The Freedom Convoy, which began as a working class uprising against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal vaccine mandates and other Covid-19 policies, has become something of a clarion call (or truck horn, if you prefer) for populism across the Western Hemisphere.
From the massive convoy in Ottawa to the border blockade in southern Alberta, the Freedom Convoy is now spawning parallel movements in Australia, the Netherlands, and potentially elsewhere – and the corporate media’s slanted coverage of the movement is making it obvious to the public who it can trust, and who it cannot.
News organizations that promised not to allow democracy to “die in darkness” have instead become the very penumbra obscuring the truth.
Despite drawing tens of thousands of supporters to Canada’s capital of Ottawa and garnering the support of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s most popular podcaster, Joe Rogan, and the equally influential Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the grassroots protest has scarcely received fair coverage in the mainstream press, with much of the news being broken by the likes of Rebel News and other independent outlets.
The legacy media in Canada and the United States have opted to fall in line with Prime Minister Trudeau’s dubbing of the convoy and its supporters as a “fringe minority” packed with racists, homophobes, would-be Jan. 6-style “insurrectionists,” and conspiracy theorists opposed to medical science.
The Washington Postcalled it a “toxic” movement that needed to be confronted. Canada’s Globe and Mail dubbed it “dangerous”, reminding Canadians of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot in the United States. The Times described the convoy as a group of “antivax truckers.”
In the face of these claims, organizers of the Freedom Convoy confirmed in a weekend press conference that they were fully vaccinated. For the truckers, it’s not about vaccines – it’s about having the freedom to choose.
That the organizers felt the need to hold a press conference for only “trustworthy media” speaks volumes about the death of public trust in the legacy media, which has failed to live up to its role as the Fourth Estate in Western democracy.
Armed with the same toolkit used to malign former President Donald Trump and his supporters, the media has floated accusations that the convoy was instigated by foreign agents. Canadian state broadcaster CBC Television went so far as to suggest that “Russian actors could be continuing to fuel things as this protest grows, but perhaps even instigating it from the outset.”
Widely shared footage of the massive protest in Ottawa over the weekend runs contrary to the forced narrative. Instead of white-robed Klansmen and neo-Nazis in SS regalia one might’ve expected from the narrative, the thousands of Canadians who took to the streets, including the truck drivers, came from every background, race, and creed – with many voicing a mixture of sadness, anger, and despair at Trudeau for vilifying them.
Some, like songwriter Trista Suke, joined the protest to cheer on freedom in the face of the government’s strict mandates.
"I wrote this song called 'Smile' because I was so sick and tired of not seeing people smile anymore."@thevivafrei: "This is turning out to be the most beautiful day ever."#FreedomConvoy #Ottawa pic.twitter.com/i4MKcQuRaD
— The Columbia Bugle 🏁 (@ColumbiaBugle) January 31, 2022
In one instance, Freedom Convoy protesters confronted a fully masked individual holding a Confederate flag in Ottawa, which should’ve put to bed any claims that the truckers and their supporters intended to promote hatred and racial division.
#FreedomConvoy protesters confronted a fully obscured & lone individual holding a confederate flag at the truckers’ protest in Ottawa. They believe he’s an outside provocateur. Similar incidents have happened in US involving leftists flying Nazi symbols. pic.twitter.com/irNVuJcjcd
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) February 1, 2022
A Washington Post cartoonist depicted the convoy as a host of trucks with the word “fascism” on each and every one of them, prompting criticism from Elon Musk, who wrote: “If Canadian government is suppressing peaceful protests, that‘s where fascism lies & cartoonist is just a shill.”
If Canadian government is suppressing peaceful protests, that‘s where fascism lies & cartoonist is just a shill pic.twitter.com/hcV7Akn0Jt
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 30, 2022
Accusations of politicization don’t hold any water – organizers of the Freedom Convoy have rejected support from political parties in Canada, even from those vocal in their support of the movement. On Sunday, organizers refused to accept an endorsement from People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, stating that it was vital for the movement to keep politicians out.
“The last thing we want is to have this whole idea of unity amongst Canadians, from across the political spectrum and the cultural spectrum, to have that be detonated by politicization,” stated Benjamin Ditcher, per the Western Standard. The decision to reject official political support speaks volumes about the movement’s embrace of populist tenets and a rejection of the establishment in all its forms.
Crucially, the legacy media’s failure to fairly cover the protest has only given the public even more reason to distrust the establishment. This adherence to the narrative, no matter how flimsy, will be its undoing.