Tory MP sides with truckers, causes havoc in House
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/01/2022 (425 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Manitoba’s most prominent federal Tory has hitched her wagon to the trucking convoy camped outside Parliament Hill, likening a fringe minority who toted swastikas to the Indigenous protesters who downed the Queen Victoria statue in Winnipeg last summer.
“Contrary to some, there are thousands of passionate, patriotic, and peaceful Canadians on the Hill right now, who just want to be heard,” Portage—Lisgar MP Candice Bergen said Monday in the Commons, causing an uproar.
This past weekend, thousands of Canadians arrived in the capital as part of a rally with a stated goal of protesting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, though the organizers have been linked to far-right groups who want to overthrow the government.
In any case, Manitobans who made the 2,100-kilometre drive to Ottawa have shared a range of opinions with the Free Press, from those calling for a rebalancing in how to prevent novel coronavirus spread, to others spouting violent conspiracy theories.
The most media attention has focused on protesters who held signs with Nazi symbols, danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, demanded meals from a soup kitchen, and affixed protest signs to the Terry Fox statue downtown.
“Contrary to some, there are thousands of passionate, patriotic, and peaceful Canadians on the Hill right now, who just want to be heard.”
– Portage–Lisgar MP Candice Bergen in the House of Commons, Monday
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau argued those elements represent the views of those whose trucks have been parked in the precinct since Jan. 28.
“Freedom of expression, assembly and association are cornerstones of democracy. But Nazi symbolism, racist imagery, and desecration of war memorials are not,” Trudeau told reporters Monday morning, saying he’d refuse to meet with the group.
Bergen, who is deputy head of the Conservatives, called on Trudeau to “extend an olive branch,” arguing a true leader would rise above the division.
“All Canadians want to see a leader who will work to heal rifts… not dismiss, name-call and gaslight,” said Bergen, who at one point had to apologize for accusing a fellow MP of lying, which is forbidden in the chamber.
On the first sitting day in six weeks, Bergen had MPs on both sides of the House fuming when she drew a parallel between those bearing swastikas and people who set churches ablaze last year, amid revelations of unmarked graves at former residential school sites.
“We all condemn hateful and destructive acts by a few, at any protest,” she said.
“Whether it’s beheading the statue of Queen Victoria in Manitoba… whether it’s burning churches, whether it’s wearing blackface, whether it’s Hezbollah flags or Nazi flags, we all condemn this. But I’m not talking about that.”
Liberal minister Dan Vandal was visibly aghast in the chamber.
“You cannot compare this to the frustration and the anger felt by the people who are recovering Indigenous bodies, and being angry about it,” Vandal told the Free Press afterwards.
“The three main leaders would like to overthrow our democratically elected government, and here is Candice Bergen and the Conservative party asking us to sit down with them. It’s just embarrassing on their behalf.”
“Freedom of expression, assembly and association are cornerstones of democracy. But Nazi symbolism, racist imagery, and desecration of war memorials are not.”
– Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Another Manitoba Tory took a different approach, saying little about the convoy but expressing outrage Saturday at flags with swastikas on the Hill.
“These symbols evoke the darkest evils in history. They should not be taken lightly, and should never be normalized,” tweeted Marty Morantz, a Conservative who represents Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley.
Justin Trudeau says he’s feeling well after testing positive for COVID-19
Trudeau posted on Twitter that he got the positive test result Monday morning. He has been in isolation since last Wednesday.
“Voices like these must always be condemned — never defended or explained away,” he said. “They must be condemned when they wear yellow Stars of David, which suggest a moral equivalency between safe vaccines and the slaughter of six million Jews.”
Meanwhile, before trucks reached the Hill, Tory MP Ted Falk (Provencher) was the sole elected official to show up at a Jan. 17 truckers’ protest that temporarily slowed traffic at the Emerson border crossing. Manitoba RCMP said the demonstration was repeated Monday morning at the U.S. border post.
Falk, the only MP among the 338 to not disclose his COVID-19 vaccination status, argued Monday the media is focusing too much on extremists on the Hill.
“It is always unacceptable when someone desecrates a national monument,” he wrote on Facebook. “They are a handful of individuals who do not represent the thousands of truckers who are lawfully and peacefully protesting.”
“Voices like these must always be condemned– never defended or explained away. They must be condemned when they wear yellow Stars of David, which suggest a moral equivalency between safe vaccines and the slaughter of six million Jews.”
– Conservative MP Marty Morantz
Vandal said the real unifying message would be for all MPs to side with the estimated 90 per cent of truckers who have been fully vaccinated, and tell the rest to hit the road.
“They’ve made their point, it’s time to go home; they’re causing more harm now,” he said. “As this continues to drag on, the more harm they’re going to cause to the fine people of Ottawa.”
Updated on Tuesday, February 1, 2022 10:31 AM CST: Fixes spelling