States of Emergency and Competing Claims of Constitutional Erosion: Canada, COVID-19 Measures, and Narratives of the “Freedom” Convoy

In early 2022, Canada instituted COVID measures, including a vaccination requirement for truckers crossing the U.S. Border. Competing narratives immediately emerged. Some argued that the measures were necessary to control the pandemic. Others argued that the measures were an overreach. A “trucker” convoy, claiming to be seeking “freedom,” occupied Ottawa for 3 weeks and also blockaded several Border crossings. The Prime Minister made the controversial decision to declare a national emergency, which lasted for almost 2 weeks and ended the blockades, but added another layer of competing narratives to this fraught situation.

A common thread through these narratives is a claim that constitutional protections have eroded, although views vary widely as to the mechanism of this claimed erosion. This paper aims to deconstruct some of these more generalized narratives about the convoy to argue that, while much can be critiqued in this situation, it did not suggest constitutional erosion.