Image Courtesy of globalnews.ca
Megan Moutsatsos, Queen’s University
Edited by Sandrine Jacquot
The Trucker’s Convoy movement, also called the “Freedom Convoy,” has taken Canada’s capital by storm and harmed the city of Ottawa’s small business operations. Enraged over COVID-19 vaccine mandates, particularly the one requiring cross-border truckers to receive the vaccine before continuing work, Canadian truckers have congregated at Parliament Hill to protest. Their ultimate goal is for the federal government to end all mandates regarding the vaccine and “respect the right of those [Canadians] who wish to remain unvaccinated.” While these truckers, who have also been joined by other anti-vaccine Canadians over the weeks, have the constitutional right to peacefully protest, they have disrupted Ottawa to such a degree that their “protest” is certainly no longer peaceful. Perhaps most chilling has been the hate exhibited by the truckers and their supporters, such as through the display of the U.S. Confederate flag and swastikas at the protests. However, the negative economic effects of the convoy, such as the significant damage it’s caused to small businesses, should not be ignored.
During the past two years, small businesses in Ottawa and across the country have already been slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they are being slammed by those who claim to be fighting for their freedom. Due to the congregation of truckers throughout the city, it is more difficult for employees to get to work safely, as well as for customers to access their businesses. In addition, according to Abdulla Jama, owner of a creative dessert café called “First Bite Treats,” drivers for companies like Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes have less desire to venture out and pick up food for customers, as they don’t want to have to deal with the increased traffic from the convoy. Losing these drivers will naturally also result in decreased sales, and small businesses such as “First Bite Treats” have also suffered sale-wise due to Ontario’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
In addition, safety for employees have also been a concern due to the violence occurring at the convoy, which has both made their work harder, and likely deterred them from working altogether. For example, at an Ottawa charity called “Shepherds of Good Hope,” staff members have apparently been harassed by protesters into giving them food, which has put “significant” strain on the resources of the shelter. It would also be very traumatizing for employees to be approached and harassed by unmasked and unvaxxed protesters. No one should have to be subjected to this harassment while trying to work.
Further, “the Freedom Convoy” is damaging small businesses already struggling to stay afloat after the COVID-19 lockdowns. It is putting a strain on their employees and customers by creating difficult (and sometimes dangerous) terrain that they must trek through to reach the workplace, and it has fostered environments of harassment through its support of unmasked and unvaxxed people. These consequences are extremely unfortunate, not just because of their subtle abuse of human rights, but because these small businesses are vital to the Canadian economy. In many ways, they help compose the heart of our country. Therefore, to protect them, we must speak up against the Convoy and their “peaceful” protests. While another lockdown would be catastrophic for small businesses, who’s to say another few weeks of this global embarrassment won’t be either?
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