In 2019, when the Canadian Yellow Vest Movement organized the “United We Roll” convoy, we saw a preview of what’s happening now. We saw organizers claiming that the convoy was the voice of working class concerns – in this case those of oil and gas workers – before quickly becoming a vehicle for white supremacy, full of Islamophobic rhetoric and with neo-Nazi Faith Goldy speaking at one of their events.
Today, as we witness the confederate flags and the swastikas; the Gadsden flags and the Yellow Star badges; the mocking of Indigenous peoples; the testimonies of racist slurs and violent threats; the transphobia and the homophobia; and the organizers’ lengthy history of white supremacy let’s be clear about this moment.
This is violence and white supremacy.
It’s on display when the demonstrators disrupt CUPE members working as first responders, reportedly throwing rocks at them and delaying them getting critically ill patients to hospitals.
When they disrupt and harass city workers, also CUPE members, or staff and volunteers at a homeless shelter, taking food away from the most vulnerable people in our communities.
And when they disrupt workers in the service industry, endangering them by demanding to enter establishments unmasked.
And, today, with Ontario partially reopening and with so many more front-line workers returning to their workplaces, it’s on display when they refuse to leave Ottawa, if only to ensure people’s safety.
Let’s be clear that we’re seeing yet another cynical attempt to exploit the issue of the day to smuggle in white supremacy.
We’re seeing a coddling of white supremacy, underscored so clearly when compared to the treatment of racialized and Indigenous demonstrators.
We’re seeing Federal Conservative MPs refuse to forcefully clarify that the United States has the same requirements for unvaccinated travellers and that most of our vaccine mandates these demonstrators oppose are written by the provinces. Instead, they’ve pandered, hoping to win some votes at any cost.
It’s all disgraceful, violent, white supremacy – and it demands immediate, concerted, and comprehensive action.
CUPE Ontario commits to taking this action because, more clearly than ever, it’s long past time to ensure that white supremacy no longer finds yet another vehicle for hate.