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An Ottawa resident fed up with the invading hordes of right-wing truckers holds his own protest. Twitter photo.

Flu Trux Klan Go Home: Canada Wants Freedom From Bonkers, Super-Spreading, Tantrum-Throwing Honkies

Abby Zimet

Airborne lunacy strikes again. As police attempt to clear them from the border with Detroit, once-staid Ottawa remains occupied by raucus hordes of angry, maskless, clueless, entitled louts in big trucks waving swastikas and imagined grievances, pissing on war memorials, harassing residents, and claiming the World Economic Forum created COVID to forge a "Marxian-inspired totalitarian system" with mandates that steal our "freedom," mostly to make other people sick. The Freedom Clownvoy, which arrived in the Canadian capital on Jan 28, is the off-shoot of a nascent right-wing, anti-vax, anti-government cluster of groups like Hold Fast Canada, which opposes all COVID restrictions and claims concentration camps have been set up, and Action4Canada, which has launched legal challenges to any mandates; in one 400-page filing, they cite the "false pronouncement of (a) 'pandemic'" by Bill Gates and a "New World (Economic) Order" to abet the injection of 5G-enabled microchips into the populace. In fact, that populace is one of the most highly vaccinated in the world, with almost 90% of people over the age of four having gotten at least one shot, a key factor behind Canada's relatively low death toll of about 35,000. Given the broad support for provinces' aggressive COVID strictures - Quebec prepped but dropped a plan to tax the unvaccinated - and the fact Canadians are on the whole a sensible, moderate lot, their wingnuts have largely failed to spark the same rabid support as our own noxious QAnoners and neo-Nazis. Or at least they did until last year, when P.M. Justin Trudeau announced truckers crossing the US/Canada border had to be fully vaccinated.

With about 90% of truckers likewise vaccinated - and most Canadians (see sensible) agreeing people who drive city to city for a living are probably not who they want to be unvaxed - you'd think the move would get little response. Go figure: It sparked an unprecedented firestorm among anti-vax, anti-government fringers whose agenda was as nebulous as Brando's bellicose motorcycle leader in The Wild Ones; asked what he's rebelling against, he snarls, "Whaddya got?" In this case, of course, they had COVID and widespread weariness with its costs and hardships, allowing them to leverage gut-level angst into an organized roar of protest. Adding to the blaze were a growing number of cult-like, conspiracy-minded anti-vaxxers with "persistent, irrational fears," and lots of former military and police whose politics skew right. Many say the rag-tag collection of misfits was largely driven - and funded - by an eager mix of American white nationalists, prominent right-wingers and other fascist-leaning "anonymous actors" with their own narrative of persecution. Following the money bears them out: Those  hustling for donations to the noble cause include the gonzo likes of Glenn Beck, Gym Jordan, Ron DeSantis, Elon Musk, Ken Paxton, Robert Kennedy Jr., little Trumpies and the big one, who brayed truckers are "peacefully protesting the harsh policies of far-left lunatic Justin Trudeau, who has destroyed Canada." Staggeringly, in days the truckers raised almost $10 million on GoFundMe - in contrast, Jan. 6 rioters raised $250,000 in weeks - before the company shut them down for violating company policy. The "Christian" funding platform GiveSendGo quickly, if sloppily, raised over $8 million more, often in sketchy four-and-five-figure donations; Sunday, a hack exposed 92,000 of their donors, a majority of whom were American and cited God, Jesus or tyranny.

Thus did the small, loud, fragmented, aggrieved group of far-right fringe players descend on Ottawa with their towering trucks and piercing air horns and astute sense of theater. Despite announcing their plans on social media, they met with no resistance and "farcically lenient treatment"; police didn't even erect concrete barriers around Parliament, giving "the freedom-bullies a sense of their own importance (as) oversized as their trucks." "This is a nationwide insurrection," wailed one distraught official. Nope: "Just a small group of belligerent men with very big trucks," who quickly made life insufferable. Flying swastikas, QAnon logos, Confederate flags - wait, was Canada part of the Confederacy? - truckers ceaselessly blasted air horns, spewed diesel fumes, exploded fireworks in dense neighborhoods, bellowed "FREEDOM! to drown out anyone challenging them, and heckled/ assaulted/ pulled masks off residents, especially visibly gay or of color, until many fled their homes. They harrassed a food pantry for free food, threw rocks into windows with rainbow flags - bigots gonna bigot - and peed on war memorials, including one for Aboriginal veterans, ending for many "what micro sliver of legitimacy" they'd had. Thanks to "our Awsome (sic) truckers," they proclaimed the "Plandemic Is Over!" and "Take Off Your Face Diapers," and posted cartoon videos of Biden, Fauci, Trudeau in a car rammed by massive trucks. They cited "a turning point in history," boasted of taking a woke, Matrix-themed “red pill,” declaimed "Ottawa is not the end - the end is unrestricted freedom," praised the event's "multiple acts of humanity" - a bouncey house! - and "signs of kindness and peace" - like swastikas and "Fuck Trudeau" signs, which were so omnipresent one counter-protester's sign asked, "Why do you want to fuck Trudeau so bad? Is it the hair?" Another suggested their wish to have sex with Trudeau would likely remain unrequited, "and can someone please take the time to explain 'unrequited' to the raging mob."

Trudeau remains a prime target for truckers' wild demands - their departure requires he end all mandates, though the provinces passed them, and he be  removed for "fascism" - and wilder misinformation - mandates are illegal under the Nuremberg Code, the FBI and DHS plan "enhanced interrogations," orders to disperse are underway from Trudeau (who has no power over police operations) or Antifa, or the deep state, though Canada has provinces, not states. Much of the delusional info comes from convoy leaders like "terrorism expert" Tom Quiggin, who writes daily intelligence reports and once co-authored a frantic report about Canadian Muslims spreading extremist ideology whose findings were based on him and a colleague, "two guys in a basement reading Breitbart," sneaking into mosques and taking photos of books on the shelves; they interviewed no Muslims, but reported "many seemed sullen and sometimes angry." Another leader, QAnoner James Bauder, announced (and then withdrew after he evidently talked to a real lawyer) a "memorandum of understanding" to replace the government with a junta of Canada's Senate and Governor General, both appointed not elected; fellow-traveler Tom Marazzo also offered to join those two players in a new government, prompting many on Twitter to rip "the insane demands of the honkies" and explain that if you're not elected, you don't get to form a government. With such stellar leadership, little wonder Tucker Carlson has lauded the (deeply anti-worker) truckers as working-class heroes who, fighting against "fearful despot" Trudeau, represent "the single most successful human rights protest in a generation." And he has ($35) t-shirts!

Despite the feared spread of copycat unrest in Canada, the U.S. - largely "aspirational" - and "worldwide" - claims Politico - most Canadians view the "clownvoy" as "an insurrection driven by madness," the work of "phony grievance junkies (in) some other universe" whose self-indulgent view of "freedom" twists the basic rules of a social contract into "tyranny." Many also blast the exploitation of widespread COVID fatigue: "Protesting a disease. Brilliant." A national poll finds about 70% of Canadians say they have "very little in common" with the protesters' views; it would likely be higher without pandemic fatigue. The country's major trucking union has come out against it, as has the head of its largest trucking company, who says the mandate has had no effect on business. Meanwhile Ottawa residents, their nerves "frayed beyond relief," have issued a flood of exasperated monikers and hashtags slamming the "tyranny of the stupid" that has befallen them: #FluTruxKlan, #IvermectinInsurrection, #DomesticTerrorists, #FreeDumbConvoy, #SuperSpreaderConvoy, #antivaxxers, #morons, #asshats, #honkies, #OttawaOccupied, #TonkaTantrum, #Caillou Convoy, and, vitally, #TruckersGoHome. #FluTruxKlanGoHome, #GoHome. The perception of truckers as "a baying brigade of old-stock Canadians lugging a catalogue of grievance" in a prudent country that "prefers a loss of liberty over a loss of life" - "Call this Canadian nice" - was reenforced when they blocked the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, causing shutdowns and slowdowns for multiple auto factories. "So let me get this straight," wrote one critic, citing the fact that mandates haven't obstructed trade, protesters claim they do, so now they've "taken it upon themselves to (checks notes) obstruct trade." It didn't help when they also tried to flood Ottawa's 911 line with fake calls, and then lined up their kids as a human shield in Windsor to block traffic: "These are not good people."

In Ottawa, the mayor declared a state of emergency; police seized fuel, issued over 450 tickets and launched 50 criminal investigations at a daily cost of $800,000, not counting many closed businesses; a judge granted a 10-day injunction against air horn blasts (ending Monday); residents filed a $9.8 million class-action suit against truckers; activists posted maps outlining territory held respectively by "government and rebel forces." People have also set up sites to name and shame truck companies joining the chaos, with or without their knowledge; a photo of a truck with a massive banner - "Who will rise up for me against the evil doers? Jesus is King!" - prompted one to innocently wonder if UHaul "is aware of" where the truck is? In "the most Canadian thing ever," someone wrote a genial open treatise that began, "Welcome to Ottawa, We are glad you can exercise your freedom of speech in our beautiful city," and went on to warn that alas their insurance may be cancelled and oh wait they may face pricey criminal charges that linger for years, but of course "you must have your freedom!" Elsewhere, Quebec was photographing truck plates - "Legault doesn't fuck around"; trucks blocking Toronto hospitals were met by an army of parking cops - "It is YOUR time to SHINE"; Vancouver-ites formed bicycle blockades, lay in front of trucks or blocked them, Tiananmen-style, with one car: "Ottawa: Please leave. Vancouver: I think the fuck not." People offered cogent lectures about "the epic bullshit" of confusing rights and privilege; savagely mocked a guy whose hooded hat ended up reading, "ANAL first," pleaded of the truck with a giant "Media Is the Real Decease" sign, "Can we please discuss education cuts now?" and posted deadpan, scientific findings that "the loudest howler monkeys have the tiniest balls."

They also gamely hit the streets with an explosion of stellar signs: "The only thing that should be honking or shitting is geese...There would be no mandates if there were no idiots...This is what happens when civics is a half-credit....Honk if you don't understand science/ have a small dick/ failed civics class/ poop on the sidewalk/ don't know the difference between a privilege and a right/ you're a Nazi sympathizer...you fucks." Also: "Science Over Stupid, Make Ottawa Borin' Again, I Want Sleep, Okay Children You've Had Your Fun, Truck off." From a guy in scrubs: "Go Home. Toronto hates you." And a lone patriot on a corner, "You Suck." Finally, a group of online warriors hacked the convoy's walkie-talkie app Zello, where truckers share info on routes or police barricades and chat during their insurrectionary adventure. Under the hashtag #RamRanchResistance, savvy wise guys eavesdrop on the chatter - what number's the mark of the beast, how can they hassle workers, should they issue a declaration of independence, who's making what for dinner. Popping up on multiple hashtags, they offer live updates: "Greetings from the #RamRanch. The #FluTrucksClan is in complete meltdown...In 24 hours it’s gone from bouncy castles and breakfast buffets to talking about lighting candles in the trucks to stay alive when the fuel runs out." The group also posts requests for donations to causes in an "anti-hate network" - food bank, rape crisis center, Native women's association, low-income support, First Nation youth advocacy. Most entertainingly - bring on the trolls - they blast the titular song Ram Ranch, an over-the-top, pornographic cowboy song by musician, adult film producer and evidently not real person Grant MacDonald, which is the name of a London silversmith; the song begins, "18 naked cowboys in the showers at Ram Ranch! Big, hard, throbbing cocks waiting to be sucked!" A resister reported freaked-out truckers shut down their Zello when it was first inundated with the "country" song. Then he quickly reposted. "My bad. Not country. Death-metal," he wrote. "An unlikely uprising theme song, but at this point...."


Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email: azimet18@gmail.com

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