Skip to main content

Trucker convoy organizers' coalition proposal 'a non-starter,' expert says


As the trucker convoy demonstrations continue stretch into their second week in Ottawa, organizers of the protest have suggested that they would be willing to form a coalition with opposition parties and the involvement of Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, given Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated no intent to meet or negotiate with them.

At an “emergency press conference” held by some of the protest organizers on Monday night and later posted on YouTube, self-declared spokesperson Tom Marazzo proposed that a core group of organizers and their supporters could sit at a table “with the Conservatives, and the NDP, and the Bloc as a coalition.”

Though this suggestion is “a non-starter,” according to Michael Kempa, associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa. “No other external party can become part of a coalition government. That's just not how a constitutional democracy works,” Kempa said in an interview Tuesday on CTV News Channel.

Generally speaking, federal governments in this country remain in power between elections so long as they maintain the confidence of the House of Commons. The Governor General’s role is limited, but does include the discretion to discern what happens after confidence is lost, whether an election is required or if other federal parties should be given a chance at forming government.

This latest coalition suggestion appears to be an evolution of a previous proposal from a widely circulated “memorandum of understanding” from a group called “Canada Unity” that is taking part in the convoy.

Put forward before the protests kicked off, the document suggested the Senate and Governor General could agree to join them in forming a committee to order the revocation of COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. However, the document could not be used to leverage the unilateral revocation of pandemic policies and override federal or provincial lawmakers, despite the group’s belief.

On Tuesday, a notice posted to the “Canada Unity” page that hosted the document stated that representatives James and Sandra Bauder would be withdrawing the memorandum after collecting 320,000 signatures, as it “does not reflect the spirit and intent of the Freedom Convoy.”

“We do not want any unintended interpretations to continue. Our sole desire with the MOU was to have a document where Canadians could peacefully express their displeasure with current C19 mandates, and express their desire to be free. Canada Unity does not support or encourage any acts which tarnish democratic values held by Canadians,” reads the notice.

Over the last week, Rideau Hall has been inundated with calls and correspondence from supporters imploring the Governor General to play a role in the convoy’s aims, including a separate suggestion Simon could advance some form of a vote of non-confidence in current senior officials.

“The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG) has received a high volume of calls and emails in recent days related to the protest,” spokesperson Josephine Laframboise told in an email.

Asked to react to the “coalition” comments from the convoy organizers, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters on Tuesday that he thinks “Canadians would be troubled with anyone that associates or attributes themselves to the extreme statements that have been made by the purported leaders of this convoy that would seek to incite the overthrow of the government… That is just simply inconsistent with the way that our democracy functions.”

Mendicino also offered a thinly veiled caution to his Conservative counterparts who have been supporting and meeting with members of the convoy.

“I sincerely hope that we're all watching very carefully, those within our politics, who are embarking upon that, because it is a very troubling path, one that I would discourage all of my colleagues to really not embrace,” the minister said.

"Most Canadians understand that there is a difference between being tired and fatigued with the pandemic, and then crossing into some other universe in which you're trying to set up a parallel structure."


Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson suggested Monday that Trudeau could appoint a mediator to “try to find some common ground” between the parties involved. This suggestion has been dismissed by federal Liberals and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh who said that the convoy organizers have “made it clear their intention is to overthrow the government.”

Convoy organizer Marazzo said in the video he was “really disappointed” the mayor has not engaged, accusing Watson of “passing the buck.”

“We're here to talk, let's find a peaceful resolution to this. I want to go home… But I'm not. I'm not going until I'm no longer needed here,” Marazzo said. Though he also made an apparent reference to Trudeau saying he has a “.22-calibre mind in a .357 world."

The organizers also claimed that they had booked an Ottawa hotel room on Tuesday to meet with Trudeau.

“We can see clearly, the Liberals don't want to talk to us. We want to talk to them. We will talk to them. They are the official government of Canada, but can you just come in meet us at a table?” he said.

From the outset, Trudeau has taken the position that he has no plans to negotiate after expressing his disgust over the behaviour of some participants during the first weekend of protests, including those expressing hatred and displaying violent sentiments towards the prime minister.

As the protests have evolved, city officials have described what continues to transpire in the nation’s capital as an “insurrection” and a “mad democratic attack,” while organizers continue to say what they are doing is “peaceful.”

Kempa suggested that requesting a written list of demands from organizers could be a next step, but in his view “you can only negotiate with people who have legitimate democratic political aims.”

“There's not one group behind these protests. On the surface, [they are] demanding the repeal of vaccine policies. But, underneath that layer of protest there are other political demands,” he said.

“So on the surface, if we're talking about a form of discussion around vaccine mandates, that's a discussion to be had. But it's not one to be had under the point of essentially extorting the government and citizens through taking claim of public space in Ottawa and blocking vital border crossings,” he said.


At the outset, the “Freedom Convoy” and its organizers expressed that their intention was to take their fight—sparked by the cross-border vaccine mandate for truckers— “to the doorsteps of our federal government.”

They rolled into town in late January demanding the end of “all” mandates against Canadians, despite public health orders and proof of vaccination systems largely falling under provincial jurisdiction.

As the convoy picked up steam, it has expanded to become a much broader vehicle for people to express their outrage at the federal government for pandemic restrictions they feel curb their freedoms.

Kempa said that what Canada has seen with this convoy is unlike any previous political protest, where groups with such wide objectives have coalesced around one cause.

“The pandemic provided the opportunity for a political cause to organize a large enough number of people that these protests became meaningful. We thought this was something that could never happen in Canada, we were evidently extremely wrong,” he said.

“It's not an American problem. It's become a Canadian problem, and… a global problem where angry people are being coordinated by other people who have a particular political agenda.”

With files from’s Christy Somos




opinion Don Martin: How a beer break may have doomed the carbon tax hike

When the Liberal government chopped a planned beer excise tax hike to two per cent from 4.5 per cent and froze future increases until after the next election, says political columnist Don Martin, it almost guaranteed a similar carbon tax move in the offing. Top Stories

Local Spotlight

Stay Connected