Thousands of truckers across the country are gathering momentum and support for their convoy, demanding the return of their freedoms.
The group called Canada Unity is calling for an end to the vaccination mandate for truckers crossing the Canada-US border.
They are also calling for an end to vaccine passports, all fines related to COVID violations, and the reinstatement of employees due to vaccination policies.
Several convoys from across the country are expected to gather on Parliament Hill on Saturday. On Tuesday, the Western Canadian convoy traveled from Regina, Saskatchewan to Kenora, Ontario.
On Friday, hundreds of trucks are expected to descend on Arnprior at the Antrim Truck Stop before the final push to Ottawa.
“This business was built on trucking, how could I not support the trucking industry?” says Tom Orr, owner of the Antrim Truck Stop. “Do I believe there are bigger issues than vaccination, with so much support? There are a lot of things that could have been done with so much support.”
On Tuesday, Orr met with local police to discuss security options for the arrival of the mass rally, but expects to have to manage the crowds on his own.
“A police officer told me they were expecting 400 to 500 trucks,” Orr said. “So we can’t accept that, and there will be 400 or 500 cars because locals will want to come out and see all of that.”
Orr says Antrim will do everything possible to accommodate those arriving with the convoy, but asks for respect for the property, its rules and the COVID-19 guidelines in place.
“We had a little gripe because we weren’t opening the restaurant and we just had a free for all,” Orr told CTV News. “We can’t do that. We have to follow the guidelines. Right now there are 10 people in a rally and we’re sticking to it. I don’t know how we can control that.”
A convoy opposing vaccination mandates for cross-border travel for truckers passed through Regina on Monday evening. (CTV Regina)
Trucker Ralph Harple stopped at the Antrim Truck Stop on Tuesday.
Harple says he’s double-vaccinated and has had no problems making deliveries to the United States.
“For the guys that it’s a big deal, it’s a big deal,” says the East Coast truck driver. “For me personally, it’s not that bad.”
The Canadian Trucking Alliance says vaccination rates for truckers are in line with those of the general public. In a statement released on Tuesday, the CTA wrote:
“The Government of Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance both agree that vaccination, used in combination with preventive public health measures, is the most effective tool to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to Canadians and to protect public health.
Looking ahead to Friday and with room for just 150 trucks, Orr is reaching out to any open lots that might have room for convoy members.
“I support them and hope something happens as long as it’s peaceful and everyone is safe.”