Haliburton trucker makes trip to Ottawa

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Freedom convoy

Walking along Wellington Street in Ottawa Jan. 30, Haliburton resident Kevin McColl said he saw lots of smiling faces and “good people pulling together for a great cause” as thousands of ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters arrived in the nation’s capital.
McColl, who operates McColl’s Trucking and Logging, made the trip with friend, John McNeil. Together, the pair spent the day challenging vaccine mandates imposed by the federal and provincial governments.
While media reports from the event, which saw as many as 10,000 people attend, have been mostly negative, with images depicting protesters desecrating the National War Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a statue of Terry Fox, McColl said his experiences were overwhelmingly positive.
“It was just the most amazing thing. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my life. I spent the whole day there and there were times that I just teared right up,” McColl said. “There’s always going to be a few people who spoil it, but from what I saw, and the people I spoke to, it was all very respectful.
“The thing that upsets me, is all the negative stuff is being reported and talked about. But nobody shows, or is talking about the people cleaning up the statues, and cleaning the streets. There were many of us there doing that, too,” McColl added.
The convoy has received national attention in recent weeks. The event was launched, initially, in protest of the federal government’s decision to reinstate COVID19 vaccine requirements to re-enter the country by land as of Jan. 15.
Prior to that, truck drivers and other essential workers had been exempt from the two-week quarantine for unvaccinated travellers crossing Canada’s borders. While there were some in attendance who took exception to provincial regulations, such as Ontario’s latest lockdown and mandates stipulating certain workers must be vaccinated, McColl said his, and many others’ main gripe, was the border issue.
“It’s this new mandate that’s got everybody bent out of shape. I have no problem with masking. I have no problem with anybody who wants to get vaccinated. I’m not, and won’t be, but whoever wants to, that’s their choice,” McColl said. “The problem is when you lose your choice, you start to go down a slippery slope.”
Many people shared their personal stories, with McColl saying he heard from a nurse and former RCMP officer he said were forced to resign after refusing to be vaccinated. McNeil said it was an emotional day for him being around so many likeminded people. “People have had enough. We’re two years into this now, everybody just wants to have their freedom back,” McNeil said.
With protests continuing, McColl intends to return to Ottawa this weekend. This time, he wants to take his truck.
As a show of solidarity standing alongside his fellow truckers, McColl has decorated his vehicle with Canadian flags, something he says has been very well received in Haliburton.
“We’re not asking for much, we just want to live. We want our businesses to operate,” McColl said. “People just want to get back to some sort of normal.”