You will hear soon about our wonderful trip to Chicago, but current events are taking precedence today.
I hate crowds. All my senses are hyper-sensitive, and I'd go crazy in one of those cultures where people like to be close to your face and touch you frequently. So—not a good candidate for the thrill of the crowd. Times Square on New Year's Eve is not for me.
More than that, I have a healthy fear of the mob mentality. People do stupid things in groups that they would never do without the urging and peer pressure of the mob. You will not be surprised that I am very leery of participating in any kind of political demonstration, child of the sixties though I may be.
Actually, I'd brave the crowds to show my support for a good cause, and I have done so once or twice, but even the most peaceful demonstrations these days are vulnerable to infiltration by those whose goal is to cause trouble. Whether from fringe "friends" of the cause, enemies determined to discredit the demonstrators, or mere opportunistic looters, things can go bad quickly, and the risk of getting caught up in them is real.
All that said, part of me would really like to be standing in Ottawa with Canada's truckers and their Freedom Convoy.
It started in British Columbia, sparked by Canada's new rule that any truckers crossing the border from the United States must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
You really shouldn't mess with the people who transport food and other essential goods, especially when your country is already having supply chain issues.
The fed-up truckers started a convoy from British Columbia, across most of Canada to the capital city of Ottawa. Along the way the convoy grew, as more and more truckers, and other supporters, joined. It turns out that truckers aren't the only ones who are "mad as hell and not gonna take this anymore" (3.5 minutes, language warning).
Despite that appropriate clip (from a movie I know nothing about), these "mad as hell" protesters are incredibly friendly and peaceful. I don't know what you may have heard about the Freedom Convoy, but the reaction of the media has been ... interesting. First they ignored the protest, and when it finally got so large they couldn't ignore it, they tried to demonize it, calling the participants "racist, misogynist, white-supremacist, insignificant radical fringe elements," and accusing them of all sorts of objectionable behaviors.
So on Monday, David Freiheit (Viva Frei) drove from Montreal to Ottawa to see for himself, and document his experience in a livestream. Yesterday, I made it through 2.5 hours of video, to the point where his camera gave out. Then I went to bed, figuring to write this post in the morning.
I awoke to another three hours of video, because his camera had merely run into a brief issue that was soon fixed. That was more than I could handle, but I did watch the beginning, the end, and several samples in between.
It's a livestream, unscripted, unedited, simply showing his experiences as he walked the streets of the city and interacted with the people. He specifically sought out evidence of the negative reports. According to the news, there had been Confederate flags (in Canada?) and swastikas, along with desecrations of memorials.
Freiheit found no such thing, nor had any of the people he interviewed seen them. He did find one person who said someone had let the air out of her tires, and a report of a window accidentally broken by someone's waving flag. And one of the memorials spoken of had had some flowers put at the base, and a bouquet of flowers put in the statue's hand. The only objectionable thing I saw was a number of signs expressing a rude sentiment all too familiar in demonstrations when Donald Trump was president, with Prime Minister Trudeau's name substituted for Trump's. I did see a rather clever twist on the "Let's go Brandon" theme: Let's go Brandeau.
Speaking of signs, here's my favorite.
It shows how young Freiheit is—he was born in 1979—because he said he didn't understand it. None of us who were adults in the 1980's can forget the atrocities of Romania's infamous dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu. These are, no doubt, the sentiments of a Romanian refugee shocked by the situation in "free, democratic" Canada.
It's also my favorite sign because someone noticed and corrected "then" to "than."
As far as I could tell, people may be angry about the government's policies, but they mostly seemed thrilled to get together with like-minded citizens and express their opinions. It could have been a block party. Smiles, hugs, excitement. Mutual respect between the demonstrators and the police. No litter on the street—the protesters made an effort to keep it clean. And they also shovelled the sidewalks! No rioting, no looting, no violence, no evidence of the bitter hatred so prevalent in recent protests south of the Canadian border. I knew there was a reason I've always liked Canada. They deserve better politicians, and certainly better policies.
You don't have to take my word for it; you can sample the streams yourself.
Part 1 (2.5 hours)
Part 2 (3 hours)
I found it exciting to watch, to be a part of it if only virtually, and to know that the event has been nothing like the news reports have portrayed it. May it stay the happy, if determined, protest that it is, as time goes on and people get more tired, cold, and frustrated.
If I had to live or work near Parliament Hill in Ottawa, I would quickly get tired of the sound of blaring truck horns, which sliced through my head even on the video. And no one can be happy about the traffic jams, even though long lines of trucks have been blocked from entering the city, in order to keep roads open for emergency vehicles.
I hope Canada's politicians quickly come to the realization that these people are also Canadian citizens they are sworn to serve, and learn to listen with respect. It's time to let the truckers—and everyone else—get on with their business.