Canada Live Updates: Police Reopen Blockaded Bridge

Canada Live Updates: Police Reopen Blockaded Bridge

Credit…Brett Gundlock for The New York Times

The trucks lined nose-to-tail in the streets around Ottawa’s Parliament Hill for over two weeks hum constantly. On Sunday, as the temperature dipped to minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit, their diesel engines grumbled without cease to keep the drivers inside their cabs warm. Many truckers have hardly left the cabs of their hulking vehicles, giant semis by brands like Mack, Kenworth and Peterbilt, for the duration of their occupation of part of Canada’s capital city.

Some vehicles have a bed where a back seat should be, typically used for cat naps on long-hauls, now a hotel-room-on-wheels for some of the drivers. Lloyd Brubacher, 31, from Owen Sound, curls up each night in the back of the Kenworth cab owned by his employer, Highland Custom Farming, who is paying him during his attendance at the demonstration.

Others have more comfortable places to crash: Peter Doull, 56, a partner in Hot Bottom Baits, a New Brunswick company that supplies and hauls lobster bait, said a fish supplier for the company called him up last week to pledge his support; now Mr. Doull and his son James, 24, are staying in a hotel, paid for by the fish supplier, he said.

The trucks have morphed into shrines for sympathizers who poured in over the weekend. Some are now covered in signatures and well-wishes, as passers-by sign them like a cast; others are festooned with placards and banners condemning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, or things like giant images of children wearing protective masks, with grim slogans about the supposed harm of face coverings.

It has become something of a ritual for passers-by to bestow gifts on the truckers as they sit in their seats, or rap on the cab door and ask for a hug or a handshake. Early Sunday morning, Mr. Brubacher sat in his cab practically under a pile of handwritten letters, thanking him. They were stuffed under the truck’s sun visor, and piled on the dashboard. He unfolded one, purporting to be from a child, that praised him for being “a hero,” beside a stick figure portrait of him in a cape.

Stuffed animals and valentines were piled on the dash and eddied in the footwells, but mostly, he said, people give cash: In one of the several coffee cups he’s been gifted, was Saturday’s haul. He had not counted the money yet, but estimated that people had palmed him over $1,000 that day alone. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It just keeps coming.”

He said that those in their cabs are getting most of their information on the protest and its impacts from a text message thread sent out by organizers, who discourage use of the CB radios truckers typically communicate with, because they fear being listened-in on. But Mr. Brubacher was startled to learn that at least some of the information being disseminated to the occupiers — for example, that half of the Ottawa police had resigned over the weekend in solidarity with the protest — was false.

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