Can we compare the Canadian and French “freedom convoys”?

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This Saturday morning, thousands of cars forming a “freedom convoy“were blocked by the police before they entered Paris. The movement, born earlier this week on social networks, is inspired by “Freedom convoys” who have been blocking Ottawa, the capital of Canada, since the beginning of February.

If there are similarities between the two movements, in particular on the form, on the bottom, the two mobilizations crystallize demands and bring together very different sympathizers.

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In Canada, the “Freedom convoys“were initially put in place by truckers opposed to a new law requiring them to be vaccinated to cross the border with the United States. Currently, several hundred heavy goods vehicles are still blocking the Canadian capital. The federal government has decreed the state of emergency on February 6.

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Several major highways connecting Canada and the United States are also blocked by protesters.

QAnon present in the Canadian movement

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According to Canadian observers, the base of militants who initiated the “Freedom convoys” in Ottawa belong to an extremist section of the population. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network analyzed the movement: “If you look at its organizers and promoters, you will find Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism and incitement to violence“, writes the independent body.

One of the movement’s founding groups, Canada Unity, was founded by James Bauder. This Christian evangelist supported the theses of the QAnon conspiracy movement and described the Covid-19 as “biggest political scam in history“.

Patrick King, one of the self-declared spokespersons of the “Freedom Convoy“, meanwhile warned against “the great replacement [une théorie du complot d’extrême droite popularisée par l’écrivain français Renaud Camus, NDLR] of the white race by ‘Ishmael’ and ‘Mahmoud’“.

In demonstrations in Ottawa, it is not uncommon to see Confederate flags, one of the totems of supporters of Donald Trump and American supremacists, as well as Nazi flags.

Conspirators in French convoys

Like the Canadian movement, the conspiratorial movements also took part in the French convoys.

​One of the spokespersons and co-organizer of the movement, Rémi “Monde” [un pseudonyme, NDLR]presents himself on his Facebook page as an admirer of Professor Didier Raoult and the conspiratorial documentary Holdup.

In a long interview with Julien Pain, a Franceinfo journalist specializing in fact-checkingsRémi Monde relayed common intox in conspiratorial circles, such as that of a global plan intended to lay the foundations for mass surveillance.

In France, convoys mobilized against the social crisis

To reduce this movement to conspiracy, even if it exists, would be to miss the point“, explains Bruno Cautrès, researcher at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po (Cevipof) joined by TV5MONDE.

In fact, the French “freedom convoys” bring together a very wide spectrum of sympathizers. The latter cite among their main concerns purchasing power and the rise in the price of basic necessities. “We find the two pillars of the French malaise for several years: the feeling of a system which is not democratic enough but also meritocracy, purchasing power and the blocking of the social elevator”, analyzes Bruno Cautrès.

In Canada, the movement also brings together “ua fairly significant minority of people who want above all to express their frustration with the health and economic situation, without having any political commitment“, explained to France 24 Daniel Béland, of the Institute of Canadian Studies at McGill University.

A revival of the “yellow vests” movement?

Less radicalized than the Canadian convoys, the French convoys seem to breathe new life into the movement of “yellow vests”. Among the participants in the convoys, many are those who occupied the roundabouts between 2018 and 2020.

There are several points in common between the ‘freedom convoys’ and the movement of yellow vests“, explains to TV5MONDE Frédéric Gonthier, professor of political science at Sciences po Grenoble and at the Pacte laboratory. “The most obvious is the one in the middle of the road. The automotive universe and culture were very present among the Yellow Vests. In its modes of action too: before being structured around roundabouts, the movement of yellow vests began in the form of roadblocks, where the yellow vest was precisely endorsed to be well seen.”

There is really a crisis of confidence in a system that gives the impression of not being fair play

Bruno Cautrès, researcher at Cevipof

This Saturday, February 12, clashes took place between demonstrators from the “freedom convoys” and the police on the Champs-Élysées, in Paris. Events that recall the different weekends of mobilization of “yellow vests” between 2018 and 2020.

Clashes erupted this Saturday on the Champs-Élysées following the mobilization of supporters of the "convoys of freedom" which converge towards the capital.

Is it the rebirth of the movement of yellow vests or is it the extension of a latent crisis which returns with the feeling in certain fringes of the population that the social and political system does not respond?“, asks Bruno Cautrès. “There is really a crisis of confidence in a system that gives the impression of not being fair play.”

The Canadian movement initially had a professional claim. By aiming for convergence on Brussels, the French movement has a transnational dimension from the outset

Frédéric Gonthier, professor at Sciences Po Grenoble

French convoys have a “transnational” aim

It would be wrong to reduce the French convoy to a simple anti-pass demand”, says Frederic Gonthier . “He defends a certain vision of freedom as being an inalienable right, and not a right that a government can modulate according to circumstances, even on the grounds of public health. It is a real question of values ​​that is upsetting today traditional political divisions, and fracture from within the electorate of the right like that of the left.

The Canadian movement initially had a professional demand: to protest against the obligation to vaccinate truck drivers to cross the border with the United States. By aiming for convergence on Brussels with other national convoys, the French movement has a transnational dimension from the outset. The management in Brussels translates the idea that to influence the political decision, it is necessary to act at the supra-national level rather than at the national level.“, he adds.

    Source From: Google News

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