Truck drivers convoy across Canada in protest of federal vaccine mandates

Thousands of transport truck drivers are convoying across the country Sunday to protest the current federal vaccine mandate for cross-border travel.

Those involved say the pandemic rules and mandates are destroying the foundation of businesses, industries and livelihoods.

“Everybody has their own choice and their own opinion about it,” says Chris Colenutt, owner and operator of Chris Colenutt Trucking in Essex. “If we shut down the economy, there’s going to be a big problem right?”

In a tweet, Windsor police said a truck convoy is expected to arrive in the Windsor area on Sunday and repeatedly travel Huron Church Road until Jan. 26, urging residents to avoid the area if possible.

Just over a week ago, new policy stated all truckers who cross the border from the U.S. into Canada must be vaccinated to avoid testing requirements and a 14-day quarantine.

“If you’re wearing it, eat it or bought it, it came on a truck and if the trucks aren’t rolling, you’re not getting it,” says Keith Montgomery, a truck mobile mechanic saying the protest is not about anti-vaccination, explaining it’s about freedom of choice. “Yes I’m vaccinated, my whole family is, and again just to stress this out, we’re not a bunch of anti-vaxxers saying we don’t want to get vaccinated.”

“The economy is going to stop and when that economy stops, everybody’s job is affected,” Montgomery adds.

Others like Terry Hopson of Windsor stood along Huron Church Road waving a Canadian flag in support.

“They’re infringing on our freedoms and they don’t have that right,” Hopson tells CTV News he just wants things to return to normal as soon as possible. “I’ll be out here every day if I have to be.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says an estimated 12,000 Canadian truckers and upwards of tens of thousands more from the U.S. will be unable to work cross-border shipping routes due to the vaccination requirement.

However, officials say the vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated with the overall industry vaccination rate among truck drivers closely mirroring that of the general public.

Due to Freedom Convoy (protest regarding vaccine mandate), there are pockets of high volume traffic in the area of Huron Church from the roundabout to the Ambassador Bridge. Due to this, expect delays & avoid the area as much as possible. -17170

— Windsor Police (@WindsorPolice) January 23, 2022

It appears the Convoy For Freedom has arrived in Windsor from Comber. @CTVWindsor pic.twitter.com/pqfEISPogJ

— Chris Campbell (@CCampbellCTV) January 23, 2022

In an email statement the Canadian Trucking Alliance said it does not support and strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways, highways, and bridges, saying the CTA believes such actions – especially those that interfere with public safety – are not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed.

The statement reads disrupting the motoring public on highways and commerce at the border is unacceptable, suggesting members of the trucking industry who want to publicly express displeasure over government policies to hold organized, lawful events on Parliament Hill or contact their local MP.

“The Government of Canada and the United States have now made being vaccinated a requirement to cross the border. This regulation is not changing so, as an industry, we must adapt and comply with this mandate,” said CTA president Stephen Laskowski. “The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or any other vehicle, is to get vaccinated.” 

Unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated non-Canadian truckers are being turned away if they are unable to show proof of immunization or a valid medical contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccines.

The United States is set to roll out a similar policy on Jan. 22.

A Freedom Convoy online fundraiser has raised over $2 million so far to help with the costs of fuel, food and lodging.

- With files from ctvnews.ca.