Parliament Hill expecting protesters
Opinion by Dave Glover
Protesters who shut down Ottawa in January and February are now saying that their planned protest this Canada Day will do much the same.
Ottawa residents are angry that this is happening again, as this will be the third protest of its kind since 2019.
They’ve had enough.
In February 2019 the United We Roll convoy rolled into Ottawa. Yellow-vested protesters claimed to be focused on jobs in the oil patch and pipelines. Prime Minister Trudeaus’ energy policies along with bureaucratic red tape were destroying their livelihoods, they claimed.
They tried to keep focused on their pro-pipeline stance, but speeches by provocateurs tied to white nationalists drifted towards racist rhetoric and calls for violence.
Shoulder to shoulder with protesters, mainly from the west, the leader of Canada’s official opposition party, Andrew Scheer, as well as a number of other Conservative MPs and Senators stood with the protesters.
Ignoring racist and hateful speeches, Scheer later stated “I know Liberals would love to distract from their failures by pointing to other elements that tried to associate themselves with this event, but my message was very clear: I was there to support the energy sector workers, those who support our natural resource sector, and promise hope for the future come October when a Conservative government will stand up for our energy sector and champion Canada’s oil and gas across the world.”
Conservative Senator David Tkachuk encouraged the convoy to roll over every liberal in the upcoming Federal election. A statement that was roundly condemned by government M.Ps. owing to recent events in Toronto involving a man who’d used his truck to kill and injure several pedestrians by running them down.
The convoy event led to two days of traffic snarls, but was otherwise forgettable for most people living in Ottawa. Residents of the capital are no strangers to protests. However, many don’t expect them to last more than a day. The protest was unusual, but not a huge hassle.
Unbeknownst to Ottawa residents, politicians and many in Canada, that protest was a dry run.
Scheer promised that after October the protesters could expect change, but his party lost the election. Liberals under Prime Minister Trudeau were re-elected to a minority government and over the next two years, there would be another election and another minority Liberal government re-elected.
Protest sponsors were busy during that time raising money and their profile via social media.
After another conservative defeat at the ballot box, came a name change for the protest group and a shift in priorities.
In January of 2021, the newly christened Freedom Convoy started from B.C.
Its members arrived in Ottawa with the stated goal of overthrowing the duly elected Trudeau government and replacing it with a government for and by the people. A government led by anybody — but the Liberals — according to their manifesto.
The original convoy of protesters fighting for their jobs and pipelines morphed into a convoy opposed to vaccination mandates for cross-border truckers.
It became an illegal occupation as hundreds of semi-trucks parked end-to-end in downtown Ottawa, paralyzing Parliament Hill for weeks.
Jason LaFace, one of the organizers, said during a media interview, “This is no longer about the mandates anymore. This is about Canada, this is about our rights and how the governments have been manipulating the population and oppressing us all the time.”
He went on to add, “We’re getting the rest of our signatures, and we’re having them compel the government to dissolve. Justin Trudeau is a criminal in this country. He needs to go.”
Observers have noted that the same people who organized the yellow vest protest in 2019, found a better red-meat issue than a call to save oil and gas industry workers, namely, the vaccination mandates.
That the protest seemed to affect the Conservative party’s fortunes during the most recent election, isn’t lost on those following the events.
The same people behind the GoFundMe account that raised money for the Freedom Convoy and to help finance their media presence, were there when Sheer leader made his promises of change.
The convoy still claims to be about freedom and lifting whatever mandates still exist, but now it’s also about denying a woman’s right to choose.
For their upcoming appearance on Parliament Hill on Canada day, right wing media sources have reported via social media that convoy organizers have coordinated their actions with Ottawa Police this time.
That may be the case, but due to the last protest on The Hill, Ottawa citizens and Canadians who have planned to attend parliament hill for celebrations, are now likely rethinking their attendance at the nation’s national birthday celebration.
It would be a shame if anti-government, anti-democratic protesters caused, yet another black mark, for all the world to see as we celebrate not only our nation’s birthday, but also seventy-five years of being Canadian.
It is both ironic and disquieting to witness those protesting for their freedom when they live in one of the freest, safest countries in the world.
If Canada were actually a dictatorship, convoy protestors would have been rounded up long ago. The fact that they’re free, regardless of past activities, is proof of Canada’s commitment to the concept of personal freedom.
So Happy Canada day Canada. Let’s do our part in making it a fun and safe day.
Dave Glover is one of Northumberland’s well known cultural and political commentators. Thousands of listeners, both locally and around the world, know Dave’s because of his more than eight years on air delivering his “Drive Time” radio broadcast and over 15 years hosting political programs on a local community cable channel.
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