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GIESBRECHT: One year later... the truckers were right

By Brian Giesbrecht. Re-printed without permission.

Jan 28 2023

It is a year since that noisy and boisterous convoy first disturbed the tranquility of staid Ottawa. Civil servants, politicians and mainstream journalists were forced to share the streets with pro-liberty protestors they found distasteful. In response, CBC reporters spread misinformation about protestors being connected to arson and Russian influence, while the prime minister kept far away from the convoy rabble, while he called them names from some safe space.

Police resorted to such measures as confiscating their gasoline and diesel fuel, and threatening to call in child-care workers to apprehend their children if they insisted on exercising their right to protest what they saw as liberty-killing government overreach.

And eventually, by bringing in the Emergencies [War Measures] Act, the convoy was crushed. Ottawa also employed some of the most draconian measures ever seen in this country. Protestors were jailed, trucks were confiscated and bank accounts were attached.

All of this is now well-known history. But now that a year has passed, it might be interesting to take a look back at exactly what the protest was about, and ask “Who was right — the government or the protestors?”

The most contentious issue and the one that initially sparked the decision to bring the trucks to Ottawa, was the PM’s decision to force unvaccinated truckers to be vaccinated if they wanted to continue to truck goods between Canada and the United States. The truckers insisted on exercising personal choice on this most private of health issues.

Who was right?

To put this in context, the truckers who chose not to be vaccinated had been hauling essential goods throughout the pandemic. In fact, even the PM had praised them for doing that. They had spent long days alone in their cabs, where their chances of becoming infected — or infecting anyone else —were essentially zero.

But more to the point, there was never any evidence that vaccination prevented virus transmission. That is, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people get and spread the virus, so why should it be any of the government’s business whether or not an individual chooses to be vaccinated?

The other major issue that the protestors wanted addressed was what they saw as gross overreach by all levels of government.

The protestors, like all Canadians, had just come through two gruelling years of school and business closures, an unprecedented curtailing of civil liberties, and other drastic government measures that were normally seen only in dictatorships. The protestors found these measures to be intolerable, and alien to their understanding of what Canada stands for.

The protestors wanted a chance to meet with the PM, and explain this to him.

But the PM refused to meet with them, or even to have a colleague listen to their information. Instead, he set in motion what was the Canadian equivalent of the sending in of the the tanks at Tiananmen Square.

The Emergency Act Report will soon be released. We don’t know what it will say. But what we are learning one year after the convoy first entered Ottawa is that the entire lockdown strategy was poorly thought out, and incredibly destructive.

President Donald Trump was roundly criticized when he said of suggested measures to deal with the pandemic, “We can’t let the cure be worse than the disease”.

But that appears to be exactly what happened in this country. Recklessly issued CERB payments have done great damage to the economy, the entirely unnecessary school closures and restricted re-openings have compromised our children’s health and learning, and the cruel and arbitrary cancellation of civil liberties have done enormous harm.

And the vaccine mandates that started the whole thing? Those mandates were clearly entirely unnecessary. Unvaccinated people and vaccinated people both get and spread the disease. It was simply untrue that unvaccinated truckers were somehow a threat to vaccinated people. And if the goal was to get as many as possible vaccinated, it is only necessary to look at nations that have both higher vaccination rates, and no vaccine mandates. In short, mandates were a bust.

The truckers were right.

Brian Giesbrecht is a retired Manitoba Provincial Court Judge.


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