Rex Murphy: Freedom Convoy was perfectly Canadian in its moderation
November 10 2022
Re-printed without permission.
The Inquiry into the calling out of the Emergencies Act. Why are we having it? I know they are hearing witnesses.
And I also know we’re hearing of noise-making, some traffic-jams, proven false-alarms of attempted arson, general discomfiture. Likewise we are hearing of confused and mixed reactions from the various security and police forces. With no intention of taking a jab at them, they, the forces of the law, were under confused command and mixed directions. It’s easy to jump on the people in uniform, but (a) we aren’t them, and (b) they are faithful to the various directions given them.
I am not hearing that there were threats of serious violence, or incidents of the same, because there were none.
The truckers protest may not have been a February picnic, but neither was it a heartless siege. The description that it was an “occupation” — are we thinking France in the second world war — is “journalese’’ of the laziest kind.
Here’s a description that might fit the Ottawa truck protest: It was Canadian in its moderation. It came into being because of a real issue. It did not adopt the tactics of green protesters or the more extravagant Black Lives Matter, or of Antifa outrages down south. The latter were sometimes violent, saw property destroyed, and even lives lost.
By contrast. Canadian truckers put in the miles, didn’t set fires, left all buildings unburned, and there was no violence or threat of violence.
The leaders asked for meetings. They were refused. The Prime Minister, preemptively labelled them a “fringe minority — not to be tolerated.” These words sharpened the conflict.
Now to go to the core.
Is there anyone, anywhere, from Bay Bulls to Nunavut, or anywhere in between, who holds, as a serious thought, that the protest — I will grant its inconveniences, I will grant its annoyances, grant even the displeasure that Ottawa, queen city, should have been its unwilling host even though Ottawa is the seat of government and it was government regulations that were being protested — really was an effort to overthrow the government of Canada? Or that, even for a minute, the government of Canada was in real jeopardy?
The question itself is a bad joke. That was never, at all, what this protest was about. The idea is as ludicrous as the charge. Many things may characterize the Ottawa protest. But overthrowing the government and thereby justifying the legislative dreadnought of the Emergencies Act is not one of them.
For what friction there was, and there was friction, it could have been massively reduced by the simplest and most Canadian of gestures. Meeting and talking with some of the protesters.
Whatever your view of the issues involved, they were Canadian citizens engaged in reasonable protest. Could it have hurt for someone in the Canadian government to talk with them? Why did that never occur?
From which comes a core question: Would or could such an effort from the government, have de-escalated the whole “crisis?” But, no. The choice was to portray this protest of ordinary Canadians as the actions of an “intolerable minority.” To play the game of division and marginalization. And then to elevate an organic protest into a national crisis, to which the invocation of the son of the War Measures Act was the only response.
The government of Canada was never in jeopardy. No one in the Convoy had the slightest idea of such a repugnant, ludicrous and — just to be clear — so impossible an idea.
The basic and central question this inquiry has to ask — and answer — is was there ever a true “national” emergency. On what we know, there was not.
And therefore the Emergencies Act should never have been invoked. It was a needless overreach.