by Josie Appleton
Friday, 11
February 2022
Dispatch
14:30

The Ottawa ‘Freedom Convoy’ comes to France

Protestors unhappy with vaccine passports are descending on Paris
by Josie Appleton
Protesters in Niort

Saint-Gaudens, France

Yesterday morning in the small town of Saint-Gaudens, south-west France, a pensioner thrust a cake and 20 euros through the window of a camper van starting on the two-day ‘liberty convoy’ to Paris. Locals had prepared a table packed with provisions to sustain those driving across the country to protest against the vaccine passport and other strict covid measures. Cars had ‘freedom’ or tricolours attached to their sides; a camper van bore a sign about love on the dashboard and flew a dove of peace out of the window.

Thanks to the example set by the Ottawa truckers, which one organiser described as “very inspiring”, the vehicles are coming from across the country. They are due to arrive outside Paris at 8pm tonight (Friday) while some will continue on to Brussels to meet drivers from other parts of Europe on 14 February.

The travellers are a spectrum of France: hippies and retired couples, motorbike men and racer boys, from all political camps, vaccinated and unvaccinated. They disagree on many things but share a passionate opposition to vaccine passports and other ‘liberticide’ Covid measures.

The context is the yawning gap between a caste-like political elite and the general public. While the British political elite has unraveled with ‘partygate’ and other scandals, the French presidency has maintained a tight formation, strengthening the vaccine passport at the very moment when other countries are abandoning it. The constitutional court obligingly rubber-stamped the latest vaccine passport even though it violated its own conditions set for the previous version. Weekly demonstrations in almost every sizeable French town and city have fallen on deaf ears, as was a petition against the vaccine passport that gathered more than a million signatures in a matter of days.

The convoy’s official spokespeople say the aim is to gather in a picnic ground outside Paris and ask political leaders to come and meet them for a dialogue. They say it is peaceful and not about a blockade. But this doesn’t mean that no one will enter Paris: Parisians are hosting reception committees for the arrivals, and on Telegram chats convoy members appear to be looking for beds for the night in the city.

The European political elite is lining up against the convoy. The French secretary of state for European Affairs said that the participants were “irresponsible”: “it’s not the convoy of liberty, but the convoy of shame and egotism”. He dismissed the event as “the umpteenth episode of antivaxxers” that include “conspiracy theorists who think that the vaccine is inserting chips into the arms of people”. The prefect of Paris police has prohibited all demonstrations between Friday and Monday, threatening the organisers of any demos with imprisonment and 7500 euros fines.

Meanwhile, Belgian authorities have banned all ‘demonstrations with motorised vehicles’, to block the Brussels stage of events. There are also accounts of drivers being turned back by police: a handful of posts on the convoy’s Telegram channel said that the police had blocked their passage, and they advised convoy drivers to remove posters from their cars and avoid the motorways.

Facebook gave the French Government a helping hand by deactivating the accounts of all admins of the ‘Convoi de la Liberte’ group, which had over 350,000 members and was the main point of public contact for the initiative. The admins lost access to the group and most new posts were blocked, stymieing people’s ability to post updates on the convoys’ journeys and significantly reducing the audience.

The convoy — with its motley and spontaneous solidarity — presents a different view of citizenship, with people offering up rooms in their homes to strangers, pushing money through car windows to contribute to petrol costs. “The vaccine passport doesn’t do anything useful, it is just about controlling people”, a young man told me the St. Gaudens carpark, as he prepared to set out on the drive. “Politicians are the ones who are doing the damage, they are breaking down the ties between people”.

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Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago

It’s creepy how social media companies do the dirty work of governments with regards to flow and control of information.

James Joyce
James Joyce
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

This is an excellent point and needs to be expanded upon. Silencing the debate about the Hunter Biden laptop and the corruption of Biden Inc. at a time when it mattered is one example that immediately comes to mind, but there are countless others.
Extremely well said, Julian!

James Joyce
James Joyce
4 months ago

“The European political elite is lining up against the convoy.”
Without reading anything else, one instinctively knows which side to be on: Les Deplorables!
Let’s hope that le Convoi de le Libertei rolls on, rolls into Paris and other European cities, and spreads worldwide. As Freddie showed with his interview of the Canadian trucker, this is less Antifa, where the goal is occupation and destruction, and more grass-roots patriotism. Bravo!
Enough is enough! The real people–as opposed to the elites–are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! We are sick of being lied to, sick of being controlled, sick of having our bodily integrity violated, sick of being called names, sick of watching our children lose essential years, sick of the cover-up of the Chinese flu, mention of which was once not permitted by Big Tech, though now (and then) it looks like the most likely scenario.
The truckers have real power! If they are somehow stopped from “occupying Paris,” just parking the trucks will have a huge impact, as the Canadian trucker told Freddie. Keep the trucks off the road until power is returned to the people, where it belongs. They work for us, not the other way around.
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged foresaw this, where the real people who keep society moving and advancing withdraw their labor and go into hiding.
Bravo to the Convoys, and the people supporting them!

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
4 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I’m going to deploy at a local motorway rest stop and offer hot coffee and snack bars.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
4 months ago

“Facebook gave the French Government a helping hand by deactivating the accounts of all admins of the ‘Convoi de la Liberte’ group, which had over 350,000 members and was the main point of public contact for the initiative. The admins lost access to the group and most new posts were blocked, stymieing people’s ability to post updates on the convoys’ journeys and significantly reducing the audience.”
Young Leaders of WEF include Macron…Zuckerberg…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

Surprised that they didn’t use Telegram earlier on….

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
4 months ago

Honk! Honk!

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
4 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

That must be a 12v system – Try 24v HONK!! HONK!!

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

It was my little Renault. Sort of like a toddler compared to these supertrucks, but hey, it’s all I got.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
4 months ago

Sounds similar to how Putin silenced Navalny before the Russian elections. Piece below is from Navalny’s Telegram post.

‘If anything surprised me in the last election, it was not at all Putin falsifying the results, but how obediently the almighty Big Tech turned into his assistants.

Giants Apple and Google, following the demands of the Kremlin, removed our application. My favorite YouTube removed our video, and the Telegram messenger blocked the work of our bot.

These “extremist”, according to Putin, programs contained only information about opposition candidates in your district.

By law and common sense, each of us has the right to call for voting (or not voting) for anyone.

In our case, the very intention to organize voters in order to oust the ruling party was declared criminal, and Big Tech agreed with this. Thus, recognizing the right of an authoritarian thief to subdue the Internet, turning it into a tool to retain power.

It’s one thing when Internet monopolies are ruled by cute freedom-loving nerds with strong life principles.

It is quite another when people are both cowardly and greedy at the helm.

One of the challenges of the new age is that false prophets now come to us not in sheep’s clothing, but in hoodies and stretched jeans. Against the backdrop of huge screens, they tell us about “make the world a better place”, but inside they are liars and hypocrites.

The media write that the Kremlin forced Big Tech to make concessions, showing them almost a list of employees to be arrested. If so, then keeping silent about it is the worst crime. This is an encouragement for a terrorist taking hostages.’

R Wright
R Wright
4 months ago

I’m still baffled that boomers use and trust Facebook. Not a single person under 35 posts there anymore.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

As a boomer I use but don’t trust FB. I couldn’t give a …. about whether people under 35 post there or not. I also use Twitter when wanting to deep dive into certain issues. I don’t trust Twitter either. I see some inane but funny TikToks from time to time. I also do a lot of YouTube (and other forums) to access alternative news. I order things online and know that my purchases are monitored.
I also know that people under 35 have a far higher dependency on social media and the internet than boomers do. By far. I would survive without it with some adjustment… I would really worry for most under 35s.
Are you suggesting that people under 35 only use ‘trusted’ mediums on the internet?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago

Does this convoy enjoy much support in the wider population, as I haven’t heard much about it?
In NZ there’s a copycat protest going on outside Parliament, but it doesn’t have the support in the same way as the Canadian convoy does.
Whereas the Canadian protest is a well organised working class action against a specific policy in the vaccine mandates, the NZ is a very poor imitation.
Nominally it’s supposed to be against the vaccine mandate for front line workers, but it has only really attracted the conspiracy theorists and ageing hippy professional protesters. The sight of Trump flags and Q Anon gives the impression of it being a largely imported affair rather than a genuine grassroots movement so it doesn’t really enjoy any support even though a majority I know think the vaccine mandates for front line workers are bad policy. The other issue being that in a country where 95% of over 12’s are double jabbed the amount of people actually affected by the mandate negligible.
I’m interested in the perceptions of the French version. Do people view it similar to the yellow vests which was a proper working class affair, or do they just see it as a social media inspired imitation?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It has huge support. Thank goodness for the hippies… they know the difference between liberalism and authoritarianism.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago

It numbers around a few hundred people, it enjoys very little support. Nobody is anti the protesters either, it’s just become a bit of a joke. Nobody in NZ cares, the culture wars are largely ignored thankfully apart from a few who spend too long on social media

miss pink
miss pink
4 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I live in New Zealand and this is totally incorrect. The protest here has huge support and it is growing. The government have misjudged this badly by playing it as per Justin T and describing people as fringe far right loons etc. The media just repeat government talking points. People are crying out to be heard and they are not going to go away and hide anymore.

Last edited 4 months ago by miss pink
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
4 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

A sad post – telling us what we knew, but hoped was not true – that NZ is completely lost, and is merely some Zombie state.

The end of 1984

“”But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.””
In 1894 Big Brother rule it was not enough to just kill dissidents – first they had to be tortured and brainwashed till they finally were made to actually love Big Brother – as ALL Must, before the final relief of the bullet in the back of the head would be fired.

After Winston had been utterly broken and re-put together and made to love his tormentor, then the very end of the book, on these words – the welcome shot finishes him

NZ has reached this state finally…..

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Lazily quoting Orwell doesn’t make an argument.
Why does the majority of general public thinking protestors who are spouting Q Anon rhetoric and running around with Confederate flags are a bit of a joke make NZ a zombie state? The whole protest simply has an imported feel more akin to the culture wars in the States than anything that is going on domestically. We were largely spared the BLM nonsense last year bar a few posh kids having a march which was largely ignored, and this just looks to be the other side of the same coin, which again will be largely ignored.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
4 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Confederate flags? Qanon? BLM? Where?

The Canadians have woken up from their oppressive nightmare – they are doing it 100% in a Canadian Fashion.

The Kiwi are hiding in their forest.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

There has been Q Anon graffiti, along with Confederate flags, Canadian flags and Trump signs none of which has anything to do with NZ which is why it has the feel of an imported social media inspired culture wars trope rather than anything domestic. This largely explains why most of the public treat the whole thing as a joke.
The Canadian protest is altogether different, in that it’s a working class grassroots protest which by and large is against a specific policy, whereas the NZ one is a meandering mess by people who can’t be called working class as the majority there don’t work.
The Kiwis aren’t hiding at all, they simply don’t care. In 2 years of the pandemic I’ve been locked down for a grand total of 7 weeks, and for the bulk of it I’ve enjoyed less restrictions than Sweden.
I’m never going to agree with every policy a government puts out, but seeing as the only restriction in my life currently is wearing a mask an hour a week when I do the shopping it’s not enough for me to get worked up about, especially when that is ending shortly when we have had our Omicron spike like every other country has been through

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
4 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

If your leader in NZ said everyone must walk squatting down like a duck and quacking when ever you entered a public building –

“but seeing as the only restriction in my life currently is wearing a mask an hour a week when I do the shopping it’s not enough for me to get worked up about,”:

Would you squat down and begin quacking?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

No I wouldn’t, but she hasn’t so it’s irrelevant. Using ridiculous straw man arguments means nothing

miss pink
miss pink
4 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

So your argument is that your life is sweet so too bad for everybody else?