'They are hurting people': Convoy organizer says many truckers are against COVID-19 restrictions
A convoy, made up of many truck drivers who say they've had enough of the restrictions imposed on their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to hit the road this week.
"The purpose of the convoy is to bring attention to a very important issue," said Benita Pedersen, one of the convoy's promoters, in an interview with CTV News.
"These restrictions are not only unreasonable and illogical, they are hurting people and it is time to bring an end, completely and immediately, to all of these restrictions."
Pedersen says the convoy is a physical demonstration of support for that feeling of a demand for freedom.
Truckers are not the only ones who are involved in it either, she says.
"There are health-care workers involved, law enforcement officers, teachers, construction workers, parents, children and so much more," she said.
"This convoy is amazing."
Some of the harms that Pedersen claims the restrictions caused are stress, health issues, anxiety, depression and even in her own case – job losses.
"It is not reasonable to continue these restrictions any longer."
Pedersen says it's also unreasonable for the government to impose rules that require anyone to "accept an injection they are uncomfortable with."
"Our freedom and rights are precious and dear to us and this convoy is going to Ottawa, demonstrating how Canadians from coast-to-coast believe in the protection and restoration of freedoms and rights."
A GoFundMe campaign, reportedly set up to help cover costs associated with the trip, has already raised more than $2 million and is steadily growing.
Pedersen says that financial support is "amazing."
"When the money follows the movement, you know you're on to something. The GoFundMe Freedom Convoy 2022 is significant because it demonstrates how passionate people feel."
VACCINATION IS 'THE ONLY WAY TO CROSS THE BORDER'
Not everyone is as happy with the support the protest is getting or the message they are attempting to convey.
The Canadian Truckers Alliance (CTA), a group that represents 4,500 carriers, owner-operators and industry suppliers, said in a statement Saturday it condemns the actions of everyone involved in 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," the statement read.
Stephen Laskowski, president of the CTA, says the Canadian and American governments have both come to the same conclusion – truckers must be vaccinated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"This regulation is not changing so, as an industry, we must adapt and comply with this mandate," he said.
"The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or any other vehicle, is to get vaccinated."
Pedersen says there are already 150,000 supporters involved in the campaign, but it's unlikely that all of them will make the whole trip.
It is possible there could be 30,000 trucks on Parliament Hill for the protest, she says.
The convoy is expected to stop in Calgary on Sunday night before leaving for Regina on Monday morning.
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