Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attacked the “Freedom Convoy” protesters in a new speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Addressing the European audience, Trudeau said that the protesters, who converged on Ottawa in trucks to honk their horns in protest of the country’s vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions, were “cynical populists trying to exploit” economic anxieties of average Canadians.
Condemning it as a “weakening of democratic institutions,” Trudeau, who invoked the Emergencies Act to quell the protests, said that the protesters “pretend to have easy solutions that play on people’s fears.”
“Even in Canada, where 90% of people are vaccinated, and our motto as a country 'peace, order, and good government,' we saw anti-vaccine and anti-government protest evolve into illegal occupations of our communities and blockades of our borders," said Trudeau.
The prime minister said that the leaders of the “Freedom Convoy” were “effective in turning citizens with real anxieties against the system, best suited to allay those concerns.”
Trudeau refused to take responsibility for exacerbating the protest, having refused to meet with the protesters and instead choosing to condemn them as white supremacists, racists, and other kinds of miscreants. Trudeau, after invoking the Emergencies Act, moved to freeze the bank accounts of protesters and their supporters, and even confiscated a portion of donations sent to the organizers through crowdfunds like GiveSendGo and Bitcoin.
Continuing his speech, Trudeau said that democracy “isn’t a game,” and that there are no easy solutions to the “big, complex problems we’re all facing.”
Trudeau said that Canada remained committed to fighting against the weakening of liberal democracies, noting that there is a lot of work “that lies before us” for those committed to democracy, and segued into the condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he labelled an authoritarian.
“We cannot let Ukraine down,” stated Trudeau. “They are counting on us, so let’s use all the tools we have at our disposal.”