The two things truckers asked for, they didn’t get–vaccine mandates lifted and travel restrictions lifted. But they didn’t come away with nothing. Quite to the contrary. They came away with their eyes opened.
It can be very distressing when you expect one thing and get something entirely different.
Truckers drove to Ottawa in anticipation. You had a very real need. You knew who could address that need.
The problem is that only Prime Minster Trudeau could address the felt need of the truckers. There was no one else to go to, so you went directly to him, at great cost to yourselves.
The relationship between citizens and the government and our Prime Minister is not exactly a parent/child relationship but there are similarities. There is a similarity in that we have an authoritative presence in government and we, the people, experience a measure of dependency and susceptability to the whims of this authority.
In the case of the truckers, you wanted an audience with “dad.” But he turned his back on you. He did not even come out and say “No.” You had what you perceived to be a very reasonable request. Your “dad” verbally abused you, insulted you, belittled you and essentially trashed you before others. That is not a good feeling. It leaves you floundering with all kinds of internal dissonance.
The dissonance is there because what happened is very difficult to reconcile in your heart and mind and mostly this is due to the high regard you had for leadership. Your leaders have fallen from the pedestal on which you held them.
In the case of abuse, and that is clearly what happened here, there is the tendency of the victim to excuse the perpetrator. We want to hold onto our ideal. We need to hold onto our ideal. Because not to do so turns the world we imagined upside down.
We may even go so far as to deny reality in order to preserve the ideal.
Many Canadians have embraced a vision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a man of decency with respect for the ordinary citizens of Canada. We thought we held a precious place in his heart. Not only was he deaf to the voices of the truckers, but he slandered those who relied on his good judgment and had no where else to turn with their need.
Essentially, truckers, you felt like you were calling out your “parent.” Parents make mistakes. Some are ready to admit them and humbly ask for forgiveness. Some are not. Some will never apologize to their children. They see themselves in another protected category and this is very unfortunate because the necessary coming together cannot happen. A beautiful and trusting relationship cannot happen without being attentive to, and exploring, each other’s views.
I’m trying to unpack what happened because I find it uncomfortable and even distressing to be in a place of tension where actual experience suddenly does not match my long-held and cherished vision of Canada.
Truckers determined to have a peaceful protest. You did everything possible to convince Canada that you were going to remain peaceful. I truly cannot imagine a more peaceful truckers’ protest. One evidence of this was how you cared for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Ironically this monument symbolizes those for whom there was never resolve because they did not return from battle, either dead or alive, and their remains were never found.
Truckers showed kindness and fed the homeless. When people’s generosity towards you overflowed to the point where you had food left over, you donated to food banks. You showed yourselves to be generous and caring and fun-loving. You cleared sidewalks and picked up garbage left by others. Crime in the area dropped by 90%. But of course this was not how you were represented in the legacy media.
We rely on media for accurate documentation. Not only did the Prime Minister refuse to speak to you, relegating you to a class of citizens that he deemed too despicable to address, the media used talking points over and over again to try and smear your peaceful protest before the public. Both succeeded in maligning the protest to the degree that some neighbours felt justified in villainizing you as well. You suddenly found yourself experiencing a completely different world, one you never anticipated, one very unfamiliar to you, one where people were cruel and unjust and lied and turned others against those who never did them wrong.
The City of Ottawa, under the direction of the mayor, deployed a huge and unwarranted police presence. However, you welcomed the police because you had nothing to fear by their presence since you were following the law. You were respectful and friendly towards the officers who in turn treated you with dignity, more dignity than the Prime Minister demonstrated. The police were on the scene, daily, as witnesses, and can attest to your high character.
The media jumped on the visual of groups of police officers patrolling downtown Ottawa. They could turn this optic in their favor. Their goal, as we can see in hindsight, was to paint the most alarming picture possible of the protests and to incite a reaction. They attempted to create a story that would later justify the “crushing of an uprising.”
Many of the truckers did not hold to a conspiracy theory before they came to Ottawa, but what they witnessed made it clear there was a conspiracy between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the media. They conspired to turn the truckers into villains in the eyes of the public. This they did.
Not everyone believed what they saw in print and came to Ottawa to find out what was going on for themselves. Others watched independent commentators online who were committed to documenting what was happening, of their own choice and at their own expense.
When the City of Ottawa asked you to stop honking horns, you stopped. Admittedly, you knew the horn honking would agitate some residents. Even peaceful protests cause disruptions. You were trying to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attention. This was a means of making him aware of your presence, and making the community, and indeed the world, aware of the fact that you came to Ottawa with a purpose. You wanted to be heard.
Stop the vaccine mandates. Stop the ArriveCan app. Let Canadians be free, once again, to work in their chosen professions, and to travel.
From the beginning I have found it unconscionable that Canadians lost their jobs because they chose not to get the vaccine. If you cannot work, you cannot buy food and feed your family. Our government knows that if you cannot work, you cannot own a home. You lose your dignity and sense of purpose.
For some people it is impossible to get the vaccine, either for conscience sake or for medical reasons. Let’s not under value the significance of personal conviction and consent. Mandates remove the possibility of volition and consent by enforcing intolerable consequences.
Prime Minister Trudeau colluded with the press and it is becoming apparent that there was collusion with pharmaceutical companies who have a lot to gain from ongoing vaccination requirements, regardless of efficacy. It is unrealistic to expect 100% cooperation from the public. It is also totalitarian to have this kind of top-down legislation. The measures taken to force people into compliance are harsh and oppressive.
I am reminded of a little known historical tragedy that happened in Ukraine between 1932-1933 known as the Holodomor or “Great Famine.” Oppressive government mandates issued by Joseph Stalin limited travel and food production and distribution. Farmers were forced to give up their land under new government collectivization efforts. Peasants who resisted forfeiting their land were misrepresented as enemies of the public and violently suppressed by the government and cooperating neighbours during this period of Soviet Industrialization. As a result of the measures an estimated 7 million people in the Ukraine died unnecessarily of starvation.
As shocking as this account may be, it serves to remind us that government leaders are fallible. They are capable of making decisions that lack compassion and that disregard the rights of their citizens, namely the right to dignity and sustenance.
The cognitive dissonance felt by truckers began when they lost their jobs due to the vaccine mandate. This is true of health care workers as well. Peculiarly, these past “heroes” became targets of our government. At time when we lived in much greater fear of the dangers of covid-19, these people could not isolate and work from home, as the Prime Minister did. Daily they exposed themselves to risk and disease because of their commitment to providing care and delivering the goods on which Canadians depended.
The only thing that will resolve the dissonance is to stare, fearless and unflinching, directly at the brutal facts, without excuse or rationalization. This means moving away from denial. Experientially it is similar to feelings of grief after a great loss like a death. In stages of grief, people who move past denial find themselves angry. Anger is an acceptable response, not to be feared, but it must taper off. Anger depletes a person of energy and is typically followed by a season of depression. At this point it is helpful to find counsel or look for consolation in encouraging slogans, symbols or rituals. Finally we move into a place of acceptance, reluctant as we may be. I say acceptance, not in the sense of resignation, but rather facing the truth of how life is altered and summoning the courage to move forward.
We’ve now reached a fork in the road in Canada. Either we will rebuild our democracy, or the alternative will happen. We can only imagine what that might look like.
Admittedly, there is a part of us that wants to say, “It’s not as bad as I think.” But maybe it is. Maybe what you are thinking and feeling is exactly right. Our desperate longing for good in this world can get in our way. Our child-like innocence and blind trust can cause us to walk, unseeing, into a pit. As the saying goes, “It’s time to call a spade a spade.” Trust serves us well when others are trustworthy.
The trust of Canadians is tragically broken and that is the saddest outfall of the protest. But it was unavoidable and necessary for Canadians to come to this point of acknowledgement. Our government, its tactics, and its attitude towards the people has been exposed. We were living with a false perception of reality that may have been an illusion even in the more distant past. Things have deteriorated to the point that there is no longer any hiding.
I am hopeful that we can return to the Canada where there was trust in our government. Rebuilding trust will be a very long and arduous journey.
Yes, Canada is in a very fragile place. We must act with great care, going forward. The world is watching with expectation. Not all are cheering us on. Some are looking for a tragic end. Some are eyeing Canada calculatingly, hoping for opportunity.
Let’s not despair. All is not lost. Every day new voices are speaking up for dignity, truth, freedom and democracy.
Truckers have had their eyes opened. The images of force in downtown Ottawa as a result of the employment of the Emergencies Act will forever be burned in our memories as testimony to what we did not think could happen in Canada. Peaceful protest turned violent by our government.
There is another side of the coin we must consider as well.
Truckers, you were an imposing presence on Parliament Hill, virtually immovable, and definitely heard. Your peaceful protest attracted a lot of sympathy across Canada and this was undeniably threatening to our government.
Yes, you were a threat. A threat by your goodness and by your reasonableness. You represented justice. You represented fairness. You represented a sensibility understood by the common man. In the face of false accusations, in the face of loss of property, in the face of loss of freedom to work, you have this to hold onto. You did not violate your conscience.
You had no intention to overthrow the government but this was the charge cast against you, unrelentingly, by the Prime Minister and the press. The constant talk of weapons, the arrests that had noting to do with protesters, the defacing of monuments by vandals, which was attributed to truckers. You saw it all. You responded in a calm, respectful manner. You held the higher ground, and the Prime Minister knew it. Our representatives in government witnessed it as they went to work, and attested to the fact that they never felt more safe in downtown Ottawa, that is, until the day when the Emergencies Act was weaponized against innocent citizens.
In these times I turn to my faith for guidance and strength. Jesus knew what was in the heart of man. He was not under any illusions and he knows today. It was this knowledge that gave him courage, no matter the outcome.
We can have the same confidence and assurance when we are on the side of goodness. That does not mean that suffering is avoidable.
This battle for freedom to work, travel and live peacefully alongside our neighbours will continue around the world and it is truth and justice that will set us free. Let’s keep our eyes open and give thanks for every evidence of provision and each step forward in victory. Continue to sing “God keep our land, glorious and free….Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee” and to pray, “Thy kingdom come. They will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Hold the line.