by Peter Johnson

The ‘Freedom Convoy’ began its occupation of the Nation’s Capital on January 28. The people who have had to tolerate these ‘liberators’ have had their tolerance for fools? freedom fighters? fanatics? greatly tested. It was good to see some residents stop the flow of the curious or the gloriously/proudly misinformed from heading up Bank St. to join the ‘party’. Even residents of the Glebe were moved to show their muted displeasure…a sure sign that this whole charade had gone on too long, and was getting, if not tiresome, at least irksome.  

And so, on Valentine’s Day, the Government stood up and invoked the Emergency Measures Act. A little bit of ironic love: for the people of the country, and for those with U.S. dollars behind them who have stated that they want the Governor-General to remove the Prime Minister…that horrible man who has supported mandates.  

And who has risen to speak on behalf of these righteous ‘righters’? The Conservatives: Candice Bergen…no not that actress, the Canadian ‘actress’, in her role as Leader of the non-Opposition…and good old Pierre Poilievre. 

Ms. Bergen will not be around long. As my mother used to say back in the day about John Diefenbaker, ‘The Conservatives eat their own. That is what they do to their leaders.’  And so it was. The poor man died an ignominious political death at the hands of his Party.

Aspiring to Ms. Bergen’s place is the almost-honourable, Mr. Poilievre. He who slyly said that he supports peaceful demonstrations. Like a certain former U.S. president, Pierre speaks in code. I shared with him, my thoughts on his actions:

“Mr. Poilievre:

I am not a constituent…I once was but not at the moment. I read your statement regarding your support of the ‘peaceful’ protests.  The words were chosen carefully and I suspect they do not reveal your true beliefs or intentions. These protestors want to bring down the government. So do you. They are doing it by illegally occupying the streets of the Nation’s Capitol.

You will do it in a more ‘democratic’ manner…but only because you must. Then things will change.

You and your previous boss…Mr. Harper, did not bring down, but most certainly circumvented the Parliamentary System. I expect no less from you, should you get the chance.

Here’s how I saw Mr. Harper and yourself do it:

a) When proposing and forming a bill, NEVER ask the opposition for input…never consult with them, never accept any of their suggestions… a historical precedent, never done by a government before.

b) Never explain yourself. Do not speak to the press. Do not answer questions in The House.

c) Invoke closure on debate early and often.

d) Send Bills to the Senate to be rubber-stamped by your tightly-controlled Senators

e) Bring the Bill back for final reading…again invoking closure if necessary.

f) Prorogue Parliament early and often.

g) Control everything from the Prime Minister’s Office. Ministers must never speak – only the PMO.

h) Give too much power/control to those in the PMO who are not elected representatives

i) Omnibus Bills: a great way to hide legislation…bury it in thousands of pages.

j) Give as little time as possible to the Press and the Opposition to examine the ominous Omnibus Bills, then move to the debate stage…which is not a debate–there will be no response, only the clock ticking down to the time when closure will be invoked and the vote taken.

And after all of this, you accuse the duly elected Government of Canada of being undemocratic by invoking the Emergency Measures Act to shut down the questionably-funded occupation of Ottawa?  You are quite a piece of work, sir. The irony is quite impressive. The possibility that you will become the leader of the federal Conservatives is truly scary—to anyone in this country who cherishes our system of governance.

Peter Johnson, Oxford Mills Ont.”

I am not so naive as to think that Mr. Poilievre will ever see my words. One of his minions will read the message and put a checkmark in the ‘lunatic left’ column. I think he has as much time for dissenting opinions as I have for those who would try to illegally occupy Ottawa.

I might be naive, but I am not a total lunatic: I pride myself on being a very patriotic Canadian. When I count my blessings, being a citizen of this country is one of the most important. But when we sing, ‘…Stand on guard for thee..’, it means keeping an eye out for those who would take away those blessed things that Canadians cherish…our freedoms, our right to agree or disagree, our right to hold open and free elections…or our right to have institutions that are free of illegal or foreign influencers…our right and obligation to do what is best for the health and welfare of our neighbours.

And so, I will stand up and be counted as one who is greatly relieved that the residents of Ottawa South took a stand…that the residents of the Glebe were ready to take a stand…that the Government of Canada finally took a stand.  

For those who want change, there are better ways of doing it. Don’t occupy cities. Don’t close down important border crossings. A few people with big trucks do not get to negate the rights of the majority.  To quote John Stuart Mill, “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” In this case, ‘happiness’ would be the freedom from fear and financial pain.

And in the words of Barry McGuire…remember him? The Eve of Destruction singer? 

“But you tell me, over and over and over again my friend, Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the Eve of Destruction.”

This song was written by P.F. Sloan in mid-1964. Fifty-eight years later, it still has a message we should listen to and act upon.


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