I think of myself as a strong willed independent person.
Although I may get riled up about local, provincial, national, or international events I still feel I have control over my personal journey.
I have confidence in Canadian democracy and appreciate the checks and balances that go into guiding, or muddling through, public policy decisions.
Events over the last two years have shaken my confidence in the stereotypical polite and reserved “Canadian” way.
The polarization between the camps (vax – antivax, mask – anti-mask, protest/occupation – society/police, etc.) is disturbing with no reasonable middle ground to critically discuss the issues.
If one criticizes Public Health measures they are put in the anti-vax-mask-public health camp and may be ostracized by their colleagues, especially if they are healthcare professionals.
If one supports Public Health measures they are put in the “bought into the conspiracy” camp.
It is difficult to find people who do not have a binary, or “all in”, opinion on Government related COVID measures.
This divisiveness runs deeper than most appreciate.
What started as a protest against COVID vaccination requirements for truckers crossing into the USA has morphed into a large scale demonstration of loss of confidence in our Government to point of insurrection calling for the Prime Minister to resign.
Many may feel that the protesters represent a fringe minority group. I hope they are right, and I agree that there are probably a small number of fairly radicalized anarchist/libertarians amongst the group, especially amongst the protest “leaders”.
However, and sadly, I think those that protested are the tip of the iceberg of Canadians who are “mad as hell and won’t take it anymore” , whatever “it” is.
Sad to say but we are not immune to what is happening south of our border and the parallels in emerging ideologies are palpable.
The jury is still out about the wisdom and justification of invocating the Federal Emergencies Act which, in a very focussed and surgical way, strips targeted Canadian citizens of their constitutional rights and freedoms.
As I write this blog the Canadian House of Commons passed, for the first time in history, the Emergencies Act, with support, and opposition, falling sharply along party lines. The Emergencies Act replaced the previous War Measures Act which Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked during the Quebec FLQ crisis.
I am sure this historic moment in Canadian history will be discussed and debated for years to come.
Was the Federal Emergencies Act required to manage protester occupations? The debate on this question continues and the answer depends on which protest/occupation you apply it to.
Some protests/occupations in AB , SK and ON (i.e. Windsor) border crossings disbanded without the added force, whereas the Act has been front and centre for managing the Ottawa city occupation.
I do not have a strong opinion on the justification for invoking the Federal Emergencies Act. I want to hear more debate and commentary on the issue. I am also closely watching how quickly, and by what criteria, it will be terminated.
However, I think the right to protest does not impute the duty on others to be victims of such a protest. I also am sensitive to the optics of how it took three weeks to address a protest of primarily white folks in Ottawa compared to other recent protests led by environmental or Indigenous groups.
In the end I have an uneasy feeling that Canadians are in for a bumpy ride. We are facing an ideological maelstrom which is being fueled by divisiveness amongst our citizens and politicians.
In short, I am having a personal existential crisis and I suspect many of you are also facing the same.
Be kind to each other.
The following Facebook post resonated with me.