Is this a group therapy session, or an essential democratic proceeding into the historic suspension of Canadian civil liberties to clear the Great Unwashed from the steps of Parliament Hill?
If you were to litigate that question based on the day one results of the Public Order Emergency Commission into Trudeau, Mendicino, and Freeland’s first foray into bank account freezing, independent media beating, and horse trampling, perhaps one could be forgiven for being lulled into a false sense that this government may finally be held to account for their many indiscretions.
Lawyers, civil liberties groups, and the provinces teed off on the unnecessary invocation of a nuclear option, where a little dialogue, a few tow trucks, and non-violent dispersal tactics would have surely gotten the job done just fine.
How thankful the government must be then for Friday’s call to the bullpen. In the place of legal experts and Canada’s most-dogged defenders of our rights and freedoms sat many aggrieved government employees, and how quickly we were reminded of the pretend apocalypse from our winter of discontent.
Federal bureaucrat Zexi Li got the ball rolling with tales of feces in the street, that she claims she never actually saw, and the threat of menace hanging thick in the air, yet she was never actually threatened.
When yours truly attended the Freedom Convoy to try to get a sense of the real story, I was immediately struck by the markets, fire pits, soccer games, and the sense of community that ran along Wellington Street down towards a little dance club by the Chateau Laurier.
At the time, I described the scene on AM 640 with Greg Brady as “more Burning Man than January 6th.” For every hard-looking character, there were twice as many yoga teachers, light-workers, and disenfranchised new Canadians who just wanted to be around like-minded Canadians who also felt harmed by mandates.
Yes, there were untoward elements, and the memorandum of understanding remains an irredeemable own-goal from a flat org structure that was always flirting with trouble, but it sure didn’t feel like insurrection, no matter what a few bad apples may have wanted, and thousands of breathless Tru-Anon Twitter accounts and unquestioning media types practically wished for.
In my few days ‘on the ground,’ as if I were some kind of war-time correspondent, instead of just a freezing cold fellow citizen taking pictures of smiling strangers, the only perceived “acts of violence” I ever witnessed were counter-protestor on protestor. This included: thrown cups of hot coffee at trucks and truckers, Canadian flags being ripped away and tossed to the ground, and locals shouting “Nazi!” or “fascist!” at a few too many Canadians with backgrounds that involve the fleeing of the worst of big government overreach and atrocity, and who likely never imagined that one day their beloved new home’s professional class would turn on them so viciously for engaging in public protest.
But such firsthand accounts, like my very own, still matter little to those who continue to want to make January 6th happen, no matter the irksome, undeniable reality that it never happened here. These kinds of Accepted Firsthand Accounts may be enough for regime-friendly journalists who ply their trade on Chinese spyware platforms like Tik-Tok, but they shouldn’t be enough for the millions who saw things differently, and who know catastrophizing when they see it.
Far be it for I to question the official accounting of the state and many of its most dutiful of reporters, but these are matters for civil courts, if they are indeed matters that exist at all. Remember, this is the same group of Defend the Glebe (!) types who spread rumours of a grand trucker plot to burn down an apartment building (which was quickly uncovered as a hoax by independent media), and who also marched in counter-protest with the hammer and sickle flying in a few spots amongst the crowd.
When it’s our disinformation, it doesn’t matter. And when we fly our own brand of atrocious flags, you’ll see nary a peep from those who melted down so incuriously at the very sight of one of the more obvious agent provocateurs in the history of modern protest. (To date, ‘Confederate flag guy’ has yet to be identified. They froze bank accounts, but couldn’t find CONFEDERATE FLAG GUY. Now, be a good citizen and pay no attention to something so laughably incongruent.)
Then came the unserious cherry on top: the phantom honking.
In an effort to be as sympathetic as possible, I have no doubts that many downtown Ottawa residents “experienced things differently,” to borrow from their preferred prime minister. Noise pollution can be a public nuisance, and so too can fireworks at odd hours. But when you live next to the halls of power, it should be expected that, on occasion, the people may come calling if they don’t feel heard.
How important then is it to note that they felt so ignored, that they literally drove across the country to lean on their horns at your doorstep? Instead of seeing the menace in such an uncouth act, why not see the humanity? The hurt? The desperation?
If this commission is to descend back into feelings over fact, from the faux-progressives whose blood so boiled at the very sight of blue-collar, vaguely ’Trumpian’-looking protestors, why then can we not account for the emotions of the other side? Has our professional class become so sheltered from the mere thought of the wolf ever visiting their door, that when tens of thousands descend upon a federal government town, while millions more watch from home, what still matters most is that it was too loud and unruly within a few-block radius over a period of weeks?
This cannot be about feelings, however, for if it’s allowed to be, then yet again an increasingly illiberal regime, and its legions of status-quo supporters, skate free down the Rideau Canal.
This has to be about Justin Trudeau’s refusal of dialogue and diplomacy; his pathological propensity towards division and his very own brand of disinformation; his unjustified use and abuse of a wartime act.
They won’t admit that they overreacted — because they can’t. So what you’re left with are more days like today and more histrionics.
The desperate appeal to emotion is all they have left. In lieu of evidence, any other government in our history would fall.
The original version of this post was published on the author’s own site, Acceptable Views, and has been reprinted with permission.