The fallout of the “occupation”
Occupation, barricade, demonstration, anti-vaxxer truckers, anti-covid measures protesters, right wing racists. Take your pick. The truckers’ blockade of the Canada–US border crossings and the massive three-week shutdown at Ottawa’s north end had all of those elements and then some.
Last weekend’s police action that ended the logjam in front of Canada’s Parliament and immediate environs brought welcome relief to the people of Ottawa and Canada. It’s reasonable to assume that much of the relief was due to the general absence of violence as the police pushed the resistant demonstrators out while clearing the area of scores of semi-trailer trucks that choked the neighbourhood for three weeks.
The truckers’ actions around the country caused the Federal government proclaim the Emergencies Act designed to be used in the event of a national emergency. It’s a legislation that, among other things, prohibits public assemblies and allows for penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment for contravening on any of the measures declared under act. It’s a double-edged sword as it can allow security forces leeway to bring the emergency to an end, but it can also run roughshod over the constitution that protects individual rights and liberties.
It has engendered lively debate both inside and outside parliament. That’s the way it should be, because the Emergency Act and the need for its invocation can have a deleterious effect on the country’s democratic institutions. So a national argument must be had.
The Ottawa demonstration on the grounds of the country’s Parliament also exposed serious contradictions in the way Canada and members of the mainstream media portrayed the loud and sometimes “disrespectful” gathering. They spoke of threats to overthrow the government egged on by foreign forces – a source of great concern if indeed what is being said is true.
Yet is was as recent as 2013 when our then foreign minister John Baird was locking arms with protesters in Maidan Square, the public square in front of the Ukraine parliament. It led to the overthrow of the democratically elected government and the president’s escape to Russia under threat of his life.
We were also active supporters of the uprising that threatened the ousting of Venezuela’s president. Add in our military participation of the bombing of Libya, leading to the assassination of the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi, and supporting a number of US interventions that toppled a number of governments, it’s rich that our leaders have now developed a heightened sense of the inviolability of a country’s sovereignty now that the shoe is on the other foot.
Of course they are able to get away with it because in an age of news clips delivered 24/7, memories are short. So putting two and two together is almost a lost skill.
Fortunately, the non-traditional media, generally referred to as purveyors of false news, are still around and, despite its reputation, justified or not, serve the purpose of reminding us of our past behavior that our leaders would sooner want us to forget.