Well, it looks like the Freedom Convoy is over now. They’re just clearing the last of it away. What, if anything, did it all mean?
(1) It was great political theatre. This was a story that got major media play not just in Canada but in the U.S. and Europe too. I can’t think of the last time that happened with a Canadian news story.
(2) It didn’t make a lot of sense. Indeed, I said when it started that it was born of a certain lack of seriousness. The ostensible point was to protest vaccine mandates which required Canadian truckers to show proof of vaccination to enter back into Canada from the U.S. Without such proof they were required to quarantine for two weeks. Since they already had to show proof of vaccination to enter the U.S. from Canada this seemed like reciprocity. Also, apparently 85% of truckers were vaccinated. But then they were against all vaccine mandates (passports) and perhaps even more against Justin Trudeau. And it’s still an open question as to how many of the protesters were even truckers.
(3) If they’d stuck to just having a quick demonstration I think they could have called it a huge success. But they kept hanging around in Ottawa and Windsor, with no clear idea what for, and that started to irritate people. Rule for protests: Don’t be too annoying! Though given how Ottawa is a Liberal stronghold they probably figured they had nothing to lose there.
(4) As it is, the whole thing might still be considered a success by those involved in that it provoked the government into an overreaction with their invoking the Emergencies Act to clamp down. I don’t think this was necessary, and the business of going after funding, most of which was domestic, strikes me as particularly problematic. This was not “Canada’s January 6,” or anything even close, though both sides were certainly channeling the energy and iconography from that event.
(5) That said, it might also have been successful in firing up an American-style culture war, one that had both sides calling the other Nazis. (An aside: Will we ever be free of this tired and misleading rhetoric? The threat of authoritarianism in our time isn’t Nazism, or Communism, but something new.) Who gains the most from this polarization? The results will probably take a while to tally, but I’m inclined to think Trudeau was one of the losers, as he came across as both weak and sanctimonious, qualities that have become his most readily distinguishable and least admirable trademarks. On the other hand, the convoy was pushing the Conservatives further than I think many of them wanted to go. What began as farce might still end as tragedy.