le Jeudi 9 février 2023
le Samedi 29 janvier 2022 17:38 | mis à jour le 8 avril 2022 19:21 Tribune-Express (Hawkesbury)

On to Ottawa: truckers protest rally makes stop in Vankleek Hill

  photo Gregg Chamberlain
photo Gregg Chamberlain
Truckers from across Ontario, Québec and the Atlantic provinces filled the parking area at Herb’s Truck Stop in Vankleek Hill for a brief Saturday morning layover on their way to Ottawa for a massive protest rally about federal COVID-19 policies.

“It’s all about the mandate,” said Martin Despatis, an independent truck owner/operator from St-Jérôme, Québec. “This (rally) is so important for the country.”

The placard on the front of Despatis’ truck that states “The trucker convoy is not anti-vaccination. It is anti-government mandates.” He agrees that the focus of the rally, organized by Tamara Lich of Medicine Hat, Alberta, is to protest the current federal policies for vaccination against COVID-19 but not vaccination itself. The trucker convoy protest began in response to the latest federal policy that took effect January 15 and affects cross-border truckers like him.

All truckers, whether working for a company or independent owner-operators, must have full vaccination against COVID-19. If not, they face a mandatory two-week quarantine and molecular testing for the virus before they can cross into Canada from the U.S. The trucker convoy protest has since expanded its focus to cover other federal policies dealing with COVID-19.

Despatis estimates the cost to him for taking part in the rally Saturday instead of on the road on a job is at least a couple thousand dollars, in both revenue and expense. But he said it is worth it if it helps to get the federal government to rethink how its vaccination policy affects business.

“Canada needs to work,” he said,

Between 10:30 and 11 a.m., both all of the truckers gathered at Herb’s Truck Stop, and all of their supporters driving personal vehicles, began making their way onto the highway under the direction of OPP traffic control officers. They headed off to Ottawa, passing by crowds of spectators waving flats and cheering.