Why The Canada Strike is Pivotal for the Antivaxx Movement

Canada had to roll back vaccine passports after the most recent strikes ¿Is this the start of a global trend?

Woman getting vaccinated

Foto: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post |  Santiago Gómez Hernández

Justin Trudeau’s Canada is for many the epitome of progressivism. Its policies and laws obey what, in many places is seen as the utopia of social democracy. In a world divided by political ideas and positions regarding vaccines, Canada had been one of the countries with the highest vaccination rate and with the strictest anticovid measures. However, an unexpected ally appeared for the anti-vaccine movement: the truckers. The owners and drivers of these cargo vehicles demonstrated the power that the anti-vaxxers lack: that of paralyzing the national economy.

For this reason, after 4 days of protest on the Ambassador Bridge that joins Canada with the US, the province of Ontario had to reverse the Covid passport. Putting at risk 25% of the trade between the two nations forced the authorities to take drastic measures.

The dispute in Canada was precisely about the vaccination requirement for all those who enter Canadian territory. The drivers spoke out against it since those who do not have a vaccine or do not want to be vaccinated were unable to work. According to the Canadian Trucking Alliance, there are about 16,000 (15%) drivers crossing the border who are not vaccinated. This meant that more than 2 weeks ago, 4,000 drivers paralyzed Ottawa, the Canadian capital, and began to demand the annulment of various measures.

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For now, the battle has been won by the truckers. The prime minister of the province of Ontario (where the Ambassador Bridge is located), Doug Ford, decided to eliminate the COVID passport. The politician supported this decision by assuring that due to the large number of vaccinated in the province, this measure was not necessary. However, it is no coincidence that this action is taken in the midst of the Freedom Convoy protests.

Rewriting internal Canadian politics

The response that truckers have achieved in their fight against the Canadian government has led to a rethinking of the political current within the country. In a Canada where the Conservative party is traditionally much more free-trade and more similar to the traditional Republicans, this wave of middle-class workers supporting policies that today defend the right, has made the Conservative party reconsider. 

For this very reason, the leader of the Conservative party, Erin O’Toole, was impeached. O’Toole was seeking to drive Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party voters out of the political center. However, the new landscape reframed whether the political movement should be more like an alt-right similar to that of the United States, and under a platform like the one that brought Donald Trump to the White House.

Aftershocks in Europe

These demonstrations have been seen and adopted by the rest of the anti-vaccine movement. For example, already in Europe, the protests in cars and the attempt to paralyze the main cities seek to overthrow most of the anticovid regulations. The “Convoy for Freedom”  wants to replicate the forms of pressure that were generated in Ottawa and Ontario. They use vehicles, whether cars or trucks, to block political centers and also to affect commerce.

After paralyzing Paris last week, on Monday, a group of 500 cars tried to paralyze the capital of Europe: Brussels. However, the police were already prepared and decided to stop the group of protesters at the entrance to the city, so the protest had to continue on foot.

However, within these anticovid protests, endless new struggles are appearing. Several of the protesters who tried to enter the Belgian capital have insisted that regulations of the pandemic are only one of the causes of their struggles, many others assure that it is a form of discontent with the precarious living conditions of many workers in a post-pandemic context. 

Although the same impact has not yet been achieved in Europe as in Canada, the forms of struggle of the anti-vaccine movement are globalizing. Even more so in European or North American countries, where vaccination rates are low.

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