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- Some social media posts have claimed that the number of trucks participating in the “Freedom Convoy” protesting a vaccine mandate in Canada is as many as 250,000, but available evidence suggests otherwise.
- On-the-ground reports from authorities and journalists reflect trucks in the hundreds or perhaps thousands, but not in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands.
A so-called "Freedom Convoy" of Canadian truckers protesting the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for drivers who cross the border has drawn international attention and sweeping claims about the number of big rigs involved.
They were expected to start arriving in Ottawa on Jan. 28 — but how many trucks are on track to converge at the country’s capital?
Some Facebook posts are claiming there were 50,000 and as many as 250,000. But we haven’t found evidence to support that.
These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
As trucks were reported to pass through Toronto on Jan. 27, we called the police department there and spoke with Constable Edward Parks, who laughed when we floated the 50,000 figure but said "at this point, no one knows how many trucks there are."
There were about 20 to 30 in the Toronto area, he said, and reports of more across the province of Ontario, where the city is the capital.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police told us they didn’t know how big the convoy was and suggested we contact the convoy’s organizers. We tried but were unsuccessful.
Benjamin Dichter, a spokesman for the convoy, told the Toronto Sun that the convoy from British Columbia to Ottawa was 70 kilometers long.
"There are estimates the Canadian convoy could compromise 50,000 trucks from West, East, and even from the United States," the Sun reported, with a caveat. "It’s difficult to speculate what will translate in the days ahead."
A press release that listed Dichter as a contact was posted on Jan. 26 in the Facebook group Freedom Convoy 2022. It said that "although our initial convoy (is) estimated to be 1,600 trucks, that number significantly increased to 36,000 trucks in just a few days. It is now estimated that the number of heavy trucks heading to Ottawa is closer to 50,000."
But cobbling together estimates from authorities and news reports so far, we haven’t reached anywhere near 50,000 trucks, much less 250,000.
On Jan. 23, the CBC reported that "hundreds" of truckers were bound for Ottawa.
On Jan. 24, the Regina Leader-Post reported that "based on organizers’ estimates," about 1,200 trucks were expected to pass through the Saskatchewan city that day.
When truckers passed through Winnipeg the next day, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told CTV News Winnipeg that the convoy was 20 kilometers long (our back-of-the-envelope math shows that would be about 820 trucks bumper-to-bumper, though news reports have said that cars and tractors without trailers are mixed in).
On Jan. 27, Adrian Ghobrial of Toronto’s City News tweeted that while there were thousands of cars and SUVs at an outlet mall in the city that day, "you’d be hard pressed to find 100 trucks."
David Akin, chief political correspondent for Global News, tweeted that the Ontario Provincial Police said that the convoy that arrived in Winnipeg from Thunder Bay that day included 113 trucks.
On Jan. 28, Akin followed up with information from "several police sources." There are eight separate convoy captains, he tweeted, and 230 trucks from Toronto and Western Canada.
That tweet inspired CNN’s Daniel Dale to urge people to please not believe "the wildly nonsensical ‘TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TRUCKS!!!’ claims circulating on social media and in right-wing media."
By the Kingston police office’s count, there 17 tractors trailers and 103 tractors with no trailers.
The estimates of 50,000 and 250,000 truckers in the Freedom Convoy also far exceed the number of drivers trucking groups say will lose work because they won’t get vaccinated.
The CBC reported that both the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations say that up to 26,000 of 160,000 drivers who regularly cross the U.S.-Canada border are likely to be sidelined due to the vaccine mandate.
In Canada alone, as many as 16,000 drivers may be sidelined, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance. Omar Alghabra, the Canadian transport minister, said about 90% of truckers there are vaccinated.
We couldn’t find any evidence to support the claim that 250,000 trucks are participating in the convoy — five time greater than even the organizers’ estimates.
We rate this post False.
Facebook post, Jan. 27, 2022
Facebook post, Jan. 26, 2022
Facebook post, Jan. 25, 2022
Facebook post, Jan. 26, 2022
Local 12, Anti-mandate 'Freedom Convoy' said to be largest truck convoy ever... but there are doubts, Jan. 28, 2022
The Associated Press, Crowd in Ontario cheers on anti-vaccine mandate truck convoy, Jan. 27, 2022
CBC, Convoy travels through Sask. to protest vaccine mandates for truck drivers, Jan. 24, 2022
The Washington Post, A self-described ‘Freedom Convoy’ of anti-vaccine Canadian truckers is due to arrive in Ottawa, Jan. 28, 2022
Toronto Sun, WARMINGTON: 'Freedom' truckers may form world's longest convoy, Jan. 26, 2022
Regina Leader-Post, Trucker 'freedom convoy' rolls into Sask. Monday, Jan. 24, 2022
CTV News Winnipeg, Convoy opposing trucker vaccine mandate draws large crowd, concerns over comparison to Holocaust, Jan. 25, 2022
David Akin tweet, Jan. 28, 2022
David Akin tweet, Jan. 27, 2022
Daniel Dale tweet, Jan. 28, 2022
Kingston Police tweet, Jan. 28, 2022
Adrian Ghobrial tweet, Jan. 27, 2022
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