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Supporters protest against federal vaccination mandates for truckers at Vaughan Mills mall in Ontario on Jan. 27.Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

There is likely a faction of those involved in the trucker convoy, now making its way to the capital, who believe they are part of a legitimate protest.

But as well-meaning as some of these people may be, it’s now clear that this demonstration has been hijacked by a fringe element that sounds an awful lot like the “freedom fighters” and “patriots” who gathered at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, and ended up storming the premises in a poorly organized coup d’état.

In fact, some of those involved have called for precisely this type of action. It’s something the RCMP, I hope, is taking seriously, regardless of what organizers are saying about this being a non-violent demonstration.

Not-so-funny things happen when mobs gather and are incited by outside elements.

Live updates: Canadian Trucking Alliance cautions that protesters don’t speak for truckers

I can say that for a short while I understood there might be some anger over the federal government’s announcement that all Canadian truck drivers entering from the United States would have to be fully vaccinated, and those who were not would have to quarantine. Not all truckers are vaccinated (although 90 per cent are) and so some would see this edict as a direct threat to their employment.

But then the U.S. introduced a similar law, which rendered their disdain for Ottawa’s action moot.

Very quickly, this protest became something else entirely. It was founded on the lie that empty grocery shelves were the direct result of the vaccine mandate for truckers – a falsehood that was amplified and lent credence by members of the Conservative Party of Canada.

The more we learned about the intentions of the group behind the convoy – Canada Unity – the stranger and more disturbing the picture became. For instance, we now know the group is set to arrive in Ottawa with a manifesto of sorts, a “memorandum of understanding” it hopes the Governor-General of Canada, Mary Simon, will sign.

The memo asks Ms. Simon and the Senate to reverse all vaccine mandates in the country – even though most of these mandates have been introduced by the provinces. Ottawa has no authority over the provinces in this regard.

Written in faux legalese, which I guess is supposed to impress us and make us think it’s legitimate, the manifesto reads like it was concocted by some good ‘ol boys, sitting around an outdoor fire and ripping open beer after beer. It translates to utter lunacy and is not worthy of serious comment.

And it gets worse.

Almost one in five Canadian truckers is South Asian, but many don’t see themselves represented in the trucker convoy

A Kitchener, Ont., radio show this week interviewed Jason LaFace, said to be the convoy’s main Ontario organizer. The protest “is no longer about the [vaccine] mandate,” he said – it’s about people’s “rights” and how the government has been “manipulating the population and oppressing us all the time.”

Mr. LaFace said the protest organizers are employing “constitutional lawyers” to draft a document that “compel[s] the government to dissolve government.” For good measure, he added: “[Justin] Trudeau is a criminal in this country, he needs to go.”

These are the people that some members of the Conservative Party are supporting in interviews and in posts on social-media platforms, some of whom don’t even try to disguise their bigoted and racist views of the world (Leader Erin O’Toole, meanwhile, has not answered questions about the mandate). Some in the party are clearly so worried about bleeding support to Maxime Bernier’s reprehensible People’s Party of Canada that they feel compelled to throw their lot in with people who want to overthrow the government. I can’t imagine what Brian Mulroney must be thinking as he watches members of his old party disgrace it.

Not surprisingly, the convoy and its ambitions have drawn the attention of figures in the United States, including Donald Trump Jr. He recorded a video of support, calling the convoy “genius” and predicting “this is how it all ends.” The people will rise up to take down tyrannical governments that insist on protecting their citizens with life-saving vaccines!

Genius.

Canada Unity has raised more than $5-million from supporters across the country. It’s unclear where the money is going, beyond a vague commitment to see that it helps cover costs the truckers incurred in getting to Ottawa.

The protesters have vowed to stick around the capital until they have an opportunity to present their demands. We don’t know what will happen when this doesn’t occur; will the truckers and various hangers-on leave peacefully, or will tensions emerge?

Most Canadians who watched what happened in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, likely couldn’t imagine something similar occurring here. Well, I’m not so sure about that. We should be prepared for the unimaginable.

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