MSNBC – Opinion
Canada’s trucker blockade is a right-wing fantasy made real
Recent protests at the U.S.-Canada border are just the visible part of a larger right-wing occupation movement.
Ryan Cooper, MSNBC Opinion Columnist – February 14, 2022
On Sunday, the Ambassador Bridge on the U.S.-Canada border between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, was reopened after a weeklong protest, in which a handful of right-wing fanatics had been blocking the bridge and holding up some $355 million in goods in protest against a vaccine mandate for the trucking industry.
These events show that when law enforcement is genuinely needed to quash a far-right insurgency, it is timid and reluctant to do anything — a dangerous precedent to set indeed.
Protesters had taken over another nearby crossing into Sarnia, and one in Alberta, as well. As a result, Ford, Toyota, Stellantis and Honda idled some six Canadian car factories for several days, with knock-on effects creating even more snarls in supply chains. With one of Canada’s major cities paralyzed, and three key economic arteries between it and the world’s mightiest empire clogged, a severe shortage of new cars has been jacking up inflation and thus tanking President Joe Biden’s approval rating.
But these protests are just the visible part of a larger right-wing occupation movement, and indicative of a worrying anti-government trend. And equally as worrying is how law enforcement on both sides of the border have responded.
Ottawa was terrorized for nearly two weeks by a few hundred protesters honking horns day and night, waving Nazi flags, harassing passers-by, and in one case, allegedly attempting to burn down an apartment building.
Canadian police finally cleared off Ambassador Bridge after the blockaders defied a court order to disperse. But throughout this process, law enforcement in both countries were astoundingly timid in their responses. Canadian cops had been walking on eggshells; we “are taking a diplomatic approach,” the Windsor police chief told reporters. Meanwhile, Ottawa police tried to coax the city occupiers out by cutting off their fuel and getting an injunction against honking horns instead of arresting them. As for U.S. law enforcement, there was no sign that the country’s gigantic security apparatus would crack down on the demonstration.
These events show that when law enforcement is genuinely needed to quash a far-right insurgency, it is timid and reluctant to do anything — a dangerous precedent to set indeed. Because these blockades are very likely just the start.
To be clear, as I have previously written, in the U.S. there definitely is far too much money spent on cops and courts, far too little spent on welfare benefits and social services that actually prevent crime, and far too little accountability for abusive cops. American police and jails are de facto charged with warehousing the social dysfunction caused by extreme inequality rather than actually doing much to control crime. But as we saw in Ottawa and Windsor, a democratic government does at least need some kind of armed service just in case some deranged violent minority tries to impose its will by force.