By David Martinez
This week, Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, invoked the country’s Emergencies Act for the first time ever, curtailing democratic rights in order to repress protests initiated last month by long-haul truckers against COVID vaccine mandates. The protests have disrupted the economy at the US-Canada border and caused an estimated $500 million in daily losses to the imperialists’ cross-border trade.
Trudeau’s actions allow the government to easily freeze the bank accounts of participants or supporters of the protests, and have now made joining some protests illegal, demonstrating the readiness of the reactionary Canadian State to eliminate democratic rights for protesters threatening imperialist profits.
The protests began as some Canadian long-haul truckers mobilized against the government’s ‘vaccine or quarantine’ mandate for truckers traveling across the border. Under the restrictions, truckers who refuse to comply are prevented from returning into Canada.
Calling itself the “Freedom Convoy,” demonstrations have numbered in the thousands and have mainly consisted of blockades of large tractor-trailers occupying city streets and international border crossings, especially near Canada’s capital in Ottawa. It is these blockades and occupations which the Canadian State has declared ‘illegal’ and “not peaceful.”
Under the Emergencies Act, Trudeau can expand the Terrorist Financing Act as a means to control online crowdfunding and digital payment processors which have been used to support the protests. Speaking to parliament on February 14, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland, declared, “a bank or other financial service provider will be able to immediately freeze or suspend an account without a court order.”
Last week before the announcement, GoFundMe had already announced it would shut down a large fundraiser for the protests, and send refunds to donors. The Emergencies Act would allow for seizing corporate accounts and the blocking of insurance coverage for companies that employ truckers involved in protests, further targeting the ability of the truckers to earn a living.
Trudeau’s actions also give further powers to law enforcement to fine and imprison protesters. A day prior to the announcement, police moved in on a blockade at the Ambassador Bridge border crossing near Detroit, and arrested 46 protesters and towed 37 vehicles. The bridge carries 25% of all trade between the US and Canada. In Detroit, Toyota and General Motors cancelled some production shifts last week due to the protests’ impact on supplies of parts coming across the border.
Downtown Ottawa still remains full of trucks and protesters as of Thursday. Empowered by the Emergencies Act, the police have distributed flyers declaring “that anyone coming to Ottawa for the purpose of joining the ongoing demonstration is breaking the law.”
Since they began, the trucker protests have expanded into a general call against the government’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and an expression of the protesters’ anger and distrust for the government The political character of the protesters is varied, with many from Isolated instances of some protesters displaying fascist symbols such as the Nazi swastika have been used as a reason by liberal imperialists to falsely paint all the protesters as racist extremists.
Reactionary ruling class politicians from both Canada and the US have either supported or denounced the Canadian protests to serve their own political goals, none of them working in the people’s interests. No matter the opportunists actions, the proletarian and rebellious elements of the protests should be supported, while the more irrationalist, reactionary elements should be isolated.
The trucker protests have garnered significant popular support in Canada and worldwide for their general call against government-imposed pandemic measures that have placed the burden of the imperialist health crisis onto the people. It is the ruling class which has shown it is unwilling and unable to deal with the pandemic, leading to genocidal death counts while offering little more than more severe control over the people.
Different Masks, Same Imperialist Ruling Class
Trudeau’s targeting of protester funds is similar to proposals by former US president Donald Trump during the height of the rebellions that followed the May Uprisings against police brutality in 2020. Then, Trump sought to make it illegal to provide legal funds and other aid to protesters struggling against the racist police forces of the US. Biden has continued the persecution of protesters from the uprisings, using terrorist enhancements to bring heavier federal charges and longer sentences to protesters. While differing in their cause, the trucker protests and anti-racist struggles share the quality of destabilizing imperialist society, and especially harming the monopolies’ profits.
The liberal opportunists who traffic in anti-racist struggles and divert their revolutionary potential are no less reactionary than the faction of the ruling class which seeks to use the protests against pandemic restrictions to their own ends. Biden and Trudeau only impose their own ‘law and order’ in order to uphold the imperialists’ rule while presenting a ‘progressive’ facade.
The imperialist Canadian State’s actions are yet another example of the increasing reactionization of bourgeois states worldwide, which means further concentration of power into the hands of imperialist executives and the withdrawal of democratic rights for the people.
The general crisis of imperialism, in the depths of an economic crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, has ignited greater mobilizations of the people who have lost their faith in the reactionary ruling class and the bourgeois State. The bourgeois State’s reactionary measures will be utilized against all popular movements, and this is why the people cannot allow the imperialists, whatever mask they wear, to manipulate their struggles. The people’s shared class hatred must be organized into a force which can oppose the bourgeoisie and fight for a new world free of their exploitation and oppression.
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