Trudeau to truckers: ‘Behavior on display this weekend does not represent you’

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Freedom Convoy protesters continued to line Ottawa streets for a third straight day in their fight against pandemic-related public health measures on Monday, but they won’t be meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In a mid-day press conference, Trudeau cited images including swastikas, hateful rhetoric, and abuse hurled at business owners during the weekend protests among the reasons he won’t meet with the group.

“The behavior on display this weekend does not represent you,” he said in a message to Canada’s truckers.

“To the nearly 90% of truckers across the country who’ve gotten vaccinated, who continue working hard to keep us fed and keep our economy moving, thank you.”

Freedom Convoy sign
Thousands of protesters crowded into downtown Ottawa, protesting public health restrictions. (Photo: Madalyn Howitt)

But Trudeau also faced a call during Question Period to meet with members of the trucking industry affected by federal regulations.

“Canadian manufacturers, the [Canadian] Federation of Independent Business, the Chamber of Commerce, the Conservative opposition, thousands of truckers, for over a month have proposed solutions to the trucking shortage in Canada and the supply chain crisis,” said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. “The prime minister has ignored this crisis, and even worse he calls names for people that are raising these very issues.”

“The best way through this pandemic is to get people vaccinated. That’s how we end the disruptions to the supply chain caused by this global pandemic,” Trudeau said.

Canada has since Jan. 15 required border-crossing truck drivers to be vaccinated against Covid-19. A U.S. mandate that requires the same thing came into force Jan. 22.

Trudeau has been critical of politicians who have aligned themselves with protesters.

“This is a moment for responsible leaders to think carefully about where they stand and who they stand with,” he said during the press conference.

Condemning swastikas

Political and industry leaders universally condemned those protesters who were displaying symbols such as swastikas and a Confederate flag, dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and hanging an anti-mandate sign and inverted Canadian flag on a monument to Terry Fox.

“The Tomb of the Unknown Solider and the National War Memorial are sacred sites for Canadians. The desecration of these sites was a disgusting act and is a dishonor to those soldiers who have given their lives for our country and those Canadian soldiers who continue to fight for our freedom today,” the Canadian Trucking Alliance said. “Terry Fox is a national hero. The defacing of the Terry Fox monument is another disgusting act to the memory of one of the greatest Canadians in our history.”

The alliance itself is responding with donations to the Terry Fox Foundation and Solider On Fund.

“Today, some people in Ottawa stood and parked their cars on the tomb of the unknown soldier and defaced a statue commemorating Terry Fox,” said Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC). “These individuals do not represent the trucking industry or Canadians. They should be ashamed of themselves. The trucking community does not stand with or for the actions of a few disrespectful individuals who act in such a disrespectful and disgraceful manner.”

“Confederate flags, swastikas are symbols of extreme hate. They do not belong in our Canada,” said Shelley Walker, CEO of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada. “The trucking community does not stand with or for the actions of a few disrespectful individuals who act in such a disrespectful and disgraceful manner.”

Liberals were not alone among political parties to criticize the actions.

“Our country was built by Canadians who sacrificed and inspired for their generation and for generations to come. These individuals include Terry Fox, who ran across our country to raise awareness of cancer, and Nathan Cirillo who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” O’Toole tweeted.

“I support the right to peacefully protest but that should not be confused with blatant disrespect for the men and women who have served, inspired, and protected our country. The individuals desecrating these memorials should be ashamed and their behavior undermines the brave Canadians who have sacrificed for our country.”

“The right to peaceful protest is core to our Canadian identity,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “I was extremely disturbed, however, to see some individuals desecrate our most sacred monuments and wave swastikas and other symbols of hate and intolerance this weekend. That has no place in Ontario or Canada. Not now. Not ever.”

“The display of racism and anti-Semitism we witnessed by the flying of Confederate flags and Nazi swastikas is vile, violent and hateful,” tweeted NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. “MPs who attended and failed to confront it should look into a mirror and ask themselves what kind of Canada they’re building for our children.”

Trudeau also called on protesters who feel uncomfortable in the face of such actions to raise their voices. “Join with your fellow Canadians. Be courageous and speak out. Do not stand for or with intolerance and hate.”

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • To the news from the one still working to feed the country. We ask that Trudeau step down and face the crimes he has committed. This would do Canada a favor just to know that justice was done equally. Like the constitution all treated equal, lets see if this is true.

  • Over 20,000 quit last 2 years half from ont. Issues e logs , parking, overtime pay insurance on. Gov and large trucking companies did nothing for the sick truck drivers.

  • Any large gathering of people will always attract less than desirable people.
    Trudeau is painting everyone based upon a few who may not have anything to do with the rally.
    In the US, there may have been looting and destruction of property, but none of that here in Canada.
    I can’t recall any PM near as bad as the one we have now.
    Sometimes a problem is so big, you can’t ignore it.

    • Many people homeless are at the protest because they are getting better food and places to shower and keep warm. Some of these homeless people have certainly mis behaved
      Overall a very well balanced and enjoyable time.

  • Its Easy to side track The items for this Demonstration , But MAN up & sit down with the Driver & Owner operators that made an Effort to come to Ottawa , Not hide away with Covid 19 Issues, I was there on the weekend, The flag was upside down on the Terry fox Statue. If i Remember Correctly Terry Fox always Had the Flag with Him . Instead of Making Excuses about What Didn’t happen, STOP MAKING EXCUSES !!! There are Thousands of POEPLE on the Ottawa Grounds protesting about Mandates . . We ask that Trudeau step down and face the crimes he has committed. ,

  • Interesting how cites all these politicians who condemn the truckers or the non-vaccinated, instead of citing the hundreds of thousands of people who are so happy that finally some brave -the truckers- stood up for Canada to get back our freedom and equality.

    By the way, don’t we all know that in every protest there are individuals or groups who do bad things, like destroying statues with an emotional value, start fights and, then make it look like the protesters did that. It’s all organized, wake up everyone, please.

  • The poor behavior does not represent me, I think it represents the agitators infiltration at the behest of the government

  • “The best way through this pandemic is to get people vaccinated. That’s how we end the disruptions to the supply chain caused by this global pandemic,” Trudeau said while quarantining at an undisclosed location after contracting Covid a few weeks after his third booster.

    The only thing Trudeau is successfully immunized against is common sense and logic. I’d argue my case for personal autonomy and against vaccine mandates but Trudeau is doing a very good job of that all on his own.

  • I support liberty for all, Canadian or not. If it takes a little discomfort and pain( nothing compared to those who have lost incomes and loved ones due to heavy handed edicts) then so be it. Freedom isn’t free.

  • If 90 % of drivers are vaccinated, I would like to know what the percentage of the drivers that did so voluntarily and what percentage were forced to by the way of no jab, no job. We tell our kids not to bully or intimidate but it is all right when it comes from the government.

  • Where’s the proof of this person’s claims of negatively. Has Truck News become another main stream media. Please let me know. I’ll happily discontinue my subscription.

  • Maybe Trudeau should get his facts right before speaking. He embarrasses himself and our country with his lying rhetoric. When will people’s eyes finally open?

  • Do NOT listen to mainstream media. They are lying. The Trucker Convoy is all about peaceful ending to the mandates. All the violence and vandalism done is by other people, to try get a riot going and to try have police come in to end this convoy. Maybe Trudeau sent them?