Saturday 19 February 2022

Pushing Back

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.

Hmm ... I'd say 50% compliant, and 100% lovable.

IN is not ON.

If only all rule-benders and rule-breakers were as harmless as this bunch.


Anonymous said...

That's a good summary and I know more that I did. A dog being invisible because it is not looking at you resonates with me.

Joan (Devon) said...

I can understand why it took you so long to get it written in an understandable way. Some folks think the law doesn't apply to them and are shocked when they find it actually does. I hope the hard core protestors get their just desserts.

I liked all your funnies and the one which stays in my mind is the large dog with his head on one seat and behind on the other. All are appealing.

Take care Jenny.

Sandi said...

Thanks for posting, Pro.

Praying for your country. To me this looks like the worst possible way for the government to have responded to the situation.

jenny_o said...

Andrew: Glad to help in some way. Thanks for reading.

Joan: I finally just had to hit Publish but the situation is still evolving.

Sandi: Are you referring to using the Emergencies Act? If so, I'm not sure why you feel that way. Perhaps I was not clear enough with my explanation of how events unfolded.

Susan said...

Well laid out. I'm uneasy about the emergencies act being invoked. I'm not taking issue with the government but with the idiots who misrepresented the mandates as a loss of freedom (they always had a choice). They have now well and truly caused the loss of real freedoms for everyone.

jenny_o said...

Susan: There has been no loss of freedom for anyone, including the protesters, except where they have broken the law. It was the former War Measures Act which suspended civil rights, not the Emergencies Act we have now.

Marie Smith said...

I’m with you. Protesters rights to protest are not more important than the rights of the people of Ottawa. They made their point long ago. The authorities let down the people of Ottawa by letting it go on so long. It took a young woman to get a court injunction to stop the horns all day. What a mess it all is!

Sandi said...

No, you explained it well. The well-armed riot cops staring down the people gives me chills. I've seen this before. They look like all the regimes of history. The horses being used against the people, the woman with the walker and another person being trampled, maybe you didn't see this on CBC (more chills). The Emergencies Act gives Trudeau a lot of power. They are freezing bank accounts for donations that were not illegal. He made them retroactively illegal. Do you see this? He didn't try anything else, just warned them and declared martial law. Well, they were warned. Ok. I am afraid this is a warning to all Canadians, but you do not see it. Please just think about it when you hear bad things about these truckers. Please consider what is happening.

River said...

Love the funnies.
"How can these protesters not understand this simple concept?"
It would take a dozen or more psychologists to work with them to sort that out and probably still not come up with answers.
Perhaps they could all be told where they are camped ISN'T a legal camping ground and they are all now fined $XXX per day for being there. Hit them where it hurts most. In their wallets.

Joanne Noragon said...

I was dumbfounded reading the police had ordered children be kept behind police lines. Who would bring a child to this protest. Oh, yes, the insurgents are teaching insurgency to the next generation.
I think the cat in the very first meme can be forgiven. Every inch of counter top is loaded with human detritus.

messymimi said...

You have explained the situation very well.

Our society has glamorized individual freedom to the point where people do not seem to understand that their freedom to swing their arms in the air stops where the next person's nose starts.

We've downplayed the personal responsibility that comes with freedom, to our detriment.

Those "little law-breakers" are precious.

Red said...

Excellent summary of what's gone on in Ottawa. How can things that are so simple be twisted to support extremist ideas? How can people believe such information?

jenny_o said...

Marie: I think the biggest mistake the authorities made was in not taking the approaching convoy seriously. The intentions of the people headed to Ottawa were fairly obvious from their social media accounts. When they got to Ottawa it was easy for them to enter and set up camp. Once they were entrenched it was impossible for the local police force to remove them; they'd have been overwhelmed. The coordination among the levels of government meant that reinforcement requests took a while. Much of the problem could have been avoided if the convoy never had a chance to settle in. An ounce of prevention and so on.

Sandi: The sequence of events was this: 1. protesters arrived. 2. protesters turned the protest into an illegal occupation. 3. police in regular police uniforms tried to keep the peace. 4. backup was needed to remove the protesters. 5. police in regular uniform told protesters to leave. 6. protesters refused and escalated abusive behavior toward police. 7. police added helmets and sticks to their gear to protect themselves and enable them to do their job safely. 8. police on horseback were another means used to create a buffer between police and protesters and defuse tensions. It's important to understand the whole picture, and, as I feared, summarizing it in this post meant I could not include all the details. I hope this clarifies it a bit for you. Also, there is no military involved; this is not martial law. The freezing of funds being used to continue illegal activity was a consequence arising from breaking the law. There have to be consequences for breaking the law or what is the point in having laws? Unprecedented situations require action. This was the kind of situation for which the Emergencies Act was created. The people honestly protesting vaccine mandates, masking and other public health measures could have made their point peacefully and dispersed. They did not. They were misled and used by the other set of protesters whose stated aim was to overthrow the government. And that is where we are now.

River: Exactly - a public street is not a camping ground. What a simple, perfect way to explain it.

Joanne: The passing of misinformation from one generation to another is usually done in the privacy of peoples' homes and we don't really see it. In this situation it's on full display.

jenny_o said...

Mimi: That is a great analogy. And I agree about freedom and responsibility going hand in hand. Not everyone sees it that way, unfortunately.

Red: I think people are not exposed to a variety of information which would allow them to think more deeply. Social media has a lot to answer for in this regard. People are steeped in only their own beliefs as that is how the algorithms work. Whatever you "like", you get more of it. The pandemic has exacerbated this as people rely more on media for their socializing.

dinthebeast said...

It's difficult to take the motives of the protesters seriously when they talk in the media about blood lines and such. I think you did a wonderful job of summarizing the situation, as succinct and to the point as anything I have read in the media.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Mike said...

One thing that caught my attention here was diesel fumes. I must be more sensitive to them than most people and I can't stand them. When I'm driving I can tell if a diesel pickup truck is hundreds of feet ahead of me. They stink. I'm glad my SUV has a recirculate option for the heating system. I can shut out outside air from coming in.

gz said...

Well written.
It is worrying when extreme groups fund and corrupt protests

Sandi said...

"The freezing of funds being used to continue illegal activity was a consequence arising from breaking the law."

For protesting. It's the amount of power they've given themselves that shocks me.

Pro, I hope you will be okay. It's a terrible situation from my perspective. Thank you for letting me speak here. I am disheartened by the other responses, but wish you all well. 💙

jenny_o said...

Doug: Indeed. Those talking about bloodlines are not protesting anything to do with vaccines or masking or pandemic restrictions. They have hijacked the vaccine protest for much darker purposes.

Mike: The trucks were idling for hours very close to a residential neighbourhood of tens of thousands of people. Along with the continual honking day and night, this was not a healthy environment and it was egregiously selfish behavior.

gz: Exactly.

Sandi: You are misunderstanding the reason the funds were frozen. It was not because they were protesting. It was because they had gone from protesting to an illegal occupation of a public space. It's important to understand the difference.

Sandi said...

Jenny O,

"illegal occupation of a public space"

Look what you wrote. An illegal occupation of a public space. A public space. Their space, too.

I hope I am wrong about everything I really do.

Steve Reed said...

Thanks for the summary of this volatile situation. I agree 100 percent with your conclusions. Any protest has to have some parameters, even in countries with freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. What's scary to me is this united effort on behalf of a small minority of people (Steve Bannon, radical off-the-grid militias, white supremacists et al) to destabilize our Western democracies.

Steve Reed said...

Oh, and I forgot to say: LOVE the memes! So funny!

jenny_o said...

Sandi: Yes, it is their space, too. But not to the extent that they can keep others from using it. They harassed, jeered at, and spit on masked residents, they blocked streets, they set up tents, shacks and other structures in a public roadway that impeded movement of vehicles and pedestrians, they caused noise and air pollution to a significant degree, and they refused to leave when told to do so by public officials. Again, I emphasize that my rights end where yours begin, and vice versa. This is a basic concept that allows our society to function with regard for everyone's rights -- and their related responsibilities.

jenny_o said...

Steve: Exactly. This threat is not confined to one country, and it's been astonishingly well-coordinated by a small number of people. If only they used their abilities for good. Glad you liked the memes! Lots of dogs today :)

dinthebeast said...

You sound as if you might be feeling a little better. Are you?

-Doug in Sugar Pine

jenny_o said...

Doug: Thank you for asking - yes, I am having more good days now. And this was a very absorbing topic. It kept my mind occupied. How are you doing? Are you finding the pandemic isolating? I'm fairly introverted but even I am finding it that way. Blogging and commenting is helpful in reducing that, though.

Bonnie said...

Jenny, you have done an excellent job of explaining this situation and I'm sure it was not easy. We hear about it on the news each night but the information is limited. You have filled in many of the blanks for me, thank you. You may remember back in June of 2020 the U.S. was having major protests in most all major cities. It became quite violent with the burning of cars, destruction of property, and people getting hurt. We discovered that these protests were all made more violent by groups of people coming in from other places. I didn't realize until then that there were so many violent groups that would look for and jump in the middle of any kind of protest in order to cause more havoc and damage to the government. It sounds like you may have a little of that situation going on there. These groups work to stir up the local people and unfortunately many of them are armed. It is difficult to watch so many things like this happening all over our world these days. Most concerning to me are the people willing to expose their children to such situations.

I love your memes! One of our cats is bad about getting on the counters knowing that is one of the few places where he is not allowed to be. His solution is to jump on the counter and run as fast as he can the length of it and then jump on top of the refrigerator and look at me like "What? I'm not on the counter!"

kylie said...

It's interesting that your anarchic memes all feature dogs because we all know cats are the true rebels!

Cutting access to finance will undoubtedly end the protest. Brilliant move

dinthebeast said...

Actually, ever since my stroke (coming up on fourteen years now) I have heavily relied on internet friendships for social contact, and living up on this hillside in the boonies, the pandemic hasn't changed my social activities much. When I talk to the neighbors, it's outside and almost no-one has been wearing masks outside, so you almost wouldn't even know there was a deadly virus, although the topic does come up in conversation. As of last September, pretty much everyone here had been vaccinated, allowing for one big get together in between the initial and Delta waves.
Zsuzs buried her cat a few days ago, so she's not doing that well.
Her cat, Squeaker, was a proud scion of an illustrious family of junkyard cats, and I'm gonna miss him.
I did find that when I was depressed, I seemed to do better when I kept myself busy and accomplishing things, even mundane ones, helped prop up my mental state when things seemed bleak.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

e said...

Those that do not see beyond individual rights to collective responsibility are breaking the social contract as well the law.

jenny_o said...

Bonnie: You are right, this is quite similar to the way US protests were changed into something quite different. It was probably inevitable that this would come to Canada, but I'm kind of surprised by how quickly it did so. We usually lag further behind the US in the things we import from it :) I love the description of your cat and his solution to a rule he doesn't agree with!

kylie: It's true, cats just don't care what we think. Maybe that's the difference - dogs DO care. So they're torn between their own wishes and the rules of their owners.

Doug: I'm so sorry to hear about Zsuzs' cat; it's really hard to lose a loved furry friend and companion. I'm sending my condolences to her and you. The only comfort I ever found when I lost a pet was to be able to say I tried to give them a good life, and that they are no longer suffering, and maybe Zsuzs can find some consolation in remembering those things, too.

Your comment about depression was helpful to me - I have been in a slump for a while. I know I should be trying to do things to keep busy, but it seems like the energy I used to have is just gone most of the time. Maybe I should be aiming a bit lower and going with the smaller accomplishments first; build up to more over time. I'm glad you have the internet to keep in touch. I don't know where I'd be without the internet myself.

jenny_o said...

e: Nicely put - you've condensed it all into one sentence.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Interesting to get a Canadian view of the goings-on in Ottawa. There seems to be something very Trumpian about it all - as if the trucker gang and the hangers-on have much in common with the right wing mob who attacked the US capitol last year.

jenny_o said...

Yorkshire Pudding: You're right. Did you catch the part of a previous post where I mentioned a good portion of the funds donated to the Freedom Convoy were traced to right-wing elements in the United States?

37paddington said...

I agree with your take on the Freedom Convoy in every regard. And those mutts are lovable rule breakers indeed.

DB Stewart said...

I too agree with your take on the Freedom Convoy. Of course I believe in lawful protest; this quickly became unlawful and indeed an occupation by misinformed, miseducated people (let's meet with the GG and remove the PM? what?) manipulated by radicalized "leaders" with ulterior motives, some of whom couldn't even name the restrictions they were protesting. I think there is a major lack of perspective on the meaning of freedom versus privilege. My great-grandparents & grandparents lived through WW1, the Polio epidemic, the Great Depression, WW2, and so on, and they did it without running water; they were humble, hardworking people, very respectful of their neighbours, yet they would have laughed at current notions about lost freedoms. Look at what is happening tonight in the Ukraine where real freedoms are being destroyed.

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Eww, my comment seems to have up and left. I wrote something like: Thanks for this balanced and enlightening overview of a crisis that hardly has made it intio the Danish media. Grr more preoccupied with winter olympics, baking contest and our storms overturning a few trampolines. (This was written bofore Ukraine became top news)

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Spot on Jenny! The members of the convoy go on an on about their rights...without the least concern for anyone else's rights. It sickens me. A lifetime ago, my one rebellious teenager said there should be no more rules in our country. I told him that would then hold for everyone and he was a bit shocked. All he was thinking of was himself. He was 14. That was his excuse... What is theirs?

baili said...

i am sorry about all the disturbing situation at your country dear Jenny

it is surely not for the first time when enemies of the government or state are trying to use this protest for their personal ugly intentions ,i think it happens most of the time and in each country because it is not country but people and we know that each country has each kind of people good and bad .

i loved your phrase that one's right ends where it starts to bother other's right.

thank you for the memes they all brightened my afternoon :) loved most the sweet little opportunist :)
hugs and blessings!