The protest in Ottawa disperses; what now for the Emergencies Act?
Your dispatch seems a pretty reasonable assessment of what's been a crazy week capping off a crazy 3 weeks in Canada. I would add a few points.
You may have actually understated the shocking lack of self-awareness, unbelievable naivete, and lack of political / marketing sophistication of the vast majority of protesters in Ottawa, Windsor, Coutts, and other scattered protests across the country (with the exception of the few lunatics and 'hard men' that Matt described, who I am leaving out of this paragraph). The decision to camp out on streets rather than, say, staying in hotels or even camping in public areas so businesses could still run and local folks could still get around and function. The F**k Trudeau signs (so classy). The honking without regard to the impact on (more or less) innocent locals. The lack of coherent and consistent spokespeople, and the almost nonsensical list of demands. My overall take on the lot is that they are well meaning, may be correct in at least a few of the expressed concerns and frustrations, but absolutely, utterly clueless as to how they came accross on TV, radio, and social media to a majority of Canadians.
From my vantage point here in 'berta, I have been watching the positions of some of my aquaintances, friends, and family in both in-person conversations and online ones harden to the point of (at least) concrete. There may be a few who have 'flipped sides', either towards sympathy for the protesters or (gasp) sympathy for Trudeau and the government, but the vast majority of the folks I have even the slightest interaction wtih have only hardened their positions one way or the other. Polarization to the degree I have NEVER seen in my 50-odd years. The most radical of of either side are increasingly brazen in what they'd perscribe to 'fix' the problems. Not quite advocating violence toward the others (whichever side they hate), but they're much closer to those extreme solution than I could have ever imagined. People on both sides are PISSED OFF.
The police (particularly in Ottawa) generally did not come off well optics-wise from either extreme position, though the combined police forces may have pitched a hail mary pass with those who wanted the protests to end with their generally calm, orderly breakup of the protests. Those firmly on the side of the protesters, well, their view of the police is leaning heavily toward jackbooted thugs. Not good. Not sure where this will go in the next several weeks and months. Not an easy time to be in law enforcment at the street level.
Politicians on all sides have generally come out as clowns. Rather than designate them by their parties, I'll boil it down to two political camps. Canadian Progressives & Conservatives in all of our parties today either ignore and/or are ignorant of history's lessons, consider it virtuous to shamelessly use situational ethics, and conduct themselves with no honour whatsoever.
This is worrisome, as many of we ordinary voters are rendered politically homeless, both federally and provincially (municipally, it's a bit better). I don't know if it means more potential voters will simply not vote in subsequent elections, but speaking for myself, I have no clue who to vote for going forward either federally or provincially. The choices as presented now are all horrible.
Finally, the media. With rare exceptions (such as The Line, I continue to feel my subscription is money well invested), the media have predictably shown themselves to be the attention whores and paid shills the protesters have been mocking them for. My respect for most of the media was low before this series of events, and is nearing the point of disbelief as to how incredibly shameless they are in their pronouncements. Matt and Jen, I know may of these folks are your colleagues and friends, but I have to tell you, the view of the media in most of the country (on both sides of the divisions on this crisis) has them lower than the Police, Protesters, and Politicians. They are literally swimming below the PPP at the bottom of the ocean.
It is becoming very difficult to have a civil conversation with anyone about the state of all of the above, at least in my own life. Most, however, will gladly share with you their polarized view, and fully expect you to be on their side. I'm not sure how we swing back from the current abyss. The rest of the world must think Canada has well and truly gone (as Jen coined) bug fuck crazy.
Thank you for your fair and balanced view of current events. I find myself looking forward to your columns and dispatches as islands of sanity in an ocean of insanity.
There’s a certain childishness that’s spread through society where people actively seek out information confirming what they already believe, and ignoring or rejecting anything that contradicts them. The right wing has fallen into this trap with the conservative media ecosystem. The Liberals are convinced of their own brilliance and righteousness because that’s all they let into their bubble. The anti-vax activists desperately seek affirmation for their views anywhere they can, on Twitter or in comments sections. The problem is that reality is what it is, and ignoring the inconvenient parts doesn’t change it. Instead, it just leads to an increasing divergence between what is and what people think it should be. That’s when people start to get unhinged, because they won’t revise their beliefs and instead look for explanations (often conspiratorial) that salve the cognitive dissonance.
The left should realize the tactics used against the convoy will be used against their causes in turn? But they won't will they? These tactics are being used because it is NOT a left-wing cause, in my humble opinion. Left-wing activists seem to be able to illegally blockade and damage pipelines as much as they like!
The current situation doesn't contrast directly to the nation-wide BLM or recent indigenous-based protests. The PM took a knee at an Ottawa BLM protest and there was an extremely light police touch across the country. When rail lines are blocked the federal government sends ministers out to negotiate. I can see the media and activists trying to force identity politics into this but it doesn't really square up.
This trucker thing is an entirely different beast. People who would never think of engaging in civil disobedience are now doing so on a large scale. Although largely conservative/right leaning, it is not exclusively so, and the left/liberal bloc is now playing the law and order/reactionary role that used to be the preserve of conservatives.
Whether this is a persistent movement or merely a temporary phenomenon given life by the pandemic, I guess we'll see. One thing for sure, the reaction of the federal gov't with the EA, and for sure the PM, has just added fuel to this fire.
I feel obliged to repeat my refrain which is beginning to feel too much like the strategy of doing the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result, nevertheless...
How much coverage has daily relevant covid data received over the past 3 weeks relative to the protests? My estimation, almost zero. How much ongoing coverage has the effectiveness of the vaccines relative to hospitalizations, ICU patients, and deaths, received over the past 3 weeks relative to the protests? Appears to be zero. Even though, apparently vaccines are what the protests are all about, i.e., mandating them like laws disallowing smoking in closed public spaces or stopping at stop signs.
Instead all we get is the complete politicized play-by-play of the protests, who's winning or losing. So the pols and the media have been offered a pint of pure partisan political intoxication, the Emergencies Act, and now they are as drunk on themselves as the crack heads dancing naked in front of Parliament Hill.
As for the preoccupation with Trudeau, an oversimplification for those who find it too difficult to deal with the complexities of reality. Which pretty much describes the carnival of chaos unfolding around Parliament for the past weeks. An oversimplification amplified by those who hope to profit by it. None of which helps us understand or deal with those complexities or our shared reality.
If the EA provides review and renewal for our failed institutions, fine. However, it's hard to have faith that the folks installed in those failed institutions will do any better with the task of review or renewal. What is most clear is that the carnival of chaos is not a government in waiting. It's nothing more than more chaos in waiting. So while folks understandably want relief from pandemic restrictions, embracing the chaos threatening our institutions looks more like the mental illness animating the chaos than anything that might host a future worth embracing.
It gives sweeping new powers of detention and surveillance to the law enforcement agencies, and depriving the Courts of meaningful judicial oversight to ensure that the law enforcement powers are not being abused.
It gives the administration the authority to designate any group, foreign or domestic, as a terrorist organization, an authority that is not subject to review.
It creates a broad new crime of “domestic terrorism” which is defined as “activities that (A) involves acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws ; (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of government by intimidation or coercion
It permits investigations based on lawful speech activity, if that activity can be tied somehow to intelligence purposes.
....no, not our Emergency Act; that's the ACLU summary of the USAPATRIOT act's main concerns. It just had it's 20th birthday last October. We should perhaps count our blessings.
The Bank of Canada or the Library of Parliament can hook you up with a disinterested crypto expert.
You're starting to realize that the emergency declaration is a big problem. Good. Maybe you are even realizing that lifting the mandates would have been better than going down this road. But what you still haven't realized is that one of the things driving the populist reaction against elite rule is that the obvious lies (eg mandates are justified despite the fact that the vaccines don't reduce transmission) are manifestations of contempt for regular people and make them very angry. Nor have you realized that opposition among journalists to lifting the mandates has made this crisis much worse.
We all know what we have done our homework and understand the issues in a way that you journalists just can't be bothered to do. You focus on elite relationships and in-group politics, and you do that very well. But when you view actual real issues through that lens, you are blinding yourselves. The truth is out there, and government-anointed "experts" aren't spoon feeding it to you. You have to dig for it. Do better.
Based on an admittedly belated reading of the Constitution and the Criminal Code, I'm pretty sure the PM showed a lot of forbearance waiting for the provincial Attorneys General to show up. When they failed to, he and Canada's Attorney General had to step in, but it's more their dereliction than the PM's overreach.
Good article. Thank you. I too worry about Trudeau but am so thankful for Chrystia Freeland. My fear is that now the far right has been let out of the bag and openly encouraged by all the anti-mask, anti-vax, anti public health measures, fact immune, conspiracy believers (see comments below), that the movement will continue to grow. Whether the PPC will pick up more votes or the CPC will swing farther to the right remains to be seen but we have not seen the last of them by any stretch. Trumpism is moving north.
I agree that the pandemic was not always wisely handled and some measures made no sense. But I am glad Canada does not have the same problem with sickness and death that USA has. Masks work if used properly. Vaccines are safe and effective. fully vaccinated people can still get Covid but much less likely and much milder usually. Saying both vaccinated and unvaccinated can still spread Covid is like saying that I and Mario Andretti both drive cars.
I'm relieved that the clearing of the Ottawa protesters has been relatively non-violent so far. My understanding is that police attempt to minimize the risk of violence by mobilizing overwhelming numbers, which is why the Ottawa Police weren't able to deal with the protest without massive reinforcements.
There's a video of far-right influencer Austin Hill which captures this perfectly: "It's over, we can't stop them, there's too many of them." https://twitter.com/_llebrun/status/1495083489485598727
As a Hobbesian, I think the rule of law is a crucial institution whether you're on the left or the right. We have a legal system so that we can settle our conflicts without violence, by battling it out in the courts rather than on the streets. (With TMX, for example, opponents presented their case in court, and in August 2018 the Federal Court of Appeal overturned cabinet approval and halted the project. After the government held more consultations with First Nations, the FCA upheld the subsequent re-approval.)
Regarding vaccine mandates ... in BC, Covid hospitalizations peaked around January 31, and have slowly declined since then. So are we now at the point where we can say, look, if you don't want to get vaccinated, you're mostly putting yourself at risk, since we're no longer concerned that the hospitals will be overloaded? (Risk of hospitalization is 5X for people who are unvaccinated.) Maybe. I think that's going to be up to each province to decide, based on their projections; the federal government should follow what the provinces are doing. Also, I would expect employers who want to prevent workplace outbreaks may keep vaccine requirements in place, as a workplace safety measure. (This is especially true for hospitals and long-term care facilities.)
On crypto: Bitcoin is pseudonymous rather than anonymous. That is, each transaction is published with an identifiable Bitcoin wallet. What's missing is the identity of the wallet's owner.
When you buy or sell Bitcoin, through a Bitcoin exchange, you need to provide your real identity.
In this case, I think there may be a lot of technologically unsophisticated donors who overestimate how much privacy Bitcoin gives you.
(It is possible to exchange cash for Bitcoin without giving up your real identity, using a Bitcoin ATM.)
A couple references:
This was all very interesting, but isn't it time to stop hyperventilating about the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act? The tone in some of what you and others have written might lead a few readers to believe that we are witnessing the epitaph of rights and freedoms in Canada.
Look, there are limits built into the Act itself. It must end 30 days after invocation. Period. It will also be subject to an automatic review after all is said and done.
We have independent courts (which will have to rule on at least three suits prompted by the decision to invoke). I have no doubt that they will call bull-s__t on the federal government--or on those who do not put forward convincing arguments to justify their opposition (which is not to say that they will do that).
Either way, these decisions will be made by Canadian judges (or the Supreme Court of Canada) in light of Canadian law and the Charter.
We also have lively political debate in the country, mediated by political parties and activists, journalists, and experts working through social media platforms, the print and broadcast news media and so on.
Finally, we have this thing called elections.
Give most voting Canadians credit for brains. If they believe that governments (in this case the federal government) have over stepped, they can let them know by voting against them when it comes time to do so.
Finally, WRT your take on Mr Trudeau's strengths and weaknesses, this was credible enough. But have both Jim Watson and Doug Ford morphed into Voldemort (they who must not be named)?
Surely both men deserve a flurry of brickbats for the respective roles they played in the gestation of this almighty cluster-F?
And let's not forget Jason Kenney, Scott Moe and others (like the now retired Bryan Pallister), who have also frequently sought to politicize (and Americanize) the discussions about pandemic suppression measures (sometimes with misleading declarations).
The truckers and various hangers on should have disbanded their protest before there was a need for the police.
It appears that the police have done their jobs well and are achieving their goal of clearing the streets of Ottawa.
This protest did not achieve its intended goal of convincing Canadians that preventative vaccination did not need to be universal and that can be construed as a failure.
What the protest did achieve, unintentionally, however, was far more important: it exposed the overweening political bias of the MSM and federal government in the manner both reacted.
From the start of the dissentients campaign, the was a concentrated effort to associate it with events, specifically the rioting that occurred on Capitol Hill.
The MSM was filled with dire warnings that the American right was a threat to Canada’s democracy and that the trucker convoy was a potential Trojan Horse for these radicals.
Both the MSM and federal government ginned up fear by the us of egregious propaganda.
When the convoy approached Ottawa, the warnings of calamitous conflict reached a fevered pitch.
In the event, nothing near a calamitous event took place - none of the predicted violence occurred.
Not to be deterred, both of the actual antagonists, the MSM and feds, took to seeking offence and inflating minor incidents of mischief into major offences.
What the protest actually caused was a prolonged nuisance and inconvenience to the citizens of Ottawa but there was no rioting, loss of life, injury, arson and looting.
What the protestors did was fail to see there was absolutely no purpose in staying in the city.
They had won a victory - albeit not the one they were seeking.
In overstaying their squat in Ottawa, they simply gave the government further opportunity to frame the issue.
Again the fear factor was invoked, massive force would be required to forcibly dislodge the protestors.
(The police were there but not at all afraid of confronting the protestors - what they were leery of was the propensity for the MSM and the feds to feed them to the wolves if, in the event , there was violence.)
The government used this fear factor to invoke the Emergency Measures Act - a hammer to kill a mosquito.
On the eve of invoking the Act, a legitimately fearful and calamitous act of Ecco-terrorism unfolded in northern British Columbia.
A violent armed attack took place against a camp involved in the support of a gas pipeline.
The response from the MSM and the federal government could not be more telling in its inconsistency: except for BC’s outlets, the media tip-toed about as did the federal government given the was a high likelihood that FN people were involved.
Thus far, there has been no indication from the government that the Emergency Measures Act will be used to deal with the attack- indeed, the Emergency Measures Act apparently excludes FNs.
It is clear that Canada’s liberal progressives have two distinctly different approaches when it comes to dealing with dissent - one for their darling causes and one for others.
If its their darlings, tolerance and empathy are the order of the day.
If it is the deplorables, tolerance is deemed a hazard.
Liberal progressives view themselves as morally and intellectually superior to anyone who disagrees with their agenda.
They have cast themselves as the new Aryans of our society and broke no contradiction from those they consider their inferiors - the new untnrmenchen.
Essentially, in their view of the world, those who do not share their morality fibre and/or intellectual perfection cannot be allowed participate in democracy nor can they be afforded the freedom to contest the society their betters have allocated to them.
The new tolerables, in contrast, are allowed to assault the intolerables.
FN’s, ecco-terrorists, social equality warriors, race agitators and most leftists are not held to a standard of accountability anywhere near that of those identified as the deplorable element.
The treatment of the Ottawa protest compared with that afforded the terrorist attack in BC has laid bare the colours of the MSM and the federal government - it does not bode well for the unity we so desperately need to hold Canada together.
It appears to me that you have misread this comment:
"If you are a member of a pro-Trump movement who is donating hundreds of thousands of dollars, and millions of dollars to this kind of thing, then you ought to be worried," said Lametti.
The minister is not referencing the vast majority of folks on the hill, he is saying that they have evidence that "members (likley Amiericans) of pro-Trump movements are funneling funds to these folks on the hill." This much is public knowledge. If I am right in this reading, then any Canadian who gave $500 (to use your example) need not worry. You reading displays not only your mistrust of the government, but you inability to be reflexive enough about your own prejudices to stop you for adding false fuel to the fires you claim to be concerned about. And, yes, we are all human. But you folks on the LINE hold your selves up as a higher quality of journalism that most. I support you because we need that. Now reflect on this, clean up you act and carry on.
sincerely shocked to see what this looks up close
so far into the far-right's looking glass of bullshit
these people have flown right through their frickin' fail-safe points
You guys deserve a raise.
Thank you for the multiple columns. I agree with almost all of what you write.
"...we do think there is evidence of a hard, and potentially militant edge to this movement..."
I have heard of this evidence, but I have never seen any of it. Does it really exist?
It's like allegations that the protests are coordinated by a small but well-organized group. Is there evidence? Well, Minister Mendocini pointed out out that one of the people arrested in Coutts had been seen in Ottawa. When pressed five times by reporters for more evidence, he refused to add anything more.
If there is a group of "hard men" infiltrated among the protestors, why are they there? When are they going to act? Why did they not better prepare the people around them for the inevitable police suppression?
Consider me skeptical of police intelligence reports.