Feb 10, 2022·edited Feb 10, 2022Liked by Line Editor

Real journlism comes from walking, talking, listening and probing. Your instincts are on fire, and I trust them because you've taken the time to really report. Context is everything, and you've provided more in three days than I've seen in weeks. Thank you Matt.

Expand full comment
Feb 10, 2022Liked by Line Editor

Very unsettling. This is what doing journalism looks like. Well done, Matt Gurney.

Expand full comment

What many commenters don't seem to understand is that the mandates have expelled 10-15% of the Canadian population from society. These people have been told that they are, effectively, no longer Canadians (except for purposes of taxation). They are righteously angry and ready to burn the place down if they have to, rather than see themselves and their children consigned to the role of a permanent underclass, subject to constant legal discrimination. Part of the euphoria in Ottawa is the realization that, thanks to the truckers, there may be a peaceful way to get out of this situation.

These people know they need a highly organized and professional operation to shove an end to hate down the throats of the politicians and the hard core segregationists. And so, when they read your article, they say "good for these professional ex-military types" - as do I.

The solution to the problem lies in ending all the mandates. Now. The biggest obstacle to that is media and politicians. The segregationists will do what they are told by the authorities - that's why they believe what they do. But they need to be told that the mandates must go.

Expand full comment

Wow, our complacency that we as Canadians are above all this is going to bite us hard. Our Governments, Federal, Provincial and municipal, Liberals and Conservatives, NDP and the Block and Greens need to stop the political football they have been playing with Covid….looking for the photo op that makes them look like stars. We need now, more than ever, Leaders who stop pitting Canadians against each other and work towards solutions. Solutions that support a Democratic Canada. Canadians used to care about each other. This Governance through Covid started off okay and it wasn’t like we had a road map, however it has deteriorated to pitting friends and family, people who used to love each other, on opposing sides with no middle ground.

It has to stop for the sake of all of us and our children's future

Expand full comment

If that's the RCGT park I'm familiar with, that's pretty far from Parliament Hill. In fact, from that location, it's hard for me to imagine what exactly they are threatening.

Matt, you may well be right, and there may be a real problem brewing. But the evidence you advance is very impressionistic. I would seek more confirmation.

As to the knowledgeable people you spoke to, I don't doubt their qualifications. It's just that, from Peter Sloly on down, they have a personal interest in exaggerating threats. They could be looking for excuses.

Finally, I note that the situation has been going on for nearly two weeks. If this second group is really planning some actions, why haven't we seen any sign of them yet? The longer they wait, the longer they give the forces of law and order to get organized. They should have struck early.

Anyway, I very much enjoy your reports. But in this case, I hope you're wrong.

Expand full comment

Matt’s stellar work over the last 3 dispatches has helped me get a far more coherent take on the Ottawa situation. This last dispatch was very sobering reading. If the analysis of the second encampment is accurate, this stand-off could quite possibly have a bloody ending.

Expand full comment

All the more reason to just lift the immoral and useless mandates right now and take the air out of the protests completely. At some point the government just needs to back down on this. Why not now? Is a massacre really better?

Expand full comment

I'd like to offer an alternative perspective. If you fire hundreds of military and RCMP from their jobs. Cut them off from Employment Insurance. Where do you think they are going to go? I think what you are seeing is less foreign agitators than individuals who were summarily kicked out of the military and RCMP over vaccine mandates. A few of them have shown up in the leadership of this group and I'm sure there are many more who are involved. Is it serious? Absolutely. Those whose lives have been destroyed by vaccine mandates don't have any incentive to stand down.

Expand full comment

Diplomatically speaking, I wasn't thrilled with your earlier reflections that seemed rather sympathetic to the overall convoy movement. You know, genuine, honest, salt-of-the-earth folks with a legitimate grievance. Yes I know hindsight is 20/20 but for many of us it's been ominous from the beginning. This was never going to end well, right? At first I suspected at worst the honest may have had a hazy plan to push legal boundaries enough to provoke a police arrest (with kids in tow), to generate martyrs and public sympathy. Now I'm worried about something worse, and not surprised at the hard element emerging. God DAMN our leaders for not seeing this coming, and having NO plan. No plan at all.

Expand full comment

First, another good bit of story telling.

Second, I'm not the least bit surprised. Here was my reaction to your previous post:

"So that just leaves the long haulers. My speculative description: angry, volatile, paramilitary-minded, far right anarchists, multiplayer meme addicts. Attacking infrastructure is in-keeping with such a profile. Preoccupation with the details of health policy is not."

What follows is more speculation, but the tone I've chosen is assertive.

Sadly, the mainstream media seems preoccupied with the revellers and the ineffectual partisan politics. If I had to summarize anything that might pull all the pieces of the carnival of chaos together it would be mental illness, from a perspective of democratic values.

I don't just mean the most obvious lost souls found living on the street. The carnival rhetoric is delusional. They have manufactured a fantasy in which the reality of the pandemic as a health issue doesn't exist. Sadly some political opportunists have decided to play along and try to profit.

Where do all these broken people come from. For many, 'normal' is not easy, it can be a tough slog filled with uncertainty. For 'normal' to be disrupted, broken, appear irreparable, as the pandemic has done, may be a source of enormous stress. Hopelessness can be a terrifying state. Thus the revellers' simple celebratory fantasy of redemption at hand: just end the mandates.

The fixation on Trudeau. For folks who have some understanding of how Canada's health & political systems work, Trudeau is not the central figure. Most mandates are provincial. However, symbolically, as the target of partisan political barbs within a federated political system he is a convenient ideological scapegoat. Plus, of course, there's dad and regional cultural memories.

This is a very dangerous psychological recipe. Folks who fixate on a single agent of darkness, may look for a single agent of rescue. For many Americans, the myth of Trump, in Canada amongst the protestors, some strange idolization of the powers of the GG. A residual monarchical fantasy? This all appears to be soil ripe for fascism.

And the hardcore fascists, the long haulers, clearly appear to be in the wings. Or as your story indicates, in a parking lot. Sounds to be a para-military coordination centre for activity on the main theatre stage. I alluded to paramilitary, multiplayer meme addicts, that is a social formation made possible by the nature of digital networks. These are creatures of the network. Of course, the network by nature is capable of producing widely distributed sub-networks. Thus the pop-ups in other border and infrastructure locations, and coordination across multiplayer sites. These aren't just spontaneous pandemic-based networks. But networks that pre-exist and co-exist outside the pandemic stages. Organized crime, intersecting, interlocking networks, coming together around diverse criminal activities.

In it for the game. And likely the money. Fed by interests, far and wide.

Appetites forged around shared acts of violence. Digital interlocking bully circles, if you like. Fascism is real. It forms itself as real psychological states animating real human beings in real collective actions. The online multiplayers who have solidified their connections, engaged in collective acts of violence, distributed content, reaped financial benefits, infiltrated institutions.

Parasites and hosts. Parasites feed on their hosts. If they kill their hosts, the parasites die or need to find a new host. Drug dealers who kill their clients, need a new batch of desperate, broken souls. So do human traffickers.

This is what folks need to understand and political leadership must address. Are Canadians going to be passive spectators to fascism or active agents of democratic renewal. History is putting its question to the current generation of Canadians. What kind of society do you want to live in?

Expand full comment

This is why I pay for my subscription. Thank you. I just wish the media on the Liberal payroll would take journalism as seriously as you and Jen do.

Expand full comment

So you're saying that the story's NOT about the legitimate protest of people who feel the government has violated their freedoms, but it's all about the nasty elements who are hitching a free ride? I think you are definitely getting sidetracked, and Mr. Trudeau will be pleased at that.

Expand full comment

Excellent reporting Matt. For the past several years the overriding philosophy for dealing with civil protests (rail blockades, TMX, Fairy Creek, etc.) has been 'no flashpoints'. This means don't take any action that might generate casualties or make for bad optics on the nightly news. No one wants another Oka.

As a result the Canadian enforcement response is to give up ground, try to contain the problem and wait for the court injunction. It takes a long time and usually works, but in the meantime the public has to tolerate widespread lawbreaking.

Ultimately this diminishes the sovereignty of the Canadian state, which has a monopoly on the use of force. This has consequences well beyond what is currently happening in Ottawa.

I wonder what Donald Savoie would have to say about this. He has been concerned about the disintegration of Canadian institutions for a very long time.

Expand full comment

I am struck by the fact that Matt's government and security sources agree the primary problem isn't the run of the mill convoy types, but "a cadre of seasoned street brawlers whose primary goal is to further erode the legitimacy of the state — not just the city of Ottawa, or Ontario or Canada, but of democracies generally."

It's in this context that the second encampment is worrisome logistically and tactically. Logistically, this is where you'd store weapons and your communications base: No one knows what you have, and that very uncertainty makes local police unlikely to conduct what could easily become a bloody raid with dead cops. Which, of course, would gain you press and martyrs.

Tactically, you want to whip up the far right and/or anyone open to radicalization. That's why you don't use your weapons immediately. You keep them to prolong standoffs and/or as defense to use when the cops/ military move in to force you out, which will happen sooner or later, as without police force there's no incentive for you to leave on your own. Every day the protest continues is a day you've won by showing the weakness of the authorities. And when they eventually act, you can claim self-defense. With luck, they'll overreact and you'll have martyrs.

We've seen this on the right at Waco and the Bundy standoff, and on the left with Anifa and the anarchist black bloc protesters at G7s and the Defund marches.

Expand full comment

Love this old school type of journalism!

Expand full comment

Is Matt saying the RCGT Park contains an armed militia component or something? I appreciate the gut feeling stuff and the limitations of what his sources can share, but, doesn't the article really amount to a summary of several peoples' spidey-senses?

What is the evidence that there is an insurrectionist violent threat lurking behind the pallets and trailer-walls?

I'm not an apologist for this group. I want them gone. I want them to stop acting as a beacon for the blockading of economic lifelines at our borders.

I'm just saying that I don't see any evidence these guys are actually operationally equpped, in enough numbers, or of the disposition to storm Parliament or similar acts. I'm mentally ready to accept the threat if new information emerges. At present, they seem to be an aggravating, symbolically dangerous tailgate party with assorted hangers-on at the fringes.

Expand full comment