In 1896 when the German inventor Gottlieb Daimler converted a horse-drawn cart into a vehicle driven by a two-cycle gas engine, thereby creating the truck, he could not find a single buyer in all of Germany. There’s an awful lot of somewhat deaf citizens in Ottawa and Windsor who wished the tale of the truck had stopped right there and then.
Germans welcomed the car with open arms because it was — and here’s a curious turn of a phrase — “an enrichment of their personal freedom.” But the truck was eyed with great suspicion. Millions and millions of Canadians are feeling that way today.
A month ago I was toying with the idea of writing a column about trucks. Something like “Come to Port Colborne… wonderful small lakeside town… great bars and restaurants but you gotta own a truck. Specifically a black truck.
I am surrounded on three sides by black pickup trucks. I can see two more down a nearby side street. Three blocks over live a young couple with a toddler. The husband has a black truck, the wife has a black truck and the two-year-old drives a 2021 John Deer Sandbox Truck with a V-8 Turbocharged engine that can go from zero to 100 in eight seconds. It’s got a cute little trailer hitch on the back for his wagon. Trucks.
Then a F**k Trudeau sign appeared on the front porch of a house not far from me and I found myself walking back the word ‘wonderful’ as it applied to Port Colborne. I tried and failed to have this professionally-made symbol of public obscenity taken down. Now there are three more around town that I know of.
Trucks. As soon as I heard that a convoy of trucks organized by anti-vaxxers was coming across Canada from the west I knew immediately this was trouble. Big as in ‘big rig’ trouble.
The anti-vaxxers have shown they like to intimidate people particularly doctors and nurses. They love noise, their threatening voices a million times louder than their actual numbers should be able to generate. They disdain our national treasures, crashing a Remembrance Day ceremony in Kelowna, B.C. Big boys with air horns blaring and pee bottles flying, steaming across the country, self-excited and safe within the numbers of a mob on the move. Trouble with a capital “T” which rhymes with “D” which stands for the toxic smell of diesel. Trucks. Trucks as weapons, horns and exhaust fumes as instruments of torture.
Once they arrived in Canada’s capital the truckers dredged up horrors of history by proudly flying Confederate flags and swastikas beside our Canadian flag.
Behemoth trucks that parked their chassis around Parliament Hill making the police cruisers, late to the crime scene, look small and kind of helpless.
The exhaust from so many trucks created a ground fog through which nobody but the truckers could see how well organized the movement was, how well supported and funded it was, mainly by Americans. Everyone watching the truck takedown of Ottawa overestimated the foresight and power of the police to deflect a runaway snowball before it became on avalanche.
Freedom Convoys have sprung up in dozens of countries around the world using trucks like tanks and as a tribute to the creators… flying the Canadian flag. Man, we gotta be proud of that, eh?
Trucks in Ottawa. Delivery trucks bringing hate. Garbage trucks leaking lies out the back. Recreational trucks packed with hammocks, saunas, hot tubs and bouncy castles for the kids. Trucks with running boards wide enough to stand on while you urinate into the street.
Trucks that defied the law and held local citizens hostage had Americans shaking their heads with ‘why didn’t we think of that?!?’ When you see anything that is applauded and supported by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson you’re looking at something that missed the litter box.
Spelling aside, the Capitol in Washington and our capital in Ottawa, both nations suffered an insurrection upon our democracies one year apart.
In less than two weeks this convoy of uncivil disobedience managed to divide Canada into two lopsided but equally resentful sides of society. Heroes to a few, domestic terrorists to many — get ready for new rules of conversation around the family dinning room table. The taste of dissension among Canadians, for and against, is as bitter as the weather in Ottawa, as toxic as exhaust fumes. I can think of no event in the history of this country that set Canadians at each other’s throats like three weeks of trucker attacks on our government and our economy.
If the Freedom Convoy was only about truckers and their objection to COVID restrictions. If they had not been imbedded with purveyors of hate and white supremacists. If they did not mock Terry Fox and shame the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and rip masks off citizens of Ottawa on their way to work after being kept awake all night by the deafening ‘din’ of horn honking… if only. Despite their delusional goal to accept the resignation of our government, by remaining peaceful and respectful, they may have pulled the whole thing off as a protest. Instead they came across looking like American Trumpers pretending to be Canadian truckers.
On January 22, 2022 a convoy of trucks drove across this country and ended up breaking it in half.
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