I've been writing, re-writing, re-re-writing, and re-re-re-writing this post over the past 24 hours, trying to create an update on the situation regarding the Freedom Convoy in Canada. Things have been changing so rapidly it is hard to keep up.
I have paraphrased a number of CBC live video interviews to provide the information in this post. The situation has been evolving so quickly there are very few written articles that I can link to. Where possible, though, I am including links. I am trying to provide objective information in summary form for those who don't have the time or inclination to follow extensive news reports. Even as a summary, this post is long and I don't expect it to appeal to every reader.
What began as a protest against vaccination requirements for truckers crossing the US-Canada border in the course of their work fairly rapidly changed into a protest against the federal government and a commitment to continue to protest until the government was overthrown and replaced by a certain faction of the protesters. As I mentioned in my previous post on this, the group of protesters is a mix of people: those opposing public health measures and those who are trying to create civil unrest, not just in Canada but across the world.
The main bridge between Canada and the US, as well as a couple of other border crossings that were blockaded by protesters, were cleared earlier last week. A significant number of weapons were found at one crossing and arrests were made. The linked article described a "neo-facist, white supremacist group" related to the weapons and arrests in Alberta, and indicated the group's leader was involved in the Ottawa occupation.
On February 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to pass laws to give specific powers to police to deal with the current unrest, powers not provided by existing laws. The Act was passed in 1988 and replaced the War Measures Act of 1914.
Whereas the War Measures Act, if invoked, suspended all Canadians' rights, the Emergencies Act is targeted only at specific threats to public welfare, public order, international emergencies, and war emergencies and any laws passed under it must consider the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Bill of Rights. Before the Act can be invoked, the federal cabinet must consult with provincial cabinets. The Act must be debated and passed in Parliament but takes effect immediately upon being invoked. If passed, it is valid for 30 days unless revoked earlier. The Act has a provision that requires a review after the crisis situation is over, to determine what went right or wrong. It has been described as self-correcting because of this provision.
As of yesterday, police numbers in Ottawa have greatly increased, with officers coming from across Canada to assist in clearing the occupation. The Emergencies Act allows those officers to immediately step in to enforce its laws. Without the Act, those officers would have had to be individually sworn in as members of the local police force, a process which would take several more days.
The response of the police to the protesters is required to be measured and proportionate - only enough to get the job done - and it certainly has appeared to be so. This statement is based both on observation of live coverage over the past 24 hours and CBC interviews with experts on the topic of law enforcement.
It is important to understand that the convoy participants have been given repeated opportunities to leave peacefully, but many of the crowd doubled down on their occupation. Information has been distributed to every participant as to how they are breaking the law and what the penalties could be, but many people either discarded or destroyed the pamphlets or did not believe the information to be true.
Those who did not believe the information to be true have been repeatedly been told by protest organizers that the police are merely using scare tactics and do not have the power to arrest them. They were shocked and crestfallen when arrests were finally made. A certain number of these people decided to take their trucks and themselves home.
The group that remains are, predictably, more hard-core and belligerent. It includes those who refuse to recognize the authority of officers and the law and those directing profanity at the police and media and spitting on officers. It also includes parents who have brought their children to the protest and to the front of the police line, exposing them to a potentially dangerous situation. One of the provisions of the Emergencies Act has made the presence of children under the age of eighteen at the protest illegal. Parents have been informed they are breaking the law and could be arrested and their children would be given into the care of the Children's Aid Society while they are detained.
Another provision of the Emergencies Act is that funding of the protest can now be shut down. Anyone who takes part in the protest can have their personal bank accounts frozen and insurance on their vehicles suspended. The objective is to stop the replenishment of food, fuel, and other supplies to protesters. Again, I point out that participants have been repeatedly warned of the consequences of continuing to occupy Ottawa and encouraged to freely leave in order to avoid those consequences.
Now for my opinion.
After 22 days of protest and occupation, the participants have made the lives of tens of thousands of nearby residents miserable with their noise, diesel fumes, nightly street parties and barbecues, and blocking of normal movement to jobs and school; they have significantly affected the livelihoods of downtown business owners and residents; and they are breaking the law.
Our society cannot be a place where everyone does whatever they feel like doing. Individual rights stop where they begin to infringe on the rights of others. This is why we have laws to begin with. Peaceful protest is permitted under the law. Prolonged and aggressive occupation of public property is not.
How can these protesters not understand this simple concept?
Still cleaning out my memes files. Today's actually DO have a theme because apparently I saved some things in groups if that's how they were presented online. The theme is "Breaking the Rules", rather a timely topic.
Not allowed on the counter. Technically is not ALL on the counter.
Not allowed on the table. Nobody said anything about being on the owner's purse.
Technically, only 1% breaking the rule.
IN is not ON.