Opinion by Darren Clarke, February 2, 2022 (with updates through February 20th)
Derek Harrison, Vlogger/convoy supporter
The, “Freedom Convoy,” that arrived in Ottawa this past weekend has inspired a lot of heated online debate about how representative their anger and frustration is. It’s a given of course that we’re all a bit frustrated. It’s been two years of a pandemic that has taken lives, limited social interaction, hurt businesses and careers. On the surface Canada appeared a generally united country as the convoy began their trek, with any number of indicators Canadians were supportive of each other in the journey to find the healthiest path through Covid. At the very least it felt like the average person was a long way from feeling like we needed to shut down our capital city given-
- 80+% of Canadians and 85% of truckers are vaccinated.
- Mask mandates have been largely accepted
- The Federal government provided an abundance of vaccines and, in stark contrast to the United States, actively looked to support businesses and workers through the economic hardships presented by the pandemic.
- However exhausted healthcare and frontline workers are they continue to gamely perform their jobs despite a lack of provincial support and intensive care units being increasingly overwhelmed by the unvaccinated.
Thus, initially it appeared the convoy was wildly at odds with the general sensibilities of Canadians.
Early in the convoy’s trek however it became clear that the idea of its’ protest was resonating with a significant portion of Canadians. But I wondered- Do we know who the organizers and protestors are and what specifically they are protesting? Or are we projecting our own personal anxieties and frustrations with a wide assortment of entities onto this convoy? Is the convoy becoming a catch all for what everyone hopes it stands for as opposed to what it actually does stand for?
So, I wanted to explore- Who the organizers of the convoy are. Who the participants in this convoy are. What they were actually protesting. How representative that protest is of Canadian’s concerns. Who is providing messaging for the convoy. Who is supporting them financially and politically.
What I found is that the answers start simple but get complicated. In the end we’ll discover that, like the proverbial Trojan horse, the outward pretence of the convoy conceals a more insidious delivery within. What that cargo is becomes evident quickly when you look at the convoy organizers and the actions of the protestors in just their first weekend in Ottawa.
And oh yeah, haven’t we seen this convoy before?
Part 1, The Organizers
“The only way this is going to be solved is with bullets.”
Executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network Evan Balgord told CTV News on January 29th, “We’re saying that this is a far-right convoy because — from day one — the organizers themselves are part of the far-right movement. They have previously been involved in far-right movements and have made Islamophobic comments in the past.”
One of the convoy’s most notorious organizers is Patrick King who commented coming into the convoy, “The only way this is going to be solved is with bullets.” King has also shared views in the past of the Great Replacement Theory (a white nationalist conspiracy theory), holocaust denial and was quoted in 2019 saying, “[The election] won’t matter… Unless you want to switch your national language to Chinese, Mandarin, or Hebrew.”
While King’s involvement in the convoy has been downplayed by some attached to the event, Global News reported, “Another dominant voice within the convoy community is a man named Patrick King. King is listed as a contact for North Alberta on Canada Unity’s website, which hosts the memorandum of understanding that boasts more than 240,000 signatures.”
The, “President,” of the convoy is James Bauder who Press Progress advises, “created “Canada Unity,” the group behind the “Freedom Convoy” that has shut down Canada’s national capital. Bauder also authored the group’s rambling “memorandum of understanding,” which calls for deposing Canada’s elected government.”
I could write at length about Bauder but I think we can tidily sum up his sensibilities beginning with his response to people questioning two confederate flags being in the background of one of his videos from January. Bauder posted a video on Tik Tok in February wherein he states, “Is it racist? Maybe to some people yes. You can’t make everybody happy. And I’m not fucking worried about it. Get over yourselves. It’s a fucking piece of cloth.”
In December of 2020 Bauder also provided social media with a, ticking-all-the-bonkers-conspiracty-boxes breakdown of Covid-
Meanwhile, the official organizers who are listed on the group’s GoFundMe page are Tamara Lich and BJ Dichter. Dichter is infamous for coyly making anti-Islamic statements, then, when called on it, suggesting he is only talking about extreme aspects of the Islamic community. A January 29th article by Global News Rachel Gilmore noted, “Speaking to a cheering crowd at a People’s Party of Canada convention in 2019, B.J. Dichter warned listeners about the dangers of “political Islamists,” and said the Liberal Party is “infested with Islamists.”
Tamara Lich is the Secretary of the western separatist Maverick Party which plays the usual conservative wink-wink-nudge-nudge game regarding limiting immigration suggesting it welcomes, “genuine refugees,” that it recognizes the value refugees provide economically and socially butttttt is against, “refugees illegally entering at our borders.” What the Maverick Party is doing with the verbal callisthenics here is insinuating for the purposes of discriminating. The Canadian Encyclopedia breaks down the phenomenon-
“Immigration advocates argue that labelling irregular immigrants as undocumented or illegal is wrong. Claiming asylum is never illegal because it is a protected right under Canadian and international law. (See Canadian Refugee Policy.) Research shows that the term “illegal immigrant” can cause harm to newcomers, their children and people who “look like” them. Such wording depicts immigrants as criminals, terrorists, security threats and otherwise undesirable. In Canada, some researchers have found that terms like “illegal immigrant” are connected to social hierarchies of race (see Racism) and class“
The Maverick Party bio of Lich brings us closer to understanding her main issue with the Trudeau government, noting that she had “… a successful career in the oil and gas industry with a large oilfield service company.”
You may remember that this is not the first convoy that has descended upon Ottawa in recent years. In fact in 2019 another convoy arrived to protest the Trudeau government- The Yellow Vests and United We Roll. A CBC article from 2019 by Angela Wright shed light on that convoy which began under the pretence of being a pro-pipeline protest but revealed itself as something very different as it progressed, “But as several observers noted watching the convoy make its way to Ottawa from Alberta, United We Roll had also become a space for far-right groups to spew racism and xenophobia. Signs denouncing open borders, protesting Canada signing on to the global migration pact and accusing the prime minister of treason hung alongside signs supporting pipelines. Some convoy participants wore hats that said “Make Canada Great Again,” a nod to U.S. President Donald Trump’s slogan that has become associated with denigrating Mexicans, asylum seekers and banning Muslims from entering the U.S. “
Part 2, The Protestors
The protestors in this latest convoy were less well known than the organizers. On Saturday however, with the convoy having fully arrived in Ottawa, they began to indicate who they were and what they believed in by displaying Confederate and Nazi flags, shutting down a homeless shelter soup kitchen, forcing a vigil for the 5th anniversary of Quebec mosque shooting to be cancelled due to threats of violence, they defaced a Terry Fox statue, protestors parked on, danced on and urinated on the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, CTV reporter Evan Solomon had a full beer can tossed at him, the Rideau Centre Mall mall and numerous businesses had to be shut down as employees were harassed by maskless protestors.
That’s just a little bit of the action from Saturday. Beyond that though, two other things stuck out to me as terribly revealing.
First, the sea of, “Fuck Trudeau,” signs. Especially the homemade signs. Much has been made of how representative the Confederate flags and Nazi symbols were of the convoy at large. And much should be made of those symbols (and the, “Trump 2024” flags) given this is a convoy that drove thousands of miles to forcefully protest something they didn’t agree with. In that context the crowd’s tolerance for symbols of hate and fascism speaks volumes. But the Fuck Trudeau signs were especially damning of the character of the people involved. Those signs were everywhere. It wasn’t a few random signs, rather the slogan was seemingly the visual backdrop for the protest at large. Now, obviously I don’t get buying the flag, or sign, or paint job for your truck in the first place but I especially don’t get all the homemade signs. Imagine sitting down, often with your children, with a black magic marker, and painstakingly writing out that hateful, unexplored emotional reaction to another human being- FUCK TRUDEAU, and thinking- “I can’t wait to go out into the world and show this to strangers.” Never mind, passing it to your child and saying, “Here, you carry this sign and your sister and I will carry upside down Canadian flags.”
Second, the maskless bullying of employees at businesses. To the point many businesses had to close. This is a convoy that suggests it’s for the people, for the little guy. And whatever we might debate, the fact that wearing a mask lowers the risk of possibly infecting people around you is inarguable. But more than that, even if you want to argue the health benefits, wearing a mask makes strangers around you feel more comfortable and as such is simply considerate. It’s that simple- it’s kind, it’s considerate, it’s thoughtful. And throughout the weekend protestors proved that not only were they incapable of being considerate, that they would prefer instead to bully, to create stress for their fellow man, to cost businesses and employees money.
Part 3, If You Are Advocating the American Approach, You Are Advocating Death
Given the protestors demands of an end to all vaccine mandates, mask requirements and restrictions you have to reckon with what they are advocating- Death. Death on the disproportionaley high scale the United States Republican Party has cultivated. Consider the United States death totals reported Friday when the trucks started rolling into Ottawa-
Keep in mind that the United States, like much of the world, is suspected of underreporting Covid deaths. The global tracking of Covid deaths the past two years has been undercut by a variety of challenges and compromises. Some of the challenges are organizational while most of the compromised statistics are matters political in nature. When you look at information attached to excess mortality rate modelling however you get a clearer idea of the actual scope of Covid deaths globally. Excess mortality rate modelling is an attempt to reconcile raw excess death totals with reported death totals, leveraging trends, other relevant data points and intuitive modelling. That modelling, from both the Institute For Health Metrics and Evaluation and The Economist, suggests that the reported global Covid death count of approximately 5+ million people underestimates the real Covid death totals by two to four times. The Economist model actually suggests upwards of over 20 million people have died of Covid.
The protestors desire for a world without vaccines, masks and any Covid restrictions at all would mean a death total wildly higher that the 10-20 million people modelling suggests have died the past two years.
This is the real backdrop for the Freedom Convoy. This is the real backdrop for Conservative provincial governments giving up on battling a virus they never really fully committed to fighting. Remember that when you see Conservative politicians and protestors taking pictures together in the streets- they have a shared goal that, amongst other things, manifests in accelerating Canadian covid death totals.
Part 4, A Pandemic Themed United We Roll/Yellow Vests Convoy
To the question of- Are the organizers and participants representative of Canada in their behaviour? To an extent, absolutely. Canada has always had racists and bullies in its’ ranks. What’s especially frustrating about this protest though, beyond its’ support from Conservative politicians and the often cozy media coverage provided to it, has been the attempted co-opting of the struggles of decent Canadians as a device to excuse their fanatical, right wing, white nationalist, agenda. This convoy is essentially United We Roll II looking to leverage the uncertainty of a global pandemic as a more compelling cover for the same fanatical agenda. The only palpable differences between the two convoys being less yellow vests and more, “Fuck Trudeau,” signs.
Why is this version of the Yellow Vest convoy getting more traction with Canadians then? First, Canadians are struggling with the various challenges presented by a pandemic of unprecedented proportions in our lifetime. People are conflating all variety of natural frustrations and grudges with the protestor’s motives. Mostly though, it’s because The Conservative Party of Canada, their various social media outlets along with conventional Canadian media (now largely owned by American Hedge Funds) have been working hard to create a hostile environment, to cultivate and embolden a deplorable base. They’ve worked hard to try and turn Canadians into the worst kind of Americans.
But we’re not entirely there yet.
Maybe Canadians are still resisting fascism because no matter how tired folks are the protestors messed with Terry Fox. Maybe because many Canadians don’t like bullies. Maybe because despite how taxing the pandemic has been we are humbled equally by so many beautiful lives lost too soon to Covid, and the beautiful lives still in our orbit because of masks, vaccines and protective measures. Maybe because we’ve got just a few extra percentage points of our population who will cling mightily to their decency. Maybe many of us are resisting the Conservative pro-convoy propaganda because we see the enterprise for what it is- the embodiment of a selfish and ignorant disregard for the consequences of their reluctance to get vaccinated. We see the convoy at their most transparent- The problem presenting itself as the solution.
Part 5, The Con Job, as in, Mostly It Wasn’t About Vaccine Mandates
It’s here we can address the elephant in the room, the reasons the convoy was supposedly formed in the first place- To protest the vaccine mandate for truckers at the border, vaccine mandates in general, as well as social/economic restrictions via various shades of lockdown. It was always apparent that this convoy, like the United We Roll/Yellow Vest Convoy in 2019, was less about what the protestors pretended it was and more about hate and division. It was, as Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star called it, a kind of, “MAGA karaoke.” The worst Canada has to offer lip synching along to the hate filled song book perfected by America’s great orchestrators of self loathing, the Donald Trump crime syndicate.
Vaccines historically have worked and we’ve all had vaccines in our lives since we arrived on this planet. Heck, most everybody I know has had booster shots in their life prior to this pandemic. What vaccines have done and the benefits of what they continue to do is well established. At this juncture people wanting to ignore the science are making a deliberate choice to be ignorant. Two years into Covid it seems pointless to keep engaging with people who have made the conscious choice not to know. It’s generally accepted 85% of truckers are vaccinated and can cross the border. The remaining truckers who’ve elected not do the right thing for their health, not to mention their friends, family and community, they can still more than likely work within the confines of Canada. Or they could get vaccinated. Or they could get a different job. Bear in mind though that the United States isn’t letting unvaccinated drivers cross the border anyways which makes the whole not being able to get back into Canada point kind of moot.
As far as Covid restrictions/lockdowns go- that’s the domain of the provinces. This begs the question- Why wasn’t there a great focus on more significant protests at the provincial capitals?And it’s here we can pretty much dismiss the convoy’s protest as having much to do with vaccine mandates and restrictions. The reason that the protests really didn’t hammer provincial governments in charge of restrictions and mask mandates is because the Alberta and Ontario governments are Conservative. Nobody trained the people in the convoy to hate Doug Ford (whose daughter managed to pose with a “Fuck Trudeau,” flag as the convoy passed through Toronto) or Jason Kenney. And now we are getting a little deeper into why we are seeing the rise of right-wing fanaticism in Canada. Now we get into the domain of the propaganda machine, the political party and media sources that actively curate hate. Now we begin to see the outside forces preying upon Canada in an effort to further insinuate transnational, predatory, capitalism into our country in general and our public healthcare in particular.
Part 6, Radical Right Wing Media Sources That Cultivate Extremism
In 2019 I wrote an article reviewing a month of content from Conservative social media site Ontario Proud entitled, What is Ontario Proud? Who is Ontario Proud? (and why are they lying to your Mom?). What Ontario Proud was and is turned out to be a Conservative Party attack dog that sought to inflame your emotions. It is a meme fuelled invitation to hate Justin Trudeau and any party or leader that isn’t Conservative. Here is a general chart that broke down their content for the month-
At, “Who is Ontario Proud?” we get a deeper insight into the current state of Canadian politics. Ontario Proud is Jeff Ballingall. Jeff Ballingall worked directly for former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, played a massive role via his social media sites in getting Doug Ford elected in Ontario and is now working directly for federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole.
Thus, it’s no coincidence that Ballingall’s potent mix of of incessant, cartoonish, alarmism, combined with inflammatory misinformation, continues to be at the heart of Conservative messaging. This is very much the Trump playbook of looking to overwhelm voters with a relentless stream of inflammatory half truths designed to bring out negative emotions for the opponent as opposed to looking to generate something positive yourself. And that’s because, as a party fully corrupted to serving the interests of developers and transnational corporations, they have nothing positive to offer average Canadians.
Part 7, A Fully Corrupted Conservative Party Following A Global Right Wing Playbook
Evidence of how willing Conservative voices are to contradict themselves in order to inflame for political advantage can be seen in the varying reactions from embattled Federal Conservative leader to two very similar political protests.
In 2020, referencing Indigenous protests Erin O’Toole tweeted, “Blockades are not protests – they are an attack on the freedom of Canadians to live their lives and travel freely through their own country.”
In 2022 however O’Toole suddenly seemed to feel very differently about blockades, tweeting as the convoy approached Ottawa, “Truckers were our heroes at the start of the pandemic. Now Trudeau and his Liberal allies want to smear and demonize them. Let’s get the truth out.”
The difference? The convoy is a voting base Conservatives have long cultivated. The convoy is largely white. Understand this and you understand that, much like the January 6th insurrection in the United States (that convoy supporter Derek Harrison invoked in the leadup to the protest) was an attack dog extension of the President’s designs, this convoy is an extension of the Conservative party’s planning.
You could see the Ontario Proud/Jeff Ballingall influence on Conservative party messaging this weekend as their members railed against the evils of the Federal Liberal government’s vaccine mandate (ignoring the American border block of unvaccinated Canadian truckers), repeated myths about empty store shelves, and ignored the fact that many of the mandates and restrictions the convoy is protesting actually generate from provincial, Conservative, governments.
The question becomes- If all the convoy is really carrying and what the Conservative party is promoting, is hate and divisiveness, what’s the ultimate point of this weapon?
The answer to that unfortunately is- The undermining of Canadian sovereignty.
Part 8, The Attack on Canadian Sovereignty, The Rise of Minority Rule
And here’s where we arrive at the worst part of the equation for Canadians trying to sift through social media propaganda (Rebel News, Ontario Proud, Canada Proud, Alberta Proud etc.) that exists not only unchecked but often is amplified by news outlets owned by American hedge funds (Postmedia– The National Post, The Toronto Sun an abundance of local newspapers) and Conservative friendly cable news providers.
The tragedy of the subversion of Canadian media is it has left Conservative governments untouched by meaningful journalistic oversight. The fox has bought the henhouse. So, when your Mom and my Mom log on to Facebook they are often overwhelmed by meme’s ridiculing Liberal and NDP politicians while seeing no information about Conservative parties billion dollar bailouts for oil companies, the taxpayer expense entailed in cleaning up orphan wells, Conservative Parties active suppression of the minimum wage, their ignoring of Covid modelling for the 3rd and 4th waves costing lives, of environmental protections being reduced. They especially see very little about the undermining of our public health care system via underfunding it and introducing the kind of privatized predatory health care that provides Americans with less accessible, more expensive, health care. This happening despite the fact Canadians are in pretty much complete agreement (most polls run 85%+ Canadian support for universal health care) that health care should be maintained and supported by their government.
We need to pause there- 85%+ of Canadians support Public Health Care. Despite this Conservatives have begun to privatize it at the provincial level.
It’s right here that you understand the real threat presented by the convoy and the Conservative party that drives it- minority rule. The rise of the radical right in Canada into the mainstream of Canadian society, normalized by an increasingly compromised media. The perfect symbol of this normalization of radicalization is embodied by founder of the right-wing-news-on-a-bender outlet Rebel News, Brian Lilley, writing Conservative cheerleading pieces for the Toronto Sun, or by the work of Anthony Furey, who writes for the alt-right screeching post site, True North, as well as The Toronto Sun, and has spent the past two years having every one of his belligerent covid denial pieces be proven wrong over time (yet he keeps on putting them out), it’s the National Post consistently giving ink to for the folksy fascism of Rex Murphy. It’s Global News running a warm and fuzzy, “documentary,” on Erin O’Toole the morning before the last federal election. These forces combined with Jeff Ballingall’s efficient propaganda/hate making machines serves the purpose of manufacturing consent for minority rule that never manifests in serving the best interests of Canadians at large.
That opportunities to profit off the denigration of Canadian’s quality of life exist for international companies is especially troubling given the GoFundMe page run by the Freedom Convoy has now raised over 10-million dollars in support for their blockade and harassment of Canadians. Where that money comes from, who it comes from- nobody knows. Nobody knows. The CBC reporting, “While the campaign is fundraising for a Canadian political protest, some donations appear to have come from outside of Canada, based on comments left by donors on GoFundMe.”
So, here we are with a protest organized by racists and separatists, attended by radicals and bullies, funded by unknown sources, all the while pretending to represent the average Canadian. They don’t.
Are there truckers in Ottawa impacted by their choice to not get vaccinated and the United States not allowing unvaccinated truckers over their border? Sure. Were there folks protesting who were legitimately tired of restrictions put in place by Conservative premiers? No doubt. Predominantly though this was a performative exercise, Conservative party sponsored, entitled, pseudo-victimization, cosplay. The convoy is as genuine as the Chicken Little absurdity of The Shelves are Empty! The Shelves Are Empty! social media flailing of Conservative politicians based on pictures of a few empty shelves at a supermarket after a blizzard delayed trucks, and a picture of empty shelves in Britain posing as a Canadian supermarket. It’s just more, “Always be Closing!” histrionics from the Conservative party of Canada’s ongoing playbook tracing the con of so many populist parties around the globe. Mostly what the 2022 Freedom Convoy is proving to be is similar to the 2019 Yellow Vest convoy in that it pretended to be one thing but was really something else- a testament to the Conservative party of Canada’s willingness to cultivate and manipulate white nationalists, would-be-terrorists, for the purposes of manipulating the emotions of Canadians. The convoy was simply a wolf in grandma’s clothing that can only con you for so long before it confesses that it’s mouth is, “All the better to eat you with.”
It’s no coincidence that against the backdrop of existential threats to humanity- the Covid virus and global warming, fascism has gained traction. Fascism is currently being promoted/subsidized by transnational corporations, oligarchs and all manner of ruling class that finds fascist governments a more reliable tool for their goal of pilfering the finite wonders of the planet in pursuit of their fairytale of unlimited economic growth. That fairytale of unlimited economic growth in a finite ecosystem is tragically at the centre of the normalcy all of us have been pining for the past two years. If we are to find a more sustainable, healthy, path for humanity at large to continue, our idea of normal has to change. As I wrote of in my article about Covid two years ago, “this pandemic happened because we are who we are and we do what we do.” The rise of fascism around the globe is an addict’s violent reaction to being confronted with the destructive nature of their addiction. The rise of fascists, white nationalists, convoys, are simply the ruling class’s weapons for lashing out at anyone considering a meaningful intervention or to try and move on without them behind the wheel.
It was inevitable then that transnational fascism would take root in Canada given how much it serves the interests of various powerful global forces, particularly corporations and developers. It’s happening globally anyways. It was unavoidable. And once fascism was here it was inevitable it would seek a highly manipulatable base from which it could access political power. That base here, like the United States, is largely those with a financial investment in entities that profit off diminishing Canadian’s quality of life, along with- white nationalists, right-wing fanatics, and the religious right. All of whom have been posing for pictures together in Ottawa the past four days amongst a sea of Canadian flags as if trying to prove a historical truism that the higher the flag count, the greater the likelihood something terrible is happening to the interests of the average person.
Conclusion, It Won’t Be Easy But Canadians Still Get to Choose
Given how tilted the playing field is in terms of right wing misinformation sources it has never been a more challenging time for Canadians to make educated choices in their best interests. As such, Conservative Parties, armed with a massive, uncontested, propaganda machine keep getting elected at the provincial level and are terribly close at the Federal level. Stop for a second and imagine Canada with a Conservative Government in power at the Federal level during this pandemic (and if you don’t have a great imagination, just look at Florida). Lives literally hang in the balance. In Canada, in the United States, across the globe, Conservative governments have provided a master class these past two years in how to diminish the standard of living for the many in exchange for increasing the wealth of the few.
If there’s good news it’s that despite the ferocity of propaganda and Conservative agendas Canadians have continually been largely aligned in being willing to sacrifice for each other, to try to take care of each other. The percentage of Canadians who are vaccinated indicates that. The overall willingness to wear masks indicates that. The general understanding for Covid restrictions (that has mainly been undermined by incompetent/corrupt leadership at the provincial level) indicates that.
Let’s just keep talking to each other. Sharing perspectives. Removing corrupt players from our discourse. Let’s recognize that there is an ugly element to that convoy and the only way to overcome it is to not allow ourselves to be conned. We need to maintain our sense of decency, our kindness, our humility, we need to never vote Conservative.
I’ll leave the last words here though to a writer from the National Post. Yes, the National Post. This is Tasha Kheiriddin, published January 31, 2022, ” If you stand shoulder to shoulder with people who display racist symbols, and don’t tell them right then and there to leave your protest or take them down, you are not standing up for freedom. You are standing with hate. If you stand with people who verbally abuse hotel clerks and inflict 24-7 mayhem on an entire city, you are not standing up for freedom. You will be tarred with their hatred and become complicit in their agenda.”
Update- As of February 8, 2022
Much has happened in the seven days since I posted this article. So, a quick update.
On February 2nd, Federal Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole was ousted from his job and replaced by interim leader Candice Bergen. Bergen immediately sought out meetings/photo ops with protestors and organizers, spoke of the need to find compromise with the organizers despite their radical agenda, and according to a Globe and Mail article, advocated against her party asking the protestors to leave Ottawa given she sees a political advantage in the protestors continuing to terrorize the city.
As of today protests continue in many major Canadian cities and border locations with protestors continuing to receive the kind of first class, kid glove, treatment apparently seemingly only reserved for angry white people (though, in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, local police and counter protestors denied the convoy the kind of keys to the city approach Ottawa provided and effectively limited the convoy’s impact). Conservative premiers in Ontario and Alberta, who have long pandered to white nationalists and extremists as part of their base have been loathe to act at all, let alone effectively on the protests. In the vacuum created by this provincial inaction the Canadian media has too often asked what the Federal government is doing about matters that fall within Doug Ford and Jason Kenney’s jurisdiction. In Saskatchewan, Conservative Premier Scott Moe, has talked about lifting all Covid restrictions in the near future, appearing to give up hope of vaccinations or restrictions being effective, the CBC reporting, “In a statement published on Saturday, Moe wrote that “vaccination does not keep you from contracting COVID-19” and that “vaccination is not reducing transmission.” This lead to Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, responding, “He’s spewing basically nonsense,” and Angie Rasmussen, a virologist with the University of Saskatchewan, stating, “[Vaccination] actually does reduce transmission significantly, particularly when a person has a booster.”
Moe’s misunderstanding appears to stem from something that has challenged many anti-vaxx and Conservative leaders across Canada- Math. In the beginning of the pandemic many struggled to understand the dangers presented by a virus that grew exponentially relative finite health care resources. Currently, we are struggling to understand how proportion works. Given that roughly 80% of Canadians are double vaxxed, Moe stating, “The new cases that we have in this province are roughly about the same in vaccinated and unvaccinated people here in Saskatchewan,” shows a basic lack of understanding of math. The raw case counts being the same, vaxxed vs. unvaxxed, indicates how disproportionately unvaccinated people are being impacted by Covid. If 20% of the population that isn’t vaccinated is getting infected at the same rate as the 80% of the population that is- that demonstrates vaccines are limiting infections, never mind reducing drastic outcomes.
While too many people struggle with math, protestors continue to be emboldened by domestic incompetence, compromised agendas and the support of the most demonstrably corrupt aspects of the United States right wing propaganda machine, i.e. Tucker Carlson, Ted Cruz, crime syndicates boss Donald Trump himself. This grand emboldening has resulted in things like more damning videos from convoy organizer Pat King, who took to Instagram to let the world bask in his stream of consciousness posturing, “I have a record the size of my fucking arm! I am not a nice person!” going on to challenge his supporters, “Until you guys are ready to start to start fucking swinging, until you guys are actually ready to start standing up and pushing back, you can count me the fuck out of this! I’m so sick and tired of you fucking little peasants, you little fucking pricks…” and, more wild emails from protestors to the Governor General asking her to fire Justin Trudeau.
How is this playing out for the Canadian public. I don’t know. Yesterday I saw numerous friends and family post feel good videos of protestors shovelling snow in Ottawa, as in, “Sure they broke into your house, camped out in the living room, bullied you and broke the lamps your great aunt gave. you, buttttttttt they did shovel the sidewalk!” There does appear to be a type of Canadianthat loves the idea of this protest regardless of the reality of it. Angry, not a fan of reading, white, male. Many Canadians seem exhausted by the protest. Many simply want the whole thing to go away- the protests, the evidence of how radicalized Canada has become and how seriously Canadian sovereignty is threatened by predatory capitalist designs generating from outside our country.
Yesterday, a few things happened of note in Ontario- In the House of Commons in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood and stated emphatically, “This pandemic has SUCKED for all Canadians… but Canadians know that the way to get through it is to continue listening to science… continuing to lean on each other, continuing to be there for each other. Everyone’s tired of Covid but these protests… these protests are not the way to get through it.”
In Toronto, Premier Doug Ford, announced the end of paid licence stickers… should he get re-elected.
UPDATE- Saturday Morning, February 12, 2022
Yesterday Ontario Premier Doug Ford emerged from limbo to announce a State of Emergency for Ontario stating, “And I will convene cabinet to use legal authorities to urgently enact orders that will make crystal clear it is illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure.” Ford’s strong opening statement against the protests that are clogging up downtown Ottawa and the US/Canada Ambassador bridge in Windsor was undermined however by questioning around his whereabouts the weekend Ottawa came under siege. He wasn’t in Ottawa, he wasn’t in the provincial capital of Toronto, he was in fact in cottage country- Muskoka. In a matter of moments #snowmobilegate was trending on Twitter.
Alongside Doug Ford’s announcement Prime Minister Trudeau threatened more aggressive police action forthcoming, “We hope these people will decide to go home. Otherwise, there will be an increasingly robust police intervention.”
In the wake of the threats from the political leaders, despite an injunction to stop the increasingly belligerent blocking of the Ambassador bridge, the protests seemed to only gain momentum particularly in Windsor where, late in the past week, the mayor was forced to comment on children being involved in the blocking of the bridge, “The fact that I see a picture yesterday where [protesters] brought what looks like a bus of kids to hold hands across Huron Church Road — even though it was blocked — holy moly, I question the sanity in a decision like that.” Meanwhile, in Ottawa Friday night, Pat King celebrated the protests seeming immunity from meaningful police action by dancing on a large stage constructed on Wellington Street in Ottawa.
With American right wing propaganda outlets continuing to raise the temperature in the room, with foreign support being, not just financial and political, but hands on as well, an article from Press Progress and reporting from Justin Ling shed light on the domestic and international funding for the protests as well as the core belief system that is apparently driving the protests.
Mitchell Thompson reported for Press Progress on many of the biggest financial contributors to the protest, “One thing these wealthy donors agree on is that they are being oppressed — some even liken the situation to “communism.” An example of one of the largest financial contributors to the convoy is UNIFYD which Thompson broke down as, “Jason Shurka, a New York real estate investor and vice president of Signature Investment Group founded UNIFYD.com in 2021, an online learning “hub” featuring material on vaccines, UFOs and other conspiracy theories.”
Further on Jason Shurka, Thompson noted, “Shurka is also an author. His self-help book, Rays Of Knowledge, promises to help readers along with “in-depth knowledge” about a “spiritual phenomenon received from the Divine underground organization, known as The Light System” who have “been around for thousands of years, and they do very divine work.”
Justin Ling reported on the protest organizer’s, “Science Panel,” press conference yesterday breaking down who constituted the panel and what they were offering as the protests underlying philosophy.
Amongst the panel Ling noted, “Dr. Paul Alexander, a former Donald Trump advisor who advocated for a disastrous herd immunity strategy, which was denounced even by Trump’s administration,” (think about that) as well as, “Dr. Laura Braeden is moderating the event — “I’m a molecular biologist from PEI,” she says. (She’s often refer to herself as an “immunologist.”) Which is true! Except her expertise is in salmon.”
And somehow, this is where we are. “Crazytownbananapants,” marching us towards a showdown in Canada’s capital and a major international bridge.
“Tactical teams here. Snipers are on the roof.”
UPDATE, Noon, February 12, 2022
The day progresses and there is little if any meaningful progress in ending the blockades. And you have to wonder- What of the police?
What of the police? Well, their numerous shows of support to protestors combined with their general unwillingness to confront the blockades is beyond disturbing. At this point, the protestors have never been more emboldened, never more drunk on their power. Children being used to block traffic, trade including auto manufacturing has been brought to a standstill, average people are being accosted walking down the street, there’s various incidents featuring decent Canadians being bullied too numerous to mention and a microphone and camera have been aimed to capture the mostly uninformed, ignorant, ramblings of anybody leveraging a Canadian flag as a chaperone to their terrorism. If you care about Canada you have to wonder at a certain point how complicit the police are in promoting, let alone prolonging, these acts of terror. The deepening of right wing radicalism in Canadian policing has been a creeping concern across North America and Canada is no exception.
A February 8, 2022, article in The Conversation noted that in lieu of the significant role off duty police officers played in the January 6thAmerican insurrection, “This has added to broader concerns overright-wing extremist infiltration of law enforcement and the military in the U.S.and Canada. A declassified 2020 report by Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre notes that far-right groups such as the Proud Boys are “actively recruiting” serving and retired members of the police and military.”
The right-wing radicalism mentioned earlier appears to have infiltrated the very Canadian police forces that the large majority of Canadians are counting on to end the tyranny of this right wing, terrorism right now.
In the wake of reports chronicling the right-wing radicalization of our policing can Canadians now count on their greater interests being served by the police force at large?
We’ll find out. So far though, the results haven’t been promising.
#9, Musing On Don Cherry
Let’s take a break from the updates for a moment and consider a peripheral character, as it relates to this convoy, who nonetheless is entirely representative of the movement as a whole- Don Cherry. Yes, former NHL coach with the Boston Bruins, longtime commentator for Hockey Night In Canada, Don Cherry.
Cherry famously worked for the Canadian public broadcaster the CBC as part of the Hockey Night in Canada crew from 1980 through 2019 where he, depending upon who you want to believe, was either fired or chose to leave. For the better part of four decades Cherry had been a controversial Canadian figure- brash, opinionated, fiery, with an overt disdain for hockey players that weren’t Canadian. The Canadian Encyclopedia points out that Cherry, “Throughout his time on “Coach’s Corner,” he faced accusations of bigotry and racism for his prejudiced attitudes and statements regarding foreign-born players, particularly Swedes, Finns and Russians, as well as French Canadians. He also made derisive comments about Indigenous peoples, such as in 2015, when he called the Inuit “savages” and “barbarians” for eating seal.”
In 2019 Cherry finally brought his tumultuous tenure on the CBC to an end when he decided to lecture immigrants about buying poppies for Remembrance Day, “You people… that come here… whatever it is… you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that.”
Now, despite the fact he said– “YOU people/ that come HERE/ YOU love OUR way of life/OUR milk and honey.” Despite that obvious inference to Canadian immigrants, many Canadians wanted to pretend this wasn’t the latest instalment in Cherry’s history of prejudice towards anyone not born in Canada.
Context is important here when we consider that at the beginning of the convoy Don Cherry voiced his support for the protest, “I am 100% behind the truckers,” said Cherry as per the Toronto Sun. “They are salt of the earth and the heartbeat of the country.”
I mention this, first, because the social divisions in Canada that we saw when Cherry was fired/resigned fall along pretty much along the exact same demographic lines now as then. This convoy embodies Cherry’s would-be John Wayne bravado, the nationalistic, jingoistic, masochistic, bigotry, the- yell first, think, or more likely don’t think, later, mindset of so many of the angry, uniformed, folks we see protesting. Second, I mention it because not enough people talk about what happened when Don Cherry, after decades of self-mythologizing, took his Coaches Corner hot takes out into the real world. Not enough people know about Don Cherry’s time as an owner of the Junior A Mississauga Ice Dogs from 1998 through 2002.
Given the chance to take all his theories, i.e. no European players, and apply them to reality this is how the team performed-
That’s right. A record of 27 wins, 220 losses and 17 ties.
27 wins, 220 losses.
What we are seeing with this convoy, that in so many ways represents Cherry’s spirit of unchecked bravado, is the promise of exactly that kind of prosperity. Distilled into its’ simplest form what this protest and it’s right wing/conservative backers are demanding is that we lose… a lot.
UPDATE, February 14, 2022
Finally some good news.
Yesterday in Ottawa Canadians rose up to do what various politicians and police forces appeared reluctant to do. They stood up to the convoy. Not only did they stand up to the convoy they were successful in removing them from areas of Ottawa.
That the average person should have to take on the responsibilities of trained police officers is a breathtaking failure. It shouldn’t have had to come to this. It’s dangerous, it’s avoidable. That so many good, decent, people, felt they had to go out into the streets to confront the convoy is particularly damning of the Mayor of Ottawa, the Police Services Board, Ottawa Police and the provincial government that continues to clearly see the protestors as a voting base meal ticket not to be trifled with and instead pandered to.
Meanwhile, around Parliament Hill the occupying force of protestors played in bouncy castles and hot tubs, acting as if frolicking between mumbling conspiratorial mantras in some way excused their imposition on the city. While the occupier’s behaviour fluctuated between careless disregard to outright hostility for the interests of residents and businesses alike, the Mayor elected to engage in negotiations with one of the convoy organizers- Tamara Lich.
It was an epic show of weakness. A validation of a protest that deserves no validation.
Jim Watson of course will say he had no choice but the main reason for Watson feeling he was cornered was again, mainly Jim Watson, local government, police and the ever reluctant Doug Ford. Agreeing to give a bully your lunch money each time, every time, has never been the path to ending the daily surrender.
On Twitter Lich’s Canada Unity communications again provided a clear look at their sensibilities or lack thereof-
To further frustrations with local government, Councillor for Gloucester-South Nepean Ward 22 and member of the Ottawa Police Services Board, Carol Anne Meehan, elected to take to Twitter last night and place the blame squarely at the feet of the Federal Government.
In one tweet Meehan laid bare a root cause of average Canadians having to take to the streets to challenge the convoy- cynical opportunism.
What has become clear these past few weeks is Conservative politician’s willingness to place manufacturing propaganda ahead of doing the right thing by the people they represent. Each time, every time, politicians like Meehan have chosen to be complicit with the occupation to try to diminish support for Justin Trudeau’s government. They choose to do so at the expense of Canadian businesses and people.
To this, one of many, inflammatory Meehan tweets aimed at Justin Trudeau there is so much, well wait, let’s call it what it is- because we keep saying, “misinformation,” when what she is doing is lying. Meehan is lying to you.
The idea the Police Services Board has no input on policing is beyond absurd. The province of Ontario website breaks down what a Police Services Board does, “Police services boards oversee how policing is provided in their local community. They contribute to their community’s safety and well-being by working with local citizens and organizations to make sure their community receives the appropriate policing it needs.” Amongst the many board responsibilities listed on the site, the very first line item is, “Determining objectives and priorities for police services, in consultation with the OPP detachment commander.”
Beyond that lie, Meehan doubles down on the dishonesty by not acknowledging that the Province of Ontario is their escalation point, not the Federal government.
Meehan’s mentality is the ultimate tell when it comes to how an occupying force could be emboldened to shut down businesses, trash a downtown and bully citizens. Because too many politicians, public servants, too many police officers are okay with leveraging a mob to accomplish a political end. All the while foolishly thinking the damage will be controllable.
In short, what Carol Anne Meehan and Mayor Jim Watson communicated yesterday was that local policing and government are not only lacking in the competence and will to deal with the occupation they are emboldening it via exercising a reckless political opportunism.
The other piece of good news yesterday also testified against Meehan’s suggestion that those most responsible for dealing with occupiers couldn’t handle it themselves- The Ambassador Bridge in Windsor was cleared by the combined forces of the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP.
While the clearing of the bridge came as welcome news, the fact that in the end the occupiers were a small group that faced almost no accountability for their actions was disappointing.
To end the night reports circulated of Justin Trudeau convening a late night cabinet meeting that would lead to another meeting with the provincial Premiers most accountable for addressing the various remaining blockades. CTV News reported this morning, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is convening a meeting with provincial and territorial premiers and will be gathering the entire Liberal caucus on Monday after a weekend of continued protests and high-level federal meetings about how to end them.”
UPDATE- February 15, 2022
After the passive, to non-existent, response from various Conservative Premiers to blockades across Canada the Prime Minister elected to invoke the Emergencies Act. This allowed Conservatives across social media to finally unleash their preset posts/Tweets about the Federal government choosing to invoke the Emergencies Act indicating a weakness on Justin Trudeau’s part. It was all so predictable. It is after all the Conservative playbook of cultivating division so as to bemoan division, cultivating a State of Emergency in order to complain about a State of Emergency.
Yesterday’s news of course had much more to offer. The Ontario government became the latest Conservative government to announce it would lift most Covid protections and mandates (i.e. the vaccination pass requirement) beginning March 1st. It was yet another reminder of the fact many of the protections/mandates that people are protesting in Ottawa actually generate from provincial capitals. Making it disturbing that Provincial politicians are caving to people who don’t even know the difference between provincial and federal jurisdiction. Now, we can argue all day about the optics/timing of Conservative governments announcing reopening against the backdrop of Ottawa and any number of border crossings being held hostage. I don’t know how constructive that debate will be though. I have to think that the concern should be- Are these the right choices for Public Health?
That’s a complicated question. Bottom line here is that there is little over the past two years to indicate Conservative Premiers are acting in the best interests of Public Health. For instance, the past two Covid waves in Ontario saw Doug Ford’s government reopening despite modelling warning of dire consequences with belated backtracking following the inevitable disaster. In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney, Canada’s resident rabid dog of conservatism, promised the, “Best Summer Ever,” last year only to see Covid cases and deaths skyrocket. In the end it was the Best Summer Ever only if you happened to run a mortuary. And these governments have not made meaningful investments in public healthcare, instead choosing to look to subvert it for the purposes of slow played privatization.
With limited testing, still less than optimal vaccination rates, with too much of the world largely unvaccinated leading to the possibility of new variants, all juxtaposed to the limited resources attached to our healthcare system, skepticism is natural.
Meanwhile, many of these same Conservatives openly decried a State of Emergency being called for a, “peaceful protest.” As if, someone breaking into your house, occupying it, trashing it, bullying the inhabitants, causing lost work, wages and commerce, was okay as long as they had bouncy castles. The idea that the occupation was peaceful took a further hit given the discovery of weapons near the Coutts border crossing in Alberta.
Conservative and right wing media types also lamented Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland’s announcement yesterday that the Federal government, in conjunction with Canadian financial institutions, would be more aggressively seeking to stem the flow of money to occupiers, “This is about following the money. This is about stopping the financing of these illegal blockades. We are today serving notice: if your truck is being used in these protests, your corporate accounts will be frozen. The insurance on your vehicle will be suspended. Send your semi-trailers home. The Canadian economy needs them to be doing legitimate work, not to be illegally making us all poorer.”
There’s a lot to unpack in terms of the implications in the here and now as well as the future as a precedent. There’s many sources you can use to educate yourself there but I’d like to focus on something we spoke about earlier- Foreign influence threatening Canadian sovereignty. A Toronto Star article yesterday announced it had found that, “Nearly 41% of the more than 10.7 million donated to the, “Freedom Convoy,” through an online fundraising site has come from the United States.”
Every Canadian should worry about undue outside influence on Canadian matters. Millions of dollars flowing in to the country to support unsettling our democracy and commerce is exactly the kind of thing we should worry about.
Speaking of influence, New Zealand, long a model in protecting its’ citizens from the ravages of Covid, has seen a recent spike in anti-vaccination protests. That these protests are happening in the wake of Canada’s occupation has not been lost on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, with Stuff reporting her commenting, “It feels like an imported protest to me. I’ve seen Trump flags on the forecourt, I’ve seen Canadian flags on the forecourt.”
Putting aside how profoundly disappointing it is to see the Canadian flag denigrated to a symbol of hate, you must have spotted the global trend by now right? The weaponization of the most ignorant and angry members of countries around the world. Why? To further the consolidation of power and accompanying wealth by those whose only interest is short term profit. It’s that damned simple. Oligarchs, corporations, compromised political parties. It’s never been about left vs right. It’s always been up vs down. And the up, the 1%, who’ve largely increased their wealth during this pandemic, are not interested in the greater good potentially destabilizing their ability to accrue wealth at an ever increasing rate.
It’s the weaponization of the ignorant as foot soldiers for the designs of the greedy.
And here’s where you have to remember that, given the abundance of wealth in the world, there is no reason for so much of the planet to remain unvaccinated or so many average folks to be in financial peril. These stress points are created entirely not just by the preservation of a world order that has elevated those who hoard wealth, but those who constantly need to increase that wildly disproportionate wealth. Wealth inequity is burning our house down.
UPDATE- February 16, 2022
Yesterday a data leak provided further insight into who was funding the Freedom Convoy. Aside from apparently every realtor in the Greater Toronto Area the list of financial contributors to the convoy organized by white nationalists included a few close associates of sitting members of the provincial Conservative party.
Given what we know about how the Conservatives have aggressively manufactured much of the anti-Trudeau hate that drives the convoy this comes as little surprise.
Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who seemingly oscillates between watered down, glazed eye, pragmatism and stubborn refusal of reality, went with the latter yesterday, CTV news reporting Ford stating about Covid, “We are done with it. Let’s just start moving on, cautiously. The world’s done with it, let’s just move forward.”
Because that’s how pandemics end. You just get frustrated enough that they stop.
Ford went on to diminish the established benefits of getting vaccinated by saying, “We also know that it doesn’t matter if you have one shot or 10 shots, you can still catch COVID-19.”
That the vaccine limits the impacts of Covid on the people he represents, given that in turn places less stress on the health care system, it was a beyond irresponsible thing to say.
These are the times we live in however.
A rigid 30% of the population who won’t defer to medical experts calling the rest of that do- elitists. A rigid 30% of the population that will vote for $1 Beer Campaign platforms (that will never really materialize) holding the rest of us captive with their willingness to be conned and have their worst tendencies pandered too.
Meanwhile, as if to highlight how much our culture war was in many ways an American import, CNN has begun to assert itself as a counterpoint to the cartoonish absurdism that has hallmarked Fox News usual brand of craven dishonesty in their daily coverage of the Convoy.
In Alberta yesterday, video appeared of numerous RCMP officers hugging protestors departing from the Coutts blockade. A blockade that chose to disassemble after police seized weapons at the border.
The public show of affection by the RCMP would have been alarming at the best of times but consider it happened on the same day the CBC reported, “Seven of the protesters arrested in connection with a blockade at the Coutts, Alta., border crossing have been granted bail but those accused of conspiring to murder RCMP officers remain behind bars.”
I feel like all I should put here is-> !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Finally, you may be wondering what’s happening in Ottawa given most of the occupiers demands have pretty much been granted to them by various Conservative Premiers-
Thus the occupation of Ottawa continues. It’s true self laid bare- It was never about mandates or protections. It is a white nationalist, radical right-wing, attempt to overthrow democracy.
UPDATE- February 17, 2022 (Note- the following also exists as a standalone article on my blog and contains some information we’ve already been over)
“When the US radical right is going after Canada nobody is safe. When I say democracy is fragile I mean it. We shall survive this onslaught but only if we don’t remain silent bystanders. Stand up for our friend Canada and let your voice be heard.”
Bruce Heyman, former US Ambassador to Canada (February 16, 2022)
As of yesterday you had to be asking yourself- If Canadian Premiers have all largely announced the removal of mandates and Covid protections why is Ottawa still occupied? The answer is because protesting mandates was only a cover used to manufacture consent for something more insidious. The overthrow of the government and the will of the majority. To understand how it has come to pass that Canadian self-determination is being threatened we have to talk about some things.
We need to talk about the evidence that there are forces, foreign and domestic, that are looking to destabilize and undermine Canadian sovereignty. We need to talk about how yesterday provided more evidence of how determined and well financed those forces are. We need to talk about the fact the Ottawa occupation was organized to provoke violence in our streets as a means to bring about a change in government. We need to talk about Tyler Russell.
We need to talk about Tyler Russell for three reasons, first, because he’s a member of the protest and a wholly representative one at that, second, on his Canada First Youtube channel he tells us precisely why he wants violence to happen in Ottawa, third, because of a video of a phone call he posted on February 11th which he claims is a call from Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
We also need to note that when Conservative leader Candice Bergen advocated her party support these protests in order to hurt the Prime Minister politically, she was supporting the designs of a mindset Canadian Conservatives have long cultivated via their various social media sources. The mindset of people like Tyler Russell.
Who is Tyler Russell? antihate.ca devoted an article to Russell and his Canada First outfit in 2021, noting a speech he gave on Parliament Hill, Canada Day 2020, “In his speech that day, Russell laid out his vision for a right-wing nationalist Canada First movement, citing Canadian white nationalist Faith Goldy and Nick Fuentes, the young leader of the “Groypers.” a movement and a further re-branding of the neo-Nazi alt-right, as sources of inspiration.” antihate.ca infiltrated Russell’s chatrooms to provide examples of violent rhetoric, racism, misogyny and general evidence of all the things that make up your every day, run of the mill, psychopath (and if you feel that’s excessive check out the antihate.ca article or any of Russell’s Youtube videos).
Russell’s Instagram page features a few pictures that strike at the heart of the moment Canada finds itself in. The first is a picture of Russell in Ottawa, at the protests, in front of a sign featuring an abundance of trolling, slogans like, “Trudeau is a Terrorist.” The second picture is more telling of the deeper threat to Canadian sovereignty.
This second picture is of the youthful Russell in a suit, a red tie and a red hat that reads, “Canada First.” Russell and a male counterpart stand side by side, arms around each other smiling for the camera. Russell’s partner in embrace sports a blue, “America First,” hat. Russell’s smile, like his counterparts, is the smile of a man who thinks he is being entirely original while dressed in someone else’s uniform. This picture of a Canadian unguardedly embracing an American persona seems entirely appropriate for the latest news in the ongoing uprisings across Canada against the Federal government. The undue influence foreign media is having on the larger narrative of the Ottawa occupation.
Canada First is of course a derivative of America First. America First is a Donald Trump campaign slogan maintained to propagate support for a ruling class Sarah Kendzior called, “A transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a government.” A government that looked to chop up the nation and sell it off for parts. In case you don’t know, Canada has lots of great parts to sell off, particularly in terms of its’ natural resources and public health care sector.
In this context, the picture of Canada First and America First, arm and arm, makes the copy-cat posing a caricature of a caricature. The vision of that embrace, of Russell’s hubris, channels the crescendoing of the long held American desire to realize their Manifest Destiny, the American capitalist class’s belief that they were ordained by God to devour, well, everything.
Of course the insatiable desires of unchecked capitalism devoured America first. So much so that as the Trump crime syndicate illustrated, America is more a concept than a place at this point. It’s the most effective swindle on the planet for those in pursuit of furthering wealth inequity. The torch for America’s current version of Manifest Destiny is carried by global carpetbaggers, or, as Kendzior put it, “an alliance of autocrats,” looking to further their disproportionate wealth at the expense of the quality of life of everybody else. That’s why the main outlets for portraying the Freedom Convoy at this point are Russian State media and Fox News. Oligarchs and Plutocrats. The modern day, self-ordained, royalty of Russia and the United States.
The larger goal for the American and Russian coverage is simple- To undermine Canadian sovereignty. When Tyler Russell spoke in a January 27th Youtube video about the possibility of violence at the occupation it was with glee. He wants that. He wants our government to have to physically engage with a protest that is wall to wall Canadian flags. It’s all optics baby. In his mind, in the occupation’s mind, it is the means to bring down the government.
I began writing about the convoy on February 2nd with a piece entitled- Freedom Convoy Unmasked: Who and What the Convoy Represents. Updating the blog as events continued to unfold, the concerns I expressed initially have all come to fruition. Namely, that a protest organized largely by white nationalists, fuelled by various Conservative propaganda sources, radicalized by global, radical, right wing groups, funded and provided public relations support by foreign actors, emboldened by police forces bending to their internal authoritarian leanings, was in fact a tool designed to undermine Canadian sovereignty and the will of the majority of Canadians.
Each point of what is essentially a flow chart for undermining the self-determination of Canada is supported by a preponderance of evidence–
- That the protest was organized by the likes of Pat King, Tamara Lich and James Bauder who either embody or are linked to separatists, racists and white nationalists is demonstrable.
- That Canada has been deeply infiltrated by right wing extremism (and at this point is significant point of origin for extremism) is well documented.
- That the Conservative party of Canada, via the likes of Ontario Proud/Canada Proud founder Jeff Ballingall, has cultivated an angry mob of meme-fuelled hate over Justin Trudeau’s time in power.
- That the current leadership of the Conservative party has actively looked to prolong the occupation, embolden occupiers and get as many photo ops with protestors as possible is well documented- up to and including, pictures.
- That the RCMP and Ottawa Police have provided numerous examples of both passively and actively supporting the protest.
- That the United States has invested heavily in funding the attempt to topple a democratically elected Canadian government. An example of that investment being that Americans provided 41.7% of 10.7 million dollars raised by an online funding site for the convoy.
- That Fox News and Russian State TV are by far the leading providers of online content portraying the occupation.
How Tyler Russell caught my attention yesterday was via a February 11, 2022, (the day #snowmobilegate was trending on Twitter) video he shared on Twitter that Russell claims is from Doug Ford. Is it Doug Ford? I don’t know. The order of events the speaker on the phone promises has played out since and yeah, the voice sounds like him, “We’re pulling these passports, we’re going to get back to normal, and ah.. you know…I can’t give you an exact date but it will be very soon… okay… I’m going to be speaking over the next few days, Friday I’m going to be putting out a statement, Monday I will be giving dates…”
You can make what you want of the video but it’s compelling to consider given the news yesterday of Ford’s ex-Chief of Staff Dean French being the intermediary in talks between the City of Ottawa and the convoy organizers. The casual relationship between a Ford associate and protest organizers that are looking to overthrow a democratic government is disturbing. Particularly disturbing given that yesterday one of the convoy organizers, Pat King, who you may remember from his statement at an earlier juncture of the convoy, “The only way this is going to be solved is with bullets,” once again took to social media to post a video exposing his dangerous perspective, this time threatening the police, “In the end, just following orders is not going to be a good legal defence… just following orders is not going to be your saving grace when you’re standing on the other side of that witness box.”
This latest evidence of Conservative Premiers sympathetic, often cozy, relationship with protestors, highlights how intertwined the Conservative Party and the Convoy they created are. That some of that evidence of this relationship would come from someone who openly hates Justin Trudeau brings us to the Prime Minister. It brings us to why this kind of coordinated effort to undermine the will of the majority of Canadians would take place.
Justin Trudeau has proven himself as Prime Minister to be a social progressive and an economic centrist. The last part isn’t far enough right for Canadian and foreign financial elites who find the Conservative Party a more amenable partner for transnational looting, the first part, being a social progressive, is the tool used to inflame those with nationalistic/racist tendencies to protest against him. Few are under the illusion the Prime Minister is a perfect leader or person however the circumstances have conspired to create a context within which he is the the final line of defence for so much of which so many Canadians hold dear about our greater community. And he has handled a challenging situation, a flood of domestic and foreign opposition, really well.
I don’t know how we got to a place where Justin Trudeau is firmly placed as the last, best, chance for all that many hold dear about Canada, but here we are.
While Conservative parties have gamed a system that largely features two centrist/left wing parties versus one hard right wing party, Canadian sovereignty has been undermined in favour of transnational interests. All that remains left for them to conquer is the Federal government. Going into this third term as Prime Minister despite an uneven playing field swamped by American Hedge Fund media and rabid Conservative social media sources, patience has obviously worn thin to break down this final, most important, hurdle in gutting Canada.
Which brings us to this moment in Canadian history featuring a Conservative party that has brought Canada to a State of Emergency by design. Featuring a convoy that has brought Ottawa to the cusp of heightened violence by design.
This is a transnational coup designed to install Conservatives into the Federal government in order allow for the looting and selling off of Canada in pieces. This is an attack on Canadian sovereignty, especially every thread of the fabric of Canada that elevates the average person’s standard of living and provides vulnerable human beings, those within our borders, and those that seek to immigrate here, with basic protections and human rights.
That’s what is at stake right now. The heart of Canada. It appears the Prime Minister has recognized this, the only question is whether enough Canadians will realize that the person with their arm around us, smiling, doesn’t want to be our friend but rather our master.
UPDATE- February 18, 2022
Days ago Ottawa Police began the undertaking they should have undertaken long ago- handing out warnings, followed by tickets and particularly yesterday, making arrests. Included in the arrests yesterday was organizer Tamara Lich.
It’s Friday and as we head into the weekend where protestor numbers are likely to increase, the resolve of the Police, the resolve of the protestors, both mostly unknown quantities, will be tested. The Liberals declaration of a State of Emergency has not provided the convoy with the army vs protestors with Canadian flags optics they’d hoped for. The Liberal government lead by Chrystia Freeland choosing to focus on disabling the bank accounts of protestors and their financial support system.
On the ground the occupation continues this morning.
“The honking has begun downtown. Protesters are heading onto Parliament Hill. There’s a feeling like they’re ready to, as they say, “hold the line.” But, interesting data point: I see with people Freedom Convoy gear clearly checking out and packing up at a nearby hotel.”
Justin Ling, 8:51 AM
Ling also reported that the protestors had stolen a snowplow, “In a normal protest, stealing a snowplow would be a terrifying escalation. In this, however, the sidewalk-clearing snowplow is the smallest thing they’ve got.”
We are for the moment at a precarious moment in this occupation- Awaiting the revelation of how determined and how inclined towards violence these protestors are.
In Parliament yesterday NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called out interim Conservative party leader Candice Bergen for her support of the occupation, “It’s no secret that the goal of this convoy, posted brazenly on their website, reiterated as recently as this week at a press conference, was to overthrow a democratically elected government. That was their goal. So.. the interim leader of the Conservative party says, “We have heard you, we’ll keep standing up for you…” Do you regret endorsing a convoy that is attacking the fundamental democracy of our country? Do you regret supporting and endorsing a convoy that has harassed citizens? Do you regret endorsing a movement which has lost jobs?”
Bergen followed the first chapters of the, Republican Playbook for Beginners, Chapter One- When in doubt call somebody a communist, with Chapter Two, I Know You Are But What Am I?, by moving on to accuse the Prime Minister of dividing Canadians.
What will change on the ground in Ottawa today I don’t know but in the House of Commons is was same old, same old.
The Guardian provided an excellent article today on intelligence concerns regarding the convoy prior to it arriving in Ottawa. The article is particularly compelling given how tenuous the occupation is at this point-
“Days before the so-called Freedom Convoy reached Ottawa, starting a weeks-long occupation of Canada’s capital and triggering a string of copy-cat blockades, the federal government was warned that violent extremist groups were deeply involved in the protest movement.”
“Itac (Integrated Terrorist Assessment Centre) reported that supporters of the convoy have “advocated civil war”, called for violence against prime minister Justin Trudeau, and said the protest should be “used as Canada’s ‘January 6’”, in a reference to the storming of the US Capitol.”
Justin Ling 11:33 AM, “It looks like the kids are going safely behind the police line. Thankfully.”
Who knew bringing your kids to an insurrection wasn’t a great idea?
In other news, the infamous bouncy castle has been deflated.
In case you haven’t noticed, Justin Ling is who you want to be following for real time updates from the ground in Ottawa.
UPDATE, February 19, 2022
All in all yesterday was fairly tame. Anxious Canadians finally got some arrests and action by police, protestors eager to get footage they could leverage for future propaganda purposes, finally got their video of being confronted by police.
Pat King was arrested yesterday and in true Pat King fashion broadcast it live on Facebook. He was charged with-
- Counselling to Commit the Offence of Mischief
- Counselling to Commit the Offence of Disobey Court Order (s.127)
- Counselling to Commit the Offence of Obstruct Police
Late last night Evan Solomon reported arrest totals while remarking once again on the protestors inclination to involve their children in the showdown, (his tweet accompanied by video of kids walking with adults late last night in the protest zone), “So after an intense day of police action, 100 arrested, confrontations, I watched this family being their up to the main Parliament Hill protest area at about 9pmE tonight. Again. Police warn people to get children out. And it’s illegal according to EA. And yet…”
In other news yesterday the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) announced, “… that it has filed an application for judicial review in federal court requesting an order quashing the Emergency Proclamation and the Emergency Measures Regulations and the Emergency Economic Measures Order.”
I have linked the CCLA finding here to provide you the opportunity to consider the specific concerns it addresses in and of itself. The CCLA choosing to act urgently on behalf of the Ottawa occupation while being reluctant to act when governments were much, much, more aggressively attacking Indigenous blockades attached to issues related to longstanding land claims, is worthy of consideration though. We need to once again take a moment to discuss how racism appears to be colouring the reactions of different institutions approaches to handling protests and how various narratives have looked to leverage false equivalencies to manufacture bias.
First I need to reiterate that the concerns of the Freedom Convoy and various Indigenous protests are wildly different things. It has been established here that the Freedom Convoy was organized by separatists and white supremacists with the stated goal of toppling a democratically elected government. The convoy is largely made up of entitled white people reacting to being inundated with propaganda that looks to install the flawed idea that they are disenfranchised. Indigenous concerns meanwhile are rooted in a reality born of hundreds of years of horrible injustice being perpetrated upon them. Indigenous land claim protests have generally been attached to having their lands and freedoms infringed upon by various levels of government and financial interests. These protests have been populated by people who have actually been discriminated against by various public institutions with consequences ranging from the likes of having land stolen, treaties broken and systemic violence, up to and including, the kidnapping and murdering of children.
When Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun and Robyn Urback of the Globe and Mail both coyly wondered yesterday why liberal mindsets are more sympathetic to Indigenous blockades it was impossible to not be outraged by the obscene false equivalency at play. It’s impossible to not be angry at the purposeful perversion of the two unique realities. The reality of an Indigenous activist protesting a land claim, often subject to unrestrained RCMP violence, in a time where we are constantly finding mass graves of indigenous children, should not be compared to a Freedom Convoy protestor handled with kid gloves by the police (and too often hugged) who is angry because they’ve watched too many fairytales on Fox News of having their entitlement infringement upon by imaginary, “liberal elites.”
In Robert Bolt’s, A Man For All Seasons, William Roper comments, “I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!” There’s wisdom there. I can’t blindly dismiss the CCLA’s choosing to act on behalf of a convoy that is at its’ heart driven by white supremacists and emboldened by both white entitlement and the real racism that remains in so many of our institutions. Any potential infringement of civil liberties should be contested. But I also can’t look away from the fact the CCLA has too often been passive and posturing when it should have been urgently acting on behalf of Indigenous concerns that begged for a real response from them. I can’t act like this isn’t the latest instalment of first class justice for white folks, next to none for anybody else.
Update, February 20, 2022 (note- the following is from a stand alone article published Feb 20)
So… what do we do now?
Yesterday Ottawa Police brought the occupation of Canada’s capital city to an end via more aggressive confrontations with occupiers. Largely they appeared to be successful. That success however was muted by the level of confrontation required to remove the occupation, and moreover, by the reality that the radicalism at the root of the Convoy not only continues, it appears to have been hardened.
The threat remains.
Leaving us with the question- Can Canada maintain self-determination with our communication channels largely compromised?
While many media members wax philosophic about mending the polarized political/cultural divide in Canada the real question is far more simple- How are we going to reconcile the fact that approximately 10%+ of the population was willing to try and overthrow a democratically elected government in order to have their unexplored emotional needs validated? How are we going to deal with the fact they are unwilling to budge from an unchecked set of propaganda talking points?
While Saturday provided little in the way of answers to these questions it supplied much in the way of highlighting the main impediments to Canadians having meaningful conversations with each other.
The Ottawa occupation has provided us a slightly different theme everyday. In my update to Freedom Convoy Unmasked: Who and What the Convoy Represents yesterday we looked at false equivalencies and entitlement. Saturday’s news, generating from the likes of the New York Times, the National Post, the occupiers in Ottawa themselves and an investigation begun in the United States into Facebook’s role in the protests, shed light on the challenges for average Canadians looking to be able to talk with each other about shared concerns.
In this update we’ll look at how the pursuit of clicks, fame and especially profit, have diminished the integrity of our discourse. Conversely, we’ll talk about how the occupiers in Ottawa bullying of media personalities on the ground indicates an increasing threat to honest exchange of perspective and how the weaponization of misinformation via social media algorithms has cultivated a growing demand for dishonest media brokers.
We’ll look at how Canada came to be swamped by media sources working hard to distract from transnational agendas that undercut the average Canadian’s interests. We’ll look at how bogus narratives like imaginary culture wars distract us from meaningful conversations and what, if anything we can do to change that.
To start let’s look at the problem with the desire for clicks and the New York Times article yesterday.
Problem #1– In a World of Clicks, The Most Inflammatory Headline Wins
The New York Times tweeted yesterday–
“Breaking News: The police arrested demonstrators at gunpoint near the Parliament building in Ottawa in an effort to end the weeks long protests.”
The reaction to this latest bit of awful American media reporting was swift and angry. The New York Times after all is supposed to be the very pinnacle of journalism and yet here they were with a wildly misleading headline clearly designed to get clicks.
That, after weeks of tolerating an occupation with a stated goal of toppling an elected government, after handing out warnings, then tickets, before finally, methodically, having the police confront protestors with seldom used batons, made for an “AT GUNPOINT!!!” New York Times headline was deeply disappointing.
Fox News coverage is demonstrably morally bankrupt and dishonest. They have acknowledged what they do isn’t journalism. We get that. We get that Canadians need to talk about foreign misinformation sites poisoning Canadian political discourse. But the lazy display of, “Look at me!” journalism by more highly regarded American media outlets, be it Newsweek or the New York Times has, at times, been as big of a problem for people trying to understand the truth of happenings as purposeful misinformation.
More problematically, I don’t know if the massive negative reaction to the horribly titled New York Times piece taught them anything other than- “Boy we got a lot of clicks there!!!!!”
Problem #2– American Hedge Fund Owned Media– The National Post.
From media for seeking clicks to media advocating a borderless financial elite’s agenda, we come to The National Post.
The National Post is owned by an American hedge fund who first purchased the National Post’s debts and then purchased the paper itself- which, of course, is always going to make paying that debt (and the interest associated with it) first on its’ to do list. That’s the National Post. The National Post doesn’t have to go around twisting arms to provide alt-right friendly writing, it already had lots of alt-right folks in the fold and they continue to supplement that by hiring those most eager to align with a hedge fund friendly agenda.
What is a hedge fund friendly agenda?
The Wild West.
It’s little to no government regulation on anything. It’s as few protections for the average person and the environment from being preyed upon by transnational interests as possible. It’s the maintaining of the status quo for those that are growing rich on the status quo. Among those willing to beat the drum for hedge fund friendly propaganda are John Ivison and Rex Murphy. Why? Probably because there’s money and fame in it.
In a time where humanity is faced with two massive threats of its’ own creation– the pandemic and global warming, the idea that there isn’t an urgent need for humanity to change is preposterous on its’ face. But preposterous defences of the status quo is kind of what the National Post does. Witness John Ivision’s tweet from yesterday–
“It feels like Canada is splintering into two tribes – the intolerant, authoritarian woke lunatics on the left and the spittle-flecked, hateful lunatics on the far-right. Where are the voices of compassion and common-sense? The silent majority needs to speak up.”
John Ivison, National Post, February 19th
Nobody likes perpetuating the idea of a bogus culture war like John Ivison and his newspaper. To believe it however you have to venture into their make believe world where there is a liberal equivalent to a convoy organized by white nationalists and separatists, supported by entitled white people, occupying a capital with a stated goal of overthrowing democratically elected government.
There is no equivalent to that on the left.
Finding Joe Rogan unfunny and uninteresting is not an equivalent. Drinking craft beer and liking bookstores is not an equivalent. Wanting to reconcile past inequality and act urgently on present inequality is not an equivalent. Wanting clean water and rent control is not an equivalent to a coup. Protests attached to hundreds of years of actual systemic racism and police violence is not an equivalent.
Yesterday, Dr. Jordan Peterson announced he had recorded an interview with The National Post’s resident, Shakespeare-on-a-budget, wordsmith Rex Murphy, about the happenings in Canada. Peterson of course become famous for championing resistance to having the decency to reference people by their preferred gender pronoun and by his regular deflecting from the consequences of alt-right hate. Peterson also makes frequent appearances on Joe Rogan’s podcast to discuss such important issues as what colour people really are, i.e., “And [Dyson] was actually not black — he was sort of brown.”
Peterson and Murphy are entirely disinterested in honest conversations. Why? In Murphy’s case there has been past concerns about his relationship with the fossil fuel industry he frequently advocates for, with the Narwal reporting, “First to report on the potential conflict was Press Progress, after analyzing 25 of Murphy’s public speaking engagements.* The outlet found sponsors for Murphy’s pro-oil public appearances included the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Enbridge, TransCanada and Suncor among others.” Peterson meanwhile has asserted himself into the public domain as a more pretentious alternative to Alex Jones while still appealing to the same demographic and their spending tendencies. He knows who butters his bread. In both cases, Murphy and Peterson are trapped in an endless cycle of having to appeal to the alt-right tribe’s lust for more tribal warfare.
Being an honest broker of information runs contrary to their self-interest.
That’s why The National Post, Ivison, Murphy, Peterson, need to be removed from public discourse- They have demonstrated a willingness to place their self-interest, coloured by vanity and greed, ahead of everything, especially pursuing the truth.
How to remove disingenuous voices from public discourse while maintaining healthy access to communication channels is a challenge. I don’t pretend there are easy answers here, there aren’t.
Problem #3– The Cult of Media Hate, The “Fake News” Convoy
That the occupation was always in many ways a Trumpesque, MAGA cosplay. That was made evident by the many American flags and pro-Donald Trump banners on display during the occupation. The occupier’s hyper aggressive attitude towards the media on display Saturday was further concerning evidence, particularly given how fairly the occupation was covered at ground level by reporters like Justin Ling, Evan Solomon and Sean O’Shea.
Of the many instances of occupiers stalking, pushing and yelling, at reporters the swarming of the CBC’s Eric Dyer stood out as the most telling, with someone shouting, “Fake News! Fake News!” as they followed threateningly behind Dyer.
Trump slogans have increasingly become part of the alt-right landscape outside America as right wing outlets have recognized how effective they are in consolidating support and how willing people are to use them. Conservative outlets like the National Post and various Postmedia owned news sources lean into Trump friendly narratives regularly. Conservative Party affiliated social media sources like Ontario Proud, Canada Proud, etc. more brazenly dip into that inflammatory pool looking to tap into preexisting call and response training.
Hating the CBC has been a significant point of focus for training Canadians to dismiss their public broadcaster. Conservative leaders, conservative media, regularly attack the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Because the CBC provides the opportunity for meaningful public dialogue. It provides the opportunity for public discourse free of corrupted voices like Rex Murphy, Jordan Peterson, the Rebel News cauldron of hateful little men, and the full gamut of Postmedia’s lineup of suspects looking to cash in on a culture war.
Don’t get me wrong, the CBC ain’t perfect. It has however proven itself to be a vehicle for real, important, communication, between Canadians about matters of national interest. Seeing it vilified by those who would prefer us divided and incommunicado is no surprise. Our division is great for businesses looking to pillage Canada. The distraction of dwelling upon whether or not finding, “Pull my finger jokes!” funny is cancel culture is a boon for transnational looters.
In the end, the CBC, like everything the Toronto Sun, the National Post, Rebel News, Ontario Proud and the Conservative party of Canada tells you to worry about- is about all that’s left to stop Canada from being fully looted. The most important thing Canadians can do right now is support the CBC, loud, long and at the ballot box.
Problem #4– Facebook and Algorithms
There has been much documenting of how right wing interests have used social media sites to launch weaponized misinformation. You can see it in Netflix’s documentaries, The Great Hack and The Social Dilemma. The documenting of Facebook’s willingness to being gamed by the agendas of financial elites to the detriment of various locales right to self-determination. Agendas perpetrated by highly skilled individuals using accumulated data mined from social media users to figure out how to manipulate them, particularly emotionally.
We saw the results on the streets of Ottawa and throughout Canada? Emotion, i.e.- Fuck Trudeau! Fake News! CBC Sucks!
It’s your friends and family and mine, lured in and shackled to an algorithm designed not only to attach them to the right wing mindset, but to close their minds to anything outside of it. That’s why when I post an article for friends and family to consider many of them will, without reading anything, immediately post a Pavlovian response of trained catchphrases and refuse to truly engage in a meaningful exchange of perspectives.
Social media algorithms continually evolve a rigid echo chamber which suggests the only valid ideas are the ones within it. That algorithm is the most effective herding tool used by the modern day right wing cult. When you’ve been told by strangers (and too often bots) thousands of times you are right- who is your brother, your sister, your friend, to tell you anything different? Why listen?
A CBC article yesterday on American politicians investigating Facebook’s role in the convoy noted, “New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney asked Zuckerberg nine questions about the extent to which fake accounts from abroad helped organizers spread the word. The questions include, how many fake accounts Facebook identified related to the “Freedom Convoy”; when it determined they were fake; how many people saw that content; what country it originated from; what countries it was spread in; and how much money Facebook made from associated ads.”
In the end all these concerns about compromised communication channels come down to money. Who is funding the Rebel News hate factory? Who is funding the convoy? What are their interests?
These are the conversations we need to be having if we are going to allow for communities to not be overrun by the interests of a chosen view. But how are we going to have those conversations with our communications channels almost entirely corrupted?
There are no simple answers.
Here’s what I know and what I think we all should have noted these past few weeks-
We need to act urgently, politically and socially, to figure out how to limit misinformation and elevate honest channels for public discourse. We need to act immediately to figure out how to remove foreign influence and financial elites from dictating narratives around what are the most responsible forms of action for our communities.
We need to figure out how to talk with each other, how to listen to each other, how to educate ourselves about important matters. We need to figure out what the impediments are to improving social discourse and find remedies for that. We need to figure out how to deal with the rigid mindset that lead to too many Canadians supporting a convoy organized by known white nationalists with a stated goal of trying to topple a democratically elected government. We need to understand and act upon why our authorities were so sympathetic to that cause.
We need to figure out how not to be at the mercy of clickbait journalism, alt-right propaganda, a fully corrupted Conservative party and the lowest common denominator.
The trucks may be gone but the larger problem remains.