Protesters in the Freedom Convoy have occupied downtown Ottawa for the fourth day now. Hopefully, some of us heard the intended message. Most Canadians are ready to reopen the country. As feared though, the ugliness of the bandwagon radicals compromised the peaceful and (somewhat) reasonable, original platform.
Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario has issued the following statement:
The right to peaceful protest is core to our Canadian identity. I was extremely disturbed, however, to see some individuals desecrate our most sacred monuments and wave swastikas and other symbols of hate and intolerance this weekend. That has no place in Ontario or Canada. Not now. Not ever.Doug Ford
Downtown Businesses and Residents
The problem is, those not so enamoured with the protest have had their freedom compromised too.
Like everyone else in Ontario, (other provinces have different schedules) Ottawa’s businesses were eagerly anticipating the reopening of their businesses yesterday, January 31. Small businesses have taken the brunt of pandemic restrictions, some forced to close altogether.
The large presence within the downtown core of protesters has forced businesses to delay their re-opening. Non-compliant protesters who refuse to wear masks on the premises are impacting hotels too.
Residents in the area suffer the incoveniences. Obnoxiously loud horns, the smell of diesel fuel permeating the area, as well as reports of violence and vandalism have them frustrated and angry. The unmitigated stress of the situation helped compromise the platform.
Violence and Disrespect
There have been reports and signs that there has been some violence and disrespect during the protest. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to differentiate between truth and manufactured propaganda. Blatantly skewed media attention is to blame there.
For example, an ambulance pelted with rocks, and an attendant bombarded with racial slurs as he exited his vehicle to examine the damage is unacceptable.
Misinformation is Dangerous
Another report said that a patient within an ambulance died as a result of delayed response time due to protest-induced traffic congestion. Social media quickly disputed this as “not true” however.
Other reports say the protests have been peaceful and respectful, mostly by those in attendance though. Protesters themselves removed the (reportedly) single confederate flag and individual Nazi symbol. To listen to the media attention though those two disrespectful symbols outnumbered the Canadian flags by far.
Yet another rumour reports that Trudeau himself hired those committing the violence, abuse, disrespect, vandalism etc to discredit the movement. Another says that “the Russians” are fueling the protest. Really?
Our prime minister, (supposedly) isolating with a positive covid test, has refused to address the protesters or their message. Mixed messages and rumours are circulating about that as well. Some say he is in hiding to avoid the “fringe group” he claimed the protesters represented.
Quite the variation in interpretations and messages wouldn’t you say?
Unfortunately, bad reporting and misinformation on social media can be as destructive as physical threats, particularly for the platform in question.
The truckers started the national protest when Justin Trudeau suddenly removed the vaccine exemption for truckers. Most truckers have received their vaccinations. This mandate was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Individual provinces govern most pandemic restrictions though. Organizers did not plan the protest well. That’s just my humble opinion. Instead, it was an emotional, knee jerk reaction of Covid-stressed, bored organizers and their followers.
The passionate message of Canadians tired and frustrated with pandemic restrictions took on a life of its own as the Freedom Convoy moved across Canada. From coast to coast in fact. In trucks and on foot. Spectators galore showed up to support the truckers along the way. Unfortunately, so did the hate-spewing, disrespectful small interest groups and radicals.
The bad apples have ruined the barrel. Did organizers encourage the bad apples? Or did someone plant them to spoil the effect? Who knows? The bottom line? A compromised platform, well-intended or not.
It is time to move on! My personal belief is that Canadians must use their democratic right to vote to voice their non-confidence in a government. Protests never accomplish much.
Put your voice on your ballot!
As soon as possible!