Despite extreme cold warnings, thousands of truckers and ordinary Canadians descended on historic Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Saturday to protest vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions.
Police were on high alert, responding to fears of violence that never materialized. In a dramatic and unnecessary gesture, the family of Prime Minister Trudeau was moved out of the official residence, which is located nearby, and taken to an undisclosed location.
Despite the government theatrics, the crowd was quite peaceful. Some unofficial estimates had the crowd at 20,000 while authorities say it was half that number. There was not a single arrest.
The only sour note was protesters parking on the grounds of Canada’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Roughly a dozen protesters had parked their vehicles on the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Ottawa’s National War Memorial earlier Saturday. The cars and trucks were removed by midday after orders from local police. “Parking on this sacred ground was a sign of complete disrespect,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said.
Later, protesters were seen dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, prompting condemnation from Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Canada’s top soldier Gen. Wayne Eyre.
I am sickened to see protesters dance on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrate the National War Memorial. Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not this. Those involved should hang their heads in shame.
— General / Général Wayne Eyre (@CDS_Canada_CEMD) January 29, 2022
It’s curious that government leaders were trying to deflect attention from the protest by highlighting the antics of a few knuckleheads.
More significant than the 10,000 demonstrators showing up in the bitter cold to stand outside all day and protest vaccine mandates is the fire the truckers have ignited that is now sweeping across Canada.
Truckers rallied in Sault Ste. Marie, Niagara Falls, all across the Maritime provinces including Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. All around the country, truckers and ordinary citizens protested against the mandates.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post must have a subscription drive on. Their political cartoon labeled the trucker’s protest “Fascism.”
— Michael de Adder (@deAdder) January 28, 2022
And columnist David Moscrop headlined his piece, “Canada must confront the toxic ‘Freedom Convoy’ head-on.”
Those taking part are on their way, ostensibly, to protest pandemic measures, including vaccine mandates for truckers, but that’s just the tip of the spear. The leadership of the group is promising to remain peaceful, but the convoy is made up of many individuals and far-right groups that have embraced the convoy as a Canadian version of the Jan. 6 rioting in the United States. The movement shares an affinity with Trumpist toxic authoritarianist politics. Indeed, the convoy has received attention from Donald Trump Jr. Police and security services are preparing for the worst as experts express concern about the online vitriol and journalists covering the convoy are harassed. (Note: Not a single arrest has been made.”
(Note: Not a single arrest has been made.)
Time and time again we learn the lesson, or at least come across it, that teaches us that rage-soaked antigovernment types can’t be reasoned with. This time around, the convoy has produced an incoherent “memorandum of understanding” premised upon a misunderstanding of government and absurd demands. Of course, the memo should be ignored. It’s the product of a temper tantrum. But doing nothing is a risky, suboptimal strategy.
Anyone who uses the word “suboptimal” and expects to be taken seriously should find another vocation.
The Washington Post can rail against these demonstrations all they want. But if that’s the best they can do to fight them, they need to up their game. I think it’s a pretty good bet that “Freedom Convoys” are coming to the main streets and city streets near you in the immediate future.
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