Photo of trucks with Canadian flags and homemade signs attached to their vehicles that read "Freedom"
Scene from the Freedom Convoy occupation last February. Credit: Ana Krach / Pixabay

As the insurrection of Ottawa continues, one federal party leader is taking substantive measures to curb events like this in the future—and it’s not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In the last week alone, leader of the NDP—Jagmeet Singh—has brought forward legislation to ban hate symbols, submitting a four-point plan for the prime minister to end the occupation in the capital. House speaker approved his plan for an emergency debate on the convoy, and successfully motioned to investigate GoFundMe’s role in the $10 million in funding raised for the demonstration.

In his Monday letter to Speaker of the House, Anthony Rota, Singh noted that the ‘convoys’ taking place across the country have “impacted people in their homes, they have also resulted in symbols of hate being promoted, sacred memorials being vandalized, local citizens being harassed, and health care workers being intimidated.”

Singh also proposed the emergency debate on the floor, before being approved by Rota and held Monday evening.

At the debate, Singh introduced his party’s concerns of the occupation, noting “it is certainly not peaceful.”

“There are a number of complaints of harassment, violence and intimidation targeting citizens, families and kids,” he said. “The honking, noise and fireworks are really disrupting the lives of families. Most of that activity happens at night when there is no one in Parliament, so they are clearly not targeting Parliament.”

Rather than focusing on the “freedom convoy,” Singh noted that truck drivers do have concerns—about wage theft, salaries, the cost of insurance, and long driving hours that pose health and safety risks. That includes Brampton, where thousands of drivers have filed thousands of complaints related to the loss of wages, a revelation detailed in a December 2021Toronto Star investigation.

“[These organizers] want to take over the streets of Ottawa and use intimidation to replace a democratically elected government,” he added. 

Responding to Singh at the debate, Trudeau noted that the federal government has been in close contact with the mayor of Ottawa—that’s despite CBC’s report of protestors being one step ahead of police. 

“The RCMP has so far mobilized nearly 300 officers to support the Ottawa Police Service, and is ready to do more,” Trudeau said, noting Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Sunday. 

“We are convening a table with the relevant federal and municipal partners to further strengthen our response. The federal government will be there with whatever resources the province and the city need in this situation,” he added.

NDP offers four-point plan to end occupation

The debate took place on the same day that Singh offered the prime minister a four-step plan to approach the ongoing occupation.

Those steps include meeting with municipal leaders in areas being targeted like Ottawa, Sarnia, and Coutts (Alberta) to offer proactive support. Singh also urged Trudeau to touch base with Joe Biden’s administration in an effort “to shut down the funding coming from the U.S. that is interfering in our democracy.”

In a broader sense, the NDP wants the Liberal government to make clear their plans to end the COVID-19 pandemic, by prioritizing booster shots, “better access to rapid tests,” an emergency plan for our deteriorating healthcare system, and finally, “a global vaccination plan to stop new variants from developing.”

Banning hate symbols and investigating GoFundMe

The calls from the New Democrats come after last week’s introduction of a bill to ban hate symbols. Tabled by NDP House Leader Peter Julian (New Westminster–Burnaby), Bill C-229 would “prevent anyone from selling and displaying symbols that promote hatred and violence.”

“Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny continue to be a problem in our society,” Julian said in a February 3 release. “Hateful and violent crimes against Indigenous people, Black, Asian and other racially marginalized communities rose and the number of hate groups in Canada increased during the pandemic. Yet, symbols of hate are freely displayed and sold across our country.”

The ban would include Nazi emblems like Swastikas, Klu Klux Klan symbols, and Confederate flags.

The NDP also passed a motion last week to investigate the role GoFundMe played in the $10 million campaign, which, according to the crowdsourcing platform, is its second-largest fundraiser in Canada

The motion, put forward by NDP critic Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford) during a meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety, received unanimous support from his colleagues. 

MacGregor said the investigation will look at GoFundMe’s practices in a broader scale, examining “the role GoFundMe plays in funding hate, specifically white supremacy, and antisemitic movements. The company has ties to extremist events like the current convoy in Ottawa which pose a threat to Canadians.” The motion will also “call on members of GoFundMe to appear before the committee as soon as possible.”

“They need to answer questions about how the company ensures that donations are not used as a vehicle to fund extremism.”

MacGregor also wants answers about “what measures and assurances have been put in place to ensure the $1 million dollars that has already been released is not going towards promoting any forms of the aforementioned unacceptable views and activities.”

Image: Gilad Cohen

Stephen Wentzell

Stephen Wentzell is‘s national politics reporter, a cat-dad to Benson, and a Real Housewives fanatic. Based in Halifax, he writes solutions-based, people-centred...