Farmers across Canada weigh in on protests and blockades

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

There has been no shortage of opinions since the January 15 trucker vaccine mandate came into force. The mandate requires all travellers, regardless of their job, to be fully vaccinated before crossing the Canada-U.S. border. The mandate coming into force has served as a watershed moment for the COVID-19 pandemic, spurring protests in downtown Ottawa and border blockades in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario.

While everyone has an opinion on the issue, plenty do not hold extreme views and there are perhaps even more who aren’t sure how to feel about the entire situation.

On the February 10th edition of RealAg Radio, host Shaun Haney asked the Farmer Rapid Fire participants for their take on the current issue.  Spoiler alert: the opinions vary across the board.

Riley Anderson of River Valley, Man., says he likes that people feel they have a voice and are using it, but at the end of the day he is “pretty neutral about it.”

“Do I like how everyone’s going about it all the time? No, I don’t. But I would say that I don’t necessarily love it all the time when on the other side of the fence, they’re doing everything they do,” Anderson explains. “But one thing we have definitely seen in our community is there’s a lot more people that have a lot more hope, and a lot more joy in their lives because of this. So I think it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But that’s a very short term answer to a long term problem.”

Steve Terpstra of Atwood, Ont., says although the unity and people getting along during these protests is neat, he doesn’t necessarily think it’s a good idea.

“In my opinion, I don’t think the organizers are being truthful about what their end goal is. I think a lot of people joined in just because they’re fed up with the mandates. But these tractor blockades and stuff, I don’t agree with because you’re putting the 98 per cent against the 2 per cent. I do know a bunch of people that have went down there and they are all for it. But there’s a lot of people I talk to that are dead against it,” says Terpstra.

Jake Leguee of Filmore, Sask., says he’s not even sure he has it sorted out in his head in regards to how he feels about it.

“I have some sympathy and some support for what the intent of some of these protests were, I do. But at the same time, it’s pretty disruptive. I mean, certainly the Alberta border crossing is one that is causing all kinds of problems — and really significant ones, too. So I can’t say I’m very supportive of that one, with the complications it’s causing,” Leguee says. “The one in Ottawa, what I’m trying to think through in my head is, what’s the end goal of this one? Like when do you pack up, and go home and say ‘yeah we’ve accomplished what we set out to do’?”

As Chris Allam of Edmonton, Alta., explains, he’s been spending a lot of time in the recent days thinking about how frustrated a group has to be before they go in and make noise in Parliament grounds or block traffic.

“I draw my thoughts back to the rail, and how frustrated those people had to have been to do that. I mean, at the time, we bushed it off, but they don’t, it’s not worth complaining about. You’re in the way of my logistics of getting grain to the coast. But I have more sympathy for people that are fighting for clean drinking water, or the whole school issue. So I think there’s a whole gamut if you got to think about logistics of the situation and how it affects other people, and how it affects you,” Allam says. “I feel like they’re justified in some senses, in other senses they maybe go too overboard, but at the same time, I feel proud to be Canadian right now. That’s for sure.”

Check out the full episode of RealAg Radio, here.

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