So close yet so far away: Canadian trucker protest misses mark

Courtesy of Unsplash | Various polling data, including the Angus Reid Institute, implies that most Canadians, about 70%, do not agree with the Freedom Convoy’s message.

by Zachary Petroff | staff columnist

Feb. 24, 2022

The “stupid culture war” found a new space for the battleground of sensationalism and counter-productivity these past few weeks in Canada. 

Those who may follow the alt-right talking points on social media or watch the senior-citizen aimed background noise of Fox News may be familiar with the recent “Trucker Convoy” protest taking place in Canada. 

For those unfamiliar, a group of truckers brought nearly 4,000 big rigs to the Canadian capital of Ottawa to protest Canada’s new vaccination mandates and prohibitive regulations on the unvaccinated. The protesters blocked major international roadways including the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, causing massive hurdles for travel.

This is not the first time the radical side of the conservative party has intrigued me and was able to elicit an initial vote of confidence in their cause. However, just as they have in the past, the radical conservative party has found a way to be a major disappointment paved with ill-intentions, bad information and intellectual laziness. 

I very much support the people’s right to protest, it is an American obligation protected by the First Amendment. I believe it to be a fundamental ability utilized throughout American history to evoke the voice of the voiceless. There is a real beauty when a collective struggle faces off against an elite ruling class.  As Thomas Paine once so elegantly put it, “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”

I can think of very few things more courageous than actively confronting an oppressive force — except for maybe driving in Pittsburgh.

I have recently found myself strongly disagreeing, to the point of resentment, with actions that I usually aggressively advocate for. Actions such as protesting, civil disobedience, civic engagement and overall disdain for the elite political class are being hijacked by a manufactured ideology that I cannot stomach, let alone support.   

Political labels are pointless. The idea that we as Americans can fit inside one area of the political spectrum is absolute asinine. This practice of sorting ideologies in order to neatly structure morals, ethics, economic values etc. is a gross oversimplification to the individual and excludes the major fibers that are woven to create the real American experience.

Yet somehow, we have managed to let our specific moral viewpoints control our entire political and economic ideology and political representation.

It is worth noting that, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 85% of adult Canadians are vaccinated. Various polling data — most notably a poll done by the Angus Reid Institute — implies that most Canadians — about 70% — do not agree with the Freedom Convoy’s message. 

We once again are experiencing a small, loud and intellectually ignorant group of people hijacking a cause with empirically wrong information. It is so ridiculous, that it almost seems like a joke.

The issue with this alt-right movement is that it avoids a certain level of credibility by surpassing historically fundamental and legal steps. The lack of effort by not exhausting every possible avenue gives the “alt-right” movement an absence of substance. It is as if these “acts of defiance” are crafted for the sake of just being defiant, like an angsty teenager rebelling against their parental figures during puberty.

There is an obvious self-entitlement essence that surrounds that alt-right movement, rooted with white privilege. People of privilege are leading the narrative. It is exploitative. 

As we have seen in the past, the real issue is ignored. The American truck driver is severely overworked and undervalued. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — annual turnover rate averaged 94% between the years of 1995-2017. Working conditions are often vigorous and dangerous. There are serious concerns with failing equipment, over-exhausted drivers and severe drug abuse among drivers.

According to research done by Business Insider, when adjusted for inflation the median wages for truck drivers in the 1980s were nearly $110,000 annually. The annual median wage in 2020 was $47,130.

Only 10.1% of truck drivers are covered by union contractors.

Perhaps the overall anxiety of the American truck driver has moved them in a blind rage making them willing to cling to any movement as long as it allows them an opportunity to vent their frustrations.

Or: A certain movement that has found notoriety in being loud and overly aggressive has found an ample opportunity to direct their narrative under the guise of blue collar workers.