Several Conservative MPs have made an appearance at the “Freedom Convoy” rally in Ottawa that began on Jan. 29 , giving their support to the truckers who oppose the federal COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, while others didn’t attend but said they back the effort.
“The truckers I’ve met today have been peaceful, kind and patriotic,” MP Pierre Poilievre wrote on Twitter on Jan. 29.
— pierrepoilievre (@PierrePoilievre) January 29, 2022
In a video recorded at the event, Poilievre elaborated on what the rally stands for.
“It’s a rally for truckers, but it’s also a rally for the 60 percent of Canadians who said they were worried they can’t afford food; it’s for the 60-year-old small businesses man who spent his entire adult life building up an enterprise and watching it wiped out; it’s for the depressed 14-year-old who’s been locked out of school; it’s for the families that can’t take it anymore; it’s for the people that want to stand up and speak for their freedoms; it’s for all those our government and media have insulted and left behind; it’s for the people who worked hard to put food on our table and stock our shelves and make this country work—and that’s why we are gathered here today,” he said.
“Freedom, not fear. Truckers, not Trudeau.”
MP Leslyn Lewis wrote on Twitter on Jan. 29: “Great to see so many law-abiding patriotic Canadians peacefully expressing their love for this country and democracy. People of all ages, faiths, races, from all walks of life, united for freedom.”
The “Freedom Convoy” began as a protest against the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truck drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border, but has since expanded to a call for all COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted.
The first convoy set off from the West Coast on Jan. 23, and more trucks join from across the country, converging in Ottawa this weekend for a massive demonstration that will likely continue into next week. Smaller rallies are being held in other cities at the same time.
The Ottawa rally also received support from Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who said in a statement that truckers deserve a “special thank you” for their services that kept the selves stocked and the economy going throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, trucker rallies are being held at many locations across the country, including on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and in various communities in Saskatchewan.
Here is my message to Saskatchewan and Canadian truckers: pic.twitter.com/LifQ2FK23b
— Scott Moe (@PremierScottMoe) January 29, 2022
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was in Washington, D.C., on the weekend, in part “to raise these important cross-border supply chain issues. My message is simple: It’s time for some common sense!” he wrote on Twitter.
On Jan. 22, the Biden administration initiated vaccination requirements for non-U.S. nationals entering the country who are not vaccinated, including Canadian truck drivers.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole met with truckers on Jan. 28, but didn’t attend the rally.
“I support their right to be heard, and I call on Justin Trudeau to meet with these hard-working Canadians to hear their concerns,” he said in a Twitter post.
Tory MP Michael Cooper, along with MP Damien Kurek, brought a container of coffee to the rally “to show our appreciation for hardworking, patriotic truckers who have kept our supply chains healthy & grocery shelves stocked for the past two years,” he wrote on Twitter.
A demonstrator carrying a flag with a Nazi symbol on it was caught on camera behind Cooper while the latter was doing a TV interview. Cooper later issued a statement saying he wasn’t associated with the person carrying the flag.
“Whoever flew this flag is personally responsible for that reprehensible decision and should be eternally ashamed of him or herself,” he wrote.
“He or she does not represent the thousands of peaceful protesters who waved Canadian flags and acted responsibly. I stand with them and will continue to fight for them.”
Statement from MP Michael Cooper: pic.twitter.com/OAWwz1rko9
— Michael Cooper, MP (@Cooper4SAE) January 30, 2022
Several Conservative MPs backed Cooper, and also pushed back against reports that frame the freedom convoy and its participants as far-right extremists.
Tory MP Garnett Genuis retweeted Cooper’s statement and said it was “pretty bizarre” that some in the media are trying to blame him, even though he wasn’t aware the flag was behind him.
“It is pretty bizarre that supposedly serious people are trying to blame Michael for the fact that someone he doesn’t know walked into the camera shot behind him while he was doing an interview,” Genuis wrote on Twitter.
Former Conservative MP Stockwell Day also criticized the media for amplifying the conduct of the few wrongdoers among thousands of well-behaved protesters.
“In 40 [years] of politics I have never seen main stream media so united against any protest group in such a disgusting way. If there is one violent protester or one physical threat that will be all the media reports,” Day wrote on Twitter.
People’s Party of Canada Leader and former cabinet minister Maxime Bernier attended the rally on both Jan. 29 and Jan. 30.
“We will regain our freedom in 2022,” he said in a video posted on Twitter. “Today we are doing something that will be in the history books.”
Conservative MP John Williamson issued a statement in support of the convoy and the truckers’ call to end restrictions.
“The trucker convoy, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” – even by a mostly unwelcoming media – became a symbol for pandemic fatigue and, I believe, growing opposition to illiberal restrictions on Canadians,” he wrote.
“Truckers were called unsung heroes at the start of the pandemic. I believe Canadian truckers are still our heroes after almost two years living with COVID-19. They keep Canada moving and I am adding my voice to the belief that it is time to end lockdown restrictions and to put the emphasis on fixing our underperforming healthcare system to manage the coronavirus.
“Shuttering society to save the health system is no longer an acceptable choice.”