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.
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!
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.