The Canadian Revolution At One Week
Canada's Populist Vote Of No Confidence
Despite the mounting evidence of broad and deep popular support in Canada for the Freedom Convoy, much of the Canadian media continues to portray the movement as the “fringe minority” of Justin Trudeau's rhetoric. As is by now a recurring theme within the media, the data and the narrative do not line up.
Only A Few Protesters, But Too Many For The Ottawa Police?
By far the oddest part of the Canadian Revolution story is the lack of a counter demonstration, or even a public expression of support for the Ottawa Police as they confront the protesters. If the Freedom Convoy truly were just a fringe minority, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has claimed, the numbers ought to be within the capacities of the Ottawa Police.
Consider some basic numbers:
By Tuesday, the number of protesters had presumably declined to around 250.
The highest “official” estimate of the number of protesters over the weekend is 18,000.
Ottawa itself is the fourth largest city in Canada, with a population of around 934,243.
Average home attendance for an Ottawa Senators hockey game has in recent years ranged from 12,000 to over 19,000.
Thus we are faced with a media narrative of a crowd that in terms of size is an average hockey night (this is, after all, Canada!) at most, and is a small handful of protesters currently, whom the police have characterized as “unlawful”.
"The intelligence that we’re seeing currently is that we will continue to see the convoy attempt to hold what they have," said deputy chief Steve Bell at a technical briefing on Wednesday. "Expect to see increased vehicular traffic Saturday and through weekend, decreasing Monday."
Bell called the demonstration something "between a demonstration and a long-term plan to occupy our streets." Acting deputy chief Trish Ferguson said that most of the demonstrators who were in the city over the weekend have left and what remains is "a highly-determined and highly-dedicated group of unlawful individuals."
Taking this narrative at face value, the question immediately arises why the police do not arrest these “unlawful individuals”? Why are the vehicles not being removed?
This is not to suggest the Ottawa Police should take those actions, but merely to point out the rather large hole in the media narrative; “something” is holding the police back.
The narrative hole gets even larger when one considers that only the third arrest was made on Wednesday:
Ottawa police have made a third arrest in relation to the 'Freedom Convoy' protests that have shut down parts of Ottawa since Friday.
Police said Wednesday morning they have charged a 48-year-old Quebec man for making threats and comments on social media while he was in Ottawa.
Three arrests and twelve criminal investigations—this is the “unlawfulness" of the protesters?
This is the magnitude of the protest challenge that led the Chief of Police Peter Sloly to contemplate asking for military reinforcements?
Ottawa's police chief says policing alone might not solve the ongoing, volatile occupation of the city's downtown core that has lasted for nearly a week, and military aid might be necessary.
"This is a national issue, not an Ottawa issue," Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said in a briefing to city councillors Wednesday afternoon.
Bear in mind that the “ongoing, volatile occupation” of downtown Ottawa is the doing of 250 “highly-determined and highly-dedicated” individuals.
At Coutts, Who Really Blocked The Highway?
While the mainstream media continues to portray the Coutts Border Blockade as an unlawful blockade of the highway by the protesters, there are reports that in fact the closure of Highway 4 is the result of the RCMP barricades erected to contain the protesters.
Overnight, truckers with the Freedom Convoy who have gathered in Coutts, Alberta near the border with Montana managed to refuel and re-supply as supporters continued to contribute to keep the protests going even as the RCMP continue to surround them in a blockade that has disrupted commerce - something the government has tried to blame on the truckers.
While it is impossible to establish from the dueling media reports who exactly is culpable for what, Alberta Health Services confirmed that there has been no disruption to emergency services in the area as a result of the protest.
A spokesperson with Alberta Health Services (AHS) told Postmedia there were no disruptions to emergency medical services on Saturday, according to reports from Edmonton, Calgary and South Zone.
“They have been monitoring the situation all day and are not finding any issues at this point,” the spokesperson said.
Allegations put forward by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney of assaults on RCMP officers also appear to be unsubstantiated.
Mounties say they are unable to confirm allegations made by Kenney on Tuesday that protesters had assaulted RCMP officers.
Peters told reporters Tuesday night violence did break out earlier in the day, but reports involved civilians. He said a head-on crash occurred and a person involved assaulted another person.
The incident took place after RCMP prepared to begin enforcement Tuesday, including making arrests of those involved with the blockade. Some vehicles left the area peacefully but Peters said others, including tractors, sped through police roadblocks to join protesters.
The description contradicts statements from Kenney on Tuesday, when he said he had received reports about assaults on RCMP officers, including one person trying to ram Mounties.
While the mainstream media narrative about the situation at Coutts thus has numerous factual issues, the growing support for the protesters is undeniable, as I noted yesterday.
Moreover, a similar protest in the Toronto region near Sarnia began late yesterday.
This does not appear to have been a full shutdown, but rather a procession of farm vehicles circulating around the border area at a slow rate of speed.
Lambton OPP are monitoring a convoy of farm vehicles, tractors and personal vehicles that are making their way through Sarnia and Point Edward Thursday afternoon.
According to a caller, approximately 150 vehicles were travelling on Front Street to Michigan Avenue, under the Blue Water Bridge, and then along Venetian Boulevard, back to Front Street and doing a big loop.
The Freedom Convoy Is Popular
Regardless of Justin Trudeau's continued insistence that the Freedom Convoy is a fringe minority with “unacceptable views”, there is an undeniable reason why Saskatchewan chose this moment to announce the end of its COVID-19 restrictions: Canadians support the Convoy and its methods.
A recent poll by Abacus Data shows that as many as one third of Canadians have “a lot in common” with the truckers.
A new poll released Thursday found that while two out of three respondents feel they “have very little in common with how the protesters in Ottawa see things,” 32 per cent feel they “have a lot in common.”
Additionally, 43 percent of Canadians feel the protests are “respectful and appropriate”.
This is hardly evidence of a radical extremist group. In fact, it indicates the Freedom Convoy is neither radical nor extremist.
The poll also highlighted a key dynamic that appears be fueling the movement: none of Canada's elected officials are seen as addressing the crisis constructively.
Of the responses from federal leaders, former Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole received the worst reviews with 59 per cent of respondents saying he did not deal with the situation appropriately or made poor choices. Other party leaders did not get glowing reviews either, with 53 per cent of respondents believing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response was lacking and 45 per cent believing the same for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
This is the revolutionary moment in which Canada finds itself: a growing perception that the government is not governing well, and is not leading at all. Justin Trudeau's ad hominem jibes against the Freedom Convoy serve only to highlight the narrow, divisive, and even tribal approach governments have taken to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t quite resort to Ms. Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” quip when he hosted a news conference Monday, but he certainly espoused no patience for anyone who participated in the trucker convoy that took over downtown Ottawa over the weekend.
When asked by one journalist whether it was fair to focus on the “obviously terrible” minority, Mr. Trudeau replied by noting that many protests he has witnessed over the years “don’t see the level of hateful rhetoric, of swastikas, of abuse toward their fellow citizens.” He then added, “Anyone who is part of this group who is disgusted by what the folks protesting alongside are doing needs to step up and take responsibility, condemn these actions and look for other ways to express their displeasure.”
When asked by another journalist whether it was his responsibility as Prime Minister to engage with the peaceful protesters who expressed genuine fears about vaccination, Mr. Trudeau insisted he has always spoken about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, but then went off about conspiracy theories, microchips and “about God knows what else that goes with the tinfoil hats.” He did not speak to the broader angst driving those who chose to peacefully demonstrate over the weekend, other than to tacitly chastise them for not standing up to those espousing hateful views.
An “us against them" perspective may be quite useful in times of war, as a means to mobilize the country in a united effort, but it serves no good purpose against internal crises and challenges. Justin Trudeau is called to be the Prime Minister of all Canadians, just as Joe Biden is called to be the President for all Americans. Even those who disagree with either policy or procedure are still entitled to the same attendance on their concerns as those who support both policy and procedure.
The moment those who disagree with government policy are denied that measure of political care, a disenfranchised group is created. The more that government refuses to speak to their concerns and even unsubstantiated fears, the larger that disenfranchised group becomes.
Government will either correct its course and address those concerns, or it will be swept away by the rising tide of discontent, “canceled” by a populist vote of no confidence.
The Canadian Revolution is happening because the government has neglected the concerns of Canadians. The Canadian Revolution is on course to prevail because the government refuses to change that.