When the trucker convoy to Ottawa was first announced, it was ostensibly a protest against vaccine mandates and the impact they would have on cross-border shipping and supply chains. But with 90 per cent of truckers vaccinated and the companies that employ them pooh-poohing the impact of said mandates, protesters quickly retreated to the firmer political ground of defending freedom, or at least their perception of it. That’s when things really took off.

Whether it’s self-declared CBC apostate Tara Henley, Fox News personalities like Tucker Carlson, or any number of far-right American agitators, the pro-freedom messaging is getting plenty of oxygen. Pierre Poilievre is taking advantage of this moment by declaring his candidacy for the newly vacant leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. In a video that’s been seen more than four million times (how many of those are Americans is an important and unanswered question), Poilievre positioned himself as the pro-freedom candidate — and promised that he’ll make Canadians “the freest people on Earth.”

So far, this freedom frenzy has resulted in a brutal de facto lockdown for the citizens of Ottawa and blockades at three major points of entry at the Canada-US border. And while Ottawa has so far borne the brunt of the freedom convoy’s impact, that pain is about to spread to the rest of Ontario. Toyota Canada, Ford, and General Motors all announced they were either temporarily shuttering their factories in the province or reducing their hours as a result of the blockade and its impact on supply chains. One wonders how the workers who are negatively impacted here feel about their own freedoms.

But this convoy and the blockades that it has inspired begs a crucial question: In what way are Canadians not free right now? Freedom, after all, isn’t the right to do as you please, regardless of the consequences that might have on others. As CPC MP Michael Chong said in the House of Commons earlier this week, “Freedoms are limited by how they interfere with other people’s freedoms.”

And while the American constitution may have a maximalist view of rights and freedoms, Canadians tend to be much more circumspect. The very first section of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms explains why other rights enumerated in that document can be limited — situations just like the one we’ve been dealing with over the last two years with COVID-19.

Unvaccinated Canadians are still free to exercise their freedoms of speech, mobility, and democratic participation. They can move freely within the country, hold and express opinions about the merits of vaccines, and organize with like-minded people around a common political objective. The extraordinary display of patience that the authorities have shown the convoy encampment in Ottawa — and now the copycat blockades in southern Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta — is all the proof you’d ever need of that.

But being free to speak, move, or organize politically doesn’t mean that you’re automatically free from the consequences of doing so. It also means others are free to exercise their own freedoms — say, to collect licence plate information from commercial trucks and share that with the relevant authorities and/or insurance companies — in ways that might bring those consequences to bear. Freedom isn’t a blank cheque, and it isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card to do or say whatever you want.

This will come as a shock to many of the people involved in the convoy, who seem to think our rights are unimpeachable. But the idea of freedom isn’t as simple or straightforward as they would like to believe, and the nature and purpose of freedom is one of the oldest philosophical debates in western society — one that tends to inform our outlook on the world.

In Two Concepts of Liberty, the 1958 essay by British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, he outlined the differences between what he called “negative” and “positive” freedoms. “The former want to curb authority as such,” he wrote. “The latter want it placed in their own hands. That is a cardinal issue. These are not two different interpretations of a single concept, but two profoundly divergent and irreconcilable attitudes to the ends of life.”

Opinion: This #convoy and the blockades that it has inspired begs a crucial question: In what way are Canadians not free right now? asks columnist @maxfawcett.

The irreconcilable nature of that disagreement (the protesters are clearly focused on negative freedoms) has never been more obvious than it is right now. But whether the convoy protesters understand it or not, Canada is not the country of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s the United States.

Here in Canada, we’re supposed to be guided by a commitment to “peace, order, and good government,” none of which have been on display in Ottawa over the last two weeks. The sooner we can restore those values to the forefront of our political discourse, the better off we’ll be.

That may not be in the best interests of Conservative politicians like Poilievre, Doug Ford, and Jason Kenney, who have been conspicuously silent on this important distinction. Poilievre will almost certainly ride his pro-freedom platform to the leadership of his party, whenever it decides to hold the vote.

And when Canadians next get the chance to vote, they will have to decide whether they subscribe to his distinctly American interpretation of what the word “freedom” means — and what that entails for our relationships with each other as citizens.

As we’re seeing with the convoy right now, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

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Those who are protesting with the understanding that the protest is about vaccines or vaccine mandates will in time sadly realize that those goals are being used to disguise the true intent. The Canada Unity MoU, the many manufactured (available in line by major vendors) of the “F Trudeau” flags, signs, stickers and T-Shirts along with the many signs depicting harm to the PM are examples.

What individuals participating in these protests and blockades need to recognize quickly about “freedom” is that at the moment they are free to leave but that may change quickly and with very little notice.

They may also be surprised to learn that a driver's license is a privilege, not a right.

After using their driver's licenses to hurt others, why would they assume that they should be allowed to keep them?

Meet the organizers -


PAT KING: Pat King is a far-right protester who has said in videos posted to social media that there may be future plans to target politicians' homes and that "the only way that this is going to be solved is with bullets." He has called for the arrest of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly.
King has gained attention online for a video posted to Twitter in which he decries the "depopulation" of white people, and well as another video posted in 2019 in which he makes racist remarks about Jewish, Muslim, and Chinese people.
While meeting with protesters, Conservative MP Jeremy Patzer approached King and appeared in one of his videos posted to social media.
King is beginning to emerge as a key player in the operations of the convoy. King is often seen in the downtown Ottawa protest “red zone” and in what he calls a “command centre,” but it is unclear where he stands in the hierarchy of the convoy’s organizers. "

I feel physically ill when I see these folks waving the Canadian flag.

Meet the guy in the tow truck. After reading The Guardian article on the New Zealand protests that Tris mentions, it seems he might have fit in like a glove there, too -


“Everyone who knows me knows I’m a stand-up guy; I’m anti-police, anti-government. Go look at my profile. I’ve done tow-truck protests, towing protests, I’ve done it all.”

“In my towing business, when you have a problem, you deal with it inside the organization. You don’t go to police, because that makes you look bad.”

“Instead, he plans on just rolling out and seeing what happens next. He still supports the convoy, but adds he’d like to give King a piece of his mind.”.

“I’d like to knock his f—ing teeth out, for not helping or throwing a lifeline.”

So he’s stand-up guy who is anti-police, anti-government who manages any towing conflicts without involving the police due to the optics and as an example will publicly state that he’d like to knock an organizers teeth out yet he still supports the occupations?

So if his industry self polices itself in a way reminiscent of the days of pirates of yore, then why complain in the media?

Perhaps someday soon he may accept that Canada is still a land or laws, of peace, order and good government and that his mindset has very serious consequences and contributes to the lawlessness that he too experiences by all the calls and threats .

As a business person who likely has bills and loans to pay, it must be very difficult declining all the looming towing business that the police will need particularly when, as he stated “he doesn’t fear for his own safety” and that the manages towing industry issues within the industry.

If you refute the regulations and laws intended to serve and protect us all, are anti-police and anti-government then why complain about how you’ve been treated ?

This individual’s situation is a sad example of how we are losing our true sense of community.

More difficult times ahead.

It’s like watching a dystopian reboot of The Trailer Park Boys unfolding in real time on the streets of Ottawa.

Thank you for this piece and thank you Andrew for the link to the CTV news story about the major players in this Insurrection. I feel like these protesters have perverted the use of the word "freedom" and they have somehow desecrated the Canadian flag by the way they are using it. I feel shocked and disgusted.

It's funny . . . the flag they're wrapping themselves in looks like the *Canadian* flag, but the way they're using it is the way *Americans* use their flag, not the way Canadians ever normally do.
In fact, everything about the way these people behave is stereotypically American. I keep thinking if they want to be Americans so bad, why don't they move south and quit bothering Canadians?

Probably because they don't want to part away from free healthcare.

" I keep thinking if they want to be Americans so bad, why don't they move south and quit bothering Canadians?"

Perhaps because they would have to be fully vaccinated in order to cross the border into the U.S., regardless of how Canadian governments respond to their insurrection?

And how do their protests in Canada change that by one iota? It doesn't, of course. If anything, the U.S. will now implement even closer examination of Canadian truckers entering the U.S. If drivers are known to have actively participated in the protests, they could be refused entry indefinitely on security grounds, without any recourse.

BTW I also expect that the convoy participants have been infiltrated by both Canadian and US intelligence and police agencies. By their own standards, they would be derelict in their duties if they had *not* done so.

"Here in Canada, we’re supposed to be guided by a commitment to “peace, order, and good government,” none of which have been on display in Ottawa over the last two weeks."
Can finally agree with Max on one item. Good Government has definetly not been on display. JT showing his true capabilities when people refusing to follow his narrative. Hide in cabin for a week only to then run away from his job in Parliment. He and his paid for MSM followers are so determined to stick to the narrative that they didn't even consider an exit plan if the "fringe minority" (which turns out to be 25% to 55% of the population depending on your source) decided to firmly push back. The narrative was also too short term focussed and did not consider reduced effectiveness.
In your bubble Max you like to say we are free but these mandates are one little piece of freedom chipped away and JT would have no problem taking another chip or two once this precedent has been set.
If the comment by Omar the Transportation Minister is not a clear indication. Take their licenses because they are protesting. But you are free to protest. Will cost you your livelihood but you can protest.
For the size of the protest I would the peace and has been pretty good. Minimal arrests, no burning buildings, its a good day.

A troll on the National Observer. Imagine that.

Meanwhile, Trudeau hasn't budged a single millimetre on federal mandates, which is showing uncharacteristic strength for an otherwise milquetoast leader. Belying the poor observation skills expressed above, he has been active in parliament for the past week. MSM showed dozens of clips of the exchanges in parliament, but of course you believe the everyday media is from Mars and wouldn't have noticed. Ottawa residents have had their freedom rescinded by the convoy, Poilievre will face his own Ottawa constituents in the next election after he condoned their being taken hostage and politics by hooliganism, Ontario manufacturing is losing jobs and taking a hit from the Ambassador Bridge tragic comedy show, a pair of protestors were arrested for attempted arson of an Ottawa apartment building after residents asked truckers to stop blowing their klaxons at night, two Ottawa friends of ours who are Oriental were repeatedly harassed by protestors using blatant racist language and for wearing masks, QAnon science drives the anti-mandate believers to be so distracted they're willing to sacrifice their life savings to put an entire city under a totally unfree siege to express nebulous meanings of "freedom" which is really similar to religious zealots willing all their possessions to cult leaders, etc. etc. etc.

This too shall pass. Ottawa is undergoing a trying education. It will be better prepared next time.

"Poilievre will face his own Ottawa constituents in the next election after he condoned their being taken hostage and politics by hooliganism,"

Actually I can easily see him as party leader deciding to run for a much safer seat elsewhere, such as Alberta, rather than taking a chance on running again in his Ottawa riding. And the Alberta MP who steps down to make room for him will end up in the Senate, as is the tradition.

Here is the anti-vaxxer behavior that Edmonton Police tolerate: