We need new political labels. That much has become clear amid Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s crackdown on the truckers’ revolt – the now weeks-long protests by truckers and their supporters, in Ottawa and elsewhere, against Covid vaccine mandates.
This week, Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, for the first time in the law’s history, allowing banks to freeze the accounts of anyone associated with the protests with no need for court orders. Deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland added that the government was expanding rules on ‘terrorist financing’ to cover cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding sites. The vehicle insurance of anyone involved in the protests can also now be suspended, and police have been given new powers to imprison or fine protesters.
As disruptive as some of the truckers’ tactics are – the point of protest, after all, is to cause disruption – this is a remarkably authoritarian move, made by a ‘liberal’ prime minister desperately trying to defend his authoritarian Covid policies. Since then, outcry from the international liberal set has been conspicuous by its absence. Perhaps it isn’t authoritarianism when photogenic centrists do it.
Here we see Trudeau’s Canada following the example of Biden’s America, a ‘liberal’ government blithely casting dissenting citizens as a domestic-terrorist threat. But just as shameful – and revealing – has been the response from the supposedly pro-worker left. Leftists who claim to crave working-class revolt have been keen participants in the smear campaign against the truckers and their supporters.
Make no mistake: the so-called Freedom Convoy is a remarkable assertion of working-class power. Truckers from across Canada have descended on the capital to oppose vaccine mandates, and the threats to their livelihoods that they entail, drawing support from vaxxed and unvaxxed alike. Workers are refusing to do what they were told, and have brought the supply chains they work every day to a halt.
This may have been sparked by a new rule requiring unvaccinated truckers to quarantine when they return from the US, making it impossible for them to make a living. But it has swiftly grown into a populist movement against the entire ‘laptop class’ – the elite that has relied on workers more than ever throughout the pandemic, bringing them their Amazon deliveries and takeout while they typed away at home, and which has repaid these workers by clobbering them with one punishing, impoverishing Covid rule after another.
You can see just how much this protest has rattled the elites by the rogues’ gallery that has coalesced in opposition against it. Big Tech has even tried to starve the truckers of donations, with GoFundMe withholding millions of dollars raised for the truckers. And even before Trudeau’s power grab this week, banks had already frozen accounts associated with the Freedom Convoy.
What we have there is a bottom-up working-class revolt, for workers’ rights and against state authoritarianism, with politicians, bankers and Silicon Valley tech types all lining up against it. And so the response from the left has naturally been to denounce the protesters as far-right scum and side with the powers-that-be.
Echoing Justin Trudeau’s absurd smears – he has casually asserted that the protests are riddled with ‘anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-black racism, homophobia and transphobia’ – left-wingers have done one better and presented the truckers as a would-be Fourth Reich. Canadian leftists have labelled them ‘fascist’. American socialist magazine Jacobin has dubbed them ‘noxious reactionaries’, ‘far-right populists’ and a ‘front for a right-wing, anti-worker agenda’.