P.E.I. trucker joining 'freedom convoy' to Ottawa, trucking association opposes protest
'I made my choice for the vaccine. But they have their choice to say no to it, as well'
Some P.E.I. truckers will be part of a convoy to Ottawa to protest new vaccination rules for drivers.
Both Canada and the U.S. now require truck drivers crossing the border to be fully-vaccinated to avoid having to isolate.
Some drivers and others frustrated by that rule and other pandemic restrictions have organized what they are calling a "freedom convoy."
A group of Islanders plans to set out Thursday morning to join the convoy.
Long-haul truck driver Tyler Beaton says while he's fully-vaccinated, he's joining the convoy to support those who aren't.
"I, myself, am vaccinated, but I also hear the horror other truckers face. And to have those truckers who can't work because of the mandate, sit there in fear on how they're going to bring food to their families, how they're going to eat."
The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association said it's not clear how many drivers from the region plan to join the convoy.
Executive director Jean-Marc Picard said his association does not support the protest.
"We understand they want to be heard, and it's understandable. But we don't feel it paints a nice picture about the industry," he said.
We understand they want to be heard, and it's understandable.But we don't feel it paints a nice picture about the industry.— Jean-Marc Picard
The trucking association and many other industry groups did lobby against the vaccination rule, arguing it would add to the driver shortage and hurt supply chains.
But Picard said a convoy is the wrong tactic, and could do more harm than good.
"We don't want the convoy to end up in a road block. We certainly need drivers working and delivering goods. We are in a shortage of drivers. So, obviously, this disrupts the supply chain. I don't know to what extent, but it will have some impact."
'Right to choose'
Beaton acknowledged joining the convoy will likely impact his delivery schedule this week and he fears he could lose his job.
He wasn't comfortable saying which company he works for — only that it's based in New Brunswick.
"It's not to be selfish about it, it's that we need to be heard," he said. "That's their bodies, they get the right to choose. I made my choice for the vaccine. But they have their choice to say no to it, as well."
With files from Steve Bruce