Anti-vaccine convoy organizer says he won’t tolerate extremists or violence

A key player behind a convoy heading to Ottawa to protest a vaccination mandate for truckers warns those who plan to use the event for violence or vandalism will not be tolerated.

Speaking to her Facebook followers in a video posted to the Freedom Convoy 2022 Facebook page, Tamara Lich said the convoy is expected to arrive on Parliament Hill in Ottawa over the weekend to protest what she calls the invasions of personal liberty caused by public health orders.

“If you see any participants along the way misbehaving, acting aggressively, or inciting any kind of violence or hatred, please note the truck number and their license plate number so we can pass it on. to the police,” she said. .

Lich said anyone on the convoy must be registered with their “road captains” and anyone not behaving in an orderly manner “will be expelled immediately”.

“The only way to overcome this is through love and light, not through hate and division,” she said. “I think as Canadians we’ve all seen enough. It’s time to move on from that.”

The federal government announced in mid-November that by January 15, all foreign nationals working as truck drivers would need to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. Those not fully vaccinated should be sent back to the United States

All Canadian cross-border essential workers – including truck drivers – must present proof of vaccination at a port of entry to avoid strict testing requirements and quarantine.

Truckers traveling in Canada are not affected by these new measures. The United States has a similar mandate in place requiring all travelers to the United States to present proof that they have received the required vaccinations.

Funds withheld

A GoFundMe campaign organized by Lich – which has ties to the Maverick Party, a federal party with roots in separatist circles in Alberta – has so far raised more than $4.7 million in donations to support the convoy.

The fundraising platform released a statement on Tuesday saying funds are being held until GoFundMe receives more details about the group and its financial management.

“We require fundraisers to be transparent about the flow of funds and have a clear plan for how those funds will be spent,” GoFundMe’s statement read.

“In this case, we are in contact with the organizer to verify this information. The funds will be held securely until the organizer is able to provide documentation to our team on how the funds will be properly distributed.”

A convoy of protesters, shown here somewhere west of Winnipeg, are upset by the requirement that all cross-border truckers be fully vaccinated and head to Parliament Hill in Ottawa this weekend to voice their concerns. (David Lipnowski/Canadian Press)

In her Facebook video, Lich said she started the page to raise money to support truckers on their journey across the country, but was quickly overwhelmed by the volume of donations.

“When I started this…I was expecting a few thousand dollars, which I was very happy to handle. But wow, you pulled it off,” she said. “We weren’t expecting this, in other words, so we had to prepare in a very short time.”

Lich said his bank card was disconnected from the account that will receive the money. She said that all the money raised will be used to cover the costs of the participants in the convoy.

She did not give specific details on how the money will be handled. She says she is working with a “finance committee” to organize her dispersal.

Extremist elements cling

Lich launched the GoFundMe page on January 14. Since then, a number of fringe groups and extremists have tried to cling to the movement by promising to show up in Ottawa when the convoy arrives.

On the convoy’s GoFundMe page, an organizer publicly disavows any connection to someone known to hold extreme views. But the Freedom Convoy 2022 Facebook page provides a link to a website with information about the convoy that lists that same disavowed person as a contact for the convoy.

Several messages sent to Lich asking for clarification were not returned.

Some people have said online that they plan to travel to Ottawa for the protest and hope to see it turn into Canada’s version of the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol, when a crowd of 2,000 to 2,500 Donald Trump supporters attacked the Capitol building. in Washington, D.C.

Stephanie Carvin, a security analyst and associate professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, said she has seen groups cite plans to break down walls, bring ropes to hang politicians and generally provoke violence.

While the severity of these threats is unclear, Carvin urges caution.

“From a national security perspective, I think a lot of people have Jan. 6 in their minds,” she said.

“When you have a convergence of a number of people angry at an establishment and a symbol of that establishment [the Parliament buildings] Right there is, I think, the potential, not the guarantee, but the potential for things to escalate.”