One of the top 5 events of my life was being in Ottawa from January 28 to Feb 3rd. My opinions on the Freedom Convoy 2022 hopefully is not political but observational.
Though my wife and I used to drive truck for many years, I’m not a huge fan of traveling any more. I’m a home body. Additionally, I am not a fan of large crowds. In fact I get rather claustrophobic rubbing shoulder to shoulder with too many people. I could probably get over it but I’m too cheep to pay for therapy. I also tend to be a general cynic about everyone, thinking people always have an ulterior motive. I’m also a slow decision maker and I try to have my ducks in a row before I do any quacking. I’m a busy guy, I didn’t want to open a new can of worms… I have several cans of worms still unorganized on my desk. Its hard to tell already which worm came from which can (have I used enough analogies?). That said, I believe that being a cynic is generally a good muscle to exercise.
Simply put, I did not want to go to Ottawa. I wanted to stay home. I had too many things unfinished and too little time to be “curious” about what might happen politically. On Tuesday January 25th I gathered a team around me for an emergency meeting. After stating I didn’t want to go I made the error of asking the team (by a show of hands) who thought that I should attend. Seven out of seven said I should go. Even though I’m the president I didn’t feel comfortable saying “my way or the highway”… I’m not a Prime Minister, I’m only an owner and President. So my close friend and I left early Thursday morning (January 27th).
By the time the convoy passed Winnipeg (January 26th) it had gathered considerable momentum. A shirtless guy stood out the top of his moving SUV, holding a freedom sign (his girl driving). Now that’s PASSION at 30 below zero. The enthusiasm had only begun. Sioux St Marie was lined with thousands at 10pm blasting horns and sirens, then again at 32 below, 6am the next morning. The passion continued all the way to Ottawa, dozens (all) the small towns and hundreds of roads/streets along HWY 17. The flags, signs and honking never stopped.
If I had to describe the event using only one remarkable thing I would have to say it was the stark difference between what the media portrayed the event as… and what it really was/is. I have never been in such a diverse and crowded place and yet felt so accepted and safe (and I was at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary with Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican bobsled team). I have never mistrusted the traditional media as much as I do now. If a newspaper now says the sky is blue and the grass is green, and I need to know what color they are, I will take a pad of paper with a pencil, go outside and look up (blue sky) then look down at my feet (green grass) and write it down. Their opinion now means nothing to me. To depict the convoy as violent, racist or even irritated is delusional or more probable flat out fraud. I have never seen so many smiling faces and helping hands as I did in the Freedom Convoy. I felt more pride for our country than at any other time in my life. Pride in my fellow citizen, shame in our leadership. The longer it goes the more convinced I am that it is unstoppable. The hope has now spreed beyond our country boarders. My wife has relatives in Australia and we saw/heard of 100’s of thousands of hopeful united Australians. This is just one country of dozens who have been inspired by our boys in our industry. A very peaceful flame of hope for a world struggling against all forms of fear.
I suggest two things: go and see for yourself the atmosphere of those on the street (don’t believe the media), and don’t think/assume the protest is only truckers (I met more non-truckers than truckers). A small group of truckers may have started it, may have secured it to a non-violent foundation but the protest is about personal freedom and Liberte’. It’s about a restoration of our Canadian heritage of goodwill, national trust of our neighbor and restricting the restrictor. It’s an event equal to the felling of the Berlin wall and Gandhi’s Salt March or Salt Satyagraha (March/April 1930). Make no mistake, people will be telling their children and grandchildren they were a part of it.
Testing the temperature of the locals in my area (and others), the enthusiasm is not dying, it is growing organically. It is financed by hundreds of individuals independently and not just a central fund. It has 22 months of fear and frustration fueling anti authoritarianism. It is a highly disciplined movement that has no overt leader other than the united opposition to all restrictions. I would say its nearly impossible to “control” independent people except through noble values such as honesty, compassion, inclusion and reason. A deep sense of honor and nobility is guiding them all.
I have said this a hundred times to my friends and family. We are in historic times. History books will write about us and where we stood. Now is the time to protect our good name and reputation. Will we do our part to tear down a brick wall? Will we stand up to oppression? Who do we want to be known as: a British soldier stopping the “illegal” salt makers or a salt maker “defying” an unjust law?