Convoy Continued

Previously: Convoy, also coverage from weekly post.

We continue to have ourselves a convoy, as well as attempts at similar additional convoys elsewhere.

We also have some rather startling actions on the part of the Canadian government, which made the ongoing situation impossible to ignore or disentangle.

I continue to be doing my best to understand what is happening without getting into politics, because this seems increasingly important to do, but the issue is inherently super political and the stakes keep getting raised. I did what I could, and encourage commenters to do the same, while continuing to request that all convoy-related comments be made on convoy-related posts. I won’t be joining those discussions and will confine what I say to the posts. I am happy that I have not yet had to delete any comments on previous convoy posts or even warn anyone, so hopefully that can continue.

The Convoys

As I understand it, there are:

  1. The original convoy in Ottawa’s streets making noise and attempting to cut off or restrict access to downtown.
  2. Several attempts to blockade border crossings between Canada and the United States.
  3. Various attempts to start other convoys that would use similar disruptive tactics elsewhere, without success as official response adjusted to the tactics.

The third point emphasizes, as many other reports do, that the city of Ottawa seriously botched its response to the convoy, and that this allowed the trucks to fortify their positions in various ways. Whereas in other places, they knew what was coming, and this did not happen.

This has some implications.

  1. In tactical terms this was a one-off success that relied on the element of surprise.
  2. If you clear things up now, there is no reason to expect the problem to reassert itself again because you can respond in Ottawa the way other cities have responded, which successfully diffused the problem without the military or noteworthy civil liberties violations.
  3. Thus, the problem for Ottawa is mostly how to physically remove the trucks.

The border crossings can be blocked by remarkably small numbers of vehicles that can then cause a lot of economic damage, allowing the problem to reassert itself over and over, so they are potentially trickier. There the incentive problem is more central there. But in Ottawa, if everyone could be transported back to their homes, as far as I can tell there is no clear next move.

Physically removing the trucks is easier said than done, but I continue to believe it is in the end and with some notice not all that hard either. The necessary equipment exists, it is for rent or sale, and we have airplanes to fly it in and people who can be paid enough to operate it. Any given local might refuse, but we need only a tiny portion of available capacity, and the majority of people oppose the protests, so I continue to not understand the physical issue.

As a thought experiment, suppose a bunch of truckers were hired to blockade access to Tesla’s factories to protest electric vehicles, and were shutting down production. Elon Musk is given full authorization to remove the trucks and an effectively unlimited budget. It has his attention. How long do you think it would take?

As far as I can make out, the concerns about physical difficulties are mostly excuses. The real problem is that if one started physically removing the trucks some of those in the convoy might get violent. If things did turn violent, people could die, which is both inherently worth avoiding and also could cause further trouble.

Thus, the solution of ‘go up to the first truck and start removing it and see what happens’ does not get implemented. Instead, we have other measures.

How serious is this worry?

What Is The Convoy Like? What Do They Want?

There have been a lot of arguments about this question. The leaders seemed to start off with some rather absurd demands, some of which they have backed off from. All sides strive to present it as what they would like it to be and nothing else. Depending on who you ask, it is a big party or an insurrection. It is friendly people or it is hard men. It is full of swastikas and confederate flags and actual Nazis or there were a few people unwisely using that to call Trudeau a Nazi. To a large extent various reports do seem to indicate they think the Canadian election results should be overturned.

This report from The Line seems like one of the more reliable ones from what I can tell. It makes a bold claim, that while most of the protesters are nothing unusual, there is a core group that is a much bigger threat.

The broader complaints of the protesters are a cover for the group seeking open conflict. Most of the convoy protesters aren’t part of this smaller, nastier group, nor linked to it in any overt way. Many of them will think any concern about it at all is just some MSM lamestream media conspiracy.

My government and security sources do not agree. What’s happening in Ottawa, they were clear, is two separate events happening in tandem: there is a broadly non-violent (to date) group of Canadians with assorted COVID-related gripes, ranging from the somewhat justified to totally frickin’ insane. But that larger group, which has knocked Ottawa and too many of our leaders into what my colleague Jen Gerson so perfectly described as “stun-fucked stasis,” is now providing a kind of (mostly) unwitting cover to a cadre of seasoned street brawlers whose primary goal is to further erode the legitimacy of the state — not just the city of Ottawa, or Ontario or Canada, but of democracies generally.

As I have written in the earlier dispatches, during the daytime, it’s something of a festival atmosphere along Wellington. At night, it is more grim and much more tense, but I still had no concerns or issues walking through the entire area. This encampment near the stadium?

That was something else.

And that’s what has Sloly worried, my sources tell me. Angry, disillusioned truckers can be talked down eventually, even if it takes a long time. The police know how to handle that. But there is another element here — smaller, hard to find, but real, which is why Sloly has been referring to the intelligence he’s seen, and asking for help, and saying he wants the military. Yes, yes, some of that is undoubtedly him wanting someone else to step up and take some of the heat. Some of it is seems rooted in a very real concern that what’s unfolding in Ottawa is something our leaders haven’t considered before, and don’t know how to handle, even if they accept it’s real, which seems to be a work in progress.

So yeah. The bouncy castles and the Fuck Trudeau signs aren’t really the story here. And if you’re wondering why no one wants to act, it’s because they’re afraid of what they’ll be unleashing.

Sloly resigned on Tuesday, it is not clear why but presumably because the situation was out of his hands and he didn’t want to be responsible for what happened next.

This all makes sense, but it also seems to offer a logistical solution. The encampment near the stadium is not blocking anyone’s access to anything important. That’s why the police moved people there in the first place. If that’s where the real problem is, one could isolate the compound without attempting to break it up while you dismantled the main operation in Wellington, and if those are indeed the people most prone to violence, they would have to do it by leaving their area and attacking police, which seems implausible and unlikely to accomplish much.

Potential Responses

The Line’s next post suggests a similar kettle strategy. First close off the protest, then start letting people out as individuals. Over time, the group shrinks. He looks for a reason one couldn’t do that, and can’t find one.

Indeed, many of the intersections along the blockade route are clear and unobstructed. A police operation to assume total control of those intersections, including placing heavy blocking vehicles of their own in them — buses and dump trucks, that sort of thing — would allow the police, in many areas, to cut the protest into much smaller segments. (Some intersections are already blocked by concrete barriers that have been brought in, see photo below.) A large deployment of officers, perhaps augmented by barriers and fencing, could chop the Ottawa protest’s main blocked routes into chunks, forming an instant kettle. And then the police would simply have to be patient. People could be urged to leave, and perhaps even promised a period of amnesty: anyone who leaves in the first eight hours avoids charges or faces reduced ones. After that period, to be blunt about this, it becomes a siege, but in reverse: the blockade becomes blockaded. The protesters are trapped inside, with whatever supplies they have on hand. You can come out peacefully at any time, but no one gets in.

Cut off from food, and the fuel cans that have so infuriated Ottawa residents as they’re carted in with total impunity, their position would grow weaker each day. The police could move in with overwhelming force into one segment at a time, breaking up the protest piece by piece, hopefully without any bloodshed. 

What’s wrong with that plan?

My police sources flagged three immediate challenges to this kind of strategy in Ottawa’s particular context.

First, all along the protest route, even if the police can control the intersections, they wouldn’t automatically control the sidewalks inside the kettled areas, and there are building entrances all along the streets that would need to be secured from the inside. Driving a bunch of furious protesters into an office building doesn’t help anyone.

I notice I am confused. Suppose all the furious protesters are driven into an office building. So what? That sounds perfect if they’re all in the same one. You close off the building so one one else gets in, cut the power and wait. Meanwhile you tow all the trucks. All remaining disruption is highly contained. What am I missing?

Another concern was that this would require a lot of officers — a lot.

Fair, but I don’t have much sympathy here. The scale and stakes are too high.

And the third challenge, of course, is that any move to divide and isolate the protest route could trigger an immediate reaction, possibly violent. The point of this strategy is to end the protest peacefully, without violent confrontation. But that depends on how the guys inside the cordon choose to react.

This again is the real crux. If you did the thing that would work, would they react with violence because it would work no matter what?

If so, you’re out of luck, but waiting will not fix the issue, because any move that would work will similarly provoke violence. Perhaps one could hope to cut things off less aggressively and provoke less reaction, but I doubt that much matters.

Still, I was told, my plan was generally in line with what would likely occur.

And then the border blockades began. 

I agree that the bridges need to be handled first. So if resources are limited, concentrate there. But is state capacity so low that the whole country is this stretched already? This was all pretty small and unpopular. Seems like it would not take much to render authorities rather helpless.

Go Fund Yourself

Those in the convoy have been attempting to raise money. There are people who want to give them money. Authorities do not want the money getting to the convoy.

They first tried to use GoFundMe. They came for GoFundMe, and GoFundMe was happy to get got. They seized the funds intending to direct them to charity, then were ‘convinced’ to refund the money instead.

They next used GiveSendGo. Various attempts were made to stop this. There was at least one legal attempt, but GiveSendGo defied it on the grounds that Canada lacked jurisdiction. There were also hacking attempts, which caused the site to redirect to

At the bottom of that website was a small download link to a .csv file.

Hackers leak names of ‘Freedom Convoy’ donors after GiveSendGo breach

A leak site says it has received a cache of information, including about donors to the Ottawa truckers’ Freedom Convoy protest, after fundraising site GiveSendGo was targeted by hackers overnight.

A short time later, nonprofit leak site Distributed Denial of Secrets said it had received 30 megabytes of donor information from GiveSendGo, including self-reported names, email addresses, ZIP codes and IP addresses.

A leak site says it has received a cache of information, including about donors to the Ottawa truckers’ Freedom Convoy protest, after fundraising site GiveSendGo was targeted by hackers overnight.

On Monday, GiveSendGo’s website said it was “under maintenance,” hours after the site was hijacked and redirected to a page believed to be controlled by the hackers, which no longer loads. The redirected page condemned the truckers who descended on Canada’s capital to oppose mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, causing widespread disruption to traffic and trade for more than a week.

The page also contained a link to a file containing tens of thousands of records of what was described as “raw donation data” about those who donated to the Freedom Convoy.

A short time later, nonprofit leak site Distributed Denial of Secrets said it had received 30 megabytes of donor information from GiveSendGo, including self-reported names, email addresses, ZIP codes and IP addresses.

Distributed Denial of Secrets, a site known for hosting sets of leaked data involving far-right groups, said that the data would only be provided to researchers and journalists.

The Boston, Massachusetts-based GiveSendGo became the primary donation service for the “Freedom Convoy” last month after GoFundMe halted the crowdsourcing campaign and froze millions of dollars in donations, citing police reports of violence across Ottawa. Over the weekend, a Canadian court issued an order halting access to the funds collected by GiveSendGo, which the company said it would defy.

Earlier in the month, the protesters raised more than $8 million for the Freedom Convoy.

What DDoS (quite the acronym there) does with the information is beside the point. That information is very much in the wild, with a number of anecdotes of people checking for donations from anyone in their area.

This did not seem to be a matter of curiosity so much as a prelude to retaliation. The plan is to take anyone who provided a donation, and attempt to ruin them.

Did you know that such hacked information violates Twitter’s code of conduct?

A live look at the Twitter support team’s reaction.

Would a universally applied and fairly enforced rule to not allow posting of illegally hacked information be a good rule? My guess is it beats the alternative, but that is definitely not what we have in practice.

Then the CBC decided to join the fun.

Seriously. Stop. You don’t do that.

I mean, no, I kid. Obviously. Of course they are doing that, using an illegally hacked list of donations and going after those who contributed money in every way they can.

An Online Meeting

Thread is worth a read, so quoting in full and giving proper HT.

Reminds one of the quote from Mel Brooks: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

Yes, the whole thing is pretty funny, but it is a poor atom blaster that won’t point both ways. Is it going to be funny in reverse? Well, yeah. It’s going to be hilarious. Yet I expect many not to think so. And eventually it is going to get old.

I’d also note that the ‘none of us know how to use the Bitcoin’ is not going to be true for much longer, but also I saw discussions of how people propose bitcoin be used securely in this spot and none of it is remotely reasonable in practice if the people involved do not already have secure wallets they know how to use. One speculation said it would be fine if half the coins were lost, so long as no one stole a large number of them. I wonder if that should make us bullish on bitcoin, because if people are willing to lose large amounts of bitcoin permanently then that will continuously shrink supply and thus raise the value of the remaining coins.

Then again, bitcoin has been proven very traceable and seems like… not a great choice? I’d presume that such efforts would in the long run be much more interested in Monero or ZCash or MobileCoin or something, yet I see no movement of privacy coins during these events in terms of BTC. In the short run, if you have barely heard of bitcoin, seems unlikely you’ll know to or how to turn to ZCash.

Official Response

Any operations initially planned for Ottawa got redirected to Windsor to first reopen the Ambassador Bridge, because there was no choice in the matter.

Blocking economically viable bridges is not something a government can accept while continuing to claim to be the government. It is also not a way to win hearts and minds, as it does lots of real rather than symbolic damage. It directly restricts freedom of movement, the exact thing that is supposed to be the goal of the protest.

There was no world where Canada could or should tolerate a blockade of the Ambassador Bridge.

Closing it imposed an immediate, harsh cost that closing Coutts, Emerson and, to be blunt, most of downtown Ottawa, did not. It also triggered a strong reaction from U.S. officials, reportedly including President Biden himself. Our problem has become America’s problem, and America can’t tolerate a neighbour that can’t keep its problems on their side of the border. My sources in Ottawa report that the Americans are willing to help us as best they can, but they’re also being explicitly clear — fix your goddamn mess, friendly northern neighbours. Now.

On February 11, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency, called protest in Ottawa an “illegal occupation.”

Threats of going after drivers’ licences and seizing vehicles are also intended to convince those who may be wondering if they’ve made a terrible mistake that it’s time to pack up and head home while they still can.

Which all seems to me like reasonable and proportional. If you use your vehicle in such a fashion, it seems tough but fair to threaten to seize the vehicle. If you drive in ways that cause major disruptions, taking away your license also seems tough but fair. Similar things happen for a lot less. And all orders of magnitude smaller than the damage being done.

Then the bridge was cleared, here is some video that is being called ‘unbelievable’ but also looks like officials clearing people away from a bridge and arresting them so I don’t see the issue believing it, and it looks like a very small number of vehicles were still there in the end.

Police in Windsor, Ontario, said earlier in the day that more than two dozen people had been peacefully arrested, seven vehicles towed and five seized as officers cleared the last demonstrators from near the bridge, which links the city — and numerous Canadian automotive plants — with Detroit.

I mean, that’s it? That’s the ‘end of democracy’ some people are talking about, two dozen arrests by armed personnel along with twelve vehicles, which were sufficient to block a bridge and cause billions in damage?

The Coutts border crossing blockade has been cut off and no one is allowed in. Those inside simultaneously are reported to be calling a raid the previous night by police that seized two vehicles ‘massive overkill’ and also would consider success the fall of the government.

Then the Emergencies Act was invoked, like father like son, federalizing the whole problem and eliminating much potential buck passing and allowing the full force of the government to be brought to bear on the task rather than leaving each jurisdiction on its own. That much seems sensible, but what else is involved here?

The third issue before us is the one we alluded to above: now that the act has been invoked, what are the feds going to do with it? With one big exception, which we’ll get to in a moment, we aren’t really sure. The federal government has said what powers it has granted itself, at least in a general sense. (At press time, we were still short many details.) But in general, the emergency orders will allow police to more aggressively protect critical sites, will permit targeting of licenses and insurance policies, will allow the government to compel the use of equipment and personnel (tow trucks and drivers, anyone?) and will make it easier for police to make arrests or issue fines.

To that you say: “Okaaaaaay … but, like, couldn’t they do that before?”

Your Line editors remain somewhat baffled by the inability or unwillingness of the police to do their jobs. In Ottawa’s specific case, Line editor Matt Gurney offered some possible explanations in a dispatch last week, but his sources only spoke to the challenge once the protesters were dug in. We can’t explain why they were able to dig in in the first place.

I definitely am confused why all of that required the invoking of something called the emergencies act. It seems like all of this should be standard operating procedure modulo compelling the use of private resources and especially personnel. For those, I keep being confused why they can’t be sourced elsewhere.

It seems like the answer is that this is about money. In particular, it is about not only demanding that crowdfunding sites report on their own customers the way banks do and treat the protests as ‘terrorists’ it is about cutting off anyone involved from the entire financial system (link is to video of announcement of details). Note that this includes cryptocurrencies in the reporting requirements.

What. The. Hell?

We don’t do that. Right?

I mean I guess the we in question does do that now.

Tyler Cowen’s link merely called this “A Blow to the Canadian Rule of Law.” It definitely is that.

It also seems like an unforced error – unless, that is, such folks want to destroy rule of law. The police should be able to solve this, but if they can’t, the military is available, and I would expect it to be a far less destabilizing option.

Presumably the reason this is going down this way is that, like many with power and authority these days, those trying to stop this can only think in symbolic terms.

They don’t know how to engage with the physical world. They don’t think about what it physically takes to remove the trucks, so they use the only tools they do know. Having botched the situation and failed to apply or understand necessary and proportionate legal response, they choose unnecessary and disproportionate response through emergency powers.

They go after people’s reputations and money. Except that is the opposite of what will lead to a peaceful resolution. Such moves are exactly what one would do in order to cause the people in question not to see compromise as an option, and for them to seek various forms of exit and open conflict. They are also atom blasters that can point both ways, and that will in time point both ways when the pendulum swings.

There is a claim this will be proportionate

Trudeau said the measures would be geographically targeted and time limited.

…but this doesn’t feel at all plausible given what was announced.

So these are the moves that happened, causing reactions like these:

That was if anything one of the less hyperbolic reactions I saw. A lot of people who are not in the habit of aggressively freaking out about such things are aggressively freaking out about it. Others are saying versions of ‘welcome to the party, everyone who didn’t realize until now it would get this bad.’

The whole idea in such situations should be to avoid this dynamic.

If, in Trudeau’s words, this is ‘not a peaceful protest’ and therefore can be treated like a terrorist act, then there’s very much a ‘well, we’re late’ dynamic to that.

Of course, the actual reaction makes clear this is not true.

Police are not going in to clear the protest because they fear it would turn violent.

If it was already violent, then there would not be much worry about turning violent, and also there would be no holding back hoping it worked itself out.

When there is a potentially violent situation, that’s when one holds back. Once they start shooting, assuming you have the firepower, you stop holding back. Similarly, if these people were actual terrorists in the sense that anti-terrorist laws intended, presumably they would be facing bigger problems and threats.

Thus there are still differences, at least for now, between potentially and actually, even if those involved intend to use language to obscure the difference. The penalty for being late is not death. It does seem to perhaps involve losing all one’s bank accounts. It does involve being banned from social media. It likely involves a large degree of making people unemployable. It often involves punishing those seen associating or defending you, or consuming your previously created content, and seems to include attacking those who provide you financial assistance.

What you won’t be is dead or spending a long time in prison.

You can decide to what extent this constitutes an ‘unpersoning,’ and in turn how close such an action is to death or imprisonment.

What does seem to be happening is that a lot of people are being radicalized by this, feeling that the ‘price of peace’ has been raised and is likely to be raised again. That this deal keeps getting worse all the time. They will act accordingly.

Where does that leave things?

Sounds like we’ll be cracking down even harder on future protests that power does not like. But it’s not like that is new. By this rationale they could have done a lot of things.

Oh. Right.

Meanwhile, future such incidents will be harder to diffuse, and be designed and planned to give those involved options in exactly the ways and situations that lead to people dying. And more people will be more inclined to make their lives more robust to government or corporate intervention, including the adoption of things like cryptocurrency.

The government of Canada is treating the convoy not like protestors but instead like rebel scum and enemies of the people, and is being interpreted as such, but it refuses to come out and say it. I find it interesting that those who want to treat the convoy’s actions as illegitimate use the term ‘occupation’ rather than ‘rebellion,’ since it draws an obvious parallel to Occupy Wall Street and many other similar attempts at disruption that I would hope everyone involved agrees do not merit this type of reaction and that a role-reversed version of this would go so much worse for everyone.

I also don’t see much of an alternative, in the case that people cause major disruptions for indefinite periods of time, especially while being small in number and lacking popular support. One cannot give in to such demands even if one wanted to, as those opposed could do the same thing and you get caught in the middle. So if a small minority has the power to shut down your country, you need to find a way to stop that.

If one wants to meaningfully protest, what to do? The New Zealand experience was that they tried to do a convoy purely on the issue of vaccine mandates and it was promptly hijacked by extremists. Even their original plan was to blockade the capital until vaccine mandates were lifted, and again this does not work at all since the pro-mandate side can do the same thing and also we can’t have policy determined by who can rally larger groups of people. Also the authorities tried at one point to disperse the crowd by playing Baby Shark and other music and it turned into a sing-along, which seems awesome on all counts and much more ‘what sane authorities would try doing’ but didn’t help solve anything going forward.

Finally, in addition to withdrawing vaccine mandates in Ontario and Quebec, Canada lowered some of its useless border measures. Probably nothing.

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66 Responses to Convoy Continued

  1. Rotten Bananas says:

    My apologies for posting an update on Convoys outside Canada in the weekly post of the last week, didn’t know the rule on that. Zvi, please delete my comment on Canberra in the 2/10 weekly post.

    Here is what I said that is still relevant: While we should eventually go back to the Old Normal and treat COVID like seasonal flu, the movement has been largely co-opted by Trumpist-adjacents who are planning to overturn far more than burdensome COVID restrictions. I’ll write a long comment in their tendencies for this post, if Zvi allows.

    • TheZvi says:

      No worries, just keep the policy in mind going forward.

      Reports on what is going on are appreciated as long as confined to Convoy-labeled posts. The goal is to know what is happening. I simply want to avoid advocacy and political fights (and yes I realize I am not doing a 100% complete job there but I’m trying damn it and I expect the same from others).

      • Rotten Bananas says:

        Rethinking about it, you probably understand the dynamics of those who are ideologically deeply invested in the Convoys or the antivaxx cause. The only thing I need to say is repeating what I thought of in the first Convoy post: Some of the energies directed to such efforts might in time shifted to Exit/Going Galt, as they wish to establish alternative institutions and bases of power that follow their ideologies, instead of challenging what is being set by the existing institutions. They might even think generationally and hope for their descendants and to gain power and “avenge” the wrongs, the way I saw some anti-woke people on the right considers their situation.

  2. Seb says:

    Zvi, one point to add that you may have missed. A group of heavily armed and armoured folks planning to murder RCMP officers were arrested in Alberta. If I were being charitable to Trudeau, I would suggest that this played a large part in the “these people are terrorist scum” rhetoric.

    That being said, I think that despite not being Canadian, you hit the nail on the head by suggesting that there’s a massive failure to engage with physical reality in favour of symbolic gestures. That seems to be a problem that transcends political parties here in Canada, and doesn’t surprise me at all.

    Aside from all that, many people here in Canada are relatively bemused at the timing of all this. Pandemic restrictions were set to be eased in almost every province within the next few weeks anyways, and suddenly a big protest shows up just in time to claim victory on that front? Highly suspicious.

    • Graham Blake says:

      Maybe Zvi missed this story in the process of drafting this piece, but I agree it’s significant. Authorities are having to deal with accelerationists who have made themselves part of this movement. That creates a public safety minefield. This dangerous situation that was brewing in Coutts is all the more galling given how warm and friendly police were to the Coutts protesters blocking the border.

      I am likewise bemused. You see a lot of protesters taking a victory lap. I’ll concede that the elimination of vaccine passports in the prairie provinces was likely accelerated by the protests, but this is pure political points scoring with their base. This is the equivalent of State Legislatures in deeply red states aligning with Trump’s base, and to spite Team Blue. It’s not power yielding to the people so much as it’s political theatre. Broadly speaking, almost all regions of the country had only reimposed additional moderate restrictions in mid-December when responding to the Omicron wave, and they were all poised to start lifting them again as this wave has subsided. Even in the most liberal and/or progressive provinces. Masks and passports might be slower or faster to go away based on regionalisms, but the whole country was moving in this direction anyway.

  3. Thegnskald says:

    There’s a bit of a “Now look what you made me do” element to the official response which, anecdotal evidence of one, makes me more sympathetic to the convoy, and its objectives.

  4. Zviposter says:

    > “The majority of people oppose the protests”

    > “This was all pretty small and unpopular”

    Zvi, do you have a source for claims like this? I’m not talking about some debatable proxy like “the president of the Canadian Trucking Association condemned it”. I wonder if you’ve drunk the Koolaid here. I have no doubt that many, many left-wing people on Twitter and in the media are against it, but you make it sound like it’s a fringe movement that has barely any supporters across Canada. This hasn’t been my experience at all – opinion is admittedly divided on this issue but most “ordinary” people (e.g. not talking heads on TV) seem to have at least some sympathy for the protesters.

    The second thing I wanted to call out was the fact that the protests have still been nonviolent and nondestructive. It is not really an unruly mob that needs to be kettled. The allegations of “hard men” is based on one guy who walked around and noticed some dudes staring at him. They didn’t say anything or do anything violent to him, just stared. Perhaps they were staring because they rightly suspected he was a journalist looking to write a hit piece and wanted to keep an eye on him (can you really blame the protesters for being wary of the media? Look how CBC has covered it). If you remove all subjective elements from that “hard men” article it objectively says the protest is friendly and peaceful. Haven’t you ever had an experience where you realized someone else’s interpretation of an event was way way off because they subjectively distorted it in their head? Think of the meme [1] where the couple is lying in bed together and the woman looks concerned and is thinking “I wonder what he’s thinking about” and the man looks serious and deep in thought but he’s thinking about something dumb. If you read a report from that woman she would say “he was really friendly and kind last night and didn’t say anything wrong, but from the way he was in thought I knew there was another woman on his mind”. That is the level of evidence we have for the “hard men” thing. Ultimately it’s probably just because the author isn’t used to interacting with high testosterone working-class men, who have different norms than he’s used to.

    [1] –

  5. Tom W says:

    There’s another dynamic you may be missing: Canadian authorities willingness to use all possible symbolic/rhetorical/financial force, while being reluctant to use physical force like cops and tow trucks, betrays where they’re confident in their strength and where they are uncertain.

    They can 100% rely on banks, friendly media outlets, and tech companies to follow along with their instructions. They are not nearly as convinced that police, military units, or tow truck operators (and keep in mind that there’s plenty of that equipment, but not a large group of people with the skills to use it!) will act with the same level of dedication, even if directly ordered to.

    • NoPie says:

      I don’t think that financial blockage will be effective. The truckers haven’t got any money so far and are still standing, so why not stand a little bit more. They rely on people on ground helping them. They get fuel and food. If the trucks are removed, they will put up tents or something.

  6. Brett Bellmore says:

    So, what happens when you send the convoy home, and they *stay* home?

    IOW, when a convoy becomes a trucker strike?

    • Graham Blake says:

      Nothing. The participating truckers are effectively “on strike” now. It’s had no effect on the movement of goods, with the exception of the blocked border crossings while they were out there and actively blocking them. The overwhelming majority of truckers are continuing to do their jobs, and over 90% of them happen to be vaccinated. I am honestly not really sure there is more sympathy for the convoy protest within the trucker community than there is in the general population. There is certainly a lot of opposition to it in the trucker community. Many find it to be embarrassing and feel that it reflects poorly on them. The original trucker-centric elements of the protest were a giant nothingburger in the first place. The Canadian mandates, as they applied to Canadian truckers, were only for those returning to Canada after crossing the border. The US has its own vaccine mandate on truckers entering the US. Unvaccinated Canadian truckers couldn’t even enter the US in the first place to then return later and be affected by the Canadian mandate. Plenty of truckers recognize this and are unsympathetic to the convoy overall. There’s no general strike of truckers coming. We’d have already seen it.

  7. NoPie says:

    Well, 3 weeks ago I predicted in comments here that the protests will last a month or two. It has nothing to do with the element of surprise or even trucks that cannot be moved but with the determination of protesters and their supporters. It was cold, their cause was understandable, the restrictions are mandates were revoked in many countries and the government just looked stupid to fight against those demands.
    In other countries there either is no such need (the UK) or the people in general trust the government too much.
    My prediction is that this will end with Trudeau resignation. This will not be a win for protesters either but it will set a long term policy (just like Orange Revolution in Ukraine did). Ironically these days Trudeau shows support to Ukraine not even understanding that his government is more like Russian today.

  8. John says:

    I don’t understand the fundamentals of the reasoning going on here.

    > The third point emphasizes, as many other reports do, that the city of Ottawa seriously botched its response to the convoy,
    > In tactical terms this was a one-off success that relied on the element of surprise.

    This is an example of what I see everyone trying to do: assign some blame for these events to (parts of) the Canadian government. If this was a surprise, they can’t have botched anything: they literally didn’t know what was going to happen, which makes it pretty hard to take action to prevent it. So to me this seems like gratuitously trash talking the government to be seen as participating on The Good Side.

    What I see is a minority of angry people that has found a way to be very annoying and many people cheering them on, because they enjoy a nice ringside view on anything anti-government that could lead to a nice spectacle (while priding themselves on being on The Good Side by pointing out how these angry folks have *some* justifications and demands that smart contrarian people object-level agree with). They’re just encouraging these poor saps until violence is unavoidable and then their ‘support’ will turn out to be as fake as it is.

    The timing of this whole thing feels very “last chance to do our thing before we’re returning to normalcy and the latent anger and resentment in part of the population will dissipate before we can weaponize it”. I don’t see how the participants in this movement deserve *any* credit.

  9. hbd03 says:

    It appears to me that the Canadian government has done the same thing as the blue state governments here in the US: they have imposed an extra-constitutional “emergency” protocols concerning how we are to act to control or contain the virus, which turns out to fit the world that the administrative & laptop workers live in, but does not fit the world of physical labor or other activities (schooling) which turn out to require physical presence to work right.

    Meanwhile, the assumptions underlying the protocols have proved to be false in many respects – masks have limited efficacy, the vaccines do not prevent transmission of the virus, there is not a general level of risk that applies across all populations, and natural immunity is at least as efficacious as the vaccines, as the nature of the virus changes but the vaccines remain the same.

    Rather than to examine the changed pandemic environment & the circumstances physical workers find themselves in & alter the protocols to fit, the government disregards the needs of a substantial portion of the population, and when faced with opposition, doubles down. (When faced here in the US with parents who want their kids back in school without masks, the government brings its police power to bear on them.)

    In short, the government, having given itself “temporary” administrative emergency powers, now seems to regard those powers as necessary to the point of making them permanent, when the “emergency” itself no longer constitutes an emergency, even though it is still a problem.

    The Covid crisis has revealed the authoritarian streak in the administrative state, and the truckers have reacted against it. They are a proxy for all of us who see the crisis as having resulted in government actions which extend the totalitarian reach of the state, which reach is threatening to become permanent.

    If the Canadian parliamentary system works as I understand it is supposed to, the government should fall, and be replaced with one which would then be in a position to negotiate the truckers’ concerns in a rational fashion. Trudeau should go.

  10. Graham Blake says:

    The use of the Emergencies Act powers is not a very popular move here. There are a lot of people who oppose both the convoy protest and the implementation of the Emergencies Act. However, my general read at this point is that there’s probably at least a slim majority who fall along the resignation-acceptance spectrum about it. Something needed to be done. A better-something should have been before it got to this point, but here we are, and something needs to be done.

    The need to compel tow companies to assist should not be underestimated as a contributing factor to the Emergencies Act getting employed here. Yes, there were probably other options for getting in resources to assist, but if too few resources within hundreds of km were willing to get dragged in, then it requires bringing resources in from thousands of km away, and that is a major logistical challenge. Not impossible, but with the Emergencies Act you get to compel the local tow outfits, and it also gives the local tow outfits cover to simply shrug, apologize to truckers, and say it’s not their fault. It may be an excessive overreach in almost all respects, but it’s hard to argue with the expediency of this angle. Expediency was required at this point. I am not really sure that they would have gone the Emergencies Act route were it not for this specific factor. (The added “bonus” is that the authorities now have some real weight to throw behind a “fuck around and find out” attitude toward intransigent protesters blocking critical infrastructure.)

    One theory on why law enforcement was tiptoeing around the protest in Ottawa, and not taking a more aggressive kettling approach, was the fear of police getting hemmed in or kettled themselves. Apparently there are camps outside of the city where more trucks and people are in reserve. I don’t have a good overall tactical picture, or the ability to really sanity check this for myself, but as the theory goes, there was concern that the protesters being kettled could potentially call in reinforcements who could then kettle in the police involved in that operation, leading to a potentially very dangerous escalation of the situation. I don’t have a link handy to confirm if this speculation/analysis is sourced, but if I can find one I will share it. It seems at least a plausible explanation for some of the trepidation that ultimately allowed the protest to get as entrenched as it did.

    On the matter of police trepidation overall (congeniality even!) this is an interesting aspect to how this whole situation got out of hand. Canada has a lot of protests. It’s one of our main pastimes after hockey and apologizing. Generally these protests are in service of progressive and environmental causes. As a general rule any such protest that has even a small chance of causing a real disruption is met with a tactical and militarized police response. If you don’t see a large battalion of riot police right in your face, you know they are right around the corner. Their presence is always palpable. In this case, not only did police and political leadership take a soft touch with this protest convoy, the police on the scene gave a lot of comfort to the protest with their congenial approach. Now I am no advocate of a default tactical response to dissent by the state, but the question, “What the hell?!” is being asked fairly here. There was no sense in which these protesters felt under threat by the police in the early days of the protests, and they sure used that time and opportunity to dig in. I don’t know if this is largely a matter of leadership, or if this is an implicit bias thing. It sure seems like police on the ground were at least somewhat sympathetic to a protest that primarily annoyed liberals for once. It was a whole different vibe from what Indigenous and environmentalist protesters experience from cops in this country. Night and day.

    I don’t know how this goes, but I am, say, 70% optimistic that the Emergencies Act doesn’t go on beyond 7 days? I think the government is strongly incentivized to limit its use of these powers, both in scope and duration. The government may get out of this looking okay if the Emergencies Act powers are used surgically and effectively to bring a relatively swift resolution to the most critical disruptions. It might even gloss over their earlier failures. If it drags out and leads to drawn out public debate about their use, the competence of a government that couldn’t avoid their use, while ALSO failing to resolve the problem quickly even with their use… Yikes.

    • Tom Bushell says:

      Graham Blake, here’s a Twitter thread from someone who actually visited the satellite encampments;

      His opinion is they are “basically forward operating bases”

      As a Canadian (Nova Scotia). I think you are offering the most accurate commentary here

      • Graham Blake says:

        Thanks! I have been following Ling and I believe it was that very thread that got me thinking about the risk of protesters kettlling the cops. I just couldn’t remember what I had read that got me thinking about that. Definitely provides an alternate explanation, besides sheer complacency, as to why police have not contained protesters in ways they typically do in mass protests.

    • SamChevre says:

      Generally these protests are in service of progressive and environmental causes. As a general rule any such protest that has even a small chance of causing a real disruption is met with a tactical and militarized police response.

      I’ll note that this is not the perception that I’d get from the media: it was my impression that the CGL protests that shut down a good chunk of the Canadian Rail network had not gotten anything like as much of hostile response as the convoy.

      • Graham Blake says:

        Fair point, but most of those rail blockades were up and down within a one week period between Feb 13 and Feb 20. Some with police dismantling them and others voluntarily. To be sure the authorities handled that event gingerly, but I don’t think that really takes away from my central point which is that typically infrastructure blockades by Indigenous activists face a militarized police response with a distinct absence of conviviality between police and protesters.

        • SamChevre says:

          It had been my impression that the rail shutdown was part of a larger and long-running series of protests and blockades that had delayed the CGL project by several years.

      • Graham Blake says:

        And the CGL protests and blockades have faced a heavy tactical and militarized police response throughout. The vibe is very much a standoff. Which is my point. The RCMP and other Canadian police forces tend to do a show of force with disruptive protests, with visible officers in tactical gear. This has been typical for decades. Do a Google image search for wet’suwet’en blockade police to see what I mean. That’s the tone they typically set, but they decided against setting here. In this case the Ottawa police practically rolled out a welcome mat by comparison. There was no point, especially in the first weeks, where police showed any sign that they intended to contain or constrain the protest. That is unusual. They usually show they have the means and intentions to keep a protest in check, and they typically don’t mingle with the protesters. Restricting the area of protest with a large and visible containment force is routine. Ignoring the apparent double standard, I believe their perhaps well-intentioned decision to avoid any show of force made it harder to draw lines later about how disruptive they would allow this protest to become. Once the protest became “too disruptive” with no real action from the police to contain those disruptions, the police made the job of dialling it back to a more manageable level of disruption very hard for themselves.

      • Graham Blake says:

        Having had a few days for this to roll around in my head, I have to declare a false equivalency here.

        Outside of a wider context and looked at only superficially, one can easily (and conveniently) compare the recent blockades of border crossings with Indigenous blockades of railways in 2020, and the lack of immediate action to end these respective blockades.

        If one looks back over the past 30 years of Indigenous protests that led to standoffs and infrastructure blockades, it’s much harder to say these are similar government postures. When an Indigenous Nation blockades infrastructure in their territory in Canada, there are no illusions whatsoever about how aggressive police action will be when and if it comes. There is a reasonable expectation that it may involve lethal use of force. It is hardcore lives-on-the-line by default, right from the outset. Indigenous people know this, the police know this, the government knows this, the public knows this. Oka, Ipperwash, Gustafson Lake. There are decades of precedent that inform this. Whether or not there is a visible militarized tactical response, there absolutely IS a militarized tactical response being prepared. It is known.

        To whatever extent this superficially looks like a hands off approach, or a similar hands off approach to recent border blockades, it is just that. Superficial. Efforts to deescalate Indigenous blockades to avoid the potential for loss of life is not in the same universe as police mingling with protesters blockading the border crossings.

  11. hapablap says:

    The NZ protest was not “promptly hijacked by extremists.” The live stream today looks like a peaceful farmer’s market, with every sign pointed toward the camera being about stopping the mandates, and not a single anti-vax or extremist sign. This is ten days into it.

  12. Graham Blake says:

    My faith that the use of the Emergencies Act powers would be used surgically is shaken a bit by how quickly they are making use of the financial powers of the act. This is pretty hard core and chilling. It’s certainly a big stick. I sincerely hope that’s the primary intention here, and it’s used very narrowly – if at all – and it’s primarily a threat to put the fear of god into some key people.

  13. Nate Dogg says:

    From the CBC:

    “These financial institutions can’t handle cash, issue a loan, extend a mortgage or more generally facilitate “any transaction” of a “designated person” while the Emergencies Act is in place.

    The regulations define a “designated person” who can be cut off from financial services as someone who is “directly or indirectly” participating in a “public assembly that may reasonably be expected to lead to a breach of the peace,” or a person engaging in “serious interference with trade” or “critical infrastructure.”

    “Over the longer term, Davis said, it may be hard for some of the truckers participating to ever find work again because they could lack the necessary insurance to operate a big rig.

    “Paying bills, paying rent and any kind of day-to-day financial transaction can be stopped for people who are part of the protest movement,” she said.

    There may also be some “unintended consequences” from frozen accounts, such as suspended alimony and child support payments, Davis said. “It’s going to be very difficult for them.”

  14. thechaostician says:

    “As a thought experiment, suppose a bunch of truckers were hired to blockade access to Tesla’s factories to protest electric vehicles, and were shutting down production. Elon Musk is given full authorization to remove the trucks and an effectively unlimited budget. It has his attention. How long do you think it would take?”

    Are you suggesting that we launch the trucks into orbit around the sun?

    • thechaostician says:

      Some (not joke) thoughts on why you might not want to use a kettle strategy:

      Are there any apartment buildings inside the kettle? If there are, that complicates things. They will likely leave in the 8 hours of amnesty, but

      (1) Some of them won’t because they’re sick or they’re old or they don’t interact with the outside world and didn’t hear your announcement.
      (2) You have to house them until the kettle successfully reclaims that territory. The cost of this should be much smaller than what’s a stake, but they might provide high publicity criticism of the plan.
      (3) If the protestors want to be mean, they can refuse to let the residents out. Multiple layers of sieges are/were common enough to have their own terminology (contravallation & circumvallation). I think that the concern of driving the protestors into an office building should really be about driving the protestors into an apartment building.

  15. Bobbo says:

    I’m just going to do a dump of my thoughts on this. Zvi, I know you said you kept the politics out of your post, mostly. I can’t help it.

    I really thought Justin Trudeau would support this protest. Sure he said originally it was a small fringe minority coming with unacceptable views, but I thought he’d see the light when 20k people showed up. Not because he’d realize their views were acceptable, but he’d care about the votes. When Black Lives Matter protestors came, he somehow became the leader of the march. He knelt down in front of them, I think he even cried on cue. Plus, the anti-mandate protestors are actually right. This is a nonsense policy. All of our medical professionals (at least, many… Tam, Kieran Moore) have suggested they agree. Zvi agrees. Denmark agrees. My own logic agrees. Don’t we have a social contract, where if a certain number of protestors, protesting a very reasonable cause, gather, the Prime Minister meets with them or sends a representative, tells them they matter and he cares, and then he makes at least some token acquiescence?

    Brilliant political mind though in the PM, painting them as Nazis. Canadians rightly hate Nazis. I know Trudeau controls CBC, but I don’t understand why other prestige media took up his talking points so.

    Are the protestors still representing minority views though? I’m not so sure. I’m not sure how to find out either, because there’s such a class divide. I think most Canadians at least have some sympathy for the protestors. I posted what I thought to be a neutral comment on r/Ottawa reddit, and it was immediately deleted by a mod. How then to know the true mood of the populace? I will say though, that there are many many more people in the protest, than the counter protests.

    I do think the Ottawa police have a lot of sympathy for the convoy, which has mostly gone unaddressed in the prestige media, and probably explains much of their response In my mind, of course they have sympathy. It’s a long-ass protest in brutal cold weather, which has been almost completely peaceful. Unlike the BLM protests, which involved a lot of looting and vandalism. My friend’s bar was robbed one night during a BLM protest, and this crime didn’t diminish his support for BLM whatsoever. Ottawa tried to impose a vaccine mandate on the police, and failed, partially due to police union opposition. Makes sense to me police support the peaceful (man woman and child) protestors, most of whom are waving Canadian flags and singing O Canada. They have solidarity with the tow truck drivers, and the farmers.

    My idea is that people who find a core of “hard men” probably find the idea of white blue collar workers to be automatically scary.

    The supreme court of Canada has said that illegally parking a vehicle in a protest is protected speech. Why would the police union not stand in solidarity with those expressing their love of freedom which is constitutionally protected?

    There’s talk earlier about the staging area in the Hampton Inn parking lot on Vanier. I went there last week at night. The atmosphere was quieter, and I thought someone might ask me what I was doing there. I did not worry about violence. No one asked me anything. People did look at me though. Hard men, or quiet tired men?

    Finally, I’m seeing a lot of people posting… “these protests are too peaceful. That’s evidence of how dangerous they really are. Maybe they’re full of street brawlers who are just waiting for their chance, and have tided themselves over for 18 days peacefully protesting as a trap.” Even anti-convoy articles generally describe them as peaceful or jubilant. I read protests described today as “a mix of letterkenny and Burning Man.” Somehow in a way suggesting that this is bad.

    • George H. says:

      Thank you. I think political views are OK, (as long as confined to Convoy threads) and that it is Zvi, who will try to refrain from saying anything political in the comments. (But I could be wrong.) My understanding was that trucks are parked outside the city center because there isn’t any more space in the city. And not for any nefarious reasons.

      • TheZvi says:

        Correct that it is ok to talk politics in the Convoy threads to the extent it is necessary to model the situation. Partisan advocacy and bickering that is not necessary for the world modeling is still not OK.

  16. Jared says:

    Way back in 2002 (two decades ago!), folks in the first GW Bush administration laid the groundwork for the terrible anti-insurgency policies conducted after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Way back then, too, journalists were in the habit of finding and uncovering those hidden machinations deep inside large government bodies. . . I wonder what memos circulated the Trudeau administration laying the groundwork for these extra-judicial asset freezes? This policy, so publicly announced by Canadian authorities, wasn’t just an idea someone in the Prime Minister’s office thought up in the shower. There *must* be pre-existing discussion, legal rationalization, and communication within the government and banks.

    I know this borders on conspiracy theory — which is why I want to see the professional journalists do their jobs on this topic. Yet it’s also the case that the same authorities have been on the phones for several weeks to figure out how to tow a bunch of trucks. Extra-judicial asset freezes just happen with an announcement??? Surely I’ve missed something

  17. Randall says:

    Is there any evidence of the CBC doing what Ezra Levant accuses them of doing that does not come from Ezra Levant? I’m unable to trust him after the Quebec City mosque shooting, when his “news org” did exactly the thing Scott described in Bounded Distrust- pretending a shooter was Muslim. At least, until they could no longer get away with it.

  18. J.S. Bangs says:

    Amidst all this talk of how the Ottawa government could have responded to the protests, why aren’t we counting the option of just… giving them what they want. Zvi, you’ve repeatedly said that vaxx mandates and mask mandates no longer make physical sense. They were already slated to be lifted in a few weeks. Their demands were not unreasonable, or could have been quickly talked down from something unreasonable to something sensible (as mentioned in one of your links). By far the lowest cost response to the protests would have been to meet with their leaders and say, “Yep, we’ll lift the mandates tomorrow.” And then the protesters would have gone home, and none of this would have happened.

    The only cost would have been the loss of face among the political class, and of course the politicians regard that price as unthinkable. Given that reality, it is perverse to attribute the cost of the ongoing crisis to the convoy’s intransigence when we could have solved the problem in a matter of days if it weren’t for the government’s intransigence.

  19. Matty Wacksen says:

    > My government and security sources do not agree. What’s happening in Ottawa, they were clear, is two separate events happening in tandem: there is a broadly non-violent (to date) group of Canadians […] unwitting cover to a cadre of seasoned street brawlers whose primary goal is to further erode the legitimacy of the state — not just the city of Ottawa, or Ontario or Canada, but of democracies generally.

    “seasoned street brawlers” don’t oppose democracy specifically, they maybe don’t like authority in general. But even this may be a stretch, a “seasoned” brawler likes to brawl, which is probably the dumbest way to cause mayhem.

    The issue here is a very angry minority. This minority is angry enough to have driven to Ottawa and camp there, but is currently not trying to cause real mayhem. The government should try to keep it this way, because people who own a crowbar or know how tools work are potentially *much* more destructive than a teenager throwing a molotov cocktail at a wall. At the same time, the minory is not receptive to “conventional” coercion like fines telling them to stop. Maybe covid has taught them that laws can often be ignored, maybe they knew it before. The difficulty is that these people are blocking downtown Ottawa, so need to be removed. At the same time, anything that sparks physical mayhem can lead to actual chaos, so the government is trying to raise the discomfort water-level in the hopes that these people give up. This is why they use banks and target livelihoods, physical violence could lead to a physical reaction. But it’s a dangerous game, because while a threat to a livelihood is effective, actually carrying out the threat can create someone with nothing to lose.

    Here “government and security sources” deliver a maximally convenient narrative, nicely packaged into a narrative of global anti-democraticness. “You guys may be naive because you don’t see the danger, but trust me, we are professionals and see the hard men” (I’m alluding to an article about Ottawa mentioning ‘hard men’ you have surely read). But scattered “hard men” are not a danger to the “legitimacy of the state”, the worst they can do is riot, and that *helps* the state with its legitimacy problem. So I notice I am confused – if this smaller group of people were truly dangerous, it would be internally working together, and such working together would produce hard evidence (I don’t believe in conspiracy theories). So why is the only evidence of this nefarious core the utterly unfalsifiable “well they look like hard men, trust me, I know what I see” or “government and security sources”? I like my narrative more, it is more consistent with the evidence.

    • George H. says:

      If you have the time, you should watch some of the live streaming (on youtube) by Viva Frei.

    • 10240 says:

      “these people are blocking downtown Ottawa, so need to be removed”
      Are they blocking it to vehicles only, or pedestrians too? As far as I understand, the protests are generally peaceful, which I take to mean that they don’t attack pedestrians walking through the protest to or from buildings in the area. If so, then (unlike the bridge blockade) this doesn’t seem especially costly.

      • Matty Wacksen says:

        Roads are not there for protesters to block, especially not for long periods of time. This was true of the “extinction rebellion” a while ago, and is still true now.

  20. George H. says:

    1.) Oh dear, I hope my comment at the end of the ‘Paper is True’ post was OK. I’m not exactly sure how to know if a post is Convoy related. Maybe it is just those posts with Convoy in the title?
    2.) On a meta level, I am becoming a Convoy zealot and you should read my comments with that in mind. Since I feel ‘tribeless’ in the US, I wonder if my latching on to the convoy, is just some human desire to be part of a tribe.
    3.) Watching Viva Frei, walk Ottawa again. Everything looks like love and peace. I don’t know about ‘hard men’. But I could imagine that some of the protesters might be afraid of agent provocateurs. There is a veterans group that took down the fence around the war memorial, and then pledged that they would be watching the memorial so that no one could deface it. Perhaps those are the ‘hard men’?

    • TheZvi says:

      On #1 only: Everything is fine, not worried about one-off good faith mistakes on this, simply want to keep these discussions in their own place in general.

  21. Tom Bushell says:

    The CBC is reporting that two leaders of the protest have been arrested tonight (Thursday). Some kind of decapitation strategy, I assume.

    NYT (not linked, as per Zvi’s wishes). reported earlier today that police are massing in force – by the bus load – at various points around Ottawa. Looks like they are ready to swoop in if things get violent – hopefully it won’t come to that. (Canadian media has not reported on this so far, but I find it credible.)

  22. Tom Bushell says:

    An for those of you who feel the need to defend the “hard men” in the Convoy, here are some more details on the 13 arrested in Alberta this week (TLDR several associated with far right groups – including one in my home province – the Diaglers? – that I was completely unaware of. Also, history of arrests and violence)

    And here in Nova Scotia, far from the excitement in Ottawa, we had a mostly peaceful demonstration by a few hundred Convoy supporters, and a smaller number of counter demonstrators.

    (Posted incomplete, in case WordPress eats my comment. Will update)

  23. Tom Bushell says:

    Grrr…don’t see an edit button. Part 2.

    Mostly peaceful. I didn’t attend, but read several of the counter-protestors reports on social media.

    – a couple of Convoy men tried to snatch a sign they didn’t like from a small female counter protestor. Only backed off when some male counter-protestors intervened.

    – several reports of “guys with patches” (possibly related – the CBC report mentions a Diagler patch found on some body armour) being very belligerent and getting in peoples faces

    – a male driver of a truck with Convoy accoutrements felt the need to stop his trunk, get out, and harangue a young Asian couple for some reason. Despite the fact that they just walking on the sidewalk, not part of the counter-protests, and had a tiny child in tow.

    To be fair, there was some shitty behaviour on the other side as well. The one example I saw – a Black convoy supporter reported being called the N-word by some counter protesters. Wouldn’t surprise me if there were others.

    As a Canadian who is proud of our country’s history of – mostly – resolving differences amicably and peacefully, this kind stuff saddens and worries me. I really thought we were better than this.

  24. Tom Bushell says:

    The Diagalons is the far right group that seems to have roots here in Nova Scotia. (I misremembered as Diaglers…maybe I was reminded of the porn star pseudonym Dirk Diggler)

    Apparently it started as an online joke. Would be much funnier if they didn’t have guns.

    On a personal note, the article mentions a video they made, using a song by deceased Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers. Stan Rogers happens to be my first cousin – my father and his mother were brother and sister, and grew up in Canso, NS.

    So not only are these clowns active in my home province, they are using a relative’s music to spread their garbage. I hardly knew Stan, but can’t imagine he’d be ok with this.

    Still processing this, but I’m pretty pissed off right now.

    • George H. says:

      Hi Tom, I’m hesitant to reply in case I upset you more.
      I’m certainly not going to defend any violent extremists. Those people scare me too.
      (now the potential upsetting bit.) The narrative from Trudeau is that the protesters are a fringe minority, and so if any of the fringe do get involved you can expect the media to highlight this. So I’m not trying to say any of what you say is wrong, but just want to suggest that maybe you are getting your buttons pushed. (I don’t know you and if I’m way off base on this please forgive me.) I mean one thing the media has become good at is pushing everyone’s buttons… so we press their buttons :^)
      I’ve seen no far right extremists watching Viva Frei from the protest in Ottawa. I mostly hear peace, love and freedom from people who look nothing like a fringe minority. There are a decent number of veterans, perhaps they keep the fringe in check?

  25. 10240 says:

    “One cannot give in to such demands even if one wanted to, as those opposed could do the same thing and you get caught in the middle.”
    I don’t think this is entirely symmetric like that. Aggressive protests against a mandate are more likely than for one.
    One reason for that is that people who are opposing a reduction of their freedom are likely more motivated than people who are demanding a reduction of other people’s freedom.
    Another reason is that an inherent part of a disruptive protest is showing resolve to disobey the government, and popularizing disobedience. It has at least an implicit message that government diktats don’t deserve our respect. (For example, they order us to disperse, and we don’t.) It’s an attempt to erode the authority of the government.
    If you’re demanding the government not to order you to do something, that’s perfectly compatible with that, and on point.
    But it’s totally incongruent with demanding the government to force others to do something. You’d be demanding the government to order people to get vaccinated—and you’d be showing by example that the government’s orders should be ignored. To argue that your protest is right even though it’s illegal, you’d need to argue that it’s illegitimate for the government to order people around, but then you’ll have a hard time arguing that it’s legitimate for the government to order people to get vaccinated (or whatever you’re demanding the government to order them to do).

  26. Anon says:

    My takeaway from all this:

    1. If you merely want to make your political protest known, do so without obstructing public streets and private property. This should probably apply to ordinary demonstrations also. Opinions can be communicated without obstructing anyone in any way.

    2. If instead you want to make life actively harder for your government because you have legitimate grievances that can only be addressed this way, you should sabotage the government *selectively*. It doesn’t give you the right to violate private property rights or obstruct public streets for the general public. Otherwise, you will lose my goodwill very quickly.

    3. The way governments operate is largely illegitimate all over the world, with the implication that those governments themselves are largely illegitimate. They do some good things (most importantly preventing other mafia and paramilitary gangs from declaring themselves the new government), but this does not justify the oppressive policies they implement. This includes lockdowns, vaccine mandates, high tax rates and a whole array of market bans that should never have happened. This has made them lose my goodwill, and the additional illegitimate methods they use to win the resulting conflicts makes it only worse.

    • George H. says:

      Part of protest is to obstruct and make yourself known. To be a ‘good’ protester, you need to obstruct enough, to get attention, but not so much as to piss everyone off. (pissing a few people off is inevitable with obstruction.) I’m not sure where the bridge blocking falls on this spectrum. It seems excessive, but then again the truckers had an issue with border crossing mandates, and obstructing the border seems like a natural thing to try. So maybe a bit excessive, but did they have other options?
      As far as the Occupation of Ottawa, (OoO) have you watched any of the live streams, or only the prestige media reports? (prestige media ~= MSM)
      All the mains streets were open, and (I think) side streets had at least one lane open. Many truckers parked out of town. Anyway OoO was one of the most peaceful, respectful, and non-violent protests I’ve seen. It’s almost unbelievable how nice everyone was. The crushing of the protest by Trudeau is chilling! I don’t know how he stays in power, but then what story does the prestige media tell? Probably the same one they’ve been telling.
      (The tow trucks all had their names and logos blocked out. I heard some comment that the tow truck owners wouldn’t help, because they mostly supported the truckers, but were then forced to by the emergency executive order (or whatever it is called). If that’s true it’s scarier and scarier.)

      • Anon says:

        “Part of protest is to obstruct and make yourself known.”

        Zero sympathy from my end for this position, the rest follows accordingly.

        • greg kai says:

          I understand that, because that’s often how I feel for typical strikes, which should be ideally strictly between employer(s) and (organised) employees. However, I think protests are a different beast, because, honestly, zero sympathy for obstruction means zero sympathy for any successful protest: any large protest will disrupt normal city life, regardless if they use blocade tactics or not. You could in theory organize a protest in the middle of nowhere, like in a big empty parking or industrial suburb the week end…I don’t know even a single instance of such tactic, for obvious reasons…
          Note that strikes are not really available against the state: the equivalent would be to stop paying taxes.
          And targeting directly state representant/buildings was done in the US not long ago. Given the effect and coverage, I think the Convoy was right not to choose this path.

          I think the question in the end is this one: As a group without political representation, should you have way to oppose state action beside waiting for the next election and hoping that you weight enough to impact electoral result?
          I used to be unsure about that: elections seemed close enough that waiting was not a big deal and minority protection/democratic tradition strong enough to avoid unjust action exploiting uncoordinated opposition. Now, after 2 years of COVID, I guess I was just naive/not part of a group the state came unjustly after…Well to be fair, I already had a few doubts because I happened to belong to such groups, but it was not central to my life or anoyances more than death sentence for the activities…

        • Anon says:

          “Note that strikes are not really available against the state: the equivalent would be to stop paying taxes.”

          Yes, this is my personal strategy. Cause costs to the system of violent coercion. In my case, it’s mostly motivated by other bans on individual liberty and the free market; the Covid-related coercion was just the cherry on the top.

          “And targeting directly state representant/buildings was done in the US not long ago. Given the effect and coverage, I think the Convoy was right not to choose this path.”

          Perhaps; although since I think you’re referring to the January 6 2021 attacks on the Capitol, I think the context in which that specific event happened also matters. I have sympathies for the concept of trashing Nancy Pelosi’s (or other similar politicians’) office, but I have much less sympathy for partisans who do it in the name of a personality cult around yet another authoritarian statist politician, in this case one who lies even more and has glorified war crimes like torture, waterboarding and so on. It also happened in a context where the peaceful transition of power after a democratic election was at stake, with the implied goal that this personality cult should get its way regardless of election outcomes. I was very angry about those details.

          That said, I have come around to the view that elections are psy-ops, democracy is fake and it’s not even a philosophically sensible justification for government authority even if it wasn’t fake. Not that this justifies dictatorship. We either need a state that actually stops banning our liberties, or we need to trash or boycott the state as a coercive system.

    • Catweazle says:

      > If you merely want to make your political protest known, do so without obstructing public streets and private property

      I live in Ontario. That’s how the protests got started, late last summer. There was just one problem: none of the protests received any kind of coverage in the Canadian media. So they tried to protest at Trudeau’s election rallies in August. That only received coverage where the protesters could be painted as violent (bad language/throwing gravel) and the usual -isms. None of the articles actually reported what the protests were about. I challenge you to read this MSM article from August, and tell me what exactly the protesters were upset about:

      So they shifted strategy and started protesting close to hospitals. That got them coverage all right, but not the kind they wanted. It provided a useful angle to MSM to imply that they were actually blocking the hospitals somehow.

      The protests continued without major coverage all through Fall and Winter, until the government instated the trucker vaxx mandate, which pissed off the wrong people.

      • Anon says:

        I don’t see how any of that justifies obstructing anyone other than the government or, at the extreme, perhaps MSM. No sane person still trusts MSM to do unbiased reporting of any kind. Perhaps there are exceptions, but I’m not aware of any. Social media is also heavily censored, you can’t trust Twitter, Alphabet or Meta. And yet none of that justifies blocking public streets, trade routes or private property of any kind. Your beef is with the government and MSM, so take it up with them, not with the rest of us. And as for MSM, they are liars and propagandists, but they are not violent in the sense in which the government is violent. So it’s questionable to condone physical action against them, whereas if you sabotage government itself, it’s more obviously morally justified.

        • Catweazle says:

          > If you merely want to make your political protest known, do so without obstructing public streets and private property.

          I’ve think what we’ve seen is: such protests get no attention whatsoever, which is equivalent to them not existing at all.

          > you should sabotage the government *selectively*.

          How would a loose coalition of average Janes and Joes accomplish such a thing?

        • Anon says:

          I don’t philosophically agree that you should get to obstruct people in order to get their attention, even if you wish you had their attention. As for how to boycott, sabotage and obstruct the coercive system that is the state, I’d say that’s hard problem, but it’s still on you to solve it. If you make my liberty, freedom of movement or freedom of trade a hostage for your conflict with the state, then I should get to do the same to you for whatever grievance I have with it. Would you also accept this implication?

          I recently read an anarchist manifesto about ethics-based asymmetrical warfare against state operatives who are sufficiently worth targeting that it is moral to do so selectively. I mean, the convoy used physical blockade as a means of protest; why not find government structures to blockade selectively, while communicating your reasons clearly to the public? It may be somewhat harder than blockading wherever, but if you’re not willing to be selective, why should the obstructed general public be sympathetic to you? The message seems to be that the general public needs to fight for your cause or else you get to make everyone’s life physically worse. To me, that message is indistinguishable from the message that you are the enemy of the entire public.

  27. Craken says:

    Lyons over at The Upheaval substack developed a schematic of “Virtuals” and “Physicals” as the opposing sub-populations revealed by the Convoy. The Virtuals are the managerial class, whose power functions cybernetically, whose thinking is also mostly virtual. He notes that the Physicals are practically serfs in the present techno-authoritarian era:

    “That Trudeau’s government would choose to jettison any remaining illusion of Canada still being a liberal democracy just to harm their political class enemies isn’t too surprising. It’s their method of doing so that is particularly striking: control over digital financial assets is pretty much the ultimate leverage now available to the Virtuals. We should expect more use of this tool around the world anywhere the Physicals continue to revolt against their masters. And here the Virtuals have a significant advantage because they are free to use the maximum level of coercive force available in their natural domain, while the Physicals cannot – because, in the physical world, that would mean violence, which is something the protestors have rightly forsworn.”

    He also discusses the possibility that the serfs may develop sufficient class consciousness to really threaten the Trudeaus of the world, ironically using good old fashioned communist tactics against these postmodern fellow travelers. Of course, this is difficult to imagine for many reasons, including the lack of clever, ruthless leaders on the Physical side of society, the lack of secure information channels, the faith the Western elites still seem to have in themselves (unlike the communist elites in 1989 who faced a major revealed preference situation), the rarity of attractive examples of high functioning states outside of the West, the high and increasing ethnic heterogeneity of the West, the many opiates of the people that have been widely deployed as the popularity of the original opiate has diminished, the elite’s capacity to invent all manner of distractions (why not a new war?), their lock on the intelligence agencies, and their ability to act first, then use propaganda to cover up or warp the facts of any official misdeeds. That leaves the moral and intellectual self-reformation of this elite as the hope, however improbable it now seems. If not, Winter.

    • George H. says:

      Yeah I read N.S. Lyons’ piece on The Upheaval substack. It was ‘spot on’ in my world view. (If the claims made about tow truck drivers and local police are true… ) It reminded me of “Coming Apart” by C. Murray, but with a different frame. Just to close the political loop, Trump was just tapping into this divide, he didn’t create it, only distorted it to his own ambitions. We need better leaders, and I don’t know how we do that.

      • Greg kai says:

        I wanted to write something similar, but had trouble clearly distinguishing the two classes : I stayed with physical/virtual too, but that’s not exactly it : IT people, programmers, gamers seems to be part of the virtual world, but i think they will be on the convoy side.
        I think It’s more about people working mainly at doing things vs people working at fitting within a political structure. Not even thing-people vs people-people (although there is a component of it), it’s focusing mainly of productivity (of things, idea, services, art, whatever) or on control structures and power hierarchies, more than the type of activities…

        • greg kai says:

          I -started- with physical/virtual, not -stayed-.
          I think that the focus on control structures is a side effect of modern super-productivity (actual production of idea/art/stuff is done by a smaller and smaller percentage of people) and of eastern bloc collapse (loosing the bogeyman/competitor that kind of forced a productivity arm race in the first place). Or maybe it’s the producer power that is an historical accident, due only to fast technical progress and we are jsut going back to default…
          Anyway, with this slightly different divide, E. Musk, a game designer and a nurse would be part of the producer group, while J. Trudeau, Facebook PR guy and the head of a small activist organisation will be in the second.
          Virtual/Physical, Rich/Poor, People/Tech or Educated/Not Educated will not produce exactly the same divide even if there is some overlap, and I think Producer/Controller (not super fan of this, but it’s the best I came with) is better at capturing the most relevant clustering…

    • Bobbo says:

      I read the Upheaval substack on this and loved it. But I’m definitely a virtual, but still side with the protestors. I have been in the office maybe five times since lockdown, work from home, never missed a paycheque, got a new job with a big raise during the pandemic even…

      Reading below, I’m not a programmer or a gamer. Sorta an IT person? I’d definitely put myself as a Controller (vs a Producer). I worked as a Physical during uni? I think rationalists are more likely to be on the physical side here. Not that I would have considered myself a rationalist before this, but I do read AstralCodexTen, so maybe that’s it?

      Or maybe that its I literally went down to see what was going on, so didn’t just get my info from third hand news reports, cascading the same picture of a pickup going down Elgin with a confederate flag.

      I don’t understand your reference to the revealed preferences of Communist elites though, Craken. Please elaborate.

      • greg kai says:

        Thanks, I do not pretend that my attempt at classification is 100% predictive, fortunately, it’s just a clustering attempt that I believe is slightly better than the other ones (although, reading the Upheaval substack comments, I am not original at all: multiple people posted exactly the same thing).
        Also (fortunately too) people are not fully determined by their job, out of work people have various activities and social circles (Which is how I am exposed to blue collar “physical” workers, mostly, because there is none in my colleagues).
        I would say going there physically to see by yourself is indeed a big clue ;-).
        Every time I did this (by accident or deliberately) and saw by myself something that was in the news (or something that is a hot topics for societal discussions but few people have direct experience), it has been enlightening.

      • Craken says:

        Two major elements of the fall of the Warsaw Pact in 89′ were the revealed preferences (I use the phrase a bit loosely) of the public and the lack of faith of the ruling class in itself. The modest liberalization that occurred in Eastern Europe in the late 80s, a kind of echo of perestroika (an echo approved by Gorbachev), permitted people just enough freedom of action and interpersonal communication to reveal that they preferred to exit communist rule. This preference had long been latent, but there was such severe preference falsification that a typical citizen could have little confidence in estimating what percentage of the population might oppose the regime. Even the ruling elites probably had little idea of their true degree of unpopularity. Once the oppositional momentum got going, things moved fast and the elite was mostly very surprised at how little public support they seemed to have–and surprised as well that Gorbachev was willing completely to abandon them. These elites were not communist zealots by the 80s; they were Brezhnevites, cynical, corrupt, mediocre. They had no great faith in their righteousness, in their moral right to rule, just a grim, bureaucratic graspingness. They had no convincing scapegoat available to excuse the unconcealable inferiority of their political economy–a foolish oversight. By contrast, Western elites today continue to launch new moral crusades, which I consider a strong sign that they still believe in their righteousness–meaning they’re not the kind of brittle ruling class that would easily relinquish power. Also, Western propaganda is in many ways much better than the old communist variety, and the Western elite is very attentive to its level of public support, with reasonably accurate measurements in real time. And the Western elite has wisely provisioned itself with useful scapegoats.

        • greg kai says:

          And there is no example of an alternative system offering obviously better quality of life, at least not for the general public.
          Islamist state showed such an example (read the end of the sentence before considering me crazy ;-) ) targeted to a small minority and convincing for an even smaller proportion of this minority….
          But before 1989, even with the iron curtain, Eastern Europe got many glimpse of the west through many channels – few western tourists, some congresses like in Leipzig or other international events (I participated to one of those as a Western representative when I was 17 in Poland, it was quite an experience), and also some media (movies, radio, books,….) filtered though.

          What would be the equivalent in the modern world, that could makes a convincing alternative to a large % of western people? The only source I can think of is China….but it is more an example for the elite (that indeed seems to take lessons) than an attractive proposition for the governed…
          Something that could have some effect is traveling, where small differences between western states and some “second” world countries can have an effect, for example it can make you realise that internal media coverage of your country (compared to others) is largely propaganda even in the West….but this is much much weaker compared to what citizen of the eastern bloc could experience…

  28. Pingback: Convoy Crackdown | Don't Worry About the Vase

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