The occupation convoy in Ottawa
The occupation convoy in Ottawa (Photo: ΙΣΧΣΝΙΚΑ-888, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

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.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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