Darrin Calcutt

Rita Smith is the publisher of Road Warrior News/Taxi News.

Watching hundreds of hours and dozens of witnesses at the Public Order Emergency Commission may leave viewers wondering: what exactly was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s objective in evoking the Emergencies Act against the Freedom Convoy? 

After all, he could have cleared downtown Ottawa in exactly the same way the Ontario Provincial Police cleared the Ambassador Bridge, using the same legislative authority the OPP used in Windsor. Instead, he opted to freeze bank accounts, arrest organizers, and threaten truckers’ commercial insurance and vehicle registrations. 

It’s possible that in the Freedom Convoy, Trudeau’s team saw a real, growing opposition gaining support from millions of Canadian voters and taxpayers. The Convoy raised $10 million in only a few weeks; and when the government succeeded in freezing the truckers’ GoFundMe account, Convoy organizers turned around and raised millions again on the GiveSendGo platform. 

They in fact raised more money in a month than the Liberal Party raised in the entire year of 2020. That’s a frighteningly impressive fundraising ability, demonstrated by a brand-new group with no political track record. 

The truckers had more than an astonishing ability to raise funds: they also enjoyed the support of millions of Canadians. 

From sea to shining sea across Canada, bridges were full of hard-working Canadians waving flags and cheering the truckers on. In my own GTA community, the bridge over the 401 was lined with parents and kids; blue collar workers and laptop loners; our local Canada Post delivery person in her Canada Post van.

The first man I met walking from my car to the bridge was a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor; one woman drove three hours from Bancroft to be there. 

In a clever video by former Ontario MPP Rick Nicholls, he opened a brown-paper bag lunch packed by volunteers who supported the Truckers. Observed Nicolls: “Trudeau’s problem is not the truckers. Trudeau’s problem is the Canadians packing lunches for the truckers.” 

In January 2022, I interviewed Greg Lyle of Innovative Research on a survey he had just conducted with regard to the Freedom Convoy. Lyle was particularly interested in support for the truckers: “A couple of things stand out: that 31% support for the truckers’ protest is far higher than the number of people that are actually hostile or hesitant toward the vaccine, which is in the single digits.

“At 31%, you’re way, way, way above that. It’s still the minority point of view. But at 46%, there’s not a majority that oppose. It’s what we call ‘a plurality,’ but it’s not a majority.”

(Remember, Trudeau won his 2021 election with only 32% of the vote: less than one in three voters, fewer than one in seven Canadians, voted for Trudeau’s Liberals.)

In our January interview Lyle, undisputedly one of Canada’s best pollsters, made an interesting observation: “There are questions such as, ‘Is someone doing this to harvest data? So that they have a big list and no-strings-attached funding to mobilize people for the next Tory leadership, and into a government party?’

“You know, that’s a possibility. Apparently, 250,000 people signed a petition,” Lyle added.

Fast forward a few months, and Erin O’Toole, who refused to support the truckers, got booted as Conservative leader and Pierre Poilievre, who met with the truckers on the street, was in. 

I’m not saying that anyone did in fact use such a list. Just that the Liberals would have been right to be nervous about such a volume of fundraising combined with so many names coming together.

Trudeau is right to fear the truckers and the hard-working, tax-paying Canadians they represent. They may well elect the next Prime Minister, no matter what the POEC decides.

Rita Smith is the publisher of Road Warrior News/Taxi News.