The best way to get out of this mess is to lift the mandates. The best way to ensure it never happens again is to resolve never again to rip up the Charter and expel 15% of Canadians from society. That's more than can be ruled through fear.

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So, where to begin.

First, you are describing a process that you have even described as a method to disperse an "unruly crowd". It's meant for people on the streets during riots and violent protest, more or less. This is a protest filled with people hugging, dancing, feeding each other (and the homeless), shoveling the sidewalks, picking up garbage, and enjoying bouncy castles.

From your own source: “Once the mob starts thinking like dispirited individuals again,” my cop source told me, “the threat to public safety is mostly over.”

Does that apply here? Is this a "furious mob" (as you describe them)? Are they driven by mob mentality? If dispersed would they go back to thinking like dispirited individuals again, and stop their furious hugging, dancing, and bouncing and go back to their individualist, peaceful, shaking their fist at the TV at home?

The problem here is not an unruly, angry mob taken over by mob mentality where the solution is to make them act human again. It is a crowd of people acting more human than human already.

Second, the trucks. How do you plan to move the trucks? Even if you could find a tow-truck driver to move them it could take months. And nobody is willing to do that. The size of tow truck you need to do that work is itself a big rig and requires the same skills and licenses as the protesters. The people you need help from are the protesters, or support them. Good luck with that.

Third, the this is a well-organized national protest. They have teams of lawyers and supporters. How quickly do you think the drivers and protesters will be back there?

Fourth, there are lineups of people ready to take their place. Even if you get the people out and the trucks out, somehow, it will simply backfill with new trucks and new protesters. What are they to do -- block off the whole downtown indefinitely? That's worse off than the situation now. And, if they do, they'll just create a new protest nearby. It's happening in Alberta and Windsor now already. You don't think there'd be more?

The problem I see in your plan is that you still seem to be thinking about this all wrong, as if it is a post-Stanley Cup riot. It isn't. This is a national, grassroots movement to fundamentally respect human rights and human needs.

Did you interview individual protestors? Try watching the live streams. There are hundreds of hours available, continually adding up. Ottawalks is a good observer. Viva Frei (David Freiheit) is walking through the downtown almost daily and interviewing people nonstop, asking where they are from, what they are there for, and their own backstories. It is live and unedited. It is not narrative-driven propaganda; it is journaling what is going on. One might even call this interview-style presentation as ... journalism?

There's a high percentage of immigrants interviewed, many of them who moved here from tyrannical countries. They all have an amazingly similar interpretation that the government policies here are very reminiscent of the ones they ran away from. That's newsworthy.

If you are worried about the few people who might be prone toward violence -- but have not yet really acted given that the crime rate has apparently gone down in the area -- I have a better plan. Instead of pulling all of those people off the bouncy castle and arresting them for too much hugging and dancing like you are John Lithgow in Footloose, how about we get an expert at picking out the "hard men" (I know of one!) and point them out to the police, and just arrest those ones before they commit acts of violence. We could call it the pre-crime unit.

If you want to end the actual protest, including Ottawa, Windsor, Alberta, and all future ones to replace the ones that somehow get shut down, that's easy. Advise the federal government to talk with them and put in a plan for easing COVID restrictions. As the organizers have said repeatedly, what they are asking for is an end to the vaccine mandates and passports: https://youtu.be/mKMAOFCpVfQ

There's even guidance on how to do that. The World Health Organization has a pretty good 6-point plan for what mandatory vaccination should look like called "COVID-19 and mandatory vaccination: Ethical considerations and caveats": https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-Policy-brief-Mandatory-vaccination-2021.1

It even includes such wisdom as, "achieving public health goals with less restriction of individual liberty and autonomy yields a more favourable risk-benefit ratio" and "Individual liberties should not be challenged for longer than necessary. Policy-makers should therefore frequently re-evaluate the mandate to ensure it remains necessary and proportionate to achieve public health goals."

This is the same WHO who declared in Dec 2021 that vaccine mandates are an 'absolute last resort': https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/vaccine-mandates-absolute-last-resort-who-europe-head-says-2021-12-07/

And repeated it in January 2022: https://www.news.com.au/national/who-says-vaccine-mandates-should-be-a-last-resort-amid-djokovic-saga/news-story/b4de0ad6d98e52553c5c2cd62302c6ad

The policy was led by Canadian Maxwell Smith at Western U who specialized in population-level bioethics, infectious disease ethics, and health policy. It references and mirrors similar policies by other groups like the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, who have also come out against mandatory vaccination and vaccine passports:

"“The idea of vaccine passports raises ethical questions concerning respect for individual rights and interests, public health responsibilities and social justice. We are concerned that bringing in passports in relatively uncontroversial areas (e.g. for entry to large events and clubs) could pave the way to passports being required in other areas of life. This, we believe, could lead to discrimination against and a loss of opportunity those who cannot provide proof of vaccine status. It could also exacerbate distrust by marginalised people and increase vaccine hesitancy, particularly if this is seen as introducing mandatory vaccination by the back door or building surveillance apparatus for communities that are already disproportionately monitored.”

And in October 2021 made the statement that, ""the Government has not provided adequate evidence of the proposed policy’s effectiveness, nor an evaluation of less intrusive measures, to justify mandating vaccination."

The WHO is also opposed to vaccinating children and boosters (except in high-risk categories) as an unnecessary overuse of vaccines that fit what it has called a "castrophic moral failure". You can read more about all of this here, with links: https://adnausica.substack.com/p/who-keeps-on-trucking

But, following the science, risk management, and health policy experts is just a suggestion. The fact that the truckers agree with them is a mere coincidence. Clearly we know that a drama teacher knows best. You can read all about the scientific basis for his views in the, uh, well, the scientific analysis that concludes this is the right thing to do. You know the name of that public report, right? I keep forgetting its name. It's the one that concludes from meta analysis of the science that the best way to move forward is to punish people who don't vaccinate.

Now, I've never read that scientific report, nor seen a link or heard of its existence. I've only read the ones that say the opposite like those above. But, I'm sure you have, and the PM has. And the rest of the media. Can you provide a link to it, please. That way we can refer to exactly what it concludes.

I'll promise I'll read it over a relaxing tea. I'm already warming up the kettle.

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Feb 11, 2022Liked by Line Editor

Just subscribed. Your close coverage of the Ottawa siege convinced me this was worth paying for. As suspected, there's a hard core of foreign-funded and experienced insurrectionists surrounded by a protective moat of impressionable fools. This is a pivotal point in Canadian history; an essentially foreign populist authoritarian movement with ties to Trumpism and its allies are now occupying the nation's capital. Essential reporting ... keep up the good work.

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This place is getting trolled.

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How about Trudeau dropping the mandate? That's what started this and that's what the truckers want. No mandate!

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We need a government with enough wisdom to see that these mandstes are incredibly divisive and do not stop the spread of the virus. Its not about who wins. Its about what's best for the country.

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As I was writing my response, Ad Nausica wrote a brilliant piece. But in order to have 'my say', here is what I am thinking:

I agree that the blockades need to end. However, I would just ask for a little creative thinking about solutions that build instead of destroy. I'm still shocked that a back channel to the Ottawa truckers has not been set-up to try and de-escalate the situation. And if clearing Windsor goes badly, I worry that more blockades could pop up leading to civil unrest across the country, if not the continent.

I also think people underestimate how challenging clearing the Ottawa blockade will be. There is a lot of support in Ottawa for the blockade from ordinary citizens, as is evidenced by the food and fuel that keeps pouring into the downtown core.

Reducing the rhetoric would go a long way to de-escalating the situation. A heavy-handed use of force will backfire in deepening the divisions in our social fabric and increasing the growing distrust of our institutions.

Mandates are not effective in getting those who distrust the government or big Pharma to get vaccinated. I think Stuart Parker nailed it in his piece https://stuartparker.ca/denormalization-from-failed-public-health-strategy-to-a-path-to-a-liberal-majority/

If what we really want is everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated, we should change our strategy. If we want a scapegoat to carry the burden of this mismanaged crisis, we've already got one.

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"and America can't tolerate a neighbour that can't keep its problems on their side of the border." I find it interesting that the US is so concerned about this northern crossing while they seem to have no interest in controlling what is happening along their southern border.

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Remember that the chief of the Toronto Police during the G20 fiasco is now our Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada. How is that working out?

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Matt, you do real journalism. What we hear on the CBC, CTV, etc. is total crap.

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The vaccine passports to enter restaurants or gyms made more sense when the science at the time indicated that vaccinated people were less likely to spread the Coronavirus. Omicron changed that theory & now it appears that everyone can spread the virus despite their vaccination status. Prior to the holidays, vaccinated Canadians were led to believe that gyms, restaurants etc would stay open for them even if there was a rise in cases, but the governments ended up shutting them down for everyone. Trudeau was opposed to mandatory vaccine mandates in 2020, but now strongly defends them. It appears that he is fighting the last war.

I don't know why Trudeau decided now was the time to implement the vaccine mandates for truckers now when there is less scientific justification for them now. Is it possible that he views truckers as a good political target since they are less likely to vote for him ?

I wonder if Trudeau would have forced a vaccine mandate on certain ethnic groups or any group that was more likely to vote for him ?

I am amused that the Quebec Premier Legault had to reverse his policy on vaccine mandates for health care workers because he realized the staff shortages would get worse & he would be blamed for the collapse of the health care system.

It seems to me that it a trucker has less physical contact with people than health care workers who are treating patients who are already sick with other diseases.

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Thank you for your considered analysis. You've given all of us much food for thought; WRT your assessment of the response by all levels of government, I wholeheartedly concur. Not one of them has covered themselves in glory. I have particular disregard for the political hacks who have sought to make partisan hay before addressing the more pressing needs of the day.

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Damn good reporting and insight!

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Wish I'd read this before watching the OPSB question their chief & deputy chief (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8WiGUm-P7w). Would have had more sympathy for his remarks about "resources".

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Thanks again Matt for chronicling this so well. You’re creating a book first draft for sure. Also helping me personally understand this better. 👏

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Probably the best reporting on this mess I’ve seen. Where are the big news organizations. They are providing peripheral reporting at best. Well done.

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