Wednesday, February 09, 2022

The Message of Canada’s Trucker Protest

By The Editorial Board | The Wall Street Journal 

Supporters of the Truckers Convoy against the Covid-19 vaccine mandate block traffic in the Canada bound lanes of the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ontario, Feb. 8. - PHOTO: GEOFF ROBINS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

They are saying that it’s time for the pandemic emergency orders to end.

Canadian truckers opposed to a Covid-19 vaccination mandate used their rigs on Monday to block the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, the busiest international land-border crossing in North America.

This latest act in a week-long show of civil disobedience is more akin to political life in France or the U.S. That it happened in restrained Canada is a signal to the political class across the West: Large swaths of humanity are done with Covid-19 restrictions, mandates and excessive meddling in their lives. They want to go back to making their own health-risk assessments.

The Ambassador Bridge, which carries some $323 million in goods daily in cross-border trade and an estimated $137 billion last year, reopened Tuesday morning. Yet truckers continue their protest in Ottawa, which is disturbing the peace and worse in that usually peaceable Canadian capital.

The truckers should be prosecuted if they break the law, as we argued for Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matters protesters on the left. But as the Omicron virus shows itself to be less lethal and positive test rates fall, the truckers are sending a message to democratic governments that it’s time for the pandemic emergency orders to end.

For two years the truckers were classified as “essential” workers and therefore exempt from vaccine mandates. An estimated 85% of them are vaccinated. Yet Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who heads a minority government, has chosen this moment to order that truckers be vaccinated if they want to cross back into the country from the U.S.

The Canadian left is sneering at the truckers and their supporters, suggesting they’re nothing more than right-wing Trumpians. Mr. Trudeau has smeared them as “a few people shouting and waving swastikas.” But the push-back against Covid-19 overreach has gone global. In January police fired water cannons at an estimated 50,000 European protesters in Brussels registering their exhaustion with restrictions and mandates. Since December protesters have gone to the streets elsewhere in Europe and in New Zealand and Australia.

A majority of Canadians don’t support the Ottawa protests, according to polls. But a recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute found that a majority favors lifting restrictions, suggesting the Trudeau mandate, which went into effect on Jan. 15, was a political miscalculation. By energizing a significant part of the electorate, until now less present in public discourse, he has set off a backlash, deepened Canadian polarization, and raised the stakes in a showdown with the truckers.

Mr. Trudeau insists he has the power to require that truckers show vaccination at the border and will therefore stand his ground. Meantime, Canada’s provincial premiers are gradually easing Covid rules. On Tuesday Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced that the province’s vaccine passport, negative test requirement and mask mandate will be lifted by the end of the month. Also on Tuesday, Joel Lightbound, a Liberal Party member of Parliament from Quebec, criticized Mr. Trudeau for a Covid-19 agenda that he said is dividing the country and damaging public confidence.

The lesson for the Covid-19 police is that when you’ve lost even Canadians, arguably the most law-abiding people on the planet, you’ve lost the political plot. Time to adopt a new strategy more tolerant of the need to return to life not dominated by pandemic fear and government commands.