truck with a placard saying 'Freedom Convoy'

The Anti-Vaxxers

As I write there is a caravan of ‘truckers’ nearing Ottawa at the conclusion of a cross-country trek to protest vaccination laws.

I put ‘truckers’ in quotations because they are not, for the most part, truckers, and those who are truckers represent a very small percentage of the people actually doing that work in Canada. The Canadian Trucking Alliance has condemned the protests.

They are nominally protesting a requirement that truckers be vaccinated in order to cross the border into Canada without taking a 10-day quarantine.

I say ‘nominally’ because it’s a ridiculous point: they already need to be vaccinated in order to enter the United States, so nobody is actually in the position of having to quarantine on return to Canada.

They call themselves the ‘freedom convoy’. In their own words: “Freedom Convoy is a rolling protest through town to draw attention to the violation of our rights and freedoms granted under the Charter.”

None of their Charter rights are being violated. There is no Charter right to refuse quarantine if you are a potential carrier of a deadly disease.

But none of this is about truckers, vaccines, freedoms or rights. That’s not why this protest has been organized. Look at pretty much every statement, every word, and you can see it’s a facade.

From where I sit, it’s yet another in a series of attempts by the far right in this country (with plenty of help from south of the border) to divide and disrupt the broader community. This makes us less able to respond to the real challenges we face today.

It’s the tactic being used by the right in the United States, where any attempt to discuss or debate, let alone govern, is met with blanket resistance. If the right can’t get its way, they seem to be saying, then nobody can get their way.

And in so doing they have appropriated the most ridiculous conspiracy theories, including the idea that the vaccine is somehow harmful or ineffective. Then they wrap themselves in a blanket of religion or patriotism and disrupt the social order.

To be clear: they are perfectly free to do so. It’s ethically questionable, but it’s within the rules, and the reason why our society and democracy are structured the way they are is so that they can make their point.

But we don’t have to agree with it, and we don’t have to take their words at face value, and I don’t.

Meanwhile, I stand with the vast majority of Canadians (and the vast majority of truckers) who have had enough of the anti-vax movement, and feel no obligation to stand quietly while they sow disinformation to the wind.

I have expressed my disappointment that the news media are giving so much time to the anti-vaxxer fringe movement. This misrepresents the true state of affairs and is broadly harmful. The media should have learned through past instances of false balance. But it has not.

We should be hearing much more in the media from the vast majority of us who are losing patience with the anti-vaxxer movement. This continuing resistance is only prolonging the pandemic and making lives more difficult for everyone.

Except, of course, the wealthy, who are making out like bandits.

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