A night with the untouchables

I live in downtown Ottawa, right in the middle of the trucker convoy protest. They are literally camped out below my bedroom window. My new neighbours moved in on Friday and they seem determined to stay. I have read a lot about what my new neighbours are supposedly like, mostly from reporters and columnists who write from distant vantage points somewhere in the media heartland of Canada. Apparently the people who inhabit the patch of asphalt next to my bedroom are white supremacists, racists, hatemongers, pseudo-Trumpian grifters, and even QAnon-style nutters. I have a perfect view down Kent Street – the absolute ground zero of the convoy. In the morning, I see some protesters emerge from their trucks to stretch their legs, but mostly throughout the day they remain in their cabs honking their horns. At night I see small groups huddled in quiet conversations in their new found companionship. There is no honking at night. What I haven’t noticed, not even once, are reporters from any of Canada’s news agencies walking among the trucks to find out who these people are. So last night, I decided to do just that – I introduced myself to my new neighbours.

The Convoy on Kent Street. February 2, 2022.

At 10pm I started my walk along – and in – Kent Street. I felt nervous. Would these people shout at me? My clothes, my demeanour, even the way I walk screamed that I’m an outsider. All the trucks were aglow in the late evening mist, idling to maintain warmth, but all with ominously dark interiors. Standing in the middle of the convoy, I felt completely alone as though these giant monsters weren’t piloted by people but were instead autonomous transformer robots from some science fiction universe that had gone into recharging mode for the night. As I moved along I started to notice smatterings of people grouped together between the cabs sharing cigarettes or enjoying light laughs. I kept quiet and moved on. Nearby, I spotted a heavy duty pickup truck, and seeing the silhouette of a person in the driver’s seat, I waved. A young man, probably in his mid 20s, rolled down the window, said hello and I introduced myself. His girlfriend was reclined against the passenger side door with a pillow to prop her up as she watched a movie on her phone. I could easily tell it’s been an uncomfortable few nights. I asked how they felt and I told them I lived across the street. Immediate surprise washed over the young man’s face. He said, “You must hate us. But no one honks past 6pm!” That’s true. As someone who lives right on top of the convoy, there is no noise at night. I said, “No, I don’t hate anyone, but I wanted to find out about you.” The two were from Sudbury Ontario, having arrived on Friday with the bulk of the truckers. I ask what they hoped to achieve, and what they wanted. The young woman in the passenger seat moved forward, excited to share. They said that they didn’t want a country that forced people to get medical treatments such as vaccines. There was no hint of conspiracy theories in their conversation with me, not a hint of racist overtones or hateful demagoguery. I didn’t ask them if they had taken the vaccine, but they were adamant that they were not anti-vaxers.

The next man I ran into was standing in front of the big trucks at the head of the intersection. Past middle age and slightly rotund, he had a face that suggests a lifetime of working outdoors. I introduced myself and he told me he was from Cochrane, Ontario. He also proudly pointed out that he was the block captain who helped maintain order. I thought, oh no, he might be the one person keeping a lid on things; is it all that precarious? I delicately asked how hard his job was to keep the peace but I quickly learned that’s not really what he did. He organized the garbage collection among the cabs, put together snow removal crews to shovel the sidewalks and clear the snow that accumulates on the road. He even has a salting crew for the sidewalks. He proudly bellowed in an irrepressible laugh “We’re taking care of the roads and sidewalks better than the city.” I waved goodbye and continued to the next block.

My next encounter was with a man dressed in dark blue shop-floor coveralls. A wiry man of upper middle age, he seemed taciturn and stood a bit separated from the small crowd that formed behind his cab for a late night smoke. He hailed from the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. He owned his own rig, but he only drove truck occasionally, his main job being a self-employed heavy duty mechanic. He closed his shop to drive to Ottawa, because he said, “I don’t want my new granddaughter to live in a country that would strip the livelihood from someone for not getting vaccinated.” He introduced me to the group beside us. A younger crowd, I can remember their bearded faces, from Athabasca, Alberta, and Swift Current Saskatchewan. The weather had warmed, and it began to rain slightly, but they too were excited to tell me why they came to Ottawa. They felt that they needed to stand up to a government that doesn’t understand what their lives are like. To be honest, I don’t know what their lives are like either – a group of young men who work outside all day with tools that they don’t even own. Vaccine mandates are a bridge too far for them. But again, not a hint of anti-vax conspiracy theories or deranged ideology.

I made my way back through the trucks, my next stop leading me to a man of East Indian descent in conversation with a young man from Sylvan Lake, Alberta. They told me how they were following the news of O’Toole’s departure from the Conservative leadership and that they didn’t like how in government so much power has pooled into so few hands.

The rain began to get harder; I moved quickly through the intersection to the next block. This time I waved at a driver in one of the big rigs. Through the rain it was hard to see him, but he introduced himself, an older man, he had driven up from New Brunswick to lend his support. Just behind him some young men from Gaspésie, Quebec introduced themselves to me in their best English. At that time people started to notice me – this man from Ottawa who lives across the street – just having honest conversations with the convoy. Many felt a deep sense of abuse by a powerful government and that no one thinks they matter.

Behind the crowd from Gaspésie sat a stretch van, the kind you often see associated with industrial cleaners. I could see the shadow of a man leaning out from the back as he placed a small charcoal BBQ on the sidewalk next to his vehicle. He introduced himself and told me he was from one of the reservations on Manitoulin Island. Here I was in conversation with an Indigenous man who was fiercely proud to be part of the convoy. He showed me his medicine wheel and he pointed to its colours, red, black, white, and yellow. He said there is a message of healing in there for all the human races, that we can come together because we are all human. He said, “If you ever find yourself on Manitoulin Island, come to my reserve, I would love to show you my community.” I realized that I was witnessing something profound; I don’t know how to fully express it.

As the night wore on and the rain turned to snow, those conversations repeated themselves. The man from Newfoundland with his bullmastiff, a young couple from British Columbia, the group from Winnipeg that together form what they call “Manitoba Corner ” all of them with similar stories. At Manitoba Corner a boisterous heavily tattooed man spoke to me from the cab of his dually pickup truck – a man who had a look that would have fit right in on the set of some motorcycle movie – pointed out that there are no symbols of hate in the convoy. He said, “Yes there was some clown with a Nazi flag on the weekend, and we don’t know where he’s from, but I’ll tell you what, if we see anyone with a Nazi flag or a Confederate flag, we’ll kick his fucking teeth in. No one’s a Nazi here.” Manitoba Corner all gave a shout out to that.

As I finally made my way back home, after talking to dozens of truckers into the night, I realized I met someone from every province except PEI. They all have a deep love for this country. They believe in it. They believe in Canadians. These are the people that Canada relies on to build its infrastructure, deliver its goods, and fill the ranks of its military in times of war. The overwhelming concern they have is that the vaccine mandates are creating an untouchable class of Canadians. They didn’t make high-falutin arguments from Plato’s Republic, Locke’s treatises, or Bagehot’s interpretation of Westminster parliamentary systems. Instead, they see their government willing to push a class of people outside the boundaries of society, deny them a livelihood, and deny them full membership in the most welcoming country in the world; and they said enough. Last night I learned my new neighbours are not a monstrous faceless occupying mob. They are our moral conscience reminding us – with every blow of their horns – what we should have never forgotten: We are not a country that makes an untouchable class out of our citizens.

994 thoughts on “A night with the untouchables”

  1. THANK YOU David for writing this. I agree. This should be in every newspaper across Canada without exception. We need curiosity, compassion and conversation to get through this together. Maybe that would be a good headline <3.

    1. Fantastic read from start to finish. Enjoyed every minute of it. Nice to hear perspective from an Ottawa resident . 👍 🥰❤🙏

  2. Thank you. My retired and ailing PhD husband, an ‘old school’ journalist with the kind of integrity that searches for accuracy within every context and so opens eyes, would have made the same walk to hear the stories as you have done. Bless ya brother.

  3. Great article! The truckers and Your article have renewed my love for Canada. My wife is from NS and I’m from the States, we live I Massachusetts. For over a year we’ve been turned off by Canada’s vaccines requirement and lockdown restrictions. It’s encouraging to see a grassroots organization speak to the matter instead of only hearing what the politicians and media say. Thanks for publishing!

  4. Awesome job and great article you have written here I have watched the news and they make this convoy out to be worse than it is with the lies they tell and what a wonderful thing you have done to write this and share what you learned about the people you met and to tell how it really is there…. THANK YOU

  5. Thank you so much for stepping out of your comfort zone and speaking with these beautiful people. You have humanized the truckers.!

  6. Thank you for opening up the world’s eyes to the truth of this convoy and its message of hope and freedom. One by one, people are coming around to the truckers’ cry for freedom from the tarrany this country has lived under for far too long. God bless you!

  7. Nice, all around. Good for you for visiting with your new neighbours and sharing what you heard. I don’t live in Centretown, but I live near enough to hear the horns and be affected by the closures and bus re-routing. There’s one thing that I don’t understand about what you wrote. Why did you say the truckers weren’t blowing their horns at night? For the first five days, the horns were incessant. I was out at 10 PM last Tuesday night and the horns were blaring. I can fully understand that many protesters do not represent Nazi flags or defacing personal property or monuments. Unfortunately, those things have also happened. This situation is very complicated!

  8. Thank you, thank you David!! How I wish your article could get posted in the main stream media that that so many believe!! Thank you for your open mindedness and being willing to see what this convoy and these people are truly all about!! They are there peacefully defending the rights of every Canadian citizen, no matter what race, gender or walk of life!!

  9. Thank you for the wonderful review. My wife and I mingled and met everyone we could on Monday and we had the same experience. There is a powerful love of country and the ideals that Canada stands for among this group. And PEI is there as we met an extremely thoughtful and well spoken young man who owns a trucking company and is there to protect the future for his children. Your writing should be shared widely.

  10. Thank you. I am a trucker and these are the truckers I now.not the truckers the media and government are trying to make you think we are.freedom for all Canadians.

  11. Thank you, this is heartwarming.
    Here in Belgium , we only hear about this movement since Ottawa is blocked and the news are very biased. I learned about it earlier through Facebook from Chris Irwin, but other people here just believe what the authorities & media tell. Same is true when there are demonstrations here. Time to learn & see by yourself

  12. Great article! Nice to see what someone neutral says about their experience with the convoy. Nice to see someone who goes into it with Truly open mind. Seems like u went from being kinda scared to being accepted pretty quick. To me they are everyday Canadian just like us that have been pushed to far! My hats off to them and also to u! HOLD THE LINE! CANADA 1 LOVE!

  13. Beautifully articulated.
    Seems these truckers are everybody and anybody, in their message. And if that were a written message, the signatures at bottom would be from everybody and anybody.
    I witnessed over the last couple weeks, people shedding devisive beliefs, and coming together. And people responded with hugs, love, appreciation, and support for and of each other. Tears were shed as people felt connected, that they were not alone, many sharing their stories. Something l have noticed, is not a single one, has expressed any negativity with this experience. The past few weeks Canadians united, perhaps next we will see, humanity unite.
    My day is better, thanks to your very well written article. Thank you

  14. i am a visual artist and i commend the beauty and clarity, strength of your convoy article. for a mathematician you are a masterful painter.

  15. THANK YOU !!!
    I don’t know what more I can say.
    Please allow me to share your article, to get the truth out about the amazing people and their views, that are part of the convoy in Ottawa.
    Love and peace from Windsor, Ontario.

  16. David,
    You wrote an amazing article concerning everyday heroes in your country! I appreciate your humility in expressing the realness and rawness of your encounter with honest, hardworking individuals who are brave, courageous, and cherish their freedoms from an oppressive, lying group of cowards.

    Thank-You for elevating human love and kindness to the next level of respect!

  17. Thank you so much for this. I was so proud of this group when things first started but in the last few days I started to lose hope. After watching the horrible actions ordered by those with power yesterday I finished my night in tears. To wake up this morning and find your piece brought more tears but not those of remourse or failure. You have brought me hope again. I hope this article spreads far and wide to all that don’t understand and can’t see past what they are being fed.
    I cannot thank you enough.

  18. This was amazing to read thanks for sharing this incredible story.
    Hats off for taking the time to actually meet your new “neighbors”

  19. Who is David Maybury. Not on Linkin. Too bad these protesters gave control of their intent to the big money. Likely some from the US. Had they come and gone in a reasonable time, any change in mandates would have been theirs. They were well on their way before they decamped in Ottawa. Full credit to the Toronto bunch -who came-made their point and went home. Did this guy really spend hour in Ottawa without seeing or hearing and discouraging word? Too good to be true. Time to get out -on the truck you rode in on!

    1. No, I spent two hours with them. Yes, I’m on LinkedIn – I’m easy to find. Too good to be true? Not at all. It’s amazing what happens when you meet people where they are and discover their humanity.

      1. Amen! This article is warming with their Patriotism and touching with their love for one another and their FREEDOM. Your willingness to go outside your comfort zone to ask them to share their story with you and now the world is commendable. God Bless you, sir.!

      2. Best thing ive read all week! Thank you David for sharing this. Its the social media stories that will tell the truth about these canadians and their purpose

      3. I myself took the 4.5 hr drive to Ottawa from my home. I needed to see for myself what the truth was. Not once did I encounter any hostility from protesters, law enforcement, or the local people. I spent 6 hours wandering around speaking to everyone, black ,white,East Indian, and Eastern European. The message was uniform, freedom for all!

      4. David, this is one of the most heartening and informative commentaries I have read in some time. You are an exceptional observer and a talented story teller. Keep up the good works.

      5. Well said and thank you for taking the time to give voice to those who are hurting, marginalized and simply wish to be heard.

      6. Thank you David .I am watching from afar ,but I do live in Ottawa . One thing for sure is the masks are useless and detrimental to our young school age children. Great article I will be sharing for all to see.

      7. Don’t let the haters or their negative works get to you. A part of this is how this whole situation( mandates Covid etc) divided us it made some people very bitter unfortunately this is the new way of live of some. What you wrote was very nice and I loved reading thank you

    2. Thank you for your professional response to above.
      What are the issues of 🇨🇦 that have started the lawsuit against the truckers? According to their account, I actually thought the horns were being honked all night.
      Your experience was real. Great article – thank you.
      – from Alberta

    3. please make your way to Ottawa and talk amongst the people there. you will be amazed at all the kindness that is given to everyone .. you will even surprise yourself. don’t read this article with a stiff upper lip and please, please, do not continue to listen to main stream media. they are NOT telling the truth.. heck, they aren’t even really reporting on the convoy.
      I was there this last weekend and cried when I had to go home. I’ve met some wonderful people whom have become friends. again, go to Ottawa and see for yourself; we are not as bad as you think or are lead to believe.
      Much love and peace to you. ♥️♥️

    4. So beautiful to see and hear that they are things that unite use as Canadians “our Freedom “. That’s what It all comes drown too. We were saved and free. Now it’s time to regain and stop being divided by mandates. Our bodies our choice. Thanks for the great article and going out with an open mind also for sharing it with us.

  20. I work in Logistics and I have a lot of diffrent LTL Companies come into Our facility every day, we have some regular daily drivers whom I have gotten to know and some Company’s send diffrent ones daily as well. I understand and respect the work they do. they are a group of fantasic individuals of all backgrounds. I appreciate them and in some way or another there isn’t one Canadian including the Prime Minister who doesn’t rely on them. Whether you are aware of this or not, it’s the truth! You have written a beautiful artical. Thank you!

  21. I teared up. This is beautiful. You caught in words what I’ve been watching in videos and hearing from friends who were able to join. I’m very glad you went for that walk. This movement is something I have been apart of since the beginning, and this is something we’ve been waiting for. It brings peace and hope to a large majority of us. Make sure you keep telling others. And thank a trucker ❤️

  22. Thank you so much for this well written article that shows us the real people behind this protest in a true and fair light.

    I have been ashamed of the way our politicians and Government Medical Officers have thrown around inflammatory comments towards the protestors related to; hatred, racism, violence, unlawful behavior, harassment etc. etc. The Media as you pointed out, is absent from the front lines of this protest yet keep pumping out click bait headlines and articles that further fuel the fires of division amongst Canadians.

    Although I am fully vaccinated by choice, I do not believe our Government has the right to ignore the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and for that I support peaceful protest and I support having a choice as promised to all Canadians under the Charter.

  23. Thank you!
    I really just wanted to thank you for taking it upon yourself to find out the truth.
    I felt every person/ conversation/ and know it’s hard sometimes to wrap your head around how media plays a huge role in manipulating the truth and make believers unless like yourself goes on an adventure to seek the truth out.
    I’m glad someone took the time to write down these events and what everyone in the convoy is fighting for. Thank you again ❤️

    1. I am so glad someone took the time to write down events and descriptions of speaking with “truckers”. This is what journalists are supposed to do, but they do not. It is much warmer to snuggle behind their desks in a warm building and criticize another network. Or, another reporter. You get a feeling this is truth.

  24. Your story is very touching as I watch on TV they say that people are assaulting, leaving garbage, stealing food from shelters, Natzi flags being used. From the videos taken by the convoy I have seen nothing but love, someone who may not even be a part of the convoy could be causing the problems. Thank you for your bravery to go out and meet many of the people to see they are there for Freedom not to cause disruptions.

  25. Beautiful well written description David of the events unfolding in Canada. I hope the Canadian people can open their eyes at what has been going on for some time. As hard as the main stream media is trying to put a bad spin on this chapter of Canada. I do believe the tides are turning. Everyone has their reasons for being in the protest. I’m so glad the truckers took their stand and allowed the rest of Canada to join in.

  26. Wow wow wow , finally someone actually taking the time to be there and see for real what this is all about.
    Well written , I felt as though I was right there with you. Sure gave me a great feeling .
    Thank you for all you have written and sharing with us.

    1. A Beautiful piece written by someone who truly loves our country. Thank you for taking the time to share it with all of us patriotic Canadians who love our freedoms. May God bless you and all the Truckers!

  27. This is a very well thought out piece, quite powerful! How can we share this to people who have been blinded, by slanted coverage of this event?

  28. Thanks so much for this! Very well stated. Thank you for not going back home after the first few trucks! If only the “regular” media would walk around incognito in this group for a bit, and honestly SEE what reality is. It is a sad state of affairs when we have to do our own News research! God bless you for your time and efforts. Praying you are not negatively affected in any way, but instead, blessed!

  29. What an honest story. You need to get Pat King to read this on his live interview. This is the story the media fails to talk about.

  30. I am an American, who thinks of Canada as a second home. I grew up in Michigan right across the border. As a kid, we took summer vacations in our boat staying in different Canadian ports, and in the winter, we played hockey in small towns in Ontario. As an adult, I moved farther away, but then, as a hockey mom, I found myself again traveling into Canada. Canadians are wonderful, mild mannered people, but they are strong people. For Canadians to do what they are doing says everything. You’ve been pushed to the limit. Many of us here in the US feel the same way. We share many of the thoughts you heard from the people you talked to on your walk. We want our freedoms back. We don’t want the government telling us what to put in our bodies. We want to earn a living and support our families. This grandma wants my sons and their families to thrive. I want my grandchildren to have a bright future. We are not “the fringe”. We are all, Canadians and Americans, who just want to live our lives.

    And, I would like to visit Canada again. Bless all the truckers and those supporting them. 🇺🇸❤️🇨🇦 I am here following with bated breath.

  31. Thank you for sharing your heartwarming story, I am glad you took the time to meet your neighbors.

  32. That was so beautiful and well written. Thank you so much for taking to time to go find out who they really are. ❤️❤️ God bless you. This is what Canada is all about. Love & respect each other. 💕🇨🇦

  33. This was one of the most understanding well written articles I’ve read in a long long time. Thank you so much.

  34. Thank you for your well written article. It is nice to have confirmed that the media is once again making very biased reports which adds and even instigates problems. I’m for vaccines and believe having a vaccine will help to make me and everyone else safe so I’m not sure how protecting the health and well-being of everyone is having a lack of freedom. We all have to wear seatbelts when in a car and have to wear hard hats on constructions sites, etc. — this is taking away our freedoms more than have a vaccine.

  35. That was a nice write-up. But have you sent it anywhere to get published to the city,MLA,MP or any form of media?

  36. David, God bless you for writing and sharing this! It is hard to put into words how much the success of this Convoy for Freedom is needed! The hopes of millions Canadians hang in the balance! With each small bit of good news tears of joy flow and with bad news, tears again but not of joy!
    Thank you from a granny in BC!🙏❤️

  37. Not so informed. A quasi informed writing. They have made their point. Please go home. It is about my country

  38. Thank you for your willingness to converse with others different from yourself. It’s a heart touching article. Many of us have been affected by our decision not to get the covid vaccine. My entire family is vaccinated and I respect that choice. I simply want freedom to chose what is injected into my body and for government to allow all Canadians to have that choice without fear of persecution.

  39. Love this it’s so well written .. Thank you for this insight into these men that our MSM won’t give us..

    1. such a wonderful article God bless you for sharing, we are good people . we just want our Canada back

    2. My sister sent this to me in support of my feelings for this movement my heart rebounds to the point of exploding as an ex truck driver I know who the truckers are when your driving if you see someone in trouble you pull over seems we’ve pulled over would love to meet this man and shake his hand

  40. Truly a heartwarming story. Thank you for taking the time to meet some of the truckers – men and women with big hearts who love Canada and have the backbone to stand for freedom for all. I admire their courage and tenacity and their committment to maintain peace in the face of vilification by the media giants.

    1. Thank you for putting this out there to support what the Freedom 2022’s intentions are and that this is truly a peaceful protest. ✌

  41. thank you for sharing your experience. there has been so much one sided information that is being put on in the media, its refreshing to hear from someone who is not biased on what they will see and puts the human back in people. we need to hear more of these stories, thank you

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