OTTAWA – A convoy of truckers is headed toward Ottawa.

The purpose of their cross-country trek is to let politicians in Ottawa know: the recent vaccine mandates created by both the United States and Canadian government mandating vaccinations for drivers (commercial and otherwise) at the border between the two countries is wrong.

The convoy is now in Ontario and is expected to arrive in Ottawa late this week.

The vaccine mandate became the rule on Jan. 15.

The convoy, bolstered by a Go Fund Me page now totalling around $4,488,670 of a goal of $5 million, has been criticized for creating an issue where there is not one.

The Go Fund Me page states: “Money raised will be dispersed to our truckers to aid them with the cost of the journey, and funds will be spent to help cover the cost of fuel for our truckers first and foremost, [and] will be used to assist with food if needed and contribute to shelter if needed.”

The GoFundMe page was started by Tamara Lich on Jan. 14. She is involved in the Maverick Party, a federal right-wing political party formerly called Wexit Canada.

Lich has been reported as saying, “This [convoy] is not about vax or anti-vax or Covid. It is about restoring Canada’s rights and freedoms. Freedom to open businesses, freedom to hug your friends, go to restaurants and movies, etc.”

Prime Minister Trudeau explained the purpose of the vaccine mandate at the borders saying getting vaccinated is the most important way to keep Canada’s economy going; Trudeau, referring to an earlier statement about empty shelves in grocery stores made by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. He accused the premier of fear mongering.

Many feel that the empty shelves crisis in some stores where it exists is the result of a number of issues including labour strikes in other countries, the unpredictable Canadian weather and a lack of manufacturing staff or staff out sick, due to Covid around the world.

All Canadians are well aware of how their economy has been negatively impacted by pandemic mandates about getting the vaccine.

A statement from the Canadian Trucking Alliance, (CTA) stated: “The vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated with the overall industry vaccination rate among truck drivers closely mirroring that of the general public. Accordingly, most of our nation’s hard-working truck drivers are continuing to move cross-border and domestic freight to ensure our economy continues to function.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) does not support and strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways, highways, and bridges. CTA believes such actions, especially those that interfere with public safety, are not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed. Members of the trucking industry who want to publicly express displeasure over government policies can choose to hold an organized, lawful event on Parliament Hill or contact their local MP, what is not acceptable is disrupting the motoring public on highways and commerce at the border.”

Stephen Laskowski CTA president said, “The Government of Canada and the United States have now made being vaccinated a requirement to cross the border. This regulation is not changing so, as an industry, we must adapt and comply with this mandate.” The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or any other vehicle, is to get vaccinated.”

The Go Fund Me page states:

“Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods.”

The message is clear: The liberal government is responsible for the economic woes because of its stand on the pandemic.”

Some political observers have suggested that the situation has been exploited to be used as a cudgel to go after the Trudeau government and that the protest is no longer about protecting Canadian consumers from an obvious blow to the country’s supply chain.”

The president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, Chris Nash said Alberta has more than their share of truck drivers with 10.2 per cent of the national population, but 14 per cent of all truck drivers. Nash said 70 per cent of truckers are vaccinated.

A headcount of the number of truck drivers affected by the border vaccination policy is around 16,000 truckers.