Terrorism is an organized attempt to intimidate a civilian population -- and the trucker siege checks those boxes

Terrorism is an organized attempt to intimidate a civilian population -- and the trucker siege checks those boxes
Ottawa residents respond to anti-vax truckers with a song about gay cowboys
Anti-vaccine truckers from the "Freedom Convoy" in Ottawa, Canada on February 12, 2022, Wikimedia Commons

Tow trucks are on the move in Ottawa. Local and federal police, empowered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent declaration of national emergency, are finally dismantling the truck blocades that have paralyzed Canada’s capital city for over three weeks.

A crisis that local police declared unsolvable under existing law is being methodically dismantled thanks to the temporary powers invoked under the Emergencies Act. The act puts teeth in enforcement without suspending the constitutional rights of the truckers.

Conservative members of Parliament and convoy organizers objected to the state of emergency using suspiciously similar talking points.

The MPs and their trucker pals claim this isn’t a big enough emergency to justify its use. If the siege of Canada’s capital city isn’t big enough, what could possibly qualify? Conservatives claim to want the trucks removed from downtown but they know that’s impossible without emergency powers. The local police admit they were powerless to remove them without federal help, in part because local towing companies had been harassed and intimidated by the truckers.

The “freedom convoy” is more serious than the protracted siege of Ottawa. It’s a coordinated attack on Canada’s economy and democracy.

The truckers’ stated aim is to bring down the Trudeau government by strangling the cross-border trade underpinnning the Canadian economy. At the peak of the border blockades, the convoy was costing the Canadian economy nearly half a billion dollars a day.

The biggest blockades were cleared with federal help before the state of emergency went into effect, but the fight to keep the border open continues. Convoy supporters tried to re-block the Ambassador Bridge from Windsor to Detroit but were rebuffed by police.

Trudeau needed emergency powers to end the siege because the Ottawa police let them get so well ensconced that they could otherwise hold out indefinitely. The occupiers raised millions of dollars through crowdfunding sites. They set up staging areas around the city and beyond to supply themselves with food and fuel.

The act empowers police to arrest people for aiding and abetting the truckers, even on private property. Critically, the declaration makes it a crime for adults to bring children into this combustible situation.

One of the biggest challenges to resolving the siege was the kids truckers brought and used as human shields. Puff pieces marveling at the insurgents’ bouncy castle missed the dark implications.

There’s good reason to suspect some truckers are heavily armed. Four members of the Freedom Convoy were arrested in Alberta for allegedly plotting to murder police officers. The raid that took these suspects into custody also uncovered a large cache of illegal weapons.

The alleged plotters are affiliated with the far-right Dialogon movement which, for the uninitiated, could be called the Boogs of Canada. Like the Boogaloo Boys, the Dialogons geminated online with an ironic aesthetic and then transitioned to real-life violence.

Many media accounts have portrayed extremists as a small faction within a much larger and less radical movement. This overlooks the glaringly obvious fact that everything they do is radical. Illegally occupying a G7 capital and blocking billions in trade is radical.

One of the hallmarks of terrorism is an organized attempt to intimidate or coerce a civilian population to achieve political goals.

The trucker siege checks those boxes.

Hopped up on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and racism, insurgents vented their rage on health care workers and residents of Ottawa’s downtown core. The police set up a special hotline for residents to report hate crimes by occupiers, which as of two weeks ago had received over 400 calls, resulting in 50 investigations and 11 hate crimes charges. The siege also included a critical infrastructure attack on the city’s 911 system. Ambulances were pelted with rocks. Suspected convoyers tried to set an apartment building on fire after residents clashed with occupiers over late-night fireworks.

Earlier this week, Trudeau rose in the House of Commons to rebuke the Conservative Party members of parliament who support the truckers and oppose the declaration of national emergency.

"Conservative Party members can stand with people who wave swastikas. They can stand with people who wave the Confederate flag," the prime minister said. “We will choose to stand with Canadians who deserve to be able to get to their jobs, to be able to get their lives back. These illegal protests need to stop, and they will."

Since this is incontrovertibly true, the Conservatives spent days pretending to be offended by Trudeau’s gall to mention the iconography of hate we all saw on television, which groups like AntiHate.ca have been meticulously documenting for weeks.

Trudeau has finally acted decisively to end the fascist takeover of his nation’s capital. The only question is why it took him so long.

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