Are Canadian truckers right to protest Trudeau’s vaccine mandate?

CBS News

Fact Box

  • On January 23, 2022, a Canadian truckers group “Freedom Convoy” protested against COVID-19 vaccines for truckers starting their trek in Vancouver and ending in Ottawa on January 28, 2022. 
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called out the “fringe minority” for “holding unacceptable views [...] who know of that following the science and stepping up to protect each other is the best way to continue to ensure our freedoms, our rights, our values, as a country.” 
  • The Freedom Convoy 2022 noted, “We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people” on their Go-FundMe page that has amassed $7 million CAD in donations.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada announced a traveler vaccine mandate on January 13, 2022, asserting several service providers, including truck drivers, “will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated [...] for entry into Canada.”
  • As of January 28, 2022, Canada’s population is 77.94% fully vaccinated while 83.75% has received one dose.

Curtice (Yes)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to revel in imposing some of the most stringent COVID mandates in the world, including vaccine mandates and vaccine passports, on his citizens. On January 15, 2022, Canada imposed a COVID vaccine mandate for truckers arriving from the US. Such truckers were originally given an exemption as 'essential workers.'

This has triggered a backlash among truckers, who responded by creating a convoy aptly called the 'Freedom Rally,' which traveled across Canada to protest the vaccine mandate. Supporters of the rally are also traveling along in their own vehicles, saying, in essence, 'enough is enough!' Trudeau believes the vaccine mandate is vital, even as the Omicron variant is reaching its peak. He even claims it's the best way to support Canada's economy. This, of course, is nonsense. There are already supply chain problems that have affected Canada, as it has the US.

Some trucking industry lobbying groups have rightly stated that the requirement will further worsen the shortage of available drivers. Canada already faced a very high job-vacancy rate, with nearly 23,000 driver positions unfilled as of last August. As has been routinely noted, vaccines have proven to be very unsuccessful at preventing the transmission of the Omicron variant. Canada's vaccine mandate for truckers (and anyone else) seems to disregard 'deny the science,' disregarding the known data on this completely. Like many politicians since the pandemic began, Trudeau enjoys wielding power and is willing to sacrifice his nation's economy and his citizen's welfare to do so.

Siam (No)

When mandatory trucker vaccination was announced last week in Canada, many opposing politicians and truckers said they would oppose the mandate. But this time, the truckers are wrong to protest for several reasons.

The US has already made vaccines mandatory for all truckers crossing the northern and southern borders, or they will face quarantine. So if Canadian truckers aren't vaccinated, they will not be permitted in the US and risk losing a significant portion of their earnings. According to Prime Minister Trudeau, more than 90% of the truckers are already vaccinated and hence going against the vaccine mandate is useless—it will have little or no impact on the supply chain. More importantly, unvaccinated truckers risk losing their jobs because most businesses are only willing to hire vaccinated truckers. 

Trudeau also added that opposing politicians are simply stroking unnecessary fear in truckers by claiming that truckers are responsible for the current disruptions in the supply chain and inflation of gas prices. However, factually, gas prices were elevated prior to the pandemic, and the supply chain has been primarily affected by the inefficient unloading of supply ships from China. Plus, the Canadian Trucking Alliance also discourages the trucker movement as it risks clogging the roads and increases the risk of traffic accidents. Finally, the only way to beat the pandemic and keep the supply chain moving is for everyone to be vaccinated. This will not only reduce the risk of developing severe symptoms and hospitalization, but it will also result in lower healthcare costs. On the other hand, with Canada's poor healthcare delivery, where delays of weeks or months are the norm, the risk of the unvaccinated person dying is also much more significant.

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