Truckers misrepresenting employers by joining Ottawa protest, companies say
Some trucking firms are trying to disassociate from the ongoing protest in downtown Ottawa after a website published photos to “name and shame” companies that had rigs and vehicles involved in the demonstration.
Daniel Miousse was shocked to see a photo of one of his company vehicles among the truck convoy protesters in downtown Ottawa, which was recently posted online.
Miousse, who owns an industrial fence company near Montreal, said he had no idea the pickup truck or his employee were in the nation’s capital.
“One of our employees took our truck since, I think, last Wednesday,” said Miousse, who is currently in Florida. “I was very upset. So I sent four people Sunday morning to get our truck back.”
He said he plans to fire the worker.
“I need to see him and ask him some questions. Why he didn’t ask anybody in the company?” said Miousse.
The protest, with shifting goals that circle around ending COVID-19 rules across Canada, has entered its 13th day.
More than 400 vehicles were parked in the core as of the last police update Monday, forcing the closure of downtown streets, businesses and services, while leaving local residents and business owners scared and frustrated.
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On Feb. 6, the website convoytraitors.ca, initiated by an Ottawa IT specialist, started posting names of companies that had trucks in the protest area, along with photos with the intent of “naming and shaming” those involved.
Close to 200 companies were listed as either supporting or having trucks in the convoy as of Tuesday.
“By naming and tagging we hope to ensure that any future internet searches reveal the true nature of these businesses,” the website reads.
A map on the website shows truck companies located across Canada and some headquartered in the U.S. Those behind the website said the owner of one firm, who supports the protest, sent an email to the webmaster labelling the website a disgrace.
Companies distance from protest
Nova Scotia trucking firm Seaboard Transport told CBC it doesn’t support the convoy, but one of its trucks was photographed as part of the protest.
“The convoy and the related protests do not represent beliefs or values of Seaboard Transport,” company vice-president Ryan Conrod told CBC in an email.
Many of the transport trucks that started coming into Ottawa’s core are owner-operated, which means they may feature the logo of a transport company, but the driver isn’t a direct employee of the company. This is the case for Seaboard, according to Conrod.
“We have reached out to the truck’s owner to request that it be removed from the convoy,” he said.
A similar message was delivered by Kimberly Biback from Sharp Transportation Systems in Cambridge, Ont.
“The truck that was found in Ottawa had Sharp’s logo, but does not belong to Sharp. That is an independently owned truck,” said Biback.
Sharp’s CEO posted on social media that almost all of the company’s drivers are vaccinated and no staff drivers would be participating in the Ottawa protest.
“We have stated from the beginning that we respect the constitutional rights to peaceful assembly, but do not support where actions and behaviours infringe upon the rights of others,” Sharp posted in a statement on LinkedIn.
“When we heard about the reprehensible acts that took place in Ottawa, we immediately expressed our disdain.”
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On Tuesday, an Ottawa resident sent a video to the Agropur Dairy Co-operative complaining about trucks with that logo honking horns, waving flags and participating in the protest. The resident warned it wasn’t a “good look” for the co-operative.
The company told CBC the drivers were subcontractors, not employees, and the trucks did not belong to Agropur.
“We completely disassociate ourselves from this event,” said Mylène Dupéré, vice-president of corporate communications at Agropur.
‘Hands are tied’
Another transport truck company manager who spoke to CBC on the condition of anonymity says his family has been threatened by those for and against the protest since photos of his trucks were posted to the convoy traitor site.
The owner says he doesn’t want trucks with his company logo involved in the protest, but he hasn’t been able to do anything about it.
“The trucks that are in Ottawa, they’re owner-operators. Our hands are tied. They have the right to operate those vehicles, but they have our signs on the doors,” he said.
One of the trucks with his company logo was flying the flag of a far-right, extremist organization, according to convoytraitors.ca.
“Of course it bugs me. There should be no racism. There is no spot for it. There’s no room for racism whatsoever,” the manager said.