Online fundraising campaign to block trucks to protest vaccination mandates linked to right-wing separatist groups
An online fundraiser organized by someone associated with the Maverick Party and other Western separatist causes has raised more than $1.6 million in one week to fund highway disruptions by angry truck drivers against Ottawa for imposing a vaccination mandate on cross-border essential workers.
The “Freedom Convoy 2022” campaign was reported yesterday by TruckNews.com – an online publication associated with a print trade publication called Today’s Trucking. At the time of reporting, the campaign was approaching $1 million.
Information on the campaign’s GoFundMe page* makes it clear that it is motivated by hostility to Trudeau government policies, particularly measures to control the spread of COVID-19. “Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundations of our businesses, our industries and our livelihoods,” he alleges.
While most of the donations listed on the page are relatively small, some as high as $10,000 are included in the list published by GoFundMe. The site identified Raymar Concrete Forming as the $10,000 donor. Many donations are anonymous.
While agreeing with some trucking industry complaints about the vaccine mandate, TruckNews.com reporter James Menzies expressed reservations about the strategy of blocking critical infrastructure with trucks of slow transportation.
“Protests like these rarely yield results other than angering the motoring public and casting a shadow over our industry,” he wrote, describing such large sums “thrown away in recent attempts to shut down the trade.” as disturbing.
“If these protests come to fruition (many die off when rolling), we are concerned about the effect they will have on how the public perceives our industry, the safety risks to motorists,” he said. -he writes.
It was Mr Menzies who linked the fundraising to the political interests of organizer Tamara Lich, who has what he described as “a history of association with radical groups, including the federal separatist party Maverick recently formed in Alberta”.
“In the past, Lich was regional coordinator for Wexit in southeastern Alberta and a member of the Wexit Alberta board of directors,” TruckNews.com reported. He said she then joined the board of Wexit Canada, which was renamed the Maverick Party.
He reported that Ms Lich, who he says has no direct connection to the trucking industry, also had past ties to the so-called Yellow Vest movement, which has numerous documented links to extremist groups. .
Of course, when it comes to cross-border transportation, no prime minister, regardless of party, would be likely to pursue a policy different from that of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals — no matter what the Conservatives might say in opposition. The United States government requires cross-border truckers from Canada to be fully vaccinated.
Beyond that, the campaign raises important questions about the potential use of the GoFundMe site to circumvent election financial reporting laws for what are clearly intended to be political campaigns attacking a party.
This is a question that goes far beyond this particular issue and this organization, especially given the Conservative Party of Canada’s past ties to this kind of trucker blockade.
Since a smiling former Tory leader, Andrew Scheer, showed up to a huge rally of trucks that rumbled through traffic around Edmonton International Airport on December 19, 2019, then made sure his face was Stuck on social media aboard some of the rigs, the Tories have been linked to organizers of anti-truck protests on the minds of Canadians.
Whether the federal Conservative Party still supports such efforts to shut down trade by disrupting highway traffic might be an interesting question to ask its current leader, Erin O’Toole.
In the meantime, the question of whether the United Conservative Party government of Alberta will use its Critical Infrastructure Act cracking down on highway blockages remains unanswered.
The law was passed in 2020 in response to blockades by First Nations supporters who opposed the construction of a pipeline to the west coast.
Unless the Alberta government acts, the conclusion that the law was passed solely to attack opponents of Premier Jason Kenney’s pet bills will be hard to dismiss.
* Sorry, friends, if you want to see the GoFundMe site, you’ll have to search for it yourself. I will not provide a link.