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Fact-checking claims around the Freedom Convoy, the Canadian border vaccine mandate protest

The VERIFY team fact-checked viral posts and footage about the Freedom Convoy. Here is what we’ve found so far.

On Jan. 15, the Canadian government required all truckers crossing the border to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to avoid a 14-day quarantine. On Jan. 22, the United States began enforcing a similar requirement, mandating that people entering the U.S. from the northern and southern borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination.

In response to the new restrictions in Canada, long-haul drivers and their supporters launched a protest — the “Freedom Convoy 2022” — calling for drivers to arrive in Canada’s capital of Ottawa. 

A Facebook page for “Freedom convoy 2022” was created on Jan. 14 and has more than 200,000 followers. 

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has since issued a state of emergency in the city.

VERIFY has been monitoring viral content and claims coming out of the protest to help you separate fact from fiction.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. VERIFY will be continuing to monitor for claims around the Freedom Convoy. Want something verified from the protests? Email your questions about the convoy to questions@verifythis.com.

Related: Yes, GoFundMe did remove the Freedom Convoy fundraiser

QUESTION #1

Did a large number of the Ottawa police force resign in a show of solidarity with truckers? 

This tweet has since been deleted, but at the time of archiving on Feb. 7, it had more than 3,000 retweets and 10,000 likes, according to Wayback Machine, an online tool that stores snapshots of websites over time.

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

According to the Ottawa Police Service, there have been no resignations due to the demonstration.

WHAT WE FOUND

During a Feb. 8 press briefing, officials called for 1,800 more police and civilians to help to curb the protests, because the police service is overwhelmed - but that is not because any of them have resigned. The number would add to the already-existing force, and include officers that specialize in cyber investigations.

The police force has remained steady amid the protests, according to an Ottawa Police constable, and there is no truth to claims that 50% of the Ottawa police force has resigned since the convoy began.

“There is no truth to this. There have been no resignations due to the demonstration. All available Ottawa Police Officers are working,” Ottawa Police Constable Paramjit Singh told VERIFY in an email.

Patrick Champagne, the press secretary for Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, told VERIFY in an email the rumor about police officers resigning en masse is “simply not true.”

QUESTION #2

Does this video show a recent clash in Belgium between protesters standing in solidarity with the convoy in Canada?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, this clip is not linked to the Freedom Convoy. In fact, VERIFY could trace two of the video clips to 2015 and one to 2021, prior to the Freedom Convoy protest.

WHAT WE FOUND

The video posted by @johnpecco1 that had nearly 175,000 views on Twitter is a compilation of three different videos clipped together. None of those clips were taken from the current convoy that is traveling through Canada in opposition of the vaccination mandates at the Canada/U.S. border. Twitter had a disclaimer over the content marking it as misleading.

Using RevEye, a reverse image search engine on the first clip, which lasts to the five-second mark in the edited video, VERIFY could trace the clip to September 2015, when farmers clashed with police outside the European Union headquarters in Belgium.

The second clip in the edited video, which starts at about six seconds until the 10-second mark, was actually taken from the same protest in Brussels. The exact clip was posted to the Associated Press YouTube channel.

The third clip, which starts at the 10-second mark and lasts until the 13-second compilation ends, was actually taken in Oslo, Norway. According to local reports, the farmers in the clip from Oslo were protesting the size of a government’s proposed subsidy increase. 

The same building seen in the background of the clip can be confirmed via Google Maps from Schweigaards Gate in Oslo’s city center. A television station based in Oslo posted a clip from the protest, which was held in May 2021.

QUESTION #3

Does this video show Brazilian truck drivers heading to Canada to show their support? See examples of the video clip from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

THE SOURCES

  • RevEye, a reverse image search engine
  • Google Search results
  • InVid video verification software

THE ANSWER

   

This is false.

The video was taken in May 2021 during a demonstration in support of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. 

WHAT WE FOUND

Using InVid, VERIFY was able to isolate the keyframes in each video and conduct a reverse image search using the RevEye extension.

VERIFY found clips like this that were posted in May 2021 showing a truck rally that took place in Brazil. 

The same logo and flag-bearing can be seen in the clips claiming to be linked to the Canadian convoy as the ones seen in the Twitter clip posted from May 2021. Also using reverse image search, VERIFY was able to trace a photo of the truck to a report from May. The report said the cattle transport truck was headed to Brasília, the capital of Brazil, as a show of support for President Jair Bolsonaro. 

A live YouTube broadcast also shows the same trucks adorned with flags at the 1:28:59 mark. Facebook flagged the video that claimed to be linked to the Freedom Convoy for missing context. 

So we can VERIFY this video is not linked to the Canadian-connected convoy.

More from VERIFY: Yes, the CDC changed its definition of vaccine to be ‘more transparent’

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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