Quebec truckers joining 'Freedom Convoy' as it rolls to Parliament Hill

As Canadian truckers and their supporters make their way from western Canada to Ottawa this weekend, Quebec truckers are expected to gather at several border crossings Friday morning, including Lacolle, Stanstead and St-Theophile, hoping to support the cause.

Truckers are heading to the nation’s capital to protest the vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, but since the movement has grown other groups are associating themselves with the truckers to protest COVID-19 restrictions in general that they say violate their freedoms. Supporters of the movement say they want Ottawa to end all vaccine-related mandates, even though most of them are the responsibility of individual provinces. 

“I'm heading to Ottawa for freedom,” said Quebec convoy co-organizer Simon Vallee, who rejects vaccines and sanitary measures.

“When I saw it move from British Columbia, it touched my heart and I knew I had to get involved.”

The federal government's mandate came into effect Jan. 15 and requires Canadian truckers to quarantine if they're unvaccinated when crossing the border into Canada. The United States will not allow unvaccinated Canadian truckers to cross the border as well. 

The truckers are expected to cross the Champlain bridge and the Lafontaine tunnel during the afternoon and gather near Vaudreuil-Dorion on their way to Ottawa this weekend. The so-called “Freedom Convoy” is expected to reach Parliament Hill on Saturday and Ottawa police said Wednesday they expect it to be a “multi-day” event.

In recent days, some of the rhetoric from people participating in the convoy has turned violent, including some participants saying they hope the protest turns into Canada’s version of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. capitol in Washington that killed five people. 

On Thursday, Parliament's Sergeant-at-Arms, Patrick McDonnell, issued a warning to MPs about security risks related to the incoming convoy, telling the parliamentarians about the potential for doxing and to avoid any demonstrations.

A GoFundMe spokesperson tells CTV News that it has released an initial $1 million from Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser. "The organizer has provided a clear distribution plan for funds being used to cover fuel costs of participants who are peacefully protesting..." 1/

— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) January 27, 2022

The movement is not supported by large trucking companies and the major trucking associations. The Canadian Trucking Alliance claims 90 per cent of their members are vaccinated and respect protocols.

But supporters of the convoy insist Canada's economy will suffer if vaccination remains mandatory to cross borders at a time when supply chain issues, due to the pandemic and labour shortages, are already affecting Canadians.

“We were already short of truckers,” Vallee said.

One leading trucking industry expert said this is a western conservative political movement that never had anything to do with truckers.

“They manipulate truckers,” said Benoit Therrien, who heads a trucking assistance group called Truck Stop Quebec. “Nobody from the trucking industry is leading this manifestation.”

What isn't clear is how many will participate, as supporters will likely gather alongside the road to encourage the convoy.

Quebec provincial police said it will keep a close tab on the situation, but declined to comment on the convoy before Friday.