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Trucker Freedom Convoy and the Collapse of Liberalism in Canada

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Trucker Freedom Convoy and the Collapse of Liberalism in Canada

by  Ray McGinnis
Author Unanswered Questions:

May 23, 2022

At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is “not done” to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was “not done” to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in highbrow periodicals. – George Orwell, “Freedom of the Press”

Recently, a friend told me she’d taken part in a webinar conducted by the Council of Canadians. The webinar included First Nations people speaking about RCMP mistreatment of indigenous peoples on reserve. It was contrasted with the peaceful disbursement of freedom convoy protesters in Ottawa on February 18th. The webinar narrative was partially true, likely informed by mainstream news reports. RCMP policing among First Nations people needs to be repaired. But, the Trucker Freedom Convoy in Ottawa wasn’t broken up peacefully. Just ask Candice “Candy” Sero.

Sero is a full-blood Mohawk woman from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Hastings County, Ontario. On February 18, I watched live footage online of mounted police officers charging through the freedom protester crowd and trampling Candy Sero as she stood with her wheeled walker. She fell to the ground. A horse stepped on her shoulder. A man in the crowd started yelling with growing desperation, “Oh my gosh. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Look what you did. Look what you did to her. Look what you did to her. Look what you did to her. You trampled on the lady… Shame on you. Shame on everyone of you. Shame on you…” Candy Sero survived the trampling. But she suffered a broken clavicle.

However, what I saw unfolding live in downtown Ottawa wasn’t part of the new orthodoxy. The live footage I saw wasn’t part of what right-thinking people would be shown, would accept. The people hosting the webinar could be forgiven.

But why did I have to depend on independent reporters and footage from protesters cell phones to reveal an ugly side to policing in Ottawa on February 18? Why weren’t the CBC or CTV covering these stories? Why was I increasingly feeling set adrift from my NDP and Liberal political leaders? My vote for Joe Clark in 1979 was the exception to my mostly voting NDP since 1980. My paternal grandfather voted for the United Farmer’s of Alberta party from 1921 until it collapsed in 1935, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation until 1961, and its successor – the New Democratic Party – until he died. NDP leader Tommy Douglas was a hero in my family. And so I supported causes like funding for the CBC, and giving donations at times to the Friends of the CBC.

Over the decades, I’ve been on the ‘left’ on a host of political debates: against NAFTA, keeping Canada out of the Iraq War, and more. I enthusiastically supported Jack Layton, NDP leader from 2003 to 2011, and was acquainted with him when I campaigned for him as a city counsellor when I’d lived in Toronto.

All Governments Require Scrutiny

Still, I knew Liberal or NDP governments were fallible. Jody Wilson-Raybould was a star Kwakʼwala indigenous Liberal candidate Vancouver riding next to mine in the 2015 federal election. She was given the dual portfolio of Minister of Justice and Attorney-General by prime minister Justin Trudeau. But in 2019, she was expelled from the Liberal caucus over the SNC-Lavalin affair. Canada’s Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion later found that Trudeau improperly pressured Wilson-Raybould to intervene in an ongoing criminal bribery case. Trudeau’s impropriety concerned the Quebec-based construction company SNC-Lavalin and pressuring Wilson-Raybould to offer the company a deferred prosecution agreement.

In read her memoir, Indian in the Cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould described a one-on-one meeting with Justin Trudeau at the Fairmont-Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver on February 11, 2019. It took place while the SNC-Lavalin affair dominated the headlines. These lines from her memoir haunted me:

He asked if I trusted him. I could see the agitation visibly building in the prime minister. His mood was shifting. I remember seeing it. I remember feeling it. I had seen and felt this before on a few occasions, when he would get frustrated and angry. But this was different. He became strident and disputed everything I had said. He made it clear that everyone in his office was telling the truth and that I…and others, were not. He told me I had not experienced what I said I did. He used the line that would later become public, that I had “experienced things differently.” I knew what he was really asking. What he was saying. In that moment I knew he wanted me to lie – to attest that what had occurred had not occurred.

By the time the pandemic began in March 2020, I had brought my manuscript Unanswered Questions: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored to a boutique publisher. Early on, I heard from some friends who were beginning to question the official narrative about the pandemic. But most of my friends accepted mainstream news stories. I was shocked by accounts of people being put on ventilators. And boggled by the daily case counts, death counts. But, mostly I kept my own council. Over the next 18 months I worked with editorial staff on editing, copyediting, proof reading, graphic design, and marketing for my book, working with a publicist. The lockdowns, semi-lockdowns and occasional modest restrictions were inconvenient. But, I had my home. I had my computer. In Vancouver, I could order take-out from restaurants. I was rolling with things. Not altogether comfortably. But, I was comfortable enough. I had a deadline to get my book to publication on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Vaccine adverse events get personal

My comfort with the mainstream media pandemic narrative changed abruptly in June 2021. A close family friend I’d known since early childhood eagerly stepped up to get his first shot of AstraZeneca. Within 18 hours he suffered a brain aneurysm. He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t work. His mother suffered from greatly reduced lung capacity after her first dose. As 2021 rolled along, several others in my wide circle across North America were injured by mRNA vaccines. Many others were learning about adverse events, AND calling into question how rare the side effects were.

Still, the media daily reported these vaccines were “safe and effective.” Though on August 6, 2021, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that the Covid-19 vaccines did not stop or reduce transmission, or prevent infection. What was being offered as the only solution to the pandemic didn’t seem to be able to deliver what it was peddled to solve.

Tolerance

In late December 2021, prime minister Justin Trudeau called the unvaccinated “misogynist, racist… We have a choice to make. Do we tolerate these people?” Given Trudeau’s carefully crafted image, this was jarring, illiberal. Classic liberalism has championed the value of tolerance. In 1789, the National Constituent Assembly of the French Revolution passed its Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Article 10 stated: “No-one shall be interfered with for his opinions, even religious ones, provided that their practice does not disturb public order as established by the law.” But in 2021, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada was signaling to Canadians that there were categories of people that maybe shouldn’t be tolerated. He was characterizing legal protests, of the right and freedom to assemble – established under the Canadian charter – as illegal.

Since he’d become leader of the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau’s public image was that of someone who was inclusive. Trudeau was someone who cared about the average person. He was someone who listened to their concerns. But now, the prime minister was openly disdainful, calling the protesters everything but classist. Justin Trudeau’s unwavering rhetoric helped cement disgust toward the protesters among many Canadians.

Collapse of Liberalism in Canada

What did the Liberal Party of Canada have to do with liberalism in 2022? Classical liberalism emerged with the collapse of feudalism and the slow erosion of church authority in the Renaissance. Liberalism began with the invention of the printing press, the flowering of culture in the vernacular (non-Latin) languages among the commoners, and widespread educational reform. Classic liberalism advanced the need for non-interference and independence of citizens under the rule of law.

In his 2003 book, LiberalismJohn Gray writes that classical liberalism consists of these four pillars. First, “it is individualist, it that it asserts the primacy of the person against any collectivity.” Secondly, liberalism is “egalitarian, in that it confers on all human beings the same basic moral status.” It is universalist in its inclusion of all persons regardless of any distinguishing features – all having the same moral worth. And fourthly, liberalism anticipates the march of human progress attained through critical reason to advance social wellbeing. The word liberal comes from the Latin liber which means “free.”

In the 18th and 19th centuries liberal politicians championed causes that included the 6-day/48-hour work week, welfare, child labour laws and public schooling, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, universal suffrage, unemployment insurance, social security, and the abolition of slavery.

Bodily Integrity and Security of the Person

Liberalism also advanced the value of bodily integrity. This included i) a women’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, ii) An individual’s right to not be sold into slavery or forced labour, iii) The right not to be tortured, iv) The right not to be sexually assaulted, v) and The right to the security of one’s person. The latter included informed decisions about taking medical treatments and procedures.

After World War II the security of one’s person was the catalyst for creating the Nuremberg Code of August 1947. In the Nuremberg Trial, German physicians were held responsible, and sentenced, for conducting unethical medical procedures on humans during the war. The judges at Nuremberg rendered this verdict in relation to any medical procedure or treatment, including:

  • Point 1: The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.
  • Point 4: The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.
  • Point 5: No experiment should be conducted where there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects.
  • Point 6: The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.

Off-message data

Almost 75 years later, was there reason to be concerned that the Covid vaccines could result in death or disabling injury? Were these vaccines riskier than advertised? The prime minister declared “the science is settled.” The Covid-19 vaccines were safe and effective. Yet, documents released by court-order in the USA revealed Pfizer knew by February 2021 that 1,223 people had died from taking their vaccine, according to the pharmaceutical companies Cumulative Analysis of Post-authorization Adverse Event Reports.

At the Centers for Disease Control’s on Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the system was blinking red. In January 2022 the number of Covid-19 vaccine deaths stood at over 23,000 in America. As of May 13, 2022, the CDC’s cumulative reported deaths after Covid vaccination in the USA stands at 28,141. This was in less than a year and a half. Since 1990, VAERS has been criticized for notorious underreporting.

Comparing VAERS data on Covid-19 vaccines with other CDC data is illuminating. Merck’s anti-inflammatory drug, Vioxx, was pulled from the American market in 2004 after five years. In 2004 VAERS reported 6,636 people had died in reaction to taking Vioxx. An article in the Lancet determined Vioxx caused 88,000 heart attacks, and 38,000 of these died. VAERS 6,636 reported Vioxx deaths turned out to reflect only 17% of the actual deaths. VAERS 5-year Vioxx data is less than 24% of deaths compared to experimental Covid vaccines reported in less than 18 months. What if, like Vioxx, the 28,000 deaths from Covid-19 vaccines represent only 17% of the actual deaths and were 165,000? Or higher? It would appear the Covid-19 vaccines don’t meet the standards set in the Nuremberg Code, based on Pfizer’s own internal reports alone.

May 2022, Canadian hospital statistics on Covid-19 admissions found 50% had received the 3rd shot (booster), 32% were “fully vaccinated,” 2% had one shot – “partially vaccinated” – and 16% were unvaccinated. This is consistent with hospitalization trends since the start of 2022. Could this be due to a National Institutes of Health and Moderna study finding that the mRNA vaccine is “impeding the development of the anti-nucleocapsid antibodies” and suppressing the immunity of the vaccinated? A study published by the NIH titled “‘Pandemic of the unvaccinated’? At midlife, white people are less vaccinated but still at less risk of Covid-19 mortality in Minnesota” suggested what was at play was a “pandemic of the disadvantaged.”

Autonomy

Nonetheless, Canadians were required to get two doses. When I got fully vaccinated, I no longer believed the vaccine would keep me safe from infection or injury. A mix of social obligations, personal circumstances, and social coercion played a big role. In America, Dr. Anthony Fauci was alleging the spread of Covid was due to a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The claim was repeated in Canada. Yet Peter Doshi, editor-in-chief of the prestigious British Medical Journal, concluded “We are not in a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Doshi said, “It saddens me that we as a society are oversaturated with the attitude of ‘everybody knows,’ which limits intellectual curiosity and leads to self-censorship.” If hospitalizations and deaths occur almost exclusively in unvaccinated people, “why would booster shots be necessary?” asked Doshi. “And why would the statistics be so different in the United Kingdom, where most hospitalizations and deaths from COVID occur among the fully vaccinated? There’s a correlation there that you should be curious about,” Doshi said. “Something’s not right.”

But Canadian authorities barreled along. The penalty for refusing vaccination in Canada for many has meant getting fired with no employment insurance. In New Brunswick the government let stores decide if they would allow the unvaccinated to buy groceries. In Quebec, the premier considered placing a tax on the unvaccinated. Effective November 30, 2021, unvaccinated Canadians were prohibited from traveling by air or train domestically, and from leaving the country by plane, train or ship. Though these policies are mandated by governments that are purportedly ‘liberal,’ they reveal a serious collapse of liberalism in Canada. For centuries, liberalism has advanced the cause of citizen autonomy: the capacity of individuals in a nation state to make informed decisions free of coercion. But, coercion has been a regular feature accompanying these measures.

Heroes and Villains 

On March 31, 2021, Justin Trudeau lauded Canadian truckers as heroes of the pandemic. He tweeted “While many of us are working from home, there are others who aren’t able to do that – like truck drivers who are working day and night to make sure our shelves are stocked. So when you can, please #ThankATrucker for everything they’re doing and help them however you can.”

But as 2022 began, the Trudeau government determined that unvaccinated truckers WOULD not be allowed to cross the Canada-U.S. border, effective January 15, 2022. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters have all asked the federal government to either eliminate or postpone the mandate. Factoring in American truck drivers, the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations estimated that as many as 32,000, or 20%, of the 160,000 Canadian and American cross-border truck drivers could be taken off the highways by the vaccination requirement.

When the new trucker mandate was enacted on January 15th, it crossed a line for many Canadians. Based on transmission of the virus by the vaccinated, and truckers never being super-spreaders, there was no defensible medical reason to require them to be vaccinated. By January 22 a Trucker Freedom Convoy formed in Prince George and Vancouver, British Columbia. Their destination was Ottawa. On January 26, prime minister Trudeau derided those joining the convoy as a “fringe minority” with “unacceptable views,” and claimed he was “following the science.”

As the convoy headed east during January’s freezing temperatures, truckers reported what was unfolding. “The convoy is 100kms long and growing all the time. The support people have is overwhelming. Coming into Winnipeg yesterday was pretty emotional the com radios went pretty quiet because no one could find words to express what we felt…. people packed on the shoulders of the streets. Cars parked and people for miles and miles on the ring road around the city. On the four lane going out of Winnipeg…ended up driving 5 to 20 km/hr for hours and hours. People had camp fires going in the ditches, fire works… Crane trucks with the booms up with signs, lights flashing, and flags. The shoulders of the four lane packed with people and cars. Overpasses packed with people. Tons of families little kids all bundled up. Everyone was jumping, dancing, waving signs, flags, and flash lights. All in -30C.” CBC news footage on January 27 confirmed a sea of Canadian flags greeting the convoy as it headed to Ottawa.

As convoys from British Columbia departed on January 23, those charged with standing on guard for Canada were remarkably passive. CSIS, the RCMP and the Canadian military had access to surveillance of everyone’s phone calls, text messages, and emails among the organizers of the convoy (and all Canadians). Yet, no one in the military, CSIS or the RCMP expressed any concern about a coup or insurrection. There was no attempt by those in authority to halt Ottawa-bound convoys from the West or the Maritimes from arriving in Ottawa the week of January 23rd.

As the convoy arrived in Ottawa on January 28, on the Power and Politics show, CBC announcer Nil Koksal commented “there is concern that Russian actors could be continuing to fuel things as this protest grows, or perhaps even instigating it from the outside.” Another CBC commentator mused “I don’t know it it’s far-fetched to ask but there is concern that Russian actors could be continuing to fuel things as this protest grows… perhaps even instigating it…” The allegations were retracted by the CBC on February 4. As well, there was a lot of media hype about the convoy being a white supremacist conspiracy. But federal financial investigators found no evidence of the charge.

Peaceful protest

Prime minister Justin Trudeau went into an undisclosed location after having caught COVID. The PM had received two vaccines and the booster, which might be seen as undercutting the need to mandate them. He ridiculed the whole convoy as “an insult to truth.” Rex Murphy stood nearly alone, rebuking his counterparts in the Canadian media for its “alarmist rhetoric,” WHO WERE describing the arriving protesters as “an occupying force.” Murphy observed “The protest has been actually not mainly but overwhelmingly peaceful, and the political and major press response, wildly alarmist and ominous. Ottawa shops remain with their windows intact, no assaults on police stations or police being bombarded with sticks and stones, no armed patrols by the truckers telling people where they could go or not go, and a splendid number of rather endearing incidents that have failed to make it to national or local press.” Murphy lambasted slanted media coverage depicting the protesters as Nazis, based on a lone swastika carried by a dodgy man shunned by the crowd.

The New York Times commented “The protests…blocked traffic on major streets downtown, disrupted business and tormented residents with incessant honking. But they were by and large nonviolent. Organizers inflated bouncy castles in the street, and people brought small children and dogs. D.J.s played music from a flatbed truck turned into a stage. At one point people soaked in a hot tub erected in front of the Parliament building.” This was hardly a recipe for insurrection.

Barring Australia and China, during the pandemic Canada had some of the harshest restrictions in the world. Many citizens wanted government accountability and a public discussion about the rationale for the mandates. National Post reporter Rupa Subramanya, Bill Gates, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau weren’t alone being triple-vaxxed and still getting Covid. Based on hospitalizations, this was happening to a lot of Canadians who got the booster.

Allegations of property damage and arson

Trucker Freedom Convoy lawyer, Keith Wilson Q.C., reports that during the first week after the trucks arrived the trucks were vandalized. “Groups of Antifa were coming through at night in their black hoodies and backpacks and black jeans. And they would come when the truckers were sleeping and knife their tires and cut their air lines and spray paint the trucks. They would vandalize the trucks. So, each block had a block captain for that area of trucks. And they had a watch system so that when an Antifa person would show up, the trucker would grab them, call 9-1-1 and the police would come, arrest that guy and take him away. That would happen three instances in the night. Guess what the police chief would do the next day? He’d say ‘we had three arrests for property damage in the downtown core last night’ The arrests were Antifa, the 9-1-1 calls were from truckers.” But Ottawa police left it to the media to infer the vandals, those responsible for “property damage,” were convoy protesters.

But politicians and the press, hunting for any indication of violence on the part of the protests continued apace. On the morning of February 6, Matias Munoz alleged two arsonists came to an apartment building at Metcalfe and Lisgar at 5 AM. with fire starter bricks into the lobby. He tweeted “One of them taped the door handles so no one could get in or out (including the arsonists). According to the story, a tenant saw the arsonists lighting a fire in the lobby, asked if they were truckers. And then decided to go to bed without calling 911. Which is what you’d do if you knew you were in a building that was on fire. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson held an emergency meeting of city council condemning the “malicious intent” of the convoy protesters. “Yesterday we learned of a horrific story that clearly demonstrates the malicious intent of the protesters occupying our city.” But the Ottawa Deputy Chief told the press on February 8, “We don’t have any direct linkage between the occupation — the demonstrators — and that act.” On March 21, Ottawa police confirmed the person charged with the February 6th arson had nothing to do with the convoy protest.

On April 8th, Rex Murphy reported “This week, we found out that the attempt to burn down an apartment building in Ottawa, which was so widely and wildly heralded during the Freedom Convoy protest, had nothing to do with the truckers. Please let this sink in. At the time, such was the volume of assumption, innuendo and outright allegation that everyone from Nanaimo, B.C., to Nain, N.L., formed the impression that this despicable action, an outrage by any standard, was the work of the truckers. Not true. False. Nothing to do at all with the protesters. It was allegedly the work of two Ottawa miscreants who were working alone.”

Crowdfunding

As the convoy protest continued, over 130,0000 individuals contributed to crowdfunding on GoFundMe. When this was shut down on February 4, donors gave to GiveSendGo. Funds raised for the truckers soon reached $12.7 million, plus several million more in cryptocurrencies. The average donation was $75. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s brother-in-law donated $13,000 dollars to the Convoy. When the media found out, Jodver Singh Dhaliwal said he “didn’t know what the Convoy was all about.” It would seem prudent for anyone giving a $13,000 donation to look into what the donation was in support of. But, never mind.

The CBC alleged on February 10 that donors to the crowdfunding efforts were largely Trump supporters and foreign racists meddling in Canadian domestic affairs. But, GoFundMe testified to the House of Commons Safety Committee on March 3 “Our records show that 88% of donated funds originated in Canada.” This was about 113,000 Canadians. CBC eventually retracted their story that donors were mostly foreign.

Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Former Newfoundland premier Brian Peckford was among those addressing the protesters. On February 12, Peckford told the Freedom Convoy he worked with the prime minister’s father and other Canadian premiers to enshrine the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The April 1982 charter that Peckford and his counterparts signed gave Canadian citizens these inalienable rights:

  • 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (including) c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and d) freedom of association.
  • 6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
  • Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right
    a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and
    b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
  • 7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived…

Truckers who drove by themselves to take essential supplies to keep the economy running had for two years not been spreading Covid. Yet, now were being deprived of their charter rights: of mobility, to remain in and leave Canada, and to pursue a livelihood. Peckford slammed the vaccine mandates as a violation of the Charter.

Legal Protest

Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland and other Liberal cabinet ministers, repeatedly referred to the convoy protest as “illegal.” But on February 7 Ontario Chief Justice McLean ruled the protest was legal. He wrote, “the defendents and other persons remain at liberty to engage in a peaceful, lawful and safe protest.” Ottawa city councillor Dianne Deans said the protesters were terrorists. This is a nationwide insurrection. Yet, Barry MacKillop, deputy-director of FINTRAC, the federal organization that goes after terrorism funds and criminal money-laundering, told the Commons finance committee that there was not a shred of illegal activity associated with the trucker convoy. The protests had nothing to do with domestic terrorism or money-laundering.

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