‘Freedom Convoy’ Rebrands, Plans for Winnipeg in February

Here we go again.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network 

Left to Right: James Bauder, Ron Clark and Colin Ross. Source: Facebook

To mark the one-year anniversary of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” which occupied Ottawa for 3 weeks in January and February of 2022, organizers with Canada Unity are planning a reunion in Winnipeg for February 17th to the 20th. 

James Bauder – one of the organizers of the 2022 Convoy, as well as previous convoys to Ottawa including the 2019 United We Roll / Yellow Vests Canada convoy – made the announcement over a livestream on Christmas Day. Appearing with movement influencers “Freedom Advocate” Ron Clark and Colin “BigBear” Ross, Bauder announced Winnipeg as the site for a “World Unity Convoy 2023.”

“We are going to be inviting groups from all over the nation to join us in unity, for a better future, for solutions, for the children across the world and in Canada. We’re going to be inviting whoever wants to join us, multicultured, multispiritual on this journey,” Ross told the audience. 

The group said that they chose Winnipeg as it’s the centre of Canada, and people can come from the east and west coasts. Ron Clark told the audience there are convoys “from the north and the south coming, all meeting together.” It’s unclear if the southern convoys refer to convoys coming from the United States. 

Bauder told the audience that there is a “world convoy aspect.” Clark said they reached out to other countries, who plan to participate in simultaneous convoys. They didn’t specify which countries they expect to participate or how many. 

The specific goals of the convoy remain unclear. “We’re going to be really focused on solutions for a better world for all Canadians,” Ross said on the livestream.

Influencer Infighting

Not everyone is pleased with Bauder’s plans. One influencer in the movement said over a voice message on Telegram that Bauder was more interested in his own image and causing division despite preaching about “unity.” 

“There’s too many chiefs and not enough Indians… pun intended,” said Edmonton-based Phil Primeau, laughing.

Some of Bauder’s other relationships are imploding: his former organizing partner during the 2022 convoy, Jason LaFace (sometimes spelled LaFaci) has left the organization. LaFace was previously an organizer with the Yellow Vests movement and has posted a picture of himself wearing a Soldiers of Odin – an Islamophobic biker-style hate group – vest. 

During a livestream over Facebook on December 22nd, LaFace says he has been working for Bauder but was recently replaced by a man named Dana-lee Melfi. 

LaFace continues, saying he was working 60 hours a week and feels he was taken advantage of by Bauder. “When [James] was in Ottawa I did everything for him, all his court work, all his paperwork, and Stand4Thee can back that up. Because you know what? That guy takes advantage of people in this movement and is a fucking idiot.” 

LaFace has also taken credit for the social media and web presence of Canada Unity. As of writing, Canada Unity’s website is defunct, and just brings visitors to an unsecured, blank page. The Facebook group for Canada Unity says the website is “under development.” However, the website was fully functional until at least mid-December. 

A December 23 archive of the site reads “James Bauder Canada Unity is NOT a registered company it is not a business. Site was developped and he did not pay us for the work we did for him = James has burned his bridges with everyone. “

Previous archives of the site show a post from November 8 which announces Dana-lee Melfi, also known as “Peace-Man,” has joined the Canada Unity team. Recent posts to the Facebook group from Melfi indicate he holds a leadership position. 

In a post dated December 26, Melfi advises group members that they are not approving all posts due to the scrutiny they are under, and the content of the posts that are being submitted. 

“There are a lot coming in that just want to hurt us if we approve and have to watch everything beforehand now as a precaution,” the post reads. 

Both Melfi and Bauder are facing charges from their involvement with the 2022 convoy, including mischief to property, disobeying a lawful court order, and obstructing justice. 

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