If you have been here long you know that I am a long distance truck driver and have been for around ten or so years. I have been from Campbell River, British Columbia to San Diego, California to Miami, Florida to Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador to Gillam, Manitoba to Fort McKay, Alberta. And just about everywhere between all those places.
Many of you have heard about the transport truck convoy that is taking place right now in Canada. The original purpose of the convoy was to convince the Canadian Federal Government to drop the vaccine mandate for Canadian truck drivers re-entering Canada from the United States. It has since turned into more of a freedom movement for all Canadians.
And I saw this today personally coming back from my latest trip from out west. Overpasses and on ramps along highway 400 from Barrie to Toronto were filled with Canadians cheering on all the truck drivers passing by. This continued on to highway 401 as I drove on towards Kitchener and eventually my home near Chatham, Ontario.
First, I want to thank every single Canadian. Every man, woman, child and senior that came out to show support not just for the truck drivers in the convoy but to all truck drivers on what was decidedly a terrible snowy and windy day. Thank you.
The last two years have been hard for everyone and that does include truck drivers. While we went to work to provide the things Canadians need for their every day lives we also put our health on the line to provide those things. Especially toward the beginning when no one knew what Covid-19 meant and how it was transmitted. This was a chilling time for everyone in the trucking industry.
I am proud to have served you all during this time. Yes, even I brought several loads of paper towel and toilet paper to replenish our empty store shelves.
Again, your support at the beginning and now is much appreciated. When I left North Bay, Ontario this morning I was discouraged. Many of our politicians have decided to turn a blind eye to truck drivers and this protest. But as I started to see you all waving your Canadian flags proudly and displaying your signs of encouragement it literally brought tears to my eyes.
Truck drivers are often ignored and treated poorly due many thinking they are uneducated and simply not intelligent. Well it may be true that some truck drivers are not very social or keep to themselves and just do their job, they are not uneducated nor unintelligent.
There are many regulations for which we must deal and they are different from state to state and province to province. We have regulations on how many hours a day we can work and when we must rest. We all have to have knowledge on where we are going and how to get there. No a GPS does not know the best way nearly 80% of the time.
We are dealing with heavier and heavier traffic on Ontario’s terrible infrastructure outside of the GTA. Highways 11 and 17 in northern Ontario are absolute death-traps. I was nearly killed three times my last trip and that is no exaggeration.
We also have to deal with shippers and receivers that often are not, friendly, receptive or helpful. Many do not even offer a washroom for us to use even if we are there for hours on end waiting to load or unload (and that’s before Covid was a thing). Thank you to Ontario’s Conservative Government finally recognizing this and offering legislation to change this.
This all starts to add up.
When the Canadian Government announced that, after two years of being essential, truckers would have to be fully vaccinated or face fines and up to a 14 day isolation period after being tested for Covid-19 upon arrival at the border, yeah, I can understand truck drivers getting upset about this.
In fact I am one of them right now. I currently cannot cross back into my own country without being tested and thrown into isolation.
I am not an anti-vaxxer. I have been vaccinated for all kinds of things throughout my lifetime. I had my first shot of Moderna over the holidays and I am getting my next shot this weekend. But that was my choice and it should be the same choice given to all Canadians regardless of vocation.
Of course that choice was forced. If I hadn’t done this my employer could not keep me on as a driver. I don’t blame my boss. He has a business to run and if I am unable to do the work he needs me to do he shouldn’t have to keep me around. I decided to get the shot, not because I thought it was going to be better for me health-wise, but because I was not going to have a way to earn a living.
That right there is why truck drivers are upset. Their livelihoods are one the line. They sacrifice a lot to bring people what they need. They are rarely home or even if they are home after a 16 hour day they basically go to bed instead of interacting with their families. I myself am home only a few times a month. Yes, it’s a lifestyle choice for some. For others, it’s a job that pays well that is relatively simple for which to get a start.
And I don’t want you to think I haven’t thought about all of those out there that have lost their jobs because of the pandemic whether it be through honest issues or ridiculous political or institutional regulations and mandates. My heart goes out to all of you and I pray that, if you haven’t yet, you will get back on your feet, Lord willing. I was fortunate to be able to work during all of this.
I can’t be with my fellow truck drivers in Ottawa for the rally. But I do offer encouragement. I have never have ever seen this kind of support ever for anything in Canada. Friends, you have the attention of the people and, even if he denies it and hides behind Covid for the weekend, Prime Minister Trudeau as well. Even if the media is doing it’s best to turn a blind eye as well.
Be brave. Be strong. Don’t fall to the pressures of those that want to co-opt the protest for negative means. Show Canada that, while we are content to be silent most of the time, we have a voice and this is our time to stand up for Canadians that can’t stand for their freedom or refuse to do so. Those last may not know it now, but they will thank you later.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV