Protests made up of thousands of angry truckers have rocked Ottowa and two Canada-US border crossings for two weeks. The ‘Freedom Convoy’ truckers, who are protesting strict Covid mandates, have driven to the capital and barraged the city with the noise of truck horns while more protesters blockade traffic along the border. Responding to the blockade, Mr Trudeau said: “Blockages, illegal demonstrations are unacceptable, and are negatively impacting businesses and manufacturers.
“We must do everything to bring them to an end.”
He said the protesters are “trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives – It has to stop.”
This reaction has prompted a wave of criticism, with some suggesting he has betrayed the truckers.
Writing in The Telegraph, Michael Taube said Mr Trudeau was “presenting himself as an opponent of freedom, liberty and democracy”.
He continued: “Interestingly, COVID-19 has turned modern liberals like Mr Trudeau and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern into something slightly more sinister in nature, illiberal liberals.
“They’ve become quite authoritarian, more than happy to propose and pass layers and layers of government restrictions…
“To target truckers, who are mostly vaccinated and serve a vitally important role in society by delivering goods and services we desperately need, is the epitome of virtue signalling.
“There’s really no epidemiological case for mandatory vaccines for the trucking industry as a whole, as is the case with most industries (other than, perhaps, health care services).”
The Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates that 85 to 90 percent of Canada’s truckers are already vaccinated.
Quebec MP Joël Lightbound, a fellow Liberal, criticised the Prime Minister this week for “demonising” groups that disagree with Covid mandates.
Mr Lightbound said: “It’s becoming harder and harder to know when public health stops and where politics begins.
“It’s time to stop dividing Canadians and pitting one part of the population against another.”
Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen accused Mr Trudeau on Wednesday of wanting a “permanent pandemic”.
“The Prime Minister needs to put his ego aside,” she said.
“He needs to do what’s right for the country. He needs to end the mandates. He needs to end the restrictions.”
At one site, drivers are blocking a suspension bridge that makes up around a quarter of US-Canada trade.
Car manufacturers in the region say they have had to reduce production and shift hours due to shortages caused by the ongoing blockade.
Industry experts say it could result in company layoffs and increase the prices that consumers pay for vehicles.
As the protests enter another week, Ottawa’s mayor, Jim Watson, has declared a state of emergency, describing them as “out of control”.
Ottawa police warned that “anyone blocking streets or assisting others in the blocking of streets may be committing a criminal offence”.
They added that a criminal conviction could result in seizure of their vehicles, and an inability to enter the US, which many of them need to do for work.
The police force also hiked penalties for noise, engine idling and other infractions in the city to C$1,000 (£585) per offence.
Writing in UnHerd, Malcom Kyeyune observed: “For the Left, the problem of the truckers is their newfound political independence.”
He lamented a situation which has seen the liberal elite “recoiling in horror at a bunch of truckers staging a political protest, only to then ask ‘but where is the organised working class in all of this?’
“Isn’t it obvious to the point of parody that the workers are the people inside the trucks?”
The protests in Canada have now inspired similar events around the world from Australia and New Zealand to France.