Diane Francis: The Freedom Convoy isn't what's ailing Canada. Justin Trudeau is

Feb 14 2022

Re-printed without permission.


Canadians deserve governments that respect them because they are law-abiding and tolerant people

The “Freedom Convoy” isn’t a Canadian “problem.” The prime minister and Canada’s Laurentian elite are.

The protests have inconvenienced many, but they have exposed what ails the country. It’s governed by a party that won only 32.6 per cent of the popular vote, with a public badly divided among five other parties. The Liberals have dominated politics for decades, backed by the well-heeled establishment in Montreal, Ottawa and Bay Street whose careers, incomes and businesses are linked to the party and who disdain rural and Western Canada. Such attitudes led to Justin Trudeau’s rebuff to the truckers when he pledged that “we won’t give in.”

Who’s “we,” and “give in” to what? The protest was started by politically moderate Canadians. There have been party atmospheres at these gatherings or blockades. And the cause has been supported by many Canadians. Two-thirds are fed up with rolling lockdowns and draconian public health measures and want them ended because these policies have needlessly damaged wallets, workers, taxpayers, employers, families and thousands of small businesses.

Besides that, Canada’s populace deserves to be treated with respect. It is neither ignorant nor unruly. Vaccination compliance here is among the highest in the world, including for truckers, but government overreach has been excessive. These demonstrations were sparked by the imposition of extended measures against long-distance truckers who, by definition, self-isolate to do their jobs.

The real story is Trudeau’s inclination to ignore dissent and dismiss a legitimate concern out of hand, then allow officials to block donations. The success of the GoFundMe appeal — more than $1 million in two days — revealed that there was broad-based support for the truckers. When the fundraiser was relocated to GiveSendGo after GoFundMe dropped the campaign, the support continued. Standing by while the Ontario government then froze the GiveSendGo donations attracted negative attention from around the world and made Canada appear to be anti-democratic.

Even worse, Trudeau’s absence lengthened the protests, attracting more radical elements, and led frustrated truckers to block border crossings. That, in turn, forced the president of the United States to call Trudeau and urge him to unclog the border, a task that should have been done immediately. Fortunately, Ontario Premier Doug Ford stepped up and declared a state of emergency, which provided extraordinary powers to police in order to clear the Ambassador Bridge crossing for the sake of jobs. Notably, however, Ford, unlike Trudeau, never disdained the protesters, only the blockage.

Within hours, the trucks and cars blocking the all-important Detroit-Windsor border crossing were cleared peacefully by police. Onlookers gathered in support, but there was no force required or resistance. The original truckers had made their point globally and their protests continue to spread to other countries where people are pushing back against restrictions.

This pandemic has been a challenge for all countries and, with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, it is now clear that government overreach occurred in many nations. When it became apparent that those most at risk were the elderly, lockdowns should have targeted those over 65 years of age, or with medical ailments, allowing the economy to continue to operate. The figures prove the wisdom of this approach: as of Feb. 4 this year, some 33,717 Canadians had died of COVID — 20,584 were over 80 years of age; 7,136 were between 70 and 79; and 3,570 were 60 to 69.

Canadians deserve governments that respect them because they are law-abiding and tolerant people who are universally respected. These protests have not been about race or creed or ideology or hate. They have been about workers standing up to the elitists who run the world, a division that exists everywhere. That Canadians peacefully “rose up” was inspiring to others, and is a feather in our cap.

The numbers prove that governments overreacted and damaged many without justification. And Canada’s truckers called it out first: enough’s enough.

Financial Post

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