So where do we go from here? by Shirley Dolan

Shirley Dolan
Shirley Dolan

Its one week and a bit after the Freedom Convoy 2022 (the Convoy) was dismantled in downtown Ottawa. So where do we go from here? The Convoy/Protest brought out the worst and the best of human interaction. Some will say it was an occupation, others insist that the truckers have galvanized an otherwise timid and polite Canada and brought an important message to the front door of the federal government – no more lockdowns, no more mandates.

Ostensibly, the Convoy had its roots in the mean-spirited and petty insistence by the Liberal government that truckers had to be vaccinated to cross the border into Canada. To have imposed this burden on a group of workers Trudeau had called heroes at the beginning of the pandemic, when vaccination rates were high and truckers’ exposure to other people is low, is shameful.  Yes, the US did the same, but does Canada have to follow what the US does?

So, the Convoy started rolling with the intention of arriving in force in Ottawa on January 29. And arrive they did. No-one, least of all the organizers, could have guessed the enthusiasm with which the Convoy was greeted along the way. Instead of reading the situation for what it was, a call for a change in how the pandemic was managed, Trudeau started with his name calling. The Convoy and its supporters were a fringe group of undesirables. On arrival of the Convoy, Trudeau said he had Covid, despite being triple vaxxed, and hid for a week.

In addition to the swelling ranks of trucks headed to Ottawa, donations continued to pour into the Convoy’s GoFundMe site until it was shut down after reaching $10 Million CAD. Another site sprang up almost immediately, surpassing the amount raised on the first crowdsourcing site.

Meanwhile, blockades were set up at several border crossings. These were eventually cleared out but for some reason, back in Ottawa, no-one seemed to be in charge or know what to do. The crowd of sympathizers showing up on Parliament Hill seemed to get bigger every weekend. Bouncy castles, hot tubs, pig roasts, and good old hockey games moved in. It was like Canada Day in winter or maybe, le Carnival de Quebec. While the media and politicians tried their best to demonize the Convoy and their supporters, the movement gathered support locally, nation wide, and internationally.

Several events happened in quick succession:

  • Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, somewhat reluctantly, moved to lift the mandates.
  • The Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada was turfed, and Candice Bergen was named interim leader.
  • City of Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly resigned and Deputy Chief Steve Bell stepped up as interim chief.
  • The Chair of the Police Services Board was fired and two other councillors and a citizen representative resigned in solidarity after an acrimonious special council meeting.
  • Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, which was confirmed by the House when the prime minister hinted that the vote would be a confidence vote.
  • In a fit of vengeance, the Trudeau government shut down hundreds of bank accounts, credit cards and loans. As many as 200 still remain frozen despite Barry MacKillop, deputy director of FINTRAC, telling the Commons Finance committee on Thursday. As far as his agency is concerned none of the people whose accounts were frozen intended to bring down the Canadian government or destabilize the country’s economy.
  • Two days later, Trudeau withdrew the public order when it looked like the Senate would vote it down. I suspect that the freezing of bank accounts also contributed to the cancelling of the order as clients began to lose confidence in the Canadian banking system and withdraw money.

The protesters and the trucks have moved out of downtown, some by force, most by choice. Most of those arrested have been released and all but a few of the frozen bank accounts have been unfrozen. The GiveSendGo fundraiser for the Convoy sits at close to $10 Million USD at the time of writing. But the opposition to the lockdowns and mandates is still very strong.

The City of Ottawa, in their usual take charge spirit, has declared March 14th as a do-over St Valentine’s Day.

The war in the Ukraine is now the primary focus of the feds and all Canadians – as it should be.

Theresa Tam, chief public health officer for Canada, along with others are hinting that we may have to revert to pandemic restrictions if the numbers start to creep up.

On March 1st, in Ontario, the proof of vaccination system will be removed, however, masking requirements will remain in place although Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore  suggested that given the accelerated reopening timeline, masks could be gone as soon as two weeks after the onset of phase three, which would be 12:01 a.m. on March 15. “Please never doubt that the steps we took together, as difficult as they were, were absolutely necessary and saved tens of thousands of lives,” Premier Doug Ford said at a recent news conference. This despite growing evidence to the contrary that lockdowns are essentially ineffective. Johns Hopkins Analysis: ‘Lockdowns Should be Rejected Out of Hand’ | National Review and suggestions that we should never have locked down to begin with Lockdowns called wrong approach to a pandemic ( All those protesters and truckers in Ottawa, no masks, no distancing, hugs, dancing, singing and Covid hospitalizations in Ottawa went down, not up. Go figure.

So where do we go from here?