Trucker protest against cross-border vaccine mandates hits southwestern Ontario

A convoy of truck drivers who oppose cross-border COVID-19 vaccine mandates will find their way through southwestern Ontario on Thursday, bringing predictions of traffic headaches while drawing scorn from some and praise from others.

“I worked for two years to bring goods and services and toilet paper and everything to everyone. We went through without showers, no bathrooms, no food – we sometimes starved for days on the road – and no one cared about us then, and now all of a sudden they don’t care, “said convoy truck driver Bridgette Belton, who owns and operates her own rig that runs food and containers between Canada and the United States.

“My husband and I spend 269 days a year away from each other, away from home, working for Canada to bring their goods and services to market and to bring goods and services to Canadians.”

The protest is being organized by Canada Unity, a group opposed to COVID-19-related measures. Its organizers want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government to drop the vaccine mandate for truck drivers crossing the border between Canada and the United States and do away with other public health protections.

Belton from Wallaceburg, Ont., Said she and other truck drivers will meet in Sarnia and Windsor before driving via Highway 401 to Ottawa, with stops in Chatham, London and other municipalities en route. She said the truck drivers will be in London around noon. 11.00 ET, with a stop at the Flying J truck stop on Highbury Avenue.

Truckers on their way to Ottawa from other parts of the country have been met with supporters, and organizers believe the same will happen in southwestern Ontario.

Some truck drivers are protesting against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truck drivers crossing the border between Canada and the United States. (Jacob Barker / CBC)

Ontario Provincial Police say they are aware of the protest and plan to ensure that hauliers, trailers and other drivers are safe.

“The role of the OPP in a situation like this is simply to preserve public peace,” said OPP spokesman Derek Rogers.

“We want to keep the protesters safe. We want to keep motorists who share the road with the protesters safe, and if anyone gathers to watch the convoy roll through, we want to make sure these people are safe too.”

A planned meeting place for followers is the Wellington Road South junction overlooking Highway 401 in London at. 10 ET. The convoy is expected to leave Flying J by noon, Belton said.

SE | Support shown for hauliers:

‘Someone has to stand up for Canada, and the hauliers do it’: Thousands show their support for hauliers

A convoy of transport trucks travels through Manitoba en route to Ottawa to protest the federal mandate that requires them to be vaccinated to cross the Canadian-US border. 1:34

Since the convoy of trucks and other vehicles left BC for Ottawa, extremists and fringe groups have taken to social media to encourage supporters to descend to the capital and destroy property and threaten elected officials, which has been condemned by the organizers.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) have both gone out against the convoy, saying 90 percent of cross-border truck drivers have been vaccinated.

People greet a convoy of truck drivers as they arrive in Thunder Bay, Ont., On Wednesday. (Marc Doucette)

“The Government of Canada and the United States has now made it a requirement to be vaccinated to cross the border. This regulation is not changing, so as an industry we need to adapt and abide by this mandate,” said OTA President Stephen Laskowski. “The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or any other vehicle, is to get vaccinated.”

The OPP urged people along highways and crossings in support of the convoy to be aware of their surroundings and stay safe.

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