I have refrained thus far from commenting on what has been going on in downtown Ottawa, with what has euphemistically been called the “Freedom Convoy”, but when Willem van Dam decided to put his own spin on what Amita Kuttner, interim leader of the Green Party, said in this newspaper the week previously, I decided that it needed responding to.
Let me begin by stating that I am not a fan of vaccines, but I have been boosted. This is because I am a fan of keeping my family, friends, and community safe. I fully understand people’s reluctance to be vaccinated, but they should also understand the feeling that the other 85% of us may prefer that they keep their distance.
Mr. Van Dam’s letter is full of speculation, innuendos, and half truths; but what stood out for me was comparing the threat of the CAS having to take care of people’s children if their parents got arrested, to what happened in residential schools. This is appalling, just like other similar protests comparing government restrictions to the Holocaust.
I often wondered where those on the right and the alt-right get their information from, and then I read an article recently on Russia Today, a program available to 7 million Canadian households that serves up a steady diet of anti-vaccine and anti-mask articles as a part of a long-standing propaganda campaign to destabilize democracies by dividing their citizens.
It described Canada as a “dictatorship” (they are fine ones to talk), and the “first iteration of a Chinese-style social credit regime in the Western world”. Then, in an interview that trucker convoy organizer, Tom Marazzo, gave to reporters, he quoted a line from the Russian editorial: “The only plan that they [the government] have is violence, and the institution of a Chinese-style social credit score system”. (He is a fine one to decry violence when there were over 400 incidents of hate crimes during the occupation). It is of note that prominent supporters of the Ottawa occupation, like Ontario MPP Randy Hillier, have urged Canadians to trust Russian state media over established news outlets in their own country. You have to wonder just what motivates them.
What happened in Ottawa was not a protest, it was an occupation. I have taken part in protests, in which you gather, listen to speakers, you march, then listen to more speakers, and then go home. You don’t block streets for weeks, denying people the right to work, and forcing businesses to close down. You don’t try to intimidate and threaten violence to hospital workers, workers in homeless shelters, and mall shoppers, nor do you keep residents up night after night making so much noise that they cannot sleep. As for the flags, there were Nazi flags and the massively racist Confederate battle flag. If they were indeed told to take them down by the organizers, it still gave an insight into the sort of people that were there. We also found out that there were American alt-right people participating, and that close to half the funding for this “protest” came from the USA. So we have foreign agents and foreign money attempting to destabilize our country.
Significantly, what Mr. Van Dam failed to mention was that the convoy leadership came with a demand that the Governor General and the Senate dismiss our democratically elected government, and install themselves in their place. That is not how democracies work. Small wonder the government wouldn’t meet with them; but let’s not forget that members of Her Majesty’s “loyal” opposition did, taking coffee to the “freedom loving truckers”, in effect, encouraging them. That was definitely not helpful, but does indicate where the Conservative Party might be heading ideologically.
There is more to be angry about than vaccine mandates. We are angry at the decades of government-led austerity that have left our ICU’s overwhelmed and under-resourced, and angry at a system that has left us overworked and underpaid. We are angry that our governments can hand out $18 billion to oil and gas companies during a climate emergency, but still somehow cannot afford to provide every Indigenous community with safe drinking water. We are angry that, while we lost our jobs, Canada’s 100 highest paid CEO’s walked away with an average extra $95,000 in their pockets last year, and that Loblaws made $400 million in profit, yet couldn’t afford to pay their workers an extra $2 an hour. The list goes on.
We have allowed a minority of our citizens to hold us hostage, and allowed alt-right extremism to gain a foothold in our society. The occupation managed to deflect any articulation of the real grievances that truckers have about how their industry is run. That wasn’t right. They deserve better.
1) The Freedom Convoy was Peaceful. In three weeks, not one window was broken and not one charge of Criminal Harassment, Assault, or Uttering Threats was laid. Most of the “violence” has been unsubstantiated hearsay, keep in mind that it is a Criminal Code Offence to File a False Police Report (Public Mischief).
2) Although some may find the comparison distasteful, what else do you call a government holding parents without bail on charges related to Mischief…the Judge being a former Trudeau Liberal candidate that was appointed to the judiciary by Justin…while a man that struck four protesters in Winnipeg (convicted pedophile, vocal ANTIFA supporter) is out on bail.
3) The Trudeau Liberals brought tyranny to Canada and the NDP proved tolerant of tyranny, and Jagmeet specified that the measures used against this protest could not be used against Indigenous land defenders or climate change and social justice advocates. A key principle to Human Rights is that you argue for your enemy to receive the exact same treatment you wish to receive…The NDP went from Tommy Douglas risking his career by challenging Pierre Trudeau’s decision to invoke the War Measures Act against ACTUAL terrorists to a man more concerned about his $5000 suits than anything else.
4) The “occupation” versus “protest” argument is a bit flawed…is there a legislated time limit on protest? If not, why not? To PEACEFULLY Protest is a HUMAN RIGHT. The concept of a “Legal Protest” is a restriction on a HUMAN RIGHT, and therefore must be justified before the judiciary. This “occupation” actively worked with law enforcement to ensure first responders had accessible routes…far cry from the Occupy Wall Street movement, or even the more recent “Autonomous Zones” in Seattle and Portland during 2020 (both of which became havens for crime, within the first week of CHAZ a Black teen was shot and bled to death as ambulances were turned away).
5) I guarantee that Colin here doesn’t know one person that attended the protest, nor did he take the time to try to talk to anyone from it. The notion that it was far right…because a Nazi flag and two confederate flags were seen…over the course of almost a month…why were they only seen one day each? Never mind the fact that these “far right” protesters confronted these people and shamed them. The man with the Nazi flag had a European accent and was pointing to it saying he didn’t want Canada to become that. The willful ignorance displayed by so many is truly shocking, it’s not like we should expect hard evidence when forming an opinion…we should just accept what we’re told to think! I actually know more than a few people that went, and I personally went after witnessing Candice Sero and a still unidentified man get trampled by a horse. Senior citizens and veterans beaten by cops while Rosemarie Barton says there’s just another arrest, Alexa Lavoie being shot point blank with a non-lethal projectile while reporting. The New York Times reported arrests being made at gun point with photographic evidence…at least 20 Canadian journalists blasted them for inaccurate reporting claiming nobody was put at gun point…Notice Steve Bell make special time to thank the press for their hard work!
The dehumanization put forward by Justin Trudeau has been carried by journalists and academics, most of whom failed to do the most basic function of their privileged position…INVESTIGATE. They built a bloodlust, and it was fulfilled through police brutality that many interpreted as some sort of twisted retribution. How many people have actually tried to investigate? Oh wait…that’d require speaking to the perceived opposition…that might require you to treat someone you disagree with like a HUMAN.