Gary Martin wants Lambton residents to know farm organizations aren’t backing the protest movement aimed at getting rid of COVID-19 rules.
In fact, the head of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, says he’s getting calls from members, worried about a small group of people in agriculture which organized a protest which led OPP to shut down Highway 402 and the Bluewater Bridge.
About 150 vehicles – many of them tractors – parked on the 402 between the Bluewater Bridge and the Front Street entrance. The road was opened by 8:20 pm.
The group, organized by David Buurma of Petrolia and his brother, Roger, of the Watford area, left the Reece’s Corners truck stop and headed down the 402.
By 11:30 am, Lambton OPP announced it was closing the highway from the 402 to the Bluewater Bridge because of the protest. David Buurma said on a video posted on social media was part of the Freedom Convoy which has been hold up in Ottawa since Jan. 28.
The convoy is led by Canada Unity whose leaders’ expressed goal is to get the federal senate and the Governor General to remove the current federal government – elected just five months ago – and remove all COVID-19 rules for reducing the spread of the virus during the pandemic.
Canada Unity used a mandate imposed by the federal government on transport truck drivers as the reason for the nation-wide protest although the Canadian Truckers’ Association says 90 per cent of the industry is already fully vaccinated.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture already denounced the demonstration which brought tractors to Toronto Friday.
Then, with the show of agricultural equipment blocking the bridge Sunday, Gary Martin was getting calls.
I’ve heard from a couple of members saying ‘What are they doing? They’re just making us look bad.
“I think that would be the general consensus at the end of the day – you’re just going to make us look bad,” said the LFA president.
Martin says the farm community in Lambton was one of the first to be vaccinated. The LFA convinced the public health unit the move would protect Canada’s food supply. Martin says farmers filled the clinics immediately.
He says the COVID-19 pandemic has not had a big impact on the industry, other than new rules for temporary foreign workers. “We’ve been pretty secluded from issues dealing with COVID. I mean, there’s no mandate for bringing your grain into the grain elevator.”
Martin is also concerned for livestock operations trying to get their animals into the US if the blockades continue. “For farming, it doesn’t make any sense to block the border. That doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Martin believes the group who protested at Bluewater Bridge doesn’t represent farmers in Lambton says the motivation for the protest may be dislike for the prime minister more than anything else.
“Their vision is clouded. They’re blaming the current government for everything, even though they might not be responsible for it. I mean, it’s a global pandemic.”
Martin says the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has “distanced” itself from the protest because they know vaccination protects the food chain. “So which is it? Do you want public health to be secure or do you want your freedom to not follow those rules? It doesn’t make any sense.”