There is a disease growing in North America. Fed equally by lies and ignorance, the very foundation of our freely elected government is being attacked by a small minority of people who call themselves “patriots.” This group is much more out in the open in the United States, but make no mistake that this cancer is starting to spread in Canada as well. February 2022 will be remembered as the moment in time the disease finally revealed itself.
The January 6 mob which sought to overturn, by violence, an American election without a shred of evidence that it was stolen, is the big brother to the groups that have tied up Ottawa for the past weeks and sought to disrupt border crossings as well. Both the American and Canadian factions tend to be made up of similar people. These loosely-organized groups attract bullies who resort to intimidation and violence when they don’t get their way.
The homegrown Canadian variety is made up of predominantly angry and disaffected white people who have a pretty damn good life in Canada. They come from a background where they were offered free schooling in their hometowns. They have plenty of food and clean drinking water. They are allowed to vote freely in elections and reap the benefits of a public healthcare system. Within that context, there is also a prevalent belief that either God or human nature grants them individual freedom to live as they want without regard to others. Their numbers grow as they attract those who are willing to believe anything that “proves them right” while automatically rejecting any idea or truth that does not fit their agenda.
At first the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” was billed as a protest of new rules that the federal government was putting into place. Essential workers crossing the border with the U.S. would also be fully vaccinated or face a quarantine which could last up to two weeks. The protestors claimed this would be a violation of their rights, as the government was forcing them to get a vaccine that was either against God’s will, a crime against humanity, a way for the government to track and control, or was not safe–take your pick.
We are all tired of restrictions and hearing about this damn virus, but these people hold extreme views and are a very small minority. Over 80% of Canadians have had two vaccines, and the trucking industry claims that the vaccination rate in their industry is around 90%. For the protestors to claim to speak for Canada is absurd.
This idea that the new rule would restrict their freedom never held water. No one was required to get a vaccine. No one was being denied entry back into Canada without the vaccine. If you chose to not get vaccinated, there were consequences. The choice, however, remained firmly in the hands of each individual. There was no coercion.
Ignoring that fact, and wrapped in a blanket of self-indulgence, they set out with their trucks and their opinions and drove to Ottawa where they could let the federal government know how they felt. All of this was in their rights.
The government knew they were coming and did not stop them. The government did not stop them from setting up bouncy castles, hot tubs, or from blaring their air-horns 24 hours a day. The “protestors” were allowed to receive food and even fuel for the trucks. Nothing shouted “Freedom!” as much as watching the government on all levels allow this group to behave as they did. A small minority pissed on the National War Memorial. Some of them, a very few, flew racist flags. Even with all of that, had they come, spent a noisy weekend in Ottawa, and then left, they may have made their point.
Instead, the convoy blocked up the downtown core for nearly a month transitioning from protest to occupation with ease. Their displeasure, originally directed at border crossing rules, morphed into other areas as well. That is when things truly got nuts as they decided to stay, holding the city hostage until their demands were met. Like a bunch of hijackers who want all of their brethren released from prisons across the world, they dug in and waited for someone to give in to their crazy demands.
The entire time they claimed to be waiting for the government to lift the vaccine requirement at the border. Which–even if Ottawa had agreed to do so–would have meant nothing. The United States had already enacted a similar rule, making Canada’s a moot point. Regardless of what happened in the Canadian capital, no one was crossing the border easily without being fully vaccinated.
The next absurdity comes from their demands of the Federal Government to lift all of the public health mandates and vaccine passport rules across Canada. The Federal government does not have this power. Public health mandates are provincial in nature, and only the respective provincial governments can lift them. If they were truly going to stay until the Federal Government met their demands, then they were apparently never going to leave.
Finally, the most dangerous demand was that the Parliament resign so that the Governor-General could rule along with a coalition of citizens. The danger comes not from any likelihood that this demand would be met. The danger comes from a Canadian tendency to just move along from weird and uncomfortable situations. Partly because a demand such as this is not rooted in any sense of reality, most Canadians just ignored it. It was never a plausible outcome as this is not the Governor-General’s role. Not to mention that as a representative of the Crown, this dramatic end-run around Parliament would have to be authorized by the Queen of England. Who, by the way, isn’t a monarch with that kind of power.
Canadians should make no mistake that this was our January 6 “lite” moment. This was the “Freedom Convoy,” composed primarily of a small amount of disaffected angry white people, demanding that the government be overthrown. This was the “Freedom Convoy,” a very tiny amount of Candian citizens, attempting to disenfranchise all of the people who had voted in 2019. Their intent was the same as those who ended up storming the U.S. Capitol.
These “patriots” had decided that they were the only ones with the right to live their lives. They shut down a city, disrupting homes, schools, businesses, and medical and shelter services. They found people who followed the public health rules and mocked and intimidated them. People who lead different lifestyles were singled out and made to feel unsafe. These “patriots” made it very clear that they were speaking only for themselves, that they were not interested in dialogue or an exchange of ideas. Only their ideas and moral code had any value and if given the opportunity, they would impose their worldview on everyone.
In the name of “Freedom!”
These “patriots” are dangerous. Once someone is outside of their narrow definition of “normal,” that person is no longer worthy of being treated with respect. These “patriots” have shown through their actions that moral and political disagreement are reasons to subjugate others. They have shown through their actions that active intimidation and violence are the way to make changes. The constant noise from the horns was sonic violence being unleashed upon a captive population but as long as the “patriots” felt they were achieving their goals, it did not matter to them who got hurt along the way.
The vast majority of Canadians do not support this type of movement and shy away from those who partake. We tend to watch from a distance, unable to avert our eyes from the dysfunctional circus clowns masquerading as some sort of vaguely defined and self-identified group of oppressed freedom fighters.
They are rightfully seen by most Canadians as a vocal fringe group. We keep faith that the 80% or 90% of us will be able to just wait them out like parents who have a toddler throwing a tantrum. Once they get tired out, we assume they will go home.
However, that is not how these people operate. They bring weapons and body armour to peaceful protests because they assume something bad will happen. They know this equipment gives them an advantage because the rest of the people present aren’t making the same assumption. Justifying their preparations as “just in case,” the reality is they are working hard to make a self-fulfilling prophecy.
They are open about it too, as even in social media these days you find people bragging about their guns, and how they will be prepared “when the shit goes down.” A quick look at what happened when a few small groups of people were inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” to shut down international border crossings demonstrates how ready these people are to harm you and those you love in order to impose their will.
They are willing to destroy your business or your livelihood to achieve what they want. These are the people who rail against pride flags and think that Canada should be more white. They fear immigrants and change to a more open and inclusive society. They organize openly on social media, and quietly in churches and coffee houses across the country. When the rest of Canada looks away long enough, they emerge and disrupt.
What happened this past month should light a fire under Canadians from all political parties. While we may have differences in opinions, 90% of us should be able to agree that 10% of the citizenry should not be able to change the rules by fear and force. 90% of us should agree that the 10% should not be able to stop international commerce and affect our livelihoods. This can happen if we still believe that 90% of us are able to handle the results of an election, even when our “side” loses.
Canadians have to be able to live with a difference of opinion, no matter how extreme. There is ample space to argue gun laws, public health policy, and economic reforms. We have a Supreme Court that can decide the finer points of law and policy for the future. The mechanisms are in place for both progress and backtracking. What we should never learn to tolerate in this country is a small group trying to make a change by overthrowing the government.
Canadians tend to be a peaceful bunch. We tend to live and let live, taking the middle ground and seeking to find a compromise. Action only comes after polite conversation and debate. We get a bit of a kick out of watching people being aggressively un-Canadian to “stick it to the man.” Like nearly everyone else, we love to hate or worship our leaders and relate to them as caricatures.
Not in this instance. Without treatment, the cancer revealed by the actions of a few will continue to grow, if not in actual numbers, at least in boldness. Canadians need to engage, put aside their differences, and shout down the 10% that seeks to take away our freedoms. That small minority has no right to speak for the rest of us, and we need to make sure they know that.