The Woolwich Observer
Joe told us to do something. So, we did.
Patience is admirable. And if you agree, you must be impressed by the heaps of it shown by the federal government – at least, until the start of the week – with the more radical elements of the 2022 Freedom Convoy.
Most of us wondered why a response by the Prime Minister or the premiers for that matter, was so slow to come. Minorities reminded everyone that if they were the defiant ones blocking borders, jeopardizing business and breaking laws and impeding other people’s rights, they would be quickly shut down.
So why not truckers? Were they allowed to keep doing what they did in the name of a hoped-for peaceful solution?
It seems to me no Canadian leader, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford who went snowmobiling at his cottage while Ottawa was under siege, really knew what to do until US President Joe Biden very publicly offered Canada a helping hand…which was tantamount to him saying ‘clean up your act.’
Business was being affected. Cross-border trade had ground to a halt. Manufacturing plants were closing down in part because of the truckers’ blockade, but more so, because no one was talking. Lots of shouting, but no talking.
The truckers said they wanted someone (the Prime Minister, preferably) to meet with them, assure them their concerns were heard and say something like change was possible. No one did that, which for the Prime Minister’s safety was likely the right decision.
But it threw fuel on the fire. The COVID-19 numbers were falling and it would have been a low-risk proposition to tell the protesters change was more possible than ever – a great Canadian compromise that didn’t happen.
However, when Biden said ‘Canada, I’m here for you,’ things started changing. If Ford or Trudeau couldn’t figure out how to get semi-trailers off the
Ambassador Bridge, the US military could, and everyone knew it.
Not long after Biden spoke, Ford declared a state of emergency. Trudeau invoked emergency measures. The writing was on the wall and the protesters’ dwindled.
So thanks to Biden’s offer to help, Canada had the peaceful solution it craved. There would be no TV footage of cops versus citizens – not this time, anyway.
But who doubts this is the end?
To me, one of the proudest moments of this whole battle was when agriculture groups refused to support the convoy. Trucking and agriculture significantly depend on each other. But the truckers went too far when they tread on cross-border trade, a staple of the Canadian agri-food sector. Blocking trade meant the truckers had committed a strategic error – they were hurting farmers, an unintended but unacceptable effect for everyone from Biden to Canada’s Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.
On Monday, from Ottawa, the minister released a statement saying she’d met with industry leaders who said the blockade is having a significant impact on the livelihood of Canadian farm families and businesses who cannot sustain any more delays.
“The border blockades across the country are affecting the safe movement of livestock, feed and goods and is adversely impacting Canada’s food supply chain,” she said. “The disruptions have caused a threat to our economy and public safety and they are hurting farmers, small businesses and our communities across the country…we need these blockades to end to avoid food loss and waste, as well as added costs for everyone in the supply chain including Canadian consumers.”
By that time, though, the blockades were almost history.
It was the kind of linein-the-sand statement the public was looking for about a week earlier.
And it came from Joe Biden.