'Yuge' Canada Protests Are Actually Teeny Tiny
Pictured: Not 50,000 trucks.Credit: Getty Images
February 10, 2022

CNN's Daniel Dale has a whole post fact checking a pile of false claims about the Canadian anti-vaxx "trucker" protests who have been the subject of ecstatic Fox News coverage. (And had at least one House Republican under the impression that a group of noisy truckers had somehow toppled the Canadian government because sure, that's definitely a thing that could happen.) Though in Rep. Chip Roy's case, it's pretty clear that "band of lawbreaking weirdos overthrows national government through the power of friendship and whatever violence is necessary to seal the deal" is an aspirational, not necessarily factual, story.

The premise of the Canadian protests is similar to the mostly partisan United States ones. Canada told truckers driving international routes (i.e., into the COVID-19 cesspool that is us) that they either had to get vaccinated or quarantine themselves after each trip out of the country. While the vast majority of truck drivers are already vaccinated, a rump contingent of the usual suspects—aka far-righties who have contempt for government even at the best of times—believe this to be the end of all of their freedoms. Dale's post, though, is kind of amazing just for the absurdity of the pro-trucker claims being made.

For example, pandemic disinformation spreader Joe Rogan told listeners that he'd heard there were "like 50,000 trucks" involved in the protests. Dude. Dude. Do you have any grasp of what "like 50,000 trucks" would really look like? How much space that would take up?

Don't answer that, I don't even care. While there's no definitive count of how many trucks were actually in the protest, Dale reports that a law enforcement tally at one point counted not 50,000 trucks, but "17 full tractor-trailers, 104 tractors without trailers," and a few hundred passenger cars. That is not 50,000. The highest estimate of total participants, notes Dale, seems to be "as high as 18,000," so we're talking a sparse, socially distanced stadium's worth of people at best.

But yes, to Fox News, of course, they're all heroes. Unvaccinated, coughing, wheezing heroes.

There was another crackpot claim promoted by a convoy organizer insisting that "50% of the Ottawa police force" had resigned in apparent support of their convoy, and that one is a straight-up fever dream blasted out by a conspiracy crank. Another claim said that da feds (Canadian feds, we assume) were ordering hotels not to host pro-convoy protesters, which is also false—but now that you mention it, it’s a damn good idea. But no, Canadian hotels are not currently doing that, though one wonders how many of their other bookings have fallen through now that a platoon of angry unvaccinated shouters is purposefully making life in Ottawa as rotten as they can manage.

Something Dale and other fact checkers might want to take a gander at, however, is the particularly pointed propaganda of Texas "Attorney General" Ken Paxton, who continues to put out absolutely false information about the convoy and its GoFundMe drive despite being repeatedly corrected (aka dunked on) by approximately everyone. Paxton has been claiming that GoFundMe has "taken" $10 million in donations to the so-called Freedom Convoy, "diverting" the money somewhere else because Paxton said so.

But as has been repeatedly explained to the still-indicted Texas liar, GoFundMe froze the donation effort after the protests turned to lawbreaking (and after questions began to grow as to whether or not the fundraiser was itself a scam), announcing that all of those funds would be refunded to the people who donated them. GoFundMe took zero of the moneys, and in fact had paid out $1 million to the fundraiser's organizers before shuttering things.

Approximately the same group of Republicans who have backed the Jan. 6 coup attempt got very angry over GoFundMe's decision to wash their hands of the escalating situation, however, and have vowed to "investigate" GoFundMe for having the audacity to do such a thing. Paxton stands out from the others mostly because he's been deliberately lying his ass off about it, which is a thing he frequently does and one of the reasons he is (still) indicted for Doing Crimes.

And it's the fundraisers who had claimed they'd be "diverting" money from the protesters to other causes—an unnamed "veterans organization"—if people donated more than the convoy needed. Ain't nobody threatening to investigate that, though.

Anyway, the important takeaway from all of this is that whatever grievance the "convoy" once had, it's since devolved into general anti-vaxx demands from, primarily, the usual far-right and white nationalist suspects looking to leverage narrow anti-government sentiments into support for their own agendas. It's being boosted both rhetorically and financially by foreign far-right groups and individuals, and the whole thing has been sketchy as hell since the first trucks started turning their wheels—all 17 of them, or 104 of them, or whatever.

But what the Canadian protest isn't is a widespread revolt against Canadian vaccine policies. It's a close approximation to this nation's own version, in which very loud people insist they are the only true voice of freedom even though every poll shows that the vast majority of the country is already vaccinated, is happy about being vaccinated, and thinks that people going on about supposed microchips or magnets or the efficacy of horse dewormer are freaking weird.

But they're loud, they're complete assholes towards everyone else, and they've got signs to wave so they get attention. And if they're getting more support from American (Republican) politicians than from the Ottawa residents they're endangering, that's not exactly surprising either. Good work, everybody, you've got Ted Cruz on your side. Add in typhoid and syphilis and you'll have an endorsement trifecta.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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