DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Natalie Bocking provided her thoughts on the ‘trucker convoy’ protests happening in Ottawa during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, February 2nd.
The convoy has involved members from all over, with the goal of protesting the vaccine mandate, imposed by the federal government, requiring truck drivers to show proof of vaccination to allow cross-border travel.
“I think it’s fair to be frustrated. I think the pandemic, overall, has caused lots of frustration for many individuals and [has] impacted people in lots of different ways. There are many people whose livelihoods have been impacted in ways [which] will take a long time to overcome. I respect the right of people to protest and share their opinions,” Dr. Bocking said.
No one knows the exact number of participants in the protest. However, according to the National Post, Ottawa Police estimate the number of trucks in the convoy to be between one and two thousand. The Daily Mail estimated the number of protesters to be between ten and twenty thousand.
Dr. Bocking also touched on some of the actions and words used at these protests, which to some may be seen as unfortunate choices.
“I don’t think some of the really disappointing signs and behaviours [which] have been reported from some protesters in Ottawa, reflect all of the protesters. But it is really concerning to see some of the rhetoric and some of the slogans protesters are sharing. [It’s] misinformation [and] harmful. It’s never okay to compare a vaccine mandate to genocide. I think some of those messages are problematic.”
But Dr. Bocking is not surprised members of the public are still using this type of terminology.
“I think it will always be there. We’ve learned from previous vaccine-preventable diseases there will always be individuals [who] don’t support the science or have alternative understandings. I think we can always expect [there to be] people [who] oppose any sort of restrictions in the name of Public Health. I think the COVID-19 pandemic has stressed all of us, but without Public Health restrictions, without vaccines, I cannot imagine what the impact would have been on communities.”
She thanked community members who have followed these restrictions and have supported the vaccination efforts.
“By far, that is the majority of our communities,” Dr. Bocking stated.