Ottawa siege left trucking with a black eye

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Before I write anything else, let me start this way. While I’m passionately in favor of Covid-19 vaccines for all, I think it was a massive and unnecessary over-reach by both Canada and the U.S. to demand that border-crossing truck drivers be vaccinated. It makes no sense to me at all.

I mean, think about it. If I put a mask on, I can go spend an hour or so wandering around Canadian Tire, then stride down the road and do my shopping at a supermarket, and finish up at my favorite fish and chips restaurant. Only the latter requires me to show proof of vaccination.

Ottawa police break up convoy
Police cleared Freedom Convoy protesters from Ottawa streets after a three-week occupation. (Photo: Ottawa Police)

How many people I might come into contact with, some fairly close? Dozens and dozens, maybe 100 on a busy day.

A truck driver running from, say, Winnipeg to Dallas over a few days would encounter how many folks closely enough to notice? Probably well under 10.

So where’s the sense in a mandate? I sure can’t find it.

Nor can I find any justification for all the mayhem in Ottawa. By all means, we have the right to protest, but it was never about trucking anyway.

Long before a single rig was escorted onto Wellington Street by the dimwitted Ottawa police, the whole thing had been orchestrated by people with various axes to grind – including a card-carrying member of the western-separatist Maverick Party and a nutbar with a Memorandum of Understanding with which he believed he could succeed in dissolving Parliament. None of those ‘axes’ had anything to do with border mandates or any other trucking issues. In fact, those organizers were gifted unhappiness with the border mandates to rile up truckers and get them on board. The common denominators seemed simply to be, “We hate Trudeau and we don’t like pandemic restrictions.” Some truck drivers share those motivations, but to call this a truckers’ protest is ludicrous. We were duped.

In all the blather we heard for three weeks, was there ever a voice speaking for truckers about real trucking issues? Nope. There was nobody there to raise the issues we actually should be bitching about – truck parking, driver training, and a dozen others. As I’ve written before, we need a leader and could have used one in Ottawa.

But more often than not it was, and still is, referred to as the “truckers’ protest convoy” here, in the U.S., and around the globe. And that does our industry a huge disservice.

Our image in the public’s eye – and I’ll include the politicians and bureaucrats we should be trying to win over – took a big hit, and we’ll need years and years to recover. You and I know better, but the average man in the street now associates us with white supremacists and would-be insurrectionists. By all accounts the worst of those yahoos were chased out by “mainstream” protesters, but not before the image damage was well and truly done.

Here’s an example of what we face now, a column written by former NDP strategist Robin V. Sears published in the Toronto Star and its various “satellite” newspapers on Feb. 27. The title? “Now that we have seen how trucks can be used as weapons, it’s time we rethink how to live with them.”

Holy crap.

Among several wacky proposals, he wants to see a tunnel built under the Ottawa River to keep trucks under control because “…the truck fleets pass within metres of the prime minister’s office, Parliament and the Supreme Court. A single truck bomb could destroy any one of these government pillars.”

Has he never heard of car bombs?

Sears worries about Toronto, too, wanting to route trucks onto the tolled Highway 407 away from the 401, to keep them away from the hospitals and the Ontario Legislature on Avenue Road. In fact, it’s a rare thing to see a tractor-trailer along that busy north-south road. He thinks trucks only enter Toronto “to get gas” and it’s too easy from Highway 401. Sure does know trucking.

Anyway, that’s what the siege of Ottawa has brought us. Fear-mongering like that and a very black eye. The industry has had image trouble for as long as I can remember, and now it’s just that much worse. It really will take years to recover.

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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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  • The only ones who have an axe to grind with truckers are idiots who can’t deal with anyone that doesn’t swallow the lies of the Liberals and NDP. The idiot with the dissolving parliament was ignored. The real truckers started the protest because of Trudeau’s mandate for all truckers to be vaccinated. It was a ludicrous expectation and he did it just to rile people up. Then when they got to Ottawa, he went into hiding like he always does, posted snide comments, talked to nobody and hauls out the emergencies act. He did nothing to speak to the protesters who were from every walk of life- not just truckers- to see if they could come to an agreement on anything. He thinks anyone that disagrees with him is not worth talking to. He let it build into the annoyance to some Ottawa residents from the trucks and all the people being there so long. The police did nothing to try and remove them. I think the police chief resigned because he wasn’t in favour of Trudeau’s plan which was to use the Emergencies act and bring in the thugs from different police forces (the ones with a reputation for using undue force), the boom machine, tear gas cylinders and mace and the mounted police who had their mounts rear up and trample down on peaceful protesters. They attacked using the stocks of their gas guns and clubs to beat on protesters and smashed the windows of vehicles before and while being towed. The only violence at the protest was that of the law enforcement thugs. Trudeau just enacted it so he could bring in maximum force and obtain financial information for every donor who supported the protest. He only withdrew it when he knew the senate was not going to approve it to save face. He is a spineless dictator. The Truckers did not get a bad reputation from leading the convoy. They were credited with rallying the support of all Canadians who are sick to death of Trudeau’s mandates and poor handling of the whole pandemic, someone to spur us into action and protest these Covid restrictions that have been smothering us for almost 2 years while the rest of the world is easing up. They got the rest of us Canadians out to show our unhappiness with the restrictions. I am proud that they got us easygoing Canadians to protest these crazy useless restrictions. The other provinces were already backing off when he decided to pull the Trucker mandate. There are 90% of the population who are vaccinated (most against their better judgement) and the others should be allowed to make their own choices. They already lose their freedom of movement by not complying, so leave them alone.

    • Boy have you hit the nail on the head! After a life time in trucking and watching our industry be pulled into the middle of unforgiving places, this one takes the cake. As you stated in your opening comments, I too strongly believe in vaccinations and most Covid mandates were preventative measures, but the cross border one as you correctly put it “Made No Sense”. I would also totally agree that this convoy had very little to do with mandates. Unfortunately the organizers of the Freedom Convoy (not trucker drivers but far right activists), seen this dog wagging it’s tail and was able to latch onto it, use the power of diesel fuel to ignite and explode their agenda. This is not the first time Truckers have been “duked” as you put it. Governments for as long as I have been around dangle carrots in front of us and then while we are focused on the carrot, they are in our back pockets or rewriting the contract. This “Peaceful Protest” which became an occupation that thumbed their noses at Municipal bylaws, Court Orders, and all Law Enforcement Organizations and personnel, paralyzed the Nations Capital, Fractured Political Parties, City Council, The Police Services Board, and sent the residents of Ottawa into Kayos for over Three Weeks, has caused more harm than good and it will likely take years to gain back any trust or respect. And for what? nothing, not one issue that plagues our industry was even on the docket. Feels like we were invited out for dinner and got stuck with the bill.
      If these trucking companies, drivers, and so called Trucker supporters have learned anything from this it should be two things. Be very sure of who you are crawling into bed with when trying to make a statement, and we do have power, lots of power. Next time use it to enhance our industry, drive positive change and make the future of trucking a better place.

  • I have been reading your work since before I started trucking many, oh, so many years ago. I concur with just about everything you pointed out. For years, guys have talked about “shutting down the bridge”. It happened in the 90s, and nothing changed. If, in fact, this recent protest was really about trucking issues, a shutdown protest would have been more effective. Nothing will work unless the authorities know what needs to be changed in a clear and concise format. That requires us to have a spokesperson and for us to stick together. It just won’t happen.

  • Many truck drivers are still looking at jail including myself. A number of issues have not solved like parking overtime pay and pay like other jobs that goes up like nursing or teaching. Many truck drivers left when e logs came I without overtime pay and hourly pay. We need to look why so many truck drivers were left on their own to get to ont and told to make their own arrangements when exposed to some people with covid. We also need to ask how come so many truck drivers and vets that were homeless or disabled was at the queens Park protest

  • As usual, you’re spot on the money!!! It’s depressing out here, and then some idiot decided we need something ( of which we should of stayed out of it), and BAM, we’re the bad ppl. Think it’s time, after all these years , to get out of the industry

  • I have been receiving Today’s Trucking since its inception. Until the last few months I had no idea there was a political link between the trucking news media, trucking associations and the bureaucrats. My eyes are now wide open.

    I believe you know the answers to your own questions regarding the original purpose of the convoy and the different fractions that jumped on board. There is no confusion. And your conclusions are just so silly. Typical leftist hyperbole – using all todays leftist jargon in an attempt to create a false narrative stirring up division. Its all nonsense. Duped? Nobody was duped. Bombs? Where ever on earth does that even start except by guys like you who may have heard something then repeat it to blow up your little story.

    You know this wasn’t about trucking and transportation issues – it was specific to the provincial AND federal mandates being brought on by a tyrannical leader implemented by an authoritarian government. “You do what we say or else”! Last time I checked this was still a democracy and in a democratic society demonstrations, protests and “minor” civil disobedience it required.

    You are propagating fears to protest – a peaceful protest my wife, son and grandchildren felt totally safe and secure at.

    What Canadian citizens should fear is their government who has been exposed as to what lengths they are willing to go to curbing citizens from their democratic freedoms and rights. Our government will buy off the media, they will not hesitate to hire violent thugs from across the globe in an effort to suppress a peaceful demonstration, and they will remove you from all goods and services freezing your funds etc if you do not agree with their rule and agenda.


    • Very well said. They will suffer because of their liberal attitudes. The trucking industry deserves better than this pack of lies.

  • I fear that you are just an extension of the Government owned media that is bought and paid for to push their narrative.Truckers just asked to be heard and were beaten down with sticks.

  • Thank you Rolf, yes it is going to take years. We need these professionals to caring on doing their best, they deserve all the credit they can get.

  • If standing up for the Canada you believe in gives you a black eye then we all should have them. When mandates were in the process of being removed JT had to start one up that to this day cannot be justified. People were beaten with sticks trampled by horses bank accounts frozen just for donating you did not even have to be there. Put in jail without bail. MTO shut down 39 trucking companies. If anyone has a black eye it would be those who do not support the truckers and the thousands of others that stood with them.

  • I have found that most newspaper reporters don’t have much of a clue what they write about and figure the average person knows even less.

  • This was not a ‘truucker’s protest’, it was a people’s protest, a people’s peaceful protest. Truckers were recruited, but so many Canadian citizens joined in support against tyrannical government leaders. You think the truckers were duped into this protest? I think not; they joined because their hearts were aching for the old Canada that so many of us loved and missed. This country is doing all the things that make it eerily similar to China, Venezuela, Cuba and the old USSR and so many said enough is enough. This peaceful protest would have ended within a week if Trudeau had been man enough to come and talk with them. But the coward wouldn’t talk, instead he went into hiding because he probably feared for his life from a group that remained peaceful right to the end. I wasn’t there, but I wanted to be. I had friends who were there and who told me what was happening, totally different from what was broadcast by government subsidized news sources. I believe my friends and the private videos that I have seen.

  • Wow Rolf… You can’t really believe that truck drivers were respected members of society???
    Like before the ‘truckers protest’ messed up our precious state of affairs. Uahummm

    • I agree .Having been a mechanic for over 40 years,I have learned that anyone can drive a truck,and that most who do drive truck spend too much time alone and start believing their own bs.

  • All the good will generated at the onset of covid has been thrown out the window. I have been asked if I was part of the convoy, which I wasn’t. The whole convoy fiasco has had a very negative impact to trucking as a whole, even though most of it, as it seems to me, wasn’t even about trucking. I am vaccinated, as per my choice. If you aren’t, that’s your choice. We all have to live with the consequences of our choices. Unfortunately, now trucking as a whole has to live with the choices of a few.

  • About that quote “Now that we have seen how trucks can be used as weapons, it’s time we rethink how to live with them.” Maybe they should ponder what it would be like without them

  • Don’t worry Rolf the ones that are condemning you are just like our Prime Minister when they don’t agree they talk down on you. Your absolutely right in what you wrote. People have become so closed minded in the last few years that it’s ridiculous from the goofy conspiracy theories to the world economic forum. I do believe that the mainstream media is garbage though and Justin Trudeau needs to bounce. The one thing that Trudeau has done is divide the country with his arrogance and ignorance. Remember Rolf when people talk about you, you are living in their heads rent free.

  • The canadian government funded media have always made a major contribution into making the trucking industry look bad in this country of ours so sad … we the truck drivers do have families and friends that care about us and that’s all that matters, Canadian media can sure learn some valuable lessons from the American media on how we are appreciated as truck drivers … they get it !!!

  • Another short minded big corp driven article about nothing except to drive the fear mongering nartive. If you were truly concerned about trucking s black eye you would have reported about the love and respect that all nationalities had for each other and debunked the 1 flag amongst 1000’s that was a European individual who was saying Canada is becoming like natiz Germany, misguided attempt yes but not the gathering of white supremacist that legacy media pushes . Myself 26 years driving and been in the industry since I was a newborn , and just like the goverment overreach big corps hands have the blood of what’s happened to the trucking industry