February 14, 2022: according to the Prime Minister of Canada, public order was under threat. A national emergency had to be declared because protestors with unacceptable views had “occupied” the city of Ottawa. So menacing were the truckers, with their bouncy castles and hot tubs, that none of the nation’s existing laws could combat such a dire crisis. Obviously, dialogue was out of the question. No, the only way to free Ottawa was to take away all the rights that Canadians once cherished.
February 18–20, 2022: police from around the country were deployed en masse for the takedown of those unarmed truckers and their fellow protesters. Batons, “chemical irritants,” mounted police, and commandeered tow trucks were all part of the arsenal called forth to bring peace, order and good government.
February 21, 2022: when the House of Commons voted on the continued use of the Emergencies Act, the Prime Minister implied that the outcome would be a matter of confidence, meaning he would dissolve parliament and call another election if his government lost the vote. The Liberals dutifully supported the motion, as did the NDP led by Mr. Singh. The government won 185–151.
February 23, 2022: just before the Senate was to hold their vote on the Emergencies Act, the Prime Minister – perhaps realizing that the Senate was likely to vote against the Act – decided that he had enough “tools” to deal with the situation, and no longer needed an additional three weeks of emergency powers.
From one dizzying extreme to the other – first dismissing the protestors as an insignificant “fringe,” then proclaiming them to be one of the greatest threats ever faced Canadian history – the press has rallied behind the Prime Minister. One of his supporting journalists reacted to the news on Wednesday by mocking those, like me, who called out the Prime Minister’s abuse of power.
Andrew Coyne tweeted, “So… not martial law then. Not the beginning of an endless night of repression. Not Tienanmen, or Hitler’s Germany, or any of the other unbelievably silly things grown adults worked themselves into saying. Ottawa is ending the use of the Emergencies Act.”
Consider Mr. Coyne’s derision towards the “unbelievably silly things grown adults worked themselves into saying.”
Was it “silly” to be alarmed when the Prime Minister refused to engage in any kind of negotiation or de-escalation before invoking the most powerful and punitive authority possible in our democracy so that he could put down a peaceful protest? (Given the government’s insistence that the protests amounted to a violent siege, it’s worth reiterating that yes, the protests were disruptive. But there was no torching of vehicles or smashing of shop windows; no tearing down of statues or burning of churches; no axe-wielding assaults on police officers.)
The Prime Minister deemed a gathering of truckers and sympathizers so “dangerous” it warranted the complete and chilling suspension of our rights and freedoms. The Emergencies Act opened a panoply of powers for state forces to engage in surveillance, imprisonment, detention and freezing of bank accounts, all because citizens did not accept the ideological commitments of the Prime Minister. And opposition to such egregious behaviour is somehow “silly”?
To put this in context, consider that on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, Ukraine declared a state of emergency for 30 days after facing several months of Russia building up some 190,000 troops, armoured vehicles and aircraft along its border. That is a national emergency that would be beyond the capacity or authority of a provincial government to deal with.
By contrast, Canadians coming together to protest against government mandates is not a national emergency. It is an exercise of their constitutionally-protected freedom of speech, assembly, and association. Dispelling them with brute force – even strangling their ability to pay for groceries – is a profound failure of leadership. None of the underlying reasons for the protest were resolved by the use of the Act. In fact, those who felt disenfranchised only had their sense of alienation and mistrust confirmed when the Prime Minister refused to listen to the pain of Canadians who spent weeks in the bitter cold, trying to make their voices heard.
I suggest what is “silly” is for persons of influence to justify – indeed, normalize – the shocking abuse of power in response to a peaceful protest. Even though the Act has been lifted, long-lasting damage has been done. Restoring trust will not be easy.
Finally, the word “silly” is more properly applicable to the ideological commitments of the Prime Minister and his cabinet, along with their NDP supporters, who appear to have adopted – whether consciously or not – the agenda of Mr. Klaus Schwab and his World Economic Forum which “is elite and opaque.” They have taken the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to impose measures that take away individual freedoms for globalist, utopian causes. The consequences have been extremely costly in every sense, as they feed into conspiracy theories that are a real cause for concern. We are now woke to “the silly things grown adults worked themselves into saying.”