From the perspective of the majority of Ottawa residents, a central problem the “Freedom Convoy” raised was what does a citizen or resident do when their rights are not defended by the state and, even worse, when the state is itself aligned against them | PAULINE EASTON
News reports indicate that a group of motorcycle riders calling itself “Rolling Thunder Ottawa” plans to converge in Ottawa this weekend, April 29-May 1. It conjures up the spectre of the “Freedom Convoy” which occupied the city for an extended period, from January 22 to February 23, thanks to the involvement of current and former military and police and mercenaries of various kinds as well as rank and file crying freedom against vaccine mandates and for alternative healthcare systems and myriad other things. From the perspective of the majority of Ottawa residents, a central problem that the “Freedom Convoy” raised was what does a citizen or resident do when their rights are not defended by the state and, even worse, when the state is itself aligned against them. It is a serious question indeed.
Canadians need to prepare for what comes next. The peoples of Canada, Quebec and the Indigenous peoples cannot permit their resistance movements to be criminalized and suppressed | PAULINE EASTON
Canadians are led to believe that a parliamentary debate is held to argue things out between two sides — the party in power and the party or parties in opposition which, between them, are said to represent the Canadian people. This is said notwithstanding that 37 per cent of the eligible voters did not cast a ballot at all and thus did not authorize either the party in power or parties in opposition to speak in their name.
Whether we speak of the organized blockades at border crossings or the occupation in Ottawa, or Coastal GasLink facilities on the Wet’suwet’en yintah or any other, what constitutes “critical infrastructure” to be protected in the name of “national security” and the “national interest” is defined not by the Canadian, Quebec and Indigenous peoples but by those who wield the decision-making power in a manner which favours narrow private interests.
Current developments related to declaration of Public Order Emergency
While debate was taking place in the House of Commons, February 17, on whether or not it will approve the Liberal’s invoking of the Emergencies Act and the related regulatory powers, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland announced to the media rather than the House that she had ordered financial institutions to comply with its regulations.
On February 17, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) announced it will pursue litigation to challenge the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act. It issued a press release which says:
Current developments related to declaration of public order emergency
On February 16, a motion was tabled in the House of Commons to confirm the February 14 declaration of a public order emergency by the Prime Minister under the Emergencies Act. It was tabled by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino. The motion reads: “That, pursuant to section 58 of the Emergencies Act, this House confirm the declaration of a public order emergency proclaimed on February 14, 2022.”
Current developments related to declaration of Public Order Emergency
Police in Ottawa made over 100 arrests on Friday, February 18 and at least 47 more by 2:00 pm on Saturday, news agencies report. In addition, a total of 38 vehicles have been towed and others are reported to have left voluntarily.
On February 11, when announcing his government’s intent to declare a provincial state of emergency to “make it illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure,” and giving examples of what this would entail, Premier Doug Ford stated: “While these emergency orders will be temporary, we have every intention to bring new legislation forward that will make these measures permanent in law. We are taking the steps necessary to support our police as they do what it takes to restore law and order.”
The federal government has not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act. This law creates a high and clear standard for good reason: the Act allows government to bypass ordinary democratic processes. This standard has not been met.
The Emergencies Act can only be invoked, according to its own terms, when a situation “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it,” or “seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada” and when the situation “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.”
The Emergencies Act is there to address these kinds of extreme threats to Canada, not to protect the economy.
Governments regularly deal with difficult situations, and do so using powers granted to them by democratically elected representatives. Emergency legislation should not be normalized. It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties.
Bill Blair, Minister of Emergency Preparedness, made the rounds on CBC Radio the day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the 1988 Emergencies Act. What stands out when he appeared on CBC’s local Ottawa morning show, then on The Current which broadcasts nationally is his inability to speak sensibly as to why the government sought recourse to the Emergencies Act.
The injunction to “look at both sides” misses the mark completely, because it draws our attention away from reality toward mere interpretations. Whether the phenomenon or question to be examined comes from politics or from science, from philosophy or from culture, “looking at both sides” will not get us even an inch closer to the truth | B. PAUL
Seventy-seven years ago, Ford workers in Windsor, Ontario created a car blockade to defend their strike against an attack by the provincial police. It shows it is not about blockades per se but about who and what the blockade serves.
CPC(M-L) categorically opposes the invocation of the 1988 Emergencies Act. The invocation of emergency powers further raises anarchy to authority. Canadians must themselves work out what to do when both sides are wrong.
“At every step of the way, all three levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal — have been noticeably outmanoeuvred. Thus, the occupation continues as do the border blockades. The other thing that has become very noticeable is that the convoy, occupation and blockades bear the stamp of military-style organization. It has been revealed that some of the main organizers have a knowledge of military tactics and police procedures” | PETER EWART
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency in the province at a news conference the morning of Friday, February 11, saying it is necessary to respond to protests and blockades in Ottawa, Windsor and Toronto. He said the protests against public health measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 have caused major disruptions in multiple areas of the province in recent weeks.
The narrow supranational private interests behind the so-called “Freedom Convoy” that is making a nuisance of itself in Ottawa and other cities and provinces have lowered the level of culture to one word expletives and are doing their utmost to instil confusion and fear.
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation spoke out about the blockade set up at the US.-Canada border crossing at Coutts, Alberta. This border crossing was shut down on January 29 by a convoy demanding an end to all vaccine mandates. Chief Adam pointed out that if the protesters were Indigenous, the RCMP would have already arrested them. “If peaceful protests of critical infrastructure at Coutts is allowed, then we expect the same to be true in the future should Indigenous people engage in similar forms of protest,” he said.
Across the country, the more rumours circulated about “a convoy of truckers” organized across the country to converge on Ottawa and other cities, the more truckers dissociated themselves from it and provided evidence of fake news.
The federal and other governments, their official media, the cartel parties with seats in the federal and provincial parliaments are incapable of providing analysis and measures to resolve the conflicts within their ranks, let alone meet the just demands of the people. This is why what is called “freedumb” applies to all of them, not just the demands of the hooligans who are causing mayhem in Ottawa and other places. | PAULINE EASTON
Very different to the so-called Freedom Convoy whose organizers seem intent on encouraging hooliganism and instilling fear across the country, B.C. truck drivers and supporters organized a successful rally and convoy on Saturday, January 22 in Vancouver. The rally was organized to bring attention to their working conditions and demand that the provincial government take immediate action to ensure their safety and that of all drivers on B.C. highways. Organizers estimate that approximately 350 big rigs participated in the convoy that assembled at the Gurudwara Dashmesh Darbar in Surrey and traveled to downtown Vancouver.
A mobilization called the Freedom Convoy converged in Ottawa on January 29. It is being presented as an initiative of truckers demanding the revocation of the vaccine mandate applying to truckers entering Canada from the U.S. that came into effect on January 15. However, it is not a truckers’ rally and our advice is Don’t Blame the Truckers!
Today there is a lot of talk about problems with supply chains, the dearth of truckers because of the pandemic, blaming truckers for spreading COVID-19 and the like. A narrative of false causes and consequences presents the problems in the supply chains as the cause of price inflation and, before you know it, truckers are the cause of price inflation.