and following the money.”
“There are some elements out there with different agendas, talking about some fantasy of the governor general striking the government and magically appointing a committee,” lawyer Keith Wilson continued.
“It’s all fairy dust. It has no basis in reality. And it’s nothing that any of this group that I work for has ever suggested, nor do they suggest now. Their goal is for all Canadians to have their rights back, full stop.”
“This spin by some of the mainstream media, that somehow those involved in this freedom convoy are seeking more than what I’ve described, is completely inaccurate,” he added.
Since the protests in Canada’s capital have made headlines, similar demonstrations have popped up around the world, including in New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the United States.
Authorities in Canada have reacted against the protesters, including seizing fuel from protesters in Ottawa and threatening to revoke the licenses of truckers.
Fundraising website GoFundMe also seized funds from the convoy but backtracked a plan to donate the funds to charities of their choosing after several U.S. officials said they would probe the move.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he won’t meet with the truckers, and Ottawa’s mayor on Feb. 7 said federal ministers should appoint a mediator to try to resolve the situation.
The coordinator of the Canadian Freedom Convoy, Benjamin Dichter, told reporters that participants remain upbeat.
“The morale of people on the ground hasn’t changed much,” Dichter said on Feb. 9. “Good spirits, everybody’s happy. And I think part of it is because they’re actually seeing the result of change.”
“We’re seeing our provincial leaders trying to sit on the fence like they always do, but moving a little bit more towards our side as public sentiment is changing. That’s good.”
“We’ve seen changes in the political landscape,” Dichter said. “We have a lot of people within the political sphere that have been quietly making overtures to us were the hottest topic on Parliament Hill, which is great that all of these hard-working Canadians are getting the attention that they deserve, which is what this is all about.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.