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Trucks pass through Regina as ‘freedom convoy’ continues toward Ottawa

Click to play video: 'No shortage of support for truck convoy in Saskatchewan' No shortage of support for truck convoy in Saskatchewan
A countrywide protest demanding a reversal on the vaccine mandate for truckers made its way through Saskatchewan – Jan 26, 2022

As nighttime began to settle in Regina on Monday, a symphony of semi-truck and vehicle horns were heard on the outskirts of the provincial capital city.

At the Regina Bypass, hundreds of trucks and other vehicles rolled through and were greeted by supporters who braved the cold weather to welcome the truckers to town.

A long line of truck headlights shimmer in the night as they roll down the Regina Bypass on Monday. Jason Wood / Global News

Members of the “freedom convoy” are against the Canadian government’s vaccine mandate activated on Jan. 15, which requires cross-border truckers coming into Canada to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

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Read more: Experts say truckers should have done more to prepare for vaccine mandate

The convoy, which started its journey in B.C., has grown in numbers as it makes its way toward Ottawa.

“A lot of people are trying to say that these type of things are done out of anger, but this is actually being done out of frustration towards the things the government is imposing upon Canadian citizens,” said a man named Trevor who spoke to Global News when the convoy passed through the Balgonie area. He declined to provide his full name due to the controversial nature of the story.

“The amount of trucks involved and the amount of people showing up here, this shows the frustrations of Canadians and it’s going to continue to grow.”

Justin Keller, who met up with the convoy in North Battleford, Sask., said it’s time for change.

Read more: ‘Freedom convoy’ of truckers opposing vaccine mandate leaves Metro Vancouver for Ottawa

He said it has been an emotional experience travelling through and seeing the support from others.

“The support and love coming down here through all these little towns is phenomenal,” Keller said. “People want this. You can see it on their faces with the emotions. It’s pretty epic.”

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Regina Conservative MPs Andrew Scheer and Warren Steinley made an appearance to greet the group and show their support.

A still image is captured showing Regina—Qu’Appelle Conservative MP Andrew Scheer shaking hands with an individual as the trucker convoy passed through on Monday night in Regina. Jason Wood / Global News

On Monday, Premier Scott Moe called the vaccine mandate “unnecessary” and said its implementation will have a “significant impact.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) posted a statement this past weekend saying the vaccination rate among drivers in the country’s trucking industry closely mirrors that of the general public.

Read more: Saskatchewan premier calls federal government’s trucker vaccine mandate ‘unnecessary’

The CTA also stated it “does not support and strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways, highways and bridges.”

“CTA believes such actions — especially those that interfere with public safety — are not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed,” reads the statement from the CTA.

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“Members of the trucking industry who want to publicly express displeasure over government policies can choose to hold an organized, lawful event on Parliament Hill or contact their local MP. What is not acceptable is disrupting the motoring public on highways and commerce at the border.”

But the support the convoy received was quite noticeable.

“There does seem to be a shift in public opinion in terms of where we are in the pandemic,” said University of Regina Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science, Gordon Pennycook.

He notes that the risk profile people are willing to take at this point in the pandemic seems to be changing.

Click to play video: '‘Freedom Rally’ convoy passes Regina on its way to Ottawa' ‘Freedom Rally’ convoy passes Regina on its way to Ottawa
‘Freedom Rally’ convoy passes Regina on its way to Ottawa – Jan 25, 2022

“This is a straight forward and convenient way for people to voice their frustrations not just with the restrictions but the pandemic itself. Life hasn’t gone back to normal and we got vaccinated and everything — most of us are vaccinated. We kind of want our lives to go back to normal. I mean there’s still lots of cases so it’s not a simple equation.”

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There is potential for the trucking protest’s messaging to become blurred if the convoy turns into multiple protests at once.

“People come knowing that they have some sort of grievances and the protest is an outlet for whatever grievances they happen to have and so their support for the protest may have nothing to do with what the organizers are trying to accomplish or certainly any specific policy recommendations or changes,” said Pennycook.

The convoy left from Saskatoon on Monday afternoon where they were greeted by a large crowd of supporters as well.

Trucks were seen leaving Regina on Tuesday morning as they continued down Highway 1 toward the nation’s capital.

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