Truck convoy leaves Metro Vancouver en route to Ottawa vaccine mandate protest

A convoy of truckers and their supporters gathered in Delta Sunday morning for the start of a cross-country trip intended to deliver a message to Ottawa in protest of vaccine mandates for workers crossing the border between Canada and the United States.

About a dozen trucks rolled out of a truck stop just after 7 a.m., and the group expected more drivers to join as it passed through major cities in B.C. and Western Canada.

“A lot of us are going to be forced out of having a job by not being able to cross the border,” said trucker Colin Valentim, one of the organizers.

“Being forced out of the job is going to impact every Canadian. That’s a lot of loads that can’t cross the border, which is a lot of goods that will not make it to store shelves.”

Valentim hauls freight throughout Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

He would not disclose his vaccination status.

Any travellers entering Canada at the land border who have not been immunized with at least two doses, including truckers, must quarantine for 14 days.

“I’m not against vaccines at all. I’m against being told that you will do it or you will lose your job. That’s my problem,” said Valentim.

On Saturday, the United States also introduced a policy requiring Canadian truck drivers to be double-dosed in order to enter the United States.

“This regulation is not changing, so as an industry we must adapt and comply with this mandate,” Stephen Laskowski of the Canadian Trucking Alliance told CTV News in an interview. “The only way to cross the border in a commercial truck or any other vehicle is to get vaccinated.”

Laskowski said the overall vaccination rate in the Canadian trucking industry is close to that of the general population. He also condemned the truck convoy protest.

“The Canadian Trucking Alliance does not support and strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways, highways and bridges,” Laskowski said. “CTA believes such actions, especially those that interfere with public safety and commerce at borders, are not how disagreements with public policy should be expressed.”

As of Sunday afternoon, an online fundraiser to help the protesting truckers in the convoy with costs during the trip had raised more than $2.5 million.