When a convoy of trucks passed through the Lower Mainland on Sunday, Jan. 23, heading for Ottawa to protest a vaccine mandate that requires cross-border drivers to be vaccinated, hundreds turned out along the route to show support, waving flags and signs.
Since the “Freedom Convoy” was first announced, many have also contributed to a GoFundMe campaign, which had raised close to $4 million as of Monday.
READ ALSO: VIDEO: Crowd of supporters greets anti-vaccine-mandate truck convoy in Aldergrove
It was launched by Tamara Lich, secretary and member of the western Canadian governing council of the Alberta-based Maverick party, which has supported separation from Canada by the western provinces and creation of a “western nation.”
On Monday, the party issued a statement saying it was not “directly involved” with the convoy.
Interim leader Jay Hill said “some Maverick members and supporters have chosen to support the convoy.”
“Maverick does not support anti-vaccination but does support freedom-of-choice and a citizen’s right to decide what they do with their own bodies,” Hill said.
”Like the majority of Canadians, most Maverick members have chosen to be vaccinated, some have not. Our party will not condemn either for their choice.”
It included a statement by Lich, who said the convoy was “not about vax or anti-vax or covid. It is about restoring Canada’s rights and freedoms. Freedom to open businesses, freedom to hug your friends, go to restaurants and movies, etc.”
In response to follow-up queries by the Langley Advance Times, party spokesperson Leah Murray said Lich was “volunteering as an individual, completely separate from [the] Maverick Party.”
Murray was asked if any of the funds raised by Lich were going to the party.
“I don’t know who gets what…Maverick Party is NOT involved on any level,” Murray said.
READ ALSO: Trucker convoy raises millions in funds as vaccine-hesitant supporters flock to cause
GoFundMe was reportedly reviewing the convoy campaign, but as of Monday afternoon, the company had not responded to a request for clarification, and neither had Lich.
On the Maverick party website, the biography of the Alberta-born Lich reports she had a career in the oil and gas industry before she joined the interim board for Wexit Alberta.
After a merger between Wexit Alberta and the Freedom Conservative party to create the Wildrose Independence Party, Lich joined the board of Wexit Canada, later renamed the Maverick Party.
Maintaining what it calls a “twin-track” policy, the party advocates separation from the rest of Canada – unless the federal government makes changes that include ending equalization payments from have- to have-not provinces, scrapping the carbon tax and changing to the constitution to restrict federal powers.
Meanwhile, the Langley-based British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA), in response to a Langley Advance Times query, issued a statement by president and CEO Dave Earle distancing the organization from the truckers in the convoy.
“BCTA is not involved with nor supportive of the convoy in any manner,” said Earle.
According to the BCTA website, association members operate about 16,000 vehicles, and employ over 26,000 people.
The Canadian Truck Alliance has also spoken out against the convoy,with president Stephen Laskowski saying the Alliance “strongly disapproves” of any protests on public roadways.
All truckers who cross the border from Canada into the U.S. must be vaccinated to avoid a 14-day quarantine under a new policy passed last Saturday (Jan. 15).
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