Time for grievance caravan to move along

“This is so much fun,” one of the organizers of the gathering of the variously aggrieved that has paralyzed the nation’s capital said on Tuesday. “We have all of Ottawa gridlocked right now.”

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/02/2022 (367 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

“This is so much fun,” one of the organizers of the gathering of the variously aggrieved that has paralyzed the nation’s capital said on Tuesday. “We have all of Ottawa gridlocked right now.”

Fun.

That’s about as revealing a one-word description as one could hope to find of the motivations, machinations and misinformation related to the so-called “protest” that started as an outcry from truckers angered by the imposition of vaccination/quarantine requirements for those whose business takes them across the Canada-U.S. border, but with lightning speed morphed into a distasteful spectacle in which hateful rhetoric and imagery, profound disrespect for monuments of solemn commemoration and outright hostility toward the people who live and work in downtown Ottawa have become the hallmarks of the gathering.

JUSTIN TANG / THE CANADIAN PRESS Trucks participating in a cross-country convoy protesting measures taken by authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 are parked on Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

The utterer of the “fun” observation, a fellow by the name of Patrick King, has been identified as one of the currently embedded convoy’s organizers. His association with the trucking industry is unclear, but his affiliation with far-right groups espousing racist views turns out to be rather well documented.

A member of an Alberta group involved in the Ottawa-bound caravan, Mr. King has a history of inflammatory comments, such as the suggestion Canada is being flooded with immigrants in order to co-opt the education system in an effort to reduce procreation among white people, or the threadbare anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews are secretly controlling global finances, media and governance.

In an online statement posted Tuesday, Mr. King stated “the only way this (protest/conflict) is going to be solved is with bullets.”

In an online statement posted Tuesday, Mr. King stated “the only way this (protest/conflict) is going to be solved is with bullets.”

To be clear: this is not a random participant in this ongoing occupation of Ottawa and the affiliated disruptions at border crossings in other parts of the country. These are not the views of one of “a few bad apples.” This is someone who has been identified as having influence within whatever passes for organization of this protracted disruption.

And sadly, he’s not alone. There are thousands more like him, pestilent provocateurs gleefully hijacking the convoy’s original intention.

“Fun” is most certainly not a word that would be employed by the citizens of Ottawa whose businesses have been forced to close, or whose properties have been subjected to various scatological indignities, or whose simple decision to protect themselves and others by wearing a face mask in public places has been met with derision and abuse at the hands of the self-styled protesters.

“Fun” is most certainly not a word that would be employed by the citizens of Ottawa whose businesses have been forced to close, or whose properties have been subjected to various scatological indignities.

“Fun” would also not be the word of choice for those still-working truckers — who count themselves among the 90 per cent in the industry who have chosen to be vaccinated — whose cross-border commerce has been brought to a standstill by police-defying blockages of Canada-U.S. land border crossings.

“Fun” might be how one would describe the past week’s disruptions if, for them, this wasn’t really about trucking or access to work or the integrity of the supply chain, but rather was driven by an interest only in oneself and one’s selfish impulses based in an ongoing absorption of internet-spawned vaccine misinformation and toxic, xenophobic nonsense.

Loud and disruptive and angry it may be, but this clumsily unleashed airing of grievances represents barely a tiny sliver of a minute fraction of Canadian public opinion.

Those who remain in the “protest” enclaves in the nation’s capital and at border crossings say they won’t leave until the rest of Canada acquiesces to their as-yet-unarticulated demands. That’s not going to happen. Loud and disruptive and angry it may be, but this clumsily unleashed airing of grievances represents barely a tiny sliver of a minute fraction of Canadian public opinion.

It’s time for them to go home, and let the rest of Canada return to whatever actually passes for fun in a pandemic lurching into its third year.

JUSTIN TANG / THE CANADIAN PRESS A truck blocks traffic in downtown Ottawa.
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