OPINION: Canadian lawyers urge rejection of Emergencies Act

“We do not believe that the current circumstances warrant its unprecedented invocation.”

Author of the article:

Special to Toronto Sun

Publishing date:

Feb 21, 2022  •  6 hours ago  •  5 minute read  •   41 Comments

Police walk outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday, February 20, 2022 after officers pushed “Freedom Convoy” protesters out of the area.
Police walk outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday, February 20, 2022 after officers pushed “Freedom Convoy” protesters out of the area. PHOTO BY ASHLEY FRASER /POSTMEDIA

To All Members of Parliament and Senators:

We, the undersigned, are Canadian lawyers.

We write to you to express our deep concern at the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act in response to nationwide protests and blockades occurring in recent weeks.

Our concerns relate both to the rule of law and the potential for infringement upon civil liberties.

Firstly, the Emergencies Act contains very strict criteria which must be met in order for the federal government to declare a Public Order Emergency.

A Public Order Emergency is defined as “an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency.”

“(T)hreats to the security of Canada” include such activities as espionage; foreign-influenced activities detrimental to Canada’s interests that are deceptive or involve threats; terrorist activities; and activities intended to effect the destruction, or violent overthrow, of the government.

Even assuming for the sake of argument that this criterion is met, the Act states that a “national emergency” is an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that:

(a) seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it, or

(b) seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada and that cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.

With respect, we do not believe that these criteria have been met, as provinces continued to have the capacity to address unlawful activity, and our pre-emergency laws already effectively address such unlawful activity.

In fact, prior to the Emergency Declaration, Ontario had already invoked a State of Emergency. Some infrastructure blockades had already been cleared under existing laws, which included enforcement of court injunctions. There are also already a wide variety of charges available to law enforcement officials
under federal, provincial, and municipal laws to address activities such as impeding critical infrastructure or property destruction.

Secondly, the federal government’s orders issued under the Emergency Declaration present significant and unprecedented challenges to Canadians’ civil liberties.

As but one example, the federal government has issued orders which require financial institutions to report to police assets that might be held by individuals supporting or participating in certain protests.

Financial assets can be frozen without judicial authorization and without evidence of civil or criminal liability, removing an important independent safeguard protecting Canadians’ financial well-being.

Anyone breaching the government’s orders can be subject to fines and up to five years’ imprisonment on conviction.

The Emergencies Act is designed for use in rare circumstances. We do not believe that the current circumstances warrant its unprecedented invocation.

The rule of law is a fundamental principle of our constitutional order and requires that the government be bound by the law. It appears that the government has enacted an Emergency Declaration where it has not met the strict criteria permitting it to do so.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians’ freedom to peacefully assemble, free expression, and the right to due process before and under the law. While these are subject to “reasonable limits,” we have concerns about the discretion that law enforcement officials can and may exercise to infringe upon these rights and freedoms, and that the mere invocation of an emergency may be used to justify breaches of these rights and freedoms.

We are also concerned that future federal governments will use the current emergency to justify emergency measures against Canadians’ peaceful political and ideological activities, and against those who might simply oppose the government of the day.

For these reasons, we call upon you to reject the Emergency Declaration when it comes to a vote in Parliament.

We note that the Emergencies Act provides for a mandatory public inquiry into its use. We encourage you to ensure that this public inquiry is robust, has representation from across all parties, and includes the participation of independent, non-partisan experts, including lawyers.

Parliamentarians control parliament — not the government. We encourage you to exercise your authority, consider the issues we have identified, and view your vote on the Emergency Declaration not through a partisan lens, but one which considers how to best safeguard the rule of law and civil liberties — not only for today, but more importantly, for the future.

Yours very truly,

Ryan P. O’Connor, Toronto, of the Ontario Bar
Sweta Tejpal, Mississauga, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Sayeh Hassan, Toronto, of the Ontario Bar
Jean S(C)bastien Lebrun, Carignan, QC, of the Quebec Bar
Christine Van Geyn, Toronto, of the Ontario Bar
Jennette Vopicka, Kelowna, BC, of the BC and Alberta Bars
Aaron L. Wudrick, Ottawa, of the Ontario Bar
Eva Chipiuk, Edmonton, of the Alberta Bar
Ryan Alford, Thunder Bay, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Katya Permiakova, Ottawa, of the Ontario Bar
Chelsea Dobrindt, Richmond Hill, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Natalie L.A. Johnson, Edmonton, of the Alberta Bar
Brian Heck, Qualicum Beach, B.C., of the Alberta Bar (retired)
Yaakov Roth, Washington, of the District of Columbia Bar
Tabitha Ewert, Ottawa, of the Ontario Bar
Daniel Freiheit, Toronto, of the Ontario Bar
W. Christopher Nunn, Norfolk County, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Stephen Penney, Cambridge, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Jorge Pineda, Toronto, of the Ontario Bar
Bruce Day, Collingwood, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Barry W. Bussey, Trent Hills, ON, of the Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador Bars
Bruce Pardy, London, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Yaroslav Obouhov, Brooklin, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Rob Kittredge, Toronto, of the Ontario Bar
Lisa Bildy, London, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Anthony Gabriele, Vaughan, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Gordon Fitzgerald, Burlington, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Penny-Lynn Marie Rintoul, Mississauga, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Hans Kalina, Toronto, of the Ontario Bar
Kirk Rintoul, Vaughan, ON, of the Ontario Bar
Kathryn Marshall, Toronto, of the Ontario Bar
Alexander D. Wilkes, Vaughan, ON, of the Ontario Bar
James S.M. Kitchen, Airdrie, AB, of the Alberta Bar
Jennifer Lynn Richards, Windsor, ON, of the Ontario Bar

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LeDrew: Trudeau has brought Canadians to the tipping point

Author of the article:

Special to Toronto Sun

Publishing date:

Feb 21, 2022  •  2 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •   5 Comments

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the House of Commons about the implementation of the Emergencies Act in Ottawa, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the House of Commons about the implementation of the Emergencies Act in Ottawa, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. PHOTO BY PATRICK DOYLE /REUTERS

STEPHEN LEDREW

The Canada that Canadians now view every day is not the sensible, reasonable, and generous society that Canadians of all stripes have built up over many generations.

It has become polarized, nasty and barely recognizable.

Just listen to people talking in stores, on the street, and in meeting places.

Just walk or drive through cities and villages and the countryside, and see the Canadian flags — paired with signs expressing vehement disapproval of our federal government. Loyal Canadians are fed up with their federal government.

And one person is responsible for this — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He has drastically altered Canadian institutions and norms so considerably that usually calm people are raising their voices in protest.

The core of the protestors in Ottawa and other Canadian centres were angry not only about government heavy-handedness in its pandemic policies, but also the changes being brought about by Trudeau.

He has cheapened public discourse and public life.

He talks so high-minded, yet has a lifelong history of deplorable acts.

He has arbitrarily ruined the lives of many other people who have been supposedly guilty of far less egregious acts than have been proven by photographs against him — perhaps to deflect his own guilt?

Does “do as I say, not as I do” strike home? How about “one standard for the masses, and another for the elites like me?”

His intolerance, and high-handed and ill-founded rectitude has led many to regard the government with disdain, and doubt its ability to get things right.

And now his decision to not only invoke the Emergencies Act (which most minds — those not cowardly beholden to Trudeau — agree was not necessary to get the job done in Ottawa), but to keep it in force for an undetermined period (to “hunt down” some Canadians to charge them with mischief?), has shown precisely how inappropriate Trudeau really is for this high office.

Those who know Trudeau, or have studied him in office, know that he is not only immature and calculatedly unfair to those who are not in his circle, but know that he is unschooled.

From his utterances such as the declaration that everything with the SNC-Lavalin Affair was entirely appropriate to his embarrassing behaviour in front of cameras at Buckingham Palace to his penchant for dressing up to his puerile approach to any person who dares not defer to him to his lack of consideration of any thought that does not mesh with his — Trudeau exhibits time and time again that he is not fit for the job.

The English have the perfect word to describe our prime minister — a cockwomble! To save you the time in looking it up, here it is: a person prone to making outrageously stupid statements and/or inappropriate behaviour while generally having a very high opinion of his own wisdom and importance. Does that not perfectly capture our prime minister?

But take heart — Canada is still strong due to its majority of citizens who maintain common sense. We will recover when this prime minister is gone.

The freedom to differ, to voice, to offend, and to live our lives within the law, and not some person’s elite notion of what is good and bad, will return.

We are resilient, but let’s hope that it is sooner rather than later –the pain inflicted by this government has almost brought us to the tipping point.

— LeDrew is a lawyer, broadcaster, and the longest-serving president of the Liberal Party of Canada.

MANNING: Canada’s increasingly autocratic government

Author of the article:

Preston Manning

Publishing date:

Feb 20, 2022  •  1 day ago  •  4 minute read  •   126 Comments

Fencing is erected on Metcalfe Street near Parliament Hill as police worked to evict the last of the trucks and supporters occupying the downtown core, three weeks after a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates began in Ottawa, Feb. 20, 2022.
Fencing is erected on Metcalfe Street near Parliament Hill as police worked to evict the last of the trucks and supporters occupying the downtown core, three weeks after a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates began in Ottawa, Feb. 20, 2022. PHOTO BY CARLOS OSORIO /REUTERS

In defending federal management of the COVID crisis, and justifying some of the extreme measures adopted, many questionable statements have been made by the prime minister and other government spokespersons. But surely some of the most egregious of those statements were made by three federal ministers  – Justice Minister David Lametti, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino – at an Ottawa press conference on Feb. 16.

At that conference, where the ministers sought to justify the invoking of the Emergencies Act, they described the border blockades and the ongoing occupation of downtown Ottawa as foreign-funded, foreign-organized attacks meant to undermine Canada’s economy,  sovereignty, and democracy. Minister Blair saying, for example: “We will not let any foreign entities that seek to do harm to Canada or Canadians, erode trust in our democratic institutions, or question the legitimacy of our democracy.”

But suppose that sometime in the not too distant future, the Trudeau government is replaced by who knows what and that new government establishes “The COVID Commission: The Royal Commission on the Federal Government’s Management of the COVID Crisis.”

Its task would be to secure, via impartial and thorough investigation, answers to the many unanswered questions as to why the Trudeau government did what it did and to test the truthfulness of the many statements made by government spokespersons to justify the government’s actions.

In investigating the charges and statements made by the three ministers on Feb. 16, the Commission is most likely to find:

  • That both the Freedom Convoy’s Ottawa protest and the border blockades were wholly planned and organized in Canada and primarily funded by Canadians, and,
  • That the statements made by the federal ministers to justify the invoking of the Emergencies Act were not only unsubstantiated by concrete evidence, but largely false and misleading.

To the predictable blowback from the Trudeau government’s defenders that public opinion polls showed over 50% of Canadians supported the government’s decision to end the protests via invoking the Emergencies Act, the Commission might well take the opportunity to provide Canadians a much needed lesson on the use and misuse of polls.

Public support for a just-announced government action, as measured by responses to a polling question, very much depends on when and how the question was asked. If the pollster simply asked, immediately after the action was announced: “Do you support the government using the Emergencies Act to end the protest by the truckers?” – without time to consider or debate the options – 50% or more of the respondents might well answer “yes.”

But what might the result be if, after being given time to consider the issue, the public were asked: “If the government must act to end the protest by the truckers, which course of action would you prefer they take? (1) To simply cancel the vaccine mandates which the truckers and their supporters are protesting? Or (2) To invoke the Emergencies Act, giving the government and the police extra powers to end the protest?”

Since in February public support for ending most if not all of the restrictive mandates was already growing and being heeded by provincial governments, a substantial majority of the Canadian public would most likely have voted for option (1).

Only time will tell whether the Trudeau government’s mismanagement of the COVID crisis leads to its demise. But in invoking the Emergencies Act on the flimsy and debatable grounds of protecting Canadian democracy from foreign interference – even arresting some of the key Freedom Convoy organizers and freezing the bank accounts of other alleged supporters – the government may have gone a step too far.

A wise man once wrote, “There is nothing new under the sun.” And in some respects, there is an earie resemblance between the Freedom Convoy and its supporters in Canada today and the Solidarity Movement in Poland thirty years ago.

In Poland, the Solidarity Movement grew out of a strike by dock workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk opposing punitive labour regulations imposed by Poland’s autocratic government. In Canada, the Freedom Convoy (which could easily morph into a broader Common Sense Movement) has also grown out of a strike, in our case, by truckers challenging punitive health protection measures imposed by Canada’s increasingly autocratic federal government.

In the Polish case, harsh measures to end the strike were taken by the government in power, which included arresting and imprisoning key strike leaders. In Canada, increasingly harsh measures are being undertaken by the federal government to end the truckers strike – including invoking the Emergencies Act – and key strike leaders are even being arrested here.

In Poland such actions proved to be “a step too far” – giving one of those strike leaders, Lech Walesa, public prominence and a public following that eventually toppled the governing party with Walesa becoming president of Poland in 1990.

In Canada, only time will tell where the federal government’s heavy-handed over-reaction to the Freedom Convoy will lead, what new leadership it may generate and how Canadians will respond to the threats which that over-reaction poses to Canadian democracy.

Threats to Canadian democracy do exist and the COVID crisis has brought them to the fore. But our democracy is threatened, not from without, but from within by an increasingly autocratic government in the process of taking “a step too far.”

Preston Manning was Leader of the Official Opposition from 1997 to 2000 and a federal MP from 1993 to 2002.

https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/manning-canadas-increasingly-autocratic-government

The Catastrophe of Canada | Rex Murphy and Jordan B Peterson

This episode was recorded on February 19th, 2022. Rex Murphy joins Dr. Peterson to discuss the most recent actions of Trudeau’s Government, including the arresting of protestors, the freezing of the bank accounts of Canadians suspected of participating in the protests, and the long-term consequences of these extreme measures. Rex is a Canadian commentator and author who deals primarily with Canadian political and social matters. He is best known for working on and for CBC Here and Now, CBC Radio 1’s Cross Country Checkup, writing for The Globe and Mail, and writing for The National Post. He is a well-recognized and loved figure.

Jordan Peterson pens a song for Trudeau

The psychologist, who supported the Freedom Convoy protests, released a song aimed at the Canadian prime minister

Jordan Peterson pens a song for Trudeau

Jordan Peterson addresses students in Cambridgeshire, Britain, November 2, 2018 © Getty Images / Chris Williamson

Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson has released a song dedicated to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The tune, which draws influence from Pink Floyd, seemingly criticizes Trudeau’s handling of the anti-mandate Freedom Convoy protests, which Peterson has been vocal in his support for.

Entitled ‘Wake Up’, the song was published on Peterson’s YouTube channel on Saturday. Composed by Peterson and musician Skutch Tully, and featuring lyrics sung by Tully, Peterson, and Peterson’s wife Tammy, the track blends Peterson’s political message with guitars and pianos clearly inspired by prog-rock legends Pink Floyd.

The lyrics seem directly aimed at Trudeau, who responded to the Freedom Convoy protests first by leaving Ottawa, then by returning and enacting unprecedented emergency powers to crack down on the demonstrations.

Arwen~ Click on link to watch the video

https://www.rt.com/news/550044-jordan-peterson-song-trudeau/

The tyranny of high-status opinion

How the woke left wrote the script for the Canadian state’s tyrannical assault on the protesting truckers.

BRENDAN O’NEILL
CHIEF POLITICAL WRITER

21st February 2022

The tyranny of high-status opinion

At first glance, it looked like one of the strangest, most incongruous moments of the great trucker uprising of 2022. There were the truckers and their working-class allies, in Ottawa, loudly agitating against Justin Trudeau’s vaccine mandates, when a bunch of hyper-woke, definitely not working-class counter-protesters rocked up to rail against this horn-honking throng. And what did they chant, these painfully PC counter-protesters? ‘Trans rights are human rights’, that’s what. As clear as anything, these supposed leftists, seemingly horrified by the sight of working-class men and women fighting for their rights, engaged in arguably the most striking non-sequitur of the 2020s so far – they brought transgenderism into an issue that has nothing whatsoever to do with transgenderism.

The truckers have said nothing about trans people. We have no idea what these pissed-off working-class drivers think about genderfluidity and all the rest. My hunch is that they think it’s nonsense. But we don’t know. This vast gathering of truckers and their supporters, which has so rattled the Trudeau administration and inspired copycat revolts around the world, is completely unrelated to sex changes and pronouns and the right of born men to beat women in sports and all the other things that fall under the banner of ‘trans rights’ these days. So, understandably, many people were perplexed by the counter-protesters’ chant. ‘I don’t think they are at the right protest’, said one observer. Memes emerged, saying: ‘Truckers: Freedom for all! Counter-protest: Trans rights are human rights. Truckers: What??’ What indeed.

And yet, at another level, at a deeper level, this weird, disjointed counter-revolt against the ‘revolting’ truckers actually makes sense. For what we had here was the shrill, noisy reassertion of high-status opinion against the supposedly low-status demands of the truckers for more freedom and better working conditions. This was the correct-thinking set staking its moral authority over the irritated truckers; the upper-middle-class guardians of approved ‘progressive’ thought pushing back against a pesky, old-fashioned, grassroots demand for liberty and respect. There was at least a semi-conscious element to this spectacular non-sequitur on the streets of Ottawa – the elite counter-revolters were essentially saying that identity is now more important than class, that issues like trans rights now thoroughly trump workers’ rights, and that being ‘left-wing’ no longer means supporting the masses against the state, but rather is about reprimanding the masses for their supposed wrongthink and siding with the state against the people.

In fact, it goes even further than this. These counter-protesters, whether wittingly or not, were marking out the truckers as ‘problematic’, as bigots, as real-life Emmanuel Goldsteins deserving of the most severe forms of condemnation and even punishment. They were putting a target sign on the heads of these unpersons, signalling that they are fair game for shame, censure and even police repression and assault. The counter-protesters, for all their self-indulgent fantasies of radicalism, were behaving as the running dogs of the Trudeau regime. Trudeau had already branded the truckers as ‘transphobic’ – and also Islamophobic, homophobic and anti-black – on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. And these ‘trans rights’ counter-protesters were essentially doing Trudeau’s bidding, obediently echoing the vile anti-working-class prejudices of the Canadian state, as they hollered at these working-class protesters: ‘Trans rights are human rights!’ They were publicly declaring that the truckers are thoughtcriminals, possessors of dangerous, bigoted thoughts, and thus they may be crushed. And lo, they were.

In other words, that strange ‘trans rights’ counter-protest captured a larger truth about the truckers’ uprising. Which is that wokeness has enabled the Canadian state’s exceptionally intolerant and violent assault on this working-class uprising. Many of us have marvelled at the allegedly radical left’s studious ignoring of the Canadian working-class revolt against the bourgeois state. But as more and more time passes, it has become clear that the left has not in fact ignored this globally important protest – rather, it has played a key role in legitimising state tyranny against the protesters, in providing the political justification for the Ottawa police’s violent wielding of truncheons and their crushing of working people. The woke are not mere bystanders, not mere wide-eyed shoulder-shruggers to this working-class uprising. On the contrary, they have been the moral facilitators of the state’s classist violence against the truckers and their allies.

The Canadian state’s crackdown on the truckers has been almost unbelievably severe. The state has used every weapon it has access to in order to silence and isolate working people who only want the right to earn a living without being pressured by the state to receive a particular form of medical treatment (Covid vaccination). The Ottawa police have deployed their horses to crush protesters and their allies, including at least one person who was in a mobility scooter. The state has frozen the bank accounts of the protest leaders. Big Tech – that is, capitalism – has hampered citizens’ ability to offer money to the truckers. The fourth estate, behaving more like lapdogs than journalists, has assisted the Canadian state’s authoritarianism – for example, by exposing the names of people who made small donations to the truckers’ convoy. One hack at the Salt Lake Tribune who has been emailing (harassing?) donors to the Freedom Convoy had previously been photographed wearing communist paraphernalia on social media. You couldn’t make it up: woke, self-styled ‘communists’ abetting the capitalist state’s suppression of a working-class revolt. And of course the Trudeau regime has invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time ever in order to empower the state to liquidate this pesky, problematic gathering in Ottawa.

The Canadian state has used violence, battery, horses, financial immiseration, threats and blackmail to punish and ultimately to end the truckers’ revolt. It has even threatened to remove the dissenters’ children. The Ottawa police tweeted that any trucker or truckers’ ally who brings a kid to a protest will be confronted and their ‘children will be brought to a place of safety’. This is a slippery, tyrannical threat of child-removal designed to dampen and ultimately silence a ‘problematic’ protest. It is surely one of the lowest tactics deployed by the state against its critics in modern times: carry on protesting and we will take your children from you.

But we must always ask ourselves the following question: who or what has provided the supposedly ‘moral’ justification for extreme acts of pressure, threats and violence by the authorities? In the past, it was the branding of people as communists, as sympathisers with the Soviet Union, that marked them out for extreme state mistreatment. Or people would be branded ‘the Enemy Within’ – in Thatcher’s infamous words – as a justification for their violent repression. See the Miners’ Strike of 1984/85. In more explicitly tyrannical regimes, you would be demarcated as a wrongthinker or enemy of the state or troublemaker as a way of justifying your repression. Today, as Canada shows, it’s a little different. Today the way that ordinary people are buttered up for police battery, marked out as ‘suspect’, publicly branded as deserving of censure and punishment, is through being called ‘phobic’, insufficiently woke. The language might be more PC, a tad less McCarthyite, but the end result is the same: people are punished on the basis that they are beyond the pale, that they carry incorrect thoughts and beliefs that could potentially pollute the nation. Trudeau is the modern Joe McCarthy, essentially writing certain people off as enemies of wokeness, and fundamentally as enemies of Canada.

The woke have been at the forefront of depicting the truckers as scum, deserving of violent reprimand. Trudeau got in there early, updating McCarthyism by applying it to the ‘anti-woke’ rather than the anti-West. He tweeted that the Freedom Convoy was full of ‘anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, homophobia and transphobia’. Fake radicals, such as those ‘trans rights’ counter-protesters in Ottawa and writers at the Park Slope Socialist bible Jacobinconspired in this state demonisation of the truckers as unwoke. We’ve even had esteemed ‘liberal’ publications denouncing the truckers and their demand for freedom as being typical of ‘white supremacy’. The Washington Post, in one of the most batshit articles it has ever published, said the truckers’ cry for freedom is hard proof that they are white supremacists, because ‘the notion of “freedom” [has been] historically and remains intertwined with Whiteness’. Someone should go back in time and tell this to Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman and all the other black people who fought so hard for the freedoms that today’s comfortable, fragile, fainthearted left takes so grotesquely for granted.

So, wokeness is not just a political irritation. It is not just a pose struck by universities and other institutions that want to appear relevant and cool. No, it is a key component of the new class politics. It is a central ideological wedge between the new elites who justify their rule on the basis of both their managerial capacities and their moral correctness and the working classes who have tired of this patrician form of governance. Wokeness is the means through which the upper classes distinguish themselves from the throng and justify their domination of society and our lives, and, as Canada now shows, it is also the instigator of state violence against those who resist and bristle against this domination. Wokeness is the disguise class authoritarianism wears in the 21st century, and anyone who cares for the rights, equality and liberty of working people needs to make a priority of defeating it.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

If You Want to Judge the Freedom Movement, Go See it for Yourself

George Koch

February 11, 2022

What critics of the Freedom Convoy seem to hate most, what just about drives them around the bend, is seeing the protesters enjoying themselves. The sputtering Jim Watson, mayor of Ottawa, seemed almost overcome with indignation when describing the bouncy castles, barbecues, dancing and music on Parliament Hill. The insolence. The effrontery. Intolerable. This is an occupation, after all, or perhaps an insurrection, or even sedition. It isn’t supposed to be fun. In any event, it must be illegal. Why, just the other night there were unauthorized fireworks over the House of Commons!

In his own blustering way, and certainly without meaning it, Watson was onto something. There is a lot of joy among the Freedom Convoy protesters in Ottawa and at the ongoing Freedom Rallies, marches and slow-rolls all over Canada. Anyone looking at this nationwide phenomenon with open eyes and an open mind – if they can see past the oceans of Canadian flags, themselves a joyful sight if ever there was one – can’t help but notice the pure, natural, unforced and unrestrained joy. It is everywhere and all around. In this article, Cassandra Navarette recounts making this discovery for herself, stunned yet exhilarated that the reality proved so different from the official reports.

Some “occupation”: These Canadian demonstrators in central Ottawa are happy and proud to show it. This enrages the miserable: Trudeau, Watson, Sloly, Singh, Carney and their ilk. (Source of all photos: Shutterstock)

Last Saturday I felt it the moment I got out of my car a few blocks from Calgary’s Freedom Rally, locking eyes with a stranger unloading a sign and both breaking into big smiles. It strengthened as I walked down 13thAvenue towards Central Memorial Park, noticing people streaming in from all directions. There was no anger in evidence; everybody just seemed happy. There were as many women as men, plus quite a few children.

Amidst the smiling faces and laughing voices at the park, with music, singing of O Canada, spontaneous conversations with people all around, hugging strangers and calling out in unison for “Freedom!” bobbing in a sea of waving flags, the feeling became almost overwhelming. I realized that never in my life had I felt so glad to see my country’s flag. Never had I been so proud of my fellow Canadians. I could hardly see through the tears streaming down my face.

We live in a country whose Prime Minister denounces his opponents and critics with the most intolerant and vile terms – ‘misogynists and racists’ – and openly expresses his loathing of at least one-third (perhaps half) of his fellow citizens. And our side needs to apologize?Tweet

This is key. As things stand in Canada, after two years of “two weeks to flatten the curve,” being happy is itself an act of rebellion. In standing alongside fellow human beings and feeling good about it, you are declaring your refusal to live in fear. You are asserting your most basic freedoms – the freedom to formulate your own thoughts and to feel the things that come naturally. You are rejecting the manufactured climate of fear and crisis, the never-ending rollout of oppressive measures, the mainstream news media’s panic porn, the Liberal government’s awful hatred of ordinary Canadians and of Canada itself. Feeling happy – and showing it – is a big deal.

So is waving that flag. I never thought I would thank Justin Trudeau for anything, but I must say, he has handed Canadians a priceless gift. Through his trashing of our nation’s history, his claim that our country has no identity, his portrayal of Canada as a place of racism and oppression, his open sympathy for those who hate Canada and would burn it to the ground, his implication that our flag is dirty and shameful, Trudeau has made the Maple Leaf itself a symbol of opposition and, yes, even rebellion. He has handed the Freedom Movement a beautiful, stirring, unmistakeable emblem, a single unifying banner for everyone to rally round: Canada’s flag. Who but the hard-left, the bitter, the haters, can be against that? Have you noticed all the flags popping up on vehicles, roadside fences, homes and businesses? Thank you, Justin!

When hate gives birth to love: Trudeau’s contempt for Canada’s flag has, paradoxically, turned the Maple Leaf into the Freedom movement’s unifying emblem. (Source of photo: Shutterstock)

Obviously the Freedom protests aren’t only about joy. Here I must do some obligatory “of-coursing.” Of course it has attracted oddballs and eccentrics, plus those whom the past two years have badly rattled or broken. Of course you will encounter anger and come across some hard-to-unravel and extreme opinions. “My search for the truth has taken me down to some very dark places, and at times it was hard to come back,” a friend confessed to me the other day. But what else can one expect in such trying times? What’s called for isn’t rejection and contempt, but sincere conversation and a warm hug. And of course, if people behave abusively towards bystanders, businesses or law enforcement, commit vandalism or other crimes, they should be called out or reported as appropriate.

But for myself, I refuse to apologize when someone points out an individual lapse in a sea of positive behaviour and largely articulate signage (even if one lady spelled it “Pifzer”). For one thing, that isn’t me, or the person next to me, or the one beyond that. One Confederate flag and one swastika in an entire nationwide movement? And you want me to grovel? Are you joking? We live in a country whose Prime Minister denounces his opponents and critics with the most intolerant and vile terms – “misogynists and racists” – and openly expresses his loathing of at least one-third (perhaps half) of his fellow citizens. And our side needs to apologize? Forget it. I no longer hesitate: “Let’s go, Brandeau.”

Pro-trucker demonstrations were held from coast to coast, while tens of thousands of Canadians continue to attend freedom rallies in towns and cities across Canada. Ottawa itself might have broken an all-time record – but mainstream media underplay the numbers. (Source of top two photos: Shutterstock)

And, yes, there is much that is deadly serious. Here I speak to the remaining law-and-order, obey-the-restrictions, play-by-the-rules conservatives who shy away from the Freedom movement in discomfort, distaste or out of sheer elitism. You need to get it through your heads: the other side isn’t playing by the old rules. It hasn’t been for a long time. You are being manipulated if not lied to at nearly ever turn – by politicians, activist groups, police chiefs and most of all the mainstream news media. They want you to shut up, obey and stay home in fear.

Grant A. Brown wrote the other day that the federal Liberals and news media aren’t so much lying as inverting the truth. I’d put it a slightly different way: there’s just no relationship between what they say and the truth. Their narrative is all. If the truth happens to coincide with or advance the narrative, then some of what they say could be true. But that’s it. You have no way of knowing which is which, unless you verify everything independently – or stop relying on the mainstream media. They are utterly unrestrained and will say anything. A few examples follow.

The numbers of protesters are consistently understated. If any journalist bothered to think about it, they would realize that each Saturday in dozens of cities and towns tens of thousands of Canadians – perhaps even 100,000 or more – are out demonstrating. They could even report that. Yet they either ignore the topic or dismissively mention individual events. Last Saturday I looked around the Calgary crowd at length, trying to estimate the number, and could not come to anything less than about 3,000 people. Then I counted a representative square of 100 people, and then counted squares, stopping at a dozen, at which point I was barely 1/3 of the way across the park. As the orderly street march got underway, the numbers seemed larger still: four lanes packed with people for hundreds of metres. The local media reported a turnout of 1,000-1,500, without any stated basis.

The mainstream media accuse them of stealing from the homeless, but here Freedom Convoy protesters are photographed shoveling snow in downtown Ottawa.

The claims that Parliament Hill was “occupied” or “blockaded” are bogus. If it were true, MPs and staff could not walk freely to their jobs. As Alberta Conservative MP John Barlow said on his way into the House of Commons on Tuesday, “This isn’t like [the protesters] brought Ottawa to a screeching halt…I live right downtown when I’m in Ottawa. I’ve managed to get to work. I haven’t been kept up all night.” A C2C correspondent reported similar freedom of movement in downtown Ottawa throughout the protest period – as well as the cleanest sidewalks she’s ever seen there.

“As someone who lives right on top of the convoy, there is no noise at night,” reported blogger David, an Ottawa data scientist who recently wrote about his night-time stroll among the protesters. After meeting people from every province except PEI, David concluded: “They are our moral conscience reminding us – with every blow of their horns – what we should have never forgotten: We are not a country that makes an untouchable class out of our citizens.”

Oh, and a reminder for those millions of Canadians (including most of our governing elite) who appear to have forgotten: peaceful assembly and expression both are enumerated Charter rights, and “expression” includes more than just speech. There’s nothing improper or illegal as such about the Freedom protest, which is taking place almost entirely on public property. Nor does the Charter stipulate a time limit. And also recall that public authorities across Canada for months on end tolerated crime-ridden, gang-operated, drug-infested, filth-laden homeless encampments that made genuine no-go-zones out of inner-city parks and truly terrorized local residents.

About those fireworks. As mentioned, expressing joy is now an act of rebellion. And few things are more exuberantly joyful than fireworks, a physical assertion that to be human is to strive for the heavens and that light shall drive out darkness.Tweet

The repeated claims of “crimes” and other serious lawbreaking would be laughable if they weren’t so outrageous. The best (or worst) that Watson and Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly have come up with are illegal parking, failing to drive in proper lanes and setting off illegal fireworks, along with harrumphing about lots of further “investigations” into alleged crimes (some of which, if they occurred, were probably against the protesters). NDP leader Jagmeet Singh disgraces himself daily with fictitious calumnies. All three men seem bereft of self-awareness.

A “crime” in the sky: Ottawa police now describe setting up unauthorized fireworks as serious misconduct warranting charges. (Source of photo: CityNews Ottawa)

More vaguely, protest opponents have groused about various alleged threats, littering and stealing from homeless – even as streaming videos and other reports have shown protesters shovelling sidewalks, picking up and neatly arranging garbage, and handing food and cash to homeless. Crime in Central Ottawa appears to have plunged.

About those fireworks. As mentioned, expressing joy is now an act of rebellion. And few things are more exuberantly joyful than fireworks, a physical assertion that to be human is to strive for the heavens and that light shall drive out darkness.

What are we to make of the police? Speakers at the rally I attended went out of their way to praise law enforcement members for their professionalism and restraint. Two speakers were former police and said they believe a large percentage of rank-and-file officers sympathize and hope things don’t escalate. This makes sense, since a large proportion of police officers remain unvaccinated and many police unions negotiated their way around vaccine mandates. Indeed, several major Canadian police forces might have effectively collapsed had their unvaccinated members been fired.

Not all police are acting properly, however. Check out this video of Ottawa police roughly hauling away a very small and frail elderly man. His sole offence, the arresting officers state, was “failing” to present identification. There is no such law in Canada. Carrying identification is simply not a requirement of citizenship, nor for going about one’s lawful business. It is the law, however, for police officers to provide their names and badge numbers when requested – and the video shows repeated (though highly foul-mouthed) demands to do so. This the two Ottawa cops refused to do. They broke the law. And they remained masked outdoors, which made them even harder to identify.

Concerned about being abused, or trying to intimidate? Many Ottawa police assigned to the truckers’ protest cover their faces. Some have concealed their identity even when asked to present their name and badge number. (Source of photo: Shutterstock)

Disturbing as this scene was, immeasurably worse will be if the authorities decide to move aggressively against the Ottawa, Coutts (Alberta), Emerson (Manitoba) or Ambassador Bridge protesters. Then we will have the spectacle of largely unvaccinated police officers, many of whom won’t even believe in what they are doing, arresting an at least partially vaccinated group of truckers for the crime of vocally protesting vaccine mandates to which they but not the police are subject. Grotesque.

The threat of violence comes primarily from the left. From the beginning public authorities and mainstream media issued fevered predictions and insinuations of violence. Their hope was as naked as it was disgusting. As of this writing, there has been only one significant known act of violence committed throughout the entire cross-Canada convoy, border-crossing blockades, Parliament Hill protest and innumerable freedom rallies and slow-rolls. This was by the self-declared “punk antifa” lunatic in Manitoba who ploughed his vehicle into a group of Freedom demonstrators (while wearing a mask!), then tried to get away. Police describe it as a “hit-and-run.” Another reported incident, an alleged arson attempt that could have ended horrifically, was very likely a hoax.

Perhaps you will begin to think about where the truth might actually lie. Perhaps you will conclude the time has come to place a Canadian flag on your mailbox, door, lawn or car. Perhaps the next time a friend or relative sneers at ‘those damned truckers’ you will find a voice that offers a few words in defence.Tweet

Claims that Freedom demonstrators in Calgary are routinely harassing bystanders and health care employees are either invented or greatly exaggerated. Local media have retailed claims by staff at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre, across from Central Memorial Park, of routine harassment by anti-vax-mandate protesters. I’ve been to the Centre many times and for years had offices two blocks away. I know first-hand that patients and staff are always at risk of harassment and even physical assault at the hands of the tragic human wreckage that clusters around the centre virtually round the clock. Drug deals occur openly throughout the neighbourhood and it can be downright frightening to walk from one’s car to the Centre.

Come and see it with your own eyes. Scenes from Calgary’s Freedom Rally, February 5, 2022.

Except on Freedom Rally day. Then the druggies keep a low profile while the demonstrators steer clear of the Centre. Last Saturday I made a point of standing near the entrance and saw nothing untoward. It is of course possible that an isolated extremist might at other times harass an employee – but there are armed police in the Centre 24/7, plus private security. The local media, however, insinuate that this discredits an entire national movement.

In thinking about contentious issues these days, I often find myself asking, “If their views are so right, why do they need to lie about so much?” Truth is not afraid to be challenged but a lie typically hates uncomfortable questions. The response to the Freedom movement from opponents, critics, many politicians, certain other elite leaders, police chiefs and much of the mainstream media has been of this nature.

If you ask yourself the same thing, perhaps you will begin to think about where the truth might actually lie. Perhaps you will conclude the time has come to place a Canadian flag on your mailbox, door, lawn or car. Perhaps the next time a friend or relative sneers at “those damned truckers” you will find a voice that offers a few words in defence. Perhaps the next time the police ludicrously warn the public to “avoid the downtown core” on Freedom Rally day, you will take that as your signal to do the opposite: drive down there, park and walk peacefully to that day’s rally alongside fellow Canadians of every colour, belief and description.

And see for yourself. See the ocean of flags. Hear our national anthem. Sing it. And hear “Freedom!” shouted. After “love,” the most exhilarating, intoxicating, wondrous word in the English language. There’s no way to know how this will end. Bad things could already be happening. Ontario’s Ford government this morning declared a state of emergency while B.C. announced it will expand vaccine mandates. But I couldn’t say it better than how one of the nation’s more controversial commentators put it the other day: “Don’t you wish you were there?”

George Koch is editor-in-chief of C2C Journal.

https://c2cjournal.ca/2022/02/if-you-want-to-judge-the-freedom-movement-go-see-it-for-yourself/?fbclid=IwAR2FCf8nSRiOdqMqzPLzf41oNHy14hdAZzbfG8AUkHXVVFIFYMRd5zQrwPE

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