Ed. Northern View,
Two years ago, just before the pandemic, I wrote a letter to The Northern View outlining my objections to anti-pipeline demonstrations that were blocking traffic. Today we witness the blocking of traffic on an entirely different scale. But unlike the pipeline protesters, the protesters in the “Freedom Convoy” have no good reason for the mayhem they are causing. The reason they protest is that they are inconvenienced by the pandemic rules and mandates. Well, so is everyone else inconvenienced. What is so special about these folks? The fact is most of them just didn’t want to get vaccinated. That makes them special, because all these pandemic restrictions made the whole matter even more inconvenient for them. So they decided to throw a big tantrum with their big trucks, and like a four-year-old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, they got everybody’s attention. The thing is, getting all that attention at the expense of the rest of Canada and North America has generated huge benefits for this particular group of adults, unlike for your typical four-year-old. You see, your typical four-year-old doesn’t get to honk his horns for days on end or block the aisle of the grocery store. Nor does your typical four-year-old get rewarded with millions of dollars from right-wing politicians for acting like a spoiled brat.
To some extent, we can empathize with the four-year-old in the grocery store. He didn’t get what he wanted and now he has to wait with his parents in the check-out line. But that empathy quickly disappears when we realize that he is throwing himself on the floor and screaming, not only to express his dissatisfaction but more importantly because he achieves the great thrill of putting his parents, the ones who are responsible for his welfare, in a very uncomfortable position.
What makes a demonstration or a sit-in legitimate, is that people are protesting an injustice, not an inconvenience. The civil rights protests were about the denial of human rights to Afro-Americans. People sat at lunch counters that they were not allowed to sit at because of the colour of their skin. The “freedom convoy” is protesting public health rules and mandates that were put in place to protect the most vulnerable, rules that the vast majority of Canadian citizens have agreed to. A small group of people are shutting down the nation’s capital and the nation’s international trade until they get their way. And what are their demands? They are all over the place – dissolve parliament and form a new government, sack the Prime Minister, end all pandemic restrictions, etc. They want an end to public health measures, not because they are not working, but because they are working. Canada has one of the best records of recovery from this pandemic; they want the rules to go because they don’t like them and they are gaining a lot of favourable attention from right-wing American politicians and their allies around the globe.
What is this all about? These are people who have already sabotaged their own country’s response to the COVID epidemic, amplifying doubt and mistrust of their public health system, with the result that the United States has one of the highest pandemic death rates in the world. These politicians do not have the best interests of Canada at heart. They are egging on the Canadian tantrum throwers because they want to do the same thing in America and shut down their society too. As Canadians, we should be proud of the way our country has weathered this pandemic, and we shouldn’t cater to a small crowd of people who want to disrupt and sabotage our own public health system, in imitation of the big orange-haired tantrum thrower south of our border.