Posted on Facebook Monday, February 1, 2022
In the past few days, the city of Ottawa has been under siege by a trucker protest called the “Freedom Convoy”. It has meant thousands of trucks blocking the downtown core, where many people live, and has had a domino affect of traffic tie ups across the city including Bay Ward.
Demonstrations are part of a democratic society. They can be inconvenient to those not participating however that is part of how they get attention. Having participated in marches such as the one on Climate Change Action in 2019, I get that they are a nuisance to those not participating and that being peaceful and respectful is necessary.
What is also getting attention with this current blockade is the use of hateful symbols such as swastikas and confederate flags that stand for anti-Semitism and racism. The organizers of this event have lost control of their participants if they ever had it in the first place. There is no set end date to this demonstration since the demands that are being requested are beyond reality such as asking an elected government step down as well as demanding that vaccination mandates and protocols end. I don’t know anyone who loves to wear a mask or have needles jabbed in their arm but there is such a thing as social responsibility that means doing things because they are the right thing to do for the good of all. Making vaccines mandatory is to protect the vulnerable not inconvenience the privileged. It’s up there with not running red lights because you are in a hurry and they are inconvenient to you.
If we can learn anything from this protest, it’s that freedom is not about yourself but about the wellbeing of our communities. We are diverse groups of people, and we need to respect each other to have true freedom for all. Think of those who died by the hundreds in long term care facilities because COVID19 protocols were not strictly followed. What about their freedom?
Let’s take this opportunity to teach our young that hate is an emotion that can harm others because it grows and becomes destructive. We all need to ask them to question their motives on what is inconveniencing them. My young grandson has come to use the term, it’s not fair, when things don’t go his way. It’s an important opportunity to point out that we can’t always get what we want which is often for our own best interest.
For outsiders, Ottawa is the Nation’s capital with Parliament Hill and federal government buildings. To the over one million people who live here this is home and we are trying to get on with our lives like everyone else during these challenging times. We are a diverse and vibrant community of all backgrounds including those who are suffering from poverty and homelessness made worse by the pandemic.
There is much work to do here and across the country. The protestors came and I respect that they wanted to be heard. However, idling trucks on our streets is not moving yardsticks. It’s time they face this reality and to go back to their communities and speak to their own local representatives.