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THE VIEW FROM HERE

Drawing inspiration from angry Canadians

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On Jan. 29, a convoy of ticked-off truckers rolling across Canada reached its final destination, Parliament Hill in the capital city of Ottawa.

They used their trucks to shut down the core of the downtown area to all incoming traffic. They disobeyed police orders, ignored the law and effectively took over as occupiers of that part of the city.

We saw those same tactics in the summer of 2020, when protesters demanding police reform temporarily occupied several blocks in Portland, Oregon.

The Canadian protest started in response to vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the border between Canada and the United States. But, like these efforts so often do, it attracted all kinds of malcontents with a wide range of grievances. The Canadian Trucking Alliance was appalled, and insisted that the majority of protesters had no connection to trucking.

The protest was not limited to downtown Ottawa. They also shut down the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit. One of the busiest international border crossings in North America, it is critical for industry and commerce in both cities.

By the time police finally moved in to make arrests and regain control of the capital city on Feb. 17, enormous economic damage had been done to both countries. Reuters has estimated that the protest will result in billions of dollars in lost trade and millions of dollars in lost sales. And, that doesn’t include cleanup costs or the inconvenience endured by the residents of Ottawa.

Conservatives in the United States looked at all of that and said, how can we duplicate it? Which isn’t surprising, given that many were involved in organizing and funding the Canadian protest.

Our representative in Congress, Yvette Herrell, is clearly disappointed that law enforcement officers in Canada have regained control of their capital city. Which is, of course, completely inconsistent with her views on the Portland protests.

Herrell has introduced federal legislation that would allow Canadian lawbreakers to claim asylum. She argued that her bill is no different than asylum protections given to those fleeing from wars.

“We already offer political asylum for those coming from, say, Venezuela and other countries. This makes it no different,” she told the Sun-News.

Meanwhile, efforts for an American version of the trucker protest have pretty much fizzled out. First, they were supposed to hit the Super Bowl. Then, it was going to be the State of the Union Address.

There was something during the State of the Union. But when the big day came, there were more reporters than protesters.

Now, we’re told that another convoy is working it’s way to Washington, and even came through Las Cruces on Interstate 10. A handful of supporters gathered on a bridge east of Deming to greet them. And, sure enough, trucks whizzed by all day.

This is starting to feel like yesterday’s outrage. Facemask mandates have been dropped in every state but Hawaii, and vaccine mandates have pretty much run their course. Some folks just need to have a reason to complain.

Walter Rubel is a freelance journalist based in Las Cruces. His 40-plus-year career includes work in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and— since 2002 — in New Mexico, covering Las Cruces and the state Legislature. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Las Cruces Bulletin. Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.

Walt Rubel