Trucking Strike

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The “Freedom Convoys” of disgruntled Canadians driving commercial trucks have shut down Ottawa, Canada’s capital, as well as key border crossings between Canada and the U.S. They have created traffic jams that have made it impossible for auto plants on both sides of the border to get the parts they need, and the resulting production cuts, as well as the idling of hundreds of millions of dollars in trade, are hurting the economies of both countries.

According to Justin Ling in “The Guardian,” the convoys appear to have been organized by James Bauder, a conspiracy theorist who believes Covid-19 is a political scam and has endorsed the QAnon movement. Canada’s recent vaccine requirement to cross the Canadian border provided a catalyst to pull together a number of different groups opposed to public health measures with anti-government protesters. The protests were neither popular nor representative of truckers: there were never more than about 8000 protesters, 90% of truckers crossing the border are vaccinated, and the Canadian Trucking Alliance strongly opposes the protest.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Canadian Trucking Alliance told Rose White of “MLive” that many of the Freedom Convoy protesters “have no connection to the trucking industry and have a separate agenda beyond a disagreement over cross border vaccine requirements.” Ling noted that the convoy participants flew neo-Nazi and Confederate flags and had QAnon logos on their trucks, but Bauder urged his supporters stick to the message of “freedom.”

The “Freedom Convoy” has been pushed by fake accounts on social media and has picked up supporters from the U.S. right wing, including leading lawmakers. Former president Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and others have endorsed the convoy.

The idea of shutting down supply chains does not interest the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which yesterday denounced the convoy. “The livelihood of working Americans and Canadians in the automotive, agricultural, and manufacturing sectors is threatened by this blockade,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in a statement. “Our economy is growing under the Biden Administration, and this disruption in international trade threatens to derail the gains we have made. Our members are some of the hardest workers in the country and are being prevented from doing their jobs.”

But that is almost certainly the point. Disrupting a nation’s supply chains destabilizes its economy and thereby weakens the government in power.
The economy under Biden shows that his traditional vision of a government that supports ordinary people rather than cutting taxes and funneling money to “makers” works; the extraordinary unity of NATO in the face of Putin’s determination to advance authoritarian goals shows that multilateral cooperation rather than unilateral military action works, too. For those determined to regain power, disruption and destabilization are the order of the day.