Hundreds of people lined Highway 97 in 100 Mile House Sunday in support of a convoy of truckers on their way to Ottawa to protest federal cross-border COVID-19 regulations.
With signs reading “We Support Our Truckers” and “No More Mandates,” rally attendees waved and cheered at honking vehicles who passed by the large gathering, stretching from the South Cariboo Visitor Centre north along the highway.
“We support the truckers 150 per cent,” said Laura Clark, who held up a Canadian flag adorned in American-style stars and stripes. “If we don’t have truckers, we won’t have anything in our stores. This has gone on long enough.”
At issue is the removal of an exemption for cross-border truckers who, prior to Jan. 15, were not required to be vaccinated, take COVID tests or self-isolate when travelling to Canada from the US. With the exemption lifted, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated truck drivers will now be required to get a PCR test outside of Canada within 72 hours of crossing the border, get tested when they arrive and then self-test on Day 8 of a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
A convoy of trucks from around the country are headed to Ottawa as part of a Freedom Convoy in protest of the mandates. A GoFundMe account has raised more than $2.6 million as of Sunday to help cover fuel, food and lodging costs for the convoy.
In a statement last week, the Canadian Trucking Alliance said it “strongly disapproves” of any protest taking place on public roadways, highways and bridges, noting such actions are not the way disagreement with public policy should be handled.
“Members of the trucking industry who want to publicly express displeasure over government policies can choose to hold an organized, lawful event on Parliament Hill and not disrupt the travelling public,” the statement said.
Many of those taking part in Sunday’s rally in 100 Mile said they were concerned that impacts to truckers across the country would lead to supply chain issues locally.
“We are all impacted by this, we won’t be able to get groceries if these trucks aren’t moving,” said one rally attendee, who didn’t share his name. “It’s time for us to all get back to living our lives without being afraid of a flu.”