When the trucks first rolled into Ottawa and we hit peak pearl-clutching over the impending blue-collar breach of the capital city, I wanted to be on the side of the truckers.
Not because I’m against vaccine mandates but because I’m for free speech and democratic rights. And truckers.
My dad was a truck driver. I know all too well the long days and the family dinners missed by those who keep our store shelves stocked and products moving.
I know about the 60- and 70-hour work weeks and the constant search for a spot to pull over and catch a few hours of sleep far from home.
And I know there is now a lot of month left at the end of a paycheque for what was once a rightly decent paying job.
In the days leading up to the weekend protest, I defended their right to gather and voice their anger in the face of dire pronouncements about the danger posed by the convoy in what reeked of classist hysterics.
A person whose number was distributed widely as one of the organizers made a racial slur toward a reporter who called for a comment.
Then people disrespectfully draped their messages over the statue of Terry Fox.
Then a group of protesters laughed as a woman danced and smoked and drank beer at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
And then the Nazi and Confederate flags not only showed up, but stayed.
That symbols of hate made an appearance was not surprising. Hate groups have hitched their wagons to the anti-vaxx movement, and of course their small and pathetic number could not stay away from the possibility of a second in the spotlight.
The bigger problem is that five minutes and an hour and even a day after the symbols of hate appeared, they were still there. The small number of white supremacists felt comfortable enough in the crowd to display their hate.
We’ve all heard the maxim that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
When the pandemic arrived on our shores and the grocery stores emptied, the truckers were heroes.
When the heat dome scorched our province and the railways burned with the town of Lytton, drivers were celebrated for delivering from south to north the everyday goods that keep us going.
When flooding tore through our highways system and truckers made the long and dangerous trek across twisting and icy secondary highways to keep our province’s main port connected to the rest of the country, we hailed them again as heroes.
If there are groceries on your shelf and warm boots in your hallway, they are there by and large because truck drivers have spent relentlessly long days on the road to bring them to you.
People want to support truckers, but let’s not be fooled.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance points out 85 per cent of members are vaccinated and most are too busy keeping Canada’s supply chain moving to spend a day, let alone a week, on this convoy.
This is not a truckers protest. It’s an anti-government protest. Its level of organization, slick social media messaging and funding should worry us all.
Dene Moore is an award-winning journalist and writer. A news editor and reporter for The Canadian Press news agency for 16 years, Moore is now a freelance journalist living in the South Cariboo.