The occupation convoys that have obstructed life in Canada’s capital of Ottawa and disrupted U.S.-Canada border crossings have been fueled by millions of dollars in donations from the United States, where the cause has been embraced by right-wing media and ex-President Donald Trump.
The convoys began as an action directed at Canada’s vaccine mandate for truck drivers entering the Great White North, but quickly embraced a crazy quilt of causes. The Ottawa occupiers demanded that the Governor General and Canada’s Senate act to depose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, then proceed to roll back vaccine and mask requirements in all ten Canadian provinces. (The Governor General is ceremonial representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada.)
The protests have generated massive attention but drawn little public support In Canada. But they have been embraced by Trump’s “MAGA” movement in America, its propaganda arm and even its donors.
A group called Deliberate Denial of Secrets hacked an ostensibly Christian crowdfunding site called GiveSendGo, cataloging 92,844 donors of whom 56 percent were Americans. Out of $8.2 million donated between February 2nd and 10th, $3.6 million came from south of the border and $4.5 million from Canada.
Many of the donations were made anonymously.
Among those on the record, Thomas Siebel, a Silicon Valley billionaire, who was down for $90,000: $20,000 came from Texas construction CEO Benjamin Pogue, who once loaned his private jet to Donald Trump.
As the trucker-led convoy rolled into Ottawa, about $10 million Canadian ($7.9 million U.S.) was donated through GoFundMe.
It was cut off when the roots of the protest and its tactics became apparent.
“We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity,” GoFundMe said in a statement.
Immediately, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that they would investigate GoFundMe.
Donald Trump, Jr. has seconded the call for an investigation.
“It’s a fraud to command $9 million in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing,” DeSantis tweeted.
(GoFundMe initially said the protest-bound dollars would instead go to charity. It later announced intent to refund the money.)
The protest organizers turned to GiveSendGo and subsequently to an outfit called Adopt a Trucker. All told, more money has flowed toward the convoy protest than was given to Canada’s three major political parties in the last quarter of 2021. One percent of donors has accounted for twenty percent of the money donated.
The donations through GiveSendGo were accompanied by fighting words.
“Death to all liberal traitors,” wrote one donor.
Another, following the Trump pattern of capital letters, messaged: Cabal piglets are corrupt criminals who need severe punishment under law. An amazing 13,000 of the donations came accompanied by references to “God” or “Jesus.”
What and who has fueled support from “the states.”
Donald Trump sang the occupation’s praises at a Texas rally, and has subsequently described Prime Minister Trudeau as a “far left lunatic” who “destroyed Canada with insane COVID mandates.” He has called on truckers to motor on Washington, D.C., to “protest Biden’s ridiculous COVID policies.”
Senator Rand Paul, R‑Kentucky, has taken up the idea. Interviewed by a Heritage Foundation publication, he advocated disruption and occupation on this side of the 49th Parallel. “I’m all for it,” said Paul. “Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights, you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates.”
Senator Ted Cruz, R‑Texas, has weighed in, saying: “Those truck drivers – God bless them – they’re defending Canada, but they’re defending America as well.”
To hear Cruz speak of “defending” is a curious choice of words.
Damaging more accurately described what was done.
Until cleared Monday, the protest had blocked the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit. The bridge carries a quarter of all traffic between the two countries and is vital to automobile manufacturing in both. Ford and Toyota had to temporarily shut down assembly lines. The Pacific Highway crossing, in Blaine, carries West Coast truck traffic. The holdup at a crossing in Coutts, Alberta, blocked agricultural exports to the United States.
At the Coutts crossing, Royal Canadian Mounted Police made thirteen arrests and confiscated an arms cache that included guns, armor, ammunition, thirteen long guns, handguns, body armor and high-capacity magazines. The RCMP said the arsenal was part of “a willingness to use force against the police.”
Of course, the intimidation side of the movement has not been broadcast to Fox viewers. Instead, the right’s party line has been of peaceful protest and individual liberty. “The Canadian trucker convoy is the single most effective human rights movement in a generation,” Tucker Carlson told his viewers.
Prime Minister Trudeau sought to wait out the occupation of his capital.
On Monday, however, he evoked Canada’s Emergencies Act, giving him additional powers as Ottawa and Ontario police began to clear the downtown area.
Tucker Carlson reacted by charging that Trudeau had declared “martial law,” warning: “Canada-style tyranny on its way here.”
And: “He (Trudeau) is not worried about unvaccinated truckers spreading a virus. Trudeau is worried about Canadians resisting his rule.”
Huh? Had Trump not monopolized the term “Big Lie,” it would apply to the occupation convoy coverage in far right U.S. media.
By stoking fear and creating bogeymen – in a peaceful next-door country that just reelected Trudeau’s government – they have caused followers to send millions across the 49th Parallel, much of which has gotten through.
Canada is “following the money,” in words of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. The province of Ontario has gone to court to cut it off.
A warning, on both sides of the border, as to how the right deploys its mouthpieces, money and followers. We saw it here on January 6th, 2021.
Canada is now getting the treatment.