As the Truckers for Freedom Convoy closes in on Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the movement and its supporters a “small fringe minority” with “unacceptable views.” 

Trudeau made the comments on Wednesday at a press conference. 

“The small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa are holding unacceptable views that they’re expressing, do not represent the views of Canadians who have been there for each other who know that following the science and stepping up to protect each other is the best way to continue to ensure our freedoms, rights, and values as a country,” Trudeau told reporters. 

Trudeau’s comments come amidst a legacy media campaign painting the hundreds of thousands of truckers and their supporters as racists and extremists. 

A number of recent mainstream media articles have cherry-picked bad actors unrepresentative of the convoy’s peaceful protest, claiming that the movement is made up of “white nationalists,” the “far-right” and “domestic terrorists.”

Leaders of the convoy have worked hard to distance themselves from such figures, stating that those with extremist views would not be welcome to join them in Ottawa. 

Trudeau has also used similar language in the past. In a recently resurfaced interview with a Quebec talk show in September, the prime minister called millions of unvaccinated Canadians “racists and misogynists.” 

“They are extremists who don’t believe in science, they’re often misogynists, also often racists. It’s a small group that muscles in, and we have to make a choice in terms of leaders, in terms of the country. Do we tolerate these people?” said Trudeau. 

The convoy began in response to the federal Liberal government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers but has since grown to oppose COVID restrictions across Canada. 

Under the new rules, unvaccinated truck drivers who were once considered essential workers will be turned around at the Canada-US border. US President Joe Biden has implemented a similar mandate.    

Since the mandate has gone into effect, Canadian trucking companies have reported a shortage of drivers willing to go on the road. 

Bison Transport, one of Canada’s largest trucking companies, reports it has lost nearly 10% of its employees due to the federal government’s decision. 

Prior to the mandate, trucking groups warned that it could lead to a shortage of goods across Canada and worsen the country’s already strained supply chain.