canadian protests against covid

Canadian Protests against Covid #

The February, 2022 protests in Ottawa, and across Canada could be just another indicator of people losing faith, confidence, and trust in the social legitimacy and trust of all public institutions — including courts, fuelled by a culture of impunity.

In the foreword to the latest “World Report” from Human Rights Watch, the organisation notes:

that crises do not come from nowhere. They are cultivated by governments that do not uphold their obligations to their people.

While evidence of “right-wing populism” persisted, many protesters were simply dissenters concerned with erosion of civil rights. Dissenters can be advocates attempting to right wrongs. When impervious layers of bureaucrats protect our representatives from us, we may need to resort to coarser tactics to be heard.

The choice to become a dissident can easily be the result of a number of small decisions that you take - to object to flawed processes, resist bullies, refuse to accept corrupt conduct. And then, one day, you find yourself irrevocably on the other side. Often, this process involves role models. You see people whom you admire, and you want to be like them. It can even be “selfish.” “You want to do something for yourself, to respect yourself.”

Present day politicians refuse to take the needed actions.

Every day, we are confronted with conflicting narratives premised on opposing assertions. Our primary duty is to sniff out underlying realities.

Politicians and judges should focus on real-life situations. Responsible and reputable judges churn out safe determinations, reflecting reality, by being overly cautious of accepting fanciful notions.

Government officials failure to build public trust, foments diminished respect in the entire political system, resulting in national threats to social order.

All governmental culture of confidentiality tends to shake public trust, posing a threat to democracy.

The global trend towards distrust in government and symbols of the state, exists in the attacks on law enforcement in Germany, America, Australia and China. Perhaps it’s time for politicians to stop talking, and start listening.

“The road to tyranny is paved with pebbles of silence, fear of others, division, lies, national myths of imaginary threats, and the coarsening of rhetoric.” Richard Flanagan.

While we have every right and duty to hold all power to account when we enter dangerous regressive eras, it is crucial how we do it. It is important to remain calmly assertive.

Creeping authoritarianism is a constant threat to democracy. Liberty demands eternal vigilance by respectful means.

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm; but because of those who look at it without doing anything”. Albert Einstein

Western democracies displaying a dangerous indifference to real concerns of citizens, foment a simmering resentment of all politicians. Citizens who haven’t enough interest in the democratic process to stay even vaguely informed of the issues have only one profound political conviction - that all politicians can’t be trusted.

Politicians show reciprocal cynicism in an electoral climate where the shadiest hucksters know how to manipulate the masses to win elections and then betray the people. Blair, Obama and Trudeau could be prime examples.

Modern legalists bill themselves as a bold break with the past, but are simply reflexively protecting their cabalistic cartels. The result, is a sleepy regulation structure, closely aligned with the legal industry’s preferences, leaving hapless citizens at the peril of random judges.

As with David Remnick’s analysis of the January 6th siege, the Canadian Big Rigs protest was a phenomenon rooted both in the degraded era of do–nothing governments and in the radicalization of a major industry under threat due to severe Covid restrictions.

Part of the government’s dark achievement has been to attempt to hide behind tactical secrecy privileges and control the political narrative by painting all protesters with the same brush.

There was simply no central control of the protests, rather a major un-co-ordinated groundswell movement across Canada rising in protest against prolonged strictures affecting their livelihoods. It would stretch any serious citizen’s credibility by connecting the dots to prove otherwise.

When citizens are subjected to a degree of cynicism through a lack of openess preferring ‘divisiveness’—we can lose our ability to view things objectively. As a result, the prospect of engaging with the Public Order inquiry into Trudeau’s attempt to delegitimatize protests is a challenge to the spirit of democracy.

That is both understandable and a public danger. And yet a citizenry that can not bring itself to pay attention to such an investigation or to absorb its findings, risks moving even farther toward a disturbing ‘new normal’: a post-truth, post-democratic free world. Our entire political and Justice system is under the world’s spotlight.

Unless Canada wishes to follow America’s society tearing itself apart, our politicians need to address the root causes of grievances to avoid future strife.

Canada’s Justice System needs a complete revamp. It appears to have a healthy legal cabal totally divorced from a sick Justice System. When legalisms trump Justice, as it appears in most democracies, we know the assault on democracy is in progress.

Participatory Democracy #

Citizens have a sovereign duty is to improve society through community engagement. When Representative governance fails us, we need to protest. The state of our democracy depends on the accountability of all our elected officials and the integrity of our public institutions.

Writing is our duty to history. Behrouz Boochani

We owe the voiceless, our support for their silenced pain.

The Public Order Emergency Commission, capably presided over by Justice Paul Rouleau, has heard how the protestors repeatedly referred to the failure of the Federal government to listen or engage in dialogue, while praising the efforts of the Ottawa mayor and police to negotiate, treating them with respect.

This could be the root cause of a rise in civil and political unrest by what the PMO unfortunately referred to as “malicious actors”.

Not the optimum language to engage in constructive dialogue. Poisonous language can seep into the soul of the national body, and that’s wrong.

The government appears to have a tin ear regarding long standing warnings about a breakdown of social cohesion. Does the PMO have any advisors with an historical perspective?

There also appears to be silo culture hindering collective action. Good governance needs co-ordinated services.

Every country in the world had to deal with political protests as a result of restrictive measures to prevent the spread of Covid. Some handled it better than others.

Canada’s problem was exacerbated by several factors – perhaps foremost a recent culture of unresponsive ministerial responsibility treating complaints as a nuisance to be ignored. Thus aggrieved citizens feel compelled to seek other means of redress.

Pollies should be brave.

In 2023 we want more politicians to think big and to push big changes. We are facing big issues that are cultural and systemic in nature (Justice is a good example) that need systemic oversight, systemic solutions, and systemic policy interventions.

Now that new digital platforms have eroded the traditional media’s monopoly, faith in self trashing institutions is at a record low, including the mainstream media.

Has the CBC become a government mouthpiece, instead of a vox populi? Protesters turn to social media to escape state propaganda.

What got up the nose of most authorities was the big rigs towering over them, cowering their leaders. They now should know how we feel about their towering contumely.

Prompt, decisive action could have been taken to impound big rigs blocking any thoroughfares.

Surely negotiations should have brought people together as equals, to resolve the situation.

Calling them a “small fringe minority” with unacceptable views, and refusing to go “anywhere near protests”, prolonged the crises. What happened to governing for the whole nation?

More fortunately for all Canadians, Carissima Mathen, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa, noted that the Emergencies Act has multiple safeguards built in it, most notably a requirement of the act to hold an inquiry after its invocation.

What other country is so fortunate?

Marshall McLuhan understood that:

“the chances of understanding the meaning of our involvement in the present is very small. It is generally the artists who see what they are living in the present and we are always one step ahead”.

Margaret Atwood advocates for the agency of all citizens to activate our governments for the common good. Inspiring leaders energise nations to lift them to greatness.

“A voice is a human gift, it should be cherished and used. Powerlessness and silence go together”.

We need to accept our own power and not let anyone take if from you. Refuse to be a victim by engaging in dialogue with the problems of the world. Though there are no paragons of virtue, we can look back nostalgically to the freedoms and rationalism of the past compared to the alarming, disturbing political chicanery of the present. Truth is not irrelevant. We must use our voice to speak out.

Institutional contempt, makes her angry and sick.

Michael Ondaatje writes from the perspective of the unacknowledged drones of society, the voiceless manual labourers who are scarcely regarded by society, the rich or history. They too need a voice and they will only be heard through their actions.

Anatole France’s, funeral oration cited Émile Zola’s, ‘greatest attribute was never losing faith in his country’s ability to rule by law. His advocacy in the Dreyfus Affair was a moment in the history of human conscience.’

In all democracies we have to decide how much power we are prepared to cede to government and how to balance that with individual liberty. The pandemic has brought that to a head, in many countries with protests (some of them violent) against lockdown and vaccination programs.

Pandemics generally result in social unrest, relentlessly exposing moral, judicial and political shortcomings. The Black Death caused disruption for years after.

Covid 19 demonstrated the helplessness of traditional patterns of authority to meet the challenge posed by the social and environmental consequences of the rise of social media revealing the structures of social inequality, the paralysis of political power, and the attitudes and habits of mind of different classes and groups in society with a cold and pitiless clarity.

Apathy hides our elemental desire for sovereignty over our inherent freedom of choice.

Crises can unleash apathy, resulting in a wave of popular fury; freedom is intrinsic to the human condition.

After the experience of the global pandemic, it seems axiomatic that trust is essential. Trust in experts, science, health care systems, media, courts and in politicians has been sorely tested over the last two years. As we have seen, a loss of public trust has a profoundly adverse impact on all societies.

Dumbed-down media and do-nothing politicians trigger apathetic citizens reactions.

Canadians can be seduced by creeping authoritarianism – so its citizens need to remain constantly vigilant.

Defying the principles of responsible government, by inaction, draws attention to the precarity of democracy. In seeking to safeguard our democracy, we must consider the extent to which Canadians’ long-standing apathy about our democratic system, and obsequious deference to the courts, and mainstream media allows the politicians and court system to treat responsible government with such contempt.

Trust in courts and in governments is crucial for a mixture of ideological, normative and instrumental reasons as the American experience starkly shows.

For public confidence in the RCMP to fall to 35% should ring alarm bells. Many other institutions have lost our respect.

The CBC reports that a judge received personal threats during the February protests.

The judge believes:

“most Canadians respect the justice system, but said a vocal minority is seeking to undermine it. “It’s intimidation. It’s trying to influence a court decision, and that’s serious,”.

Maintaining high social justice expectations is not mob rule - it’s “consent of the governed” in action, protesting official inaction.

Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner expressed similar concerns in a recent speech in Montreal.

“The pandemic has forced many people to live online during lockdowns. And it is at times like these that lies and conspiracies spread like wildfire,”

“As we have seen around the world, disinformation poses a real threat to democratic institutions.”

The demonstrations that took place in Ottawa this winter stemmed in part from this disinformation, Wagner said. He encouraged people to “inform, instruct and educate” their fellow citizens.

Sound advice to all Judges and officials too, who undeniably have one of the most demanding roles in creating and maintaining a fair society. Judges too, often willingly fall prey to malicious lies in courts. They need to be reined in.

For that reason it is essential that good judge’s reputations are not smeared by bad judges. In areas of jurispudence, judges who seem to have irreversibly lost touch with reality itself, need to suffer deterring consequences.

The tolerance for poor behaviour among judges is startling — the bar is subterranean and for some reason, judges aren’t held to the same standards of malpractice as other professionals. The tragic implication lies in their power to debase people and ideals. The public expects that public service roles, funded by the taxpayer dollar, be performed at the highest level of integrity.

Axiomatically public perception of Judicial integrity is, in consequence, a state interest of the highest order.

Justice Wagner inherited this unholy mess, left behing by his predessesor, more interested in projecting an image of power than performance, needing more than glossy public relations to remedy.

Impeaching non-performing judges would go a long way to restoring respect, faith and the legitimacy of the entire judiciary.

In my opinion, the public are well educated, able to discrimminate between good and bad judges. The public would be better served if the good judges engaged in informing, instructing and educating the bad judges in order to preserve the reputation of all. It is the less honorable judges who give the whole profession an undeserved, bad name. At the risk of mixing metaphors, it is necessary to corral, bit harness and cull the judges who bring the entire court system into self-inflicted disrepute. Only about ten percent of judges give the rest a bad name.

Instead of blaming public expectations, perhaps a closer scrutiny of some of his less scrupulous judges fostering a damaging culture, would prove more effective in restoring our confidence in what should be our most pretigious irreproachable institution. All officials would do better to absorb the message, rather than attacking the messenger.

The recent attack on Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is disturbing, but needs to be understood in terms of increasingly loss of faith, confidence and trust in all authorities.

While it is easy to blame perpetrators, it might be more effective to look for real causes – governments no longer responding to real concerns, and legal minds who cannot see beyond their generation’s field of vision.

Perhaps what’s more disquieting about the profane outburst is that events of this sort have become almost commonplace in a society whose grasp on mutual civility, respect and common courtesy seems quickly to be slipping away.

Shakespeare continually resorts to using the analogy of a well tended garden to urge leaders to eradicate weeds by uprooting, pruning and loping:

……………………..Superfluous branches
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live.
Richard II

Expanded powers, new equipment, including media support are all measures used to stigmatise lawyers, activists… hell, let’s call them what they are, troublemakers – who get harassed without anyone with any authority having to front up and accept responsibility. It’s all part of the constant process of delegitimising dissent.

The warnings and hype about ‘violent’ protests mask another agenda in which politicians and certain elements in the media demonise the very notion of protest, and by creating and reinforcing an association between mass protests and violence, they seek to de-legitimise the former. Public protest is the right of all Canadians. Pollies may not like it, and it may not sell many papers, but it’s part of what democracy is all about.

For the Winnipeg Free Press to paint a reunion of protesters as “celebrities”, demonstrates how skewed their vision is. Perhaps a focus on causes of social injustice would be more beneficial.

Police, originally instituted to protect citizens, can become perpetrators, protecting themselves and their governors from the citizens. As a force, the police are servants of the public; not protectors of oppressive governments. Governments are loath to tackle police corruption because they need the loyalty of the police to protect them from the people.

For the Canadian sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons to be “flabbergasted” at how the Ottawa police allowed the harassment of members of Parliament and staffers to go on during the protests against COVID-19 restrictions in the capital during February 2022, demonstrates governments feel they are beyond censure. The Ottawa police obviously knew their primary duty was to the citizens.

Emergency Powers #

To its credit, The Public Order Emergency Commission investigated the steps that led to the declaration of the Emergencies Act in February.

The Canadian Constitutional Foundation argued that the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act in February was unnecessary and unconstitutional.

The CCF argued that police already had all the powers needed to clear the blockades using the Criminal Code and provincial highway traffic legislation.

Watching the session cross examining our Prime Minister was an eye opener. Public inquiries can be transformative or a mere charade, a showcase of going through the motions, with the conclusions already evident. Officials are prepared for:

”Misdeeds, once exposed, have no refuge but in audacity”. (Tacitus)

Government officials projected an image way beyond audacity - more like the smug, complacency of towering privilege of protected aristocrats, safe behind laws of privilege leading to arrogated ignorance.

Official evasions through any privilege, suggesting a culture of confidentiality become “corrosive” of public faith in all institutions tending to shake public trust, posing a threat to democracy.

There is no substitute for the principle that underpins our whole justice system, that the protection of law applies to us all equally to benefit of all.

According to Julianne Schultz, the 2019 coronavirus pandemic made its way from animal to human, killing millions worldwide, stretching medical systems, wrecking economies and lives, it has provided a unique X-ray of the fractures and underlying fault lines in every society.

In Australia one of the X-rays was of public administration. It showed signs of osteoporosis.

In Canada it revealed a trust deficit in media, the justice system and all politicians.

Democratic Justice systems appear an aloof national disgrace beyond our censure.

It was a joy to watch the calm, measured, and fair proceedings conducted by Justice Paul Rouleau. All judges could learn from his attentive yet authoritative style.

I will reserve my full assessment until all the dust has settled - though anyone watching the proceedings is well qualified to make up their own minds.

Findings of the Inquiry #

In his inimitable fair and balanced style, the truly Honourable Justice Paul Rouleau, articulated what I consider a graciously, prudent rebuke to all officials:

Emergencies Act was ‘justified,’ but avoidable”.

Rouleau acknowledges a number of fundamental rights:

  • that this Commission’s task is first and foremost to be a tool of accountability and to foster public confidence.
  • Members of the public have a right to know what the government did, and why they did it.
  • I conclude that it was not an organization with clear leadership, rather, it was a movement comprised of people who shared certain social, economic and political grievances, but also had countless individual views.
  • Many of the protestors’ concerns long pre-dated the COVID-19 pandemic. They were rooted in feelings of loss of place within Canadian society, alienation, economic anxieties, and loss of faith in government.
  • First, the COVID-19 pandemic was perhaps a once-in-ageneration crisis. Governments – federal, provincial and municipal – responded in good faith to circumstances as they understood them.
  • Second, however one views those responses, they imposed real hardship for thousands of Canadians. People did not only lose family and friends to the disease. Some also lost jobs, businesses, homes and savings. Many more, such as health care workers, laboured under extremely difficult circumstances.
  • Truckers were another group that felt a heavy weight from the pandemic, sometimes made more difficult by health measures put in place by governments.
  • One of the most cherished rights enjoyed by Canadians is the right to engage in political protest.
  • The ability of individuals and groups to publicly voice their dissent enriches and empowers our democracy.
  • The majority of those who participated in the protests were animated by a genuine desire to engage in peaceful demonstrations so that their voices would be heard by leaders in government.
  • They wished to exercise their fundamental right to express their political views. They had a right to do so.
  • However, like any large group, there were a diversity of views and intentions amongst the participants in the Freedom Convoy.
  • Amongst the many who intended to protest peacefully were others who had more sinister goals, or who were willing to engage in dangerous conduct to achieve their desired ends.
  • For reasons that I discuss in my report, what began as a massive protest evolved into something entirely unprecedented: an occupation of the core of the nation’s capital.
  • The state should generally be able to respond to circumstances of urgency without the use of emergency powers.
  • In other words, the Emergencies Act is not a tool of convenience but rather, a tool of last resort. The fact that circumstances evolved to the point where Cabinet reasonably considered it necessary to invoke the Act is regrettable because, in my view, the situation that led to its use could likely have been avoided.
  • Preparing for and responding to situations of threat and urgency in a federal system requires governments at all levels, and those who lead them, to rise above politics and collaborate for the common good.

Einstein told us not to idolise anyone, but even he would have to make an exception for someone like the most Honourable Justice Paul Rouleau. How did get into the room? Obviously he still believes in Lincoln’s:

Government of the people, for the people and by the people.

The full report is freely available for all to interpret.

The Media #

In a democracy, the media have core responsibilities to strive for delivering for the people.

  • They should be fair and balanced without conscious agendas.

  • Don’t publish what you know is (or could be) false; take steps to check the accuracy of your report.

  • Make amends when you do publish something false

  • Respect privacy and sensibilities of individuals, except in cases of “obvious or significant public interest”.

  • Rumour and unconfirmed reports should be identified as such.

  • Don’t publish news obtained dishonestly or unfairly, and don’t breach confidences.

  • Clearly distinguish fact and opinion.

  • Don’t suppress or distort relevant facts.

Hypocritical outrage. #

None of us is faultless, however, we do need to laud good deeds while calling out and denouncing obvious bad deeds.

While sanctimonious virtue signalling can be counter-productive, there are core norms that have served mankind for ages, establishing accepted standards forever.

When officials become unfettered by legal norms and unworried by public opinion - answering to no one - frustrated citizens resort to protest.

Prosperous, harmonious societies rely on principles enunciated by Hammurabi, Hesiod, Solon, Socrates, Plato and many others that cannot be breached without serious damage to the body politic.

The volume of confected emotion by Canada’s government over the February 2022 demonstrations was only superseded by their capacity for hypocrisy. Worse still was the damage done to political discourse by the purveyors of indignation. How dare anyone protest against our government?

The contrived nature of the progressive contumely towards all protestors reached new lows, with officials and mainstream media apoplectic, hurling inane abuse at a rag-tag movement of participants’, whose perceptions of a political upheaval or a full-blown revolution began to crash into the reality of an ad hoc movement built on misinformation and bluster.

The inflated hysteria of some media reaching peak stupidity while others merely scaled peak hypocrisy.

Fake outrage inevitably mangles and twists words beyond recognition to suit some new daily pile-on. When journalists scan the scene for the latest target of ire, they plunder language, stripping words of meaning and power. To charge peaceful protestors with obstructing Justice takes language warfare to new depths.

To arrest Tamara Lich twice is mind boggling. Someone has lost touch with reality.

Superintendent Morris, OPP intelligence officer in charge of the Provincial Operations Intelligence Bureau, testified,

“I was concerned by comments made publicly by public figures and in the media that I believe weren’t premised in fact.”

“I did not see information that substantiated what was being said publicly and via the media, and I found that the subjective assertions sensationalized – yes – and exacerbated conflict.”

Further The Justice Centre jointly submitted, with the Democracy Fund and the Freedom Corp protestor group, a proposal to have Catherine Tait, CEO of the CBC, testify before the Public Order Emergency Commission, to investigate:

“the impact, role and sources of misinformation and disinformation.”

If the CBC, in any way was complicit in spreading false information, serious questions about the role of mainstream media need to be asked.

As the American court system glaringly illustrates, the root cause of social unrest, is a Justice system that has lost the respect of its citizens, undermining the legitimacy of the entire institution in most democratic countries. Jeannie Suk Gersen maintains that the Court is not behaving as an institution invested in social stability, let alone in the importance of its own role in safeguarding that stability.

Sarah Lipton-Lubet, the American executive director of the Take Back the Court Action Fund, said,

“stop treating the Supreme Court like it’s some untouchable panel of demigods.

Why do we celebrate freedom demonstrations in Russia, China, Myanmar, Belarus, Iran and other countries, but disparage them in Canada? Why does Canada have such a proliferation of self funded organisations needing to advocate for justice?

My take is that Canada’s justice system was in disrepute much before 2012, and its failure to provide clear clean justice is more likely a contributing cause of the protests, rather than an innocent victim.

Disinformation happens in all areas of life, especially in court rooms. When judges follow a pattern of deliberate ignorance and show open credulity to self serving, unfounded testimony, rather than grounded facts or probative evidence, they undermine their own credibility, leading to an erosion of public trust.

As Bradley Regehr told Canadian Lawyer:

“Judges are “supposed to make decisions based on the evidence that is put in front of them, and the law”…

For the CJC to abdicate its responsibility involving allegations of judges’ failure to deal properly with evidence is a denial of its elementary and founding purpose.

Fact-checking has become a sophisticated, high-tech profession. When courts are easily scammed they lose their mojo. Fact-checking websites and fact-checking columnists can tell you how to identify a will that has been manipulated, how to spot fake testimony, how to differentiate between fact and fiction, just by comparing hard evidence or a single photograph in exhibits. Are judges behind the times?

Any judge who consciously, deliberately, purposefully and intentionally distorts and skews evidence through perception manipulation should be subject to an investigation by a Parliamentary committee comprised of a majority of non-legal representatives.

Our elected representatives have a constitutional duty to represent us, not shirk their responsibilities.

Parliament needs to oversee an effective process for remedying complaints and enforcing statutes of Parliaments. We can not afford for any profession to self regulate. We cannot afford the tyranny of the court system to overide the supremacy of the will and consent of the people of Canada.

I respectfully suggest the Chief Justice inform, instruct, educate, and censure, judges, under his responsible care, who flagrantly fail to follow this advice.

The 2008, GLOBAL INTEGRITY report gave Canada’s judicary a 30% mark, noting that:

“there is no accountability at all on the part of any judges in Canada because of a complaints’ process in which judges judge other judges. The Government accountability watchdog agencies have a weak enforcement record”.

Has any Parliament, in the last 15 years, done anything to address this lack of enforcement?

Justice Simon Noel opined that:

“it is inconceivable that a single body, with no independent supervision (is) beyond the reach of all judicial review…

Pandemics can have dire implications for our civil liberties unless safeguards are put in place.

Measures, “capable of infringing our human rights” often “last longer than the actual crisis”.

Insurgency has been, and is, a present threat to Canadian democracy because ignoring legitimate concerns of citizens risks the rise of extremists, already manifest in Ontario, France’s Yellow Vest Movement and now across Canada.

What’s indefensible is a political class that believes nothing better is possible — a class that benefits from enmity without realizing that the damage from it is corrosive, and possibly irreversible. Michael Ignatieff, a former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Liberalism in the modern era has thus become a kind of strange pantomime act in which elite politicians deploy the rhetoric of imminent threats and national emergency only to behave like hapless passengers trapped aboard a sinking ship. Adam Gopnik – New Yorker The only courage some modern leaders display is the ability to do nothing.

Governments, in all democracies, tend to turn a tin ear to legitimate citizen concerns, imperilling our democracy.

Protesters didn’t have a single message; there were a lot of very angry, disaffected people. When normal mechanisms for conflict resolution fail us, we have no alternative but to protest.

However, governments and their institutions control the narratives and if they, and the mainstream media, cynically decide to characterise all protesters as extremists, we need to fight back.

In the 1950’s our compatriot, Marshal McLuhan predicted:

“Ours is the first age in which many thousands of the best trained individual minds have made it a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind. To get inside in order to manipulate, exploit, control is the object now.”

Only through clever perception management - casuistry, will the general public be duped.

How can the universal right to protest, be called anti-democratic? Advocacy, dissent and protest are the very essence of our fragile democracy.

It was through the rebellions of 1837 that Canada was granted Responsible Government by a terrified Britain, fearing the loss of another colony.

58 French Canadian rebels were deported to Australia. By 1844, all received pardons and, except for two people who died and one (Joseph Marceau) who settled in Dapto all returned to Canada. Canadian convicts proved the last straw for Australia’s convict destination as transportation to the east coast ended in 1840.

We survived the Irish political exiles, but the Canadians were just too much!

Their main legacy, part of Sydney Harbour, is still called Canada Bay.

Is there any evidence of our government acting responsibly, when they refuse to respond to legitimate citizen complaints?

Prejudicial Determinations: #

Ontario court judge Julie Bourgeois presumptuously explains her decision to deny bail to Tamara Lich, one of the key organizers behind Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa:

“I cannot be reassured that if I release you into the community that you will not reoffend.”

Obviously, the court has already decided it was an offence. What happened to the pressumption of innocence? Demonstrating full integrity, she will, no doubt, recuse herself from any further prejudgments. I very much doubt if any Canadian Court is sufficiently independent to give the alleged protestors a fair trial.

It is encouraging that Tamara Lich was finally granted bail on March 7 th, 2022.

Any indictments will be further evidence of a Judicial system not fit for a democracy.

Tamara became just another early victim of a vicious unfounded polictical and media campaign, turning her into an unwarranted, but demonised monster. She was just one of thousands of citizens caught up in a groundswell movement. She had little control over all the protesters.

The Justice Centre has also taken the case of Dana-Lee Melfi, popularly known as “Peace Man” during the Ottawa freedom convoy.

Mr. Melfi was arrested on Saturday, February 19, 2022, in Ottawa during a peaceful protest, on various mischief related charges, including mischief, mischief to property, disobeying a lawful order, and obstructing justice. (Shows just how limited their definition of justice remains.)

Mr. Melfi maintains his innocence and states that the right of peaceful protest is fundamental to a healthy democracy.

Mr. Melfi has worked for government in various positions and stations, including within the Department of National Defence, in various Government buildings in Ottawa, on Parliament Hill, and in the Canadian War Museum. He attended the Ottawa protests wearing two cameras on his head and carrying a large Canadian flag. Mr. Melfi, who is ill with chronic conditions, personally protested many hours each day, enduring pain, standing still near Parliament Hill holding his flag in a peaceful stance.

Mr. Melfi did not have a vehicle at the protest and did not block any roads. He simply stood with his flag. Mr. Melfi states he was exercising his right to peaceful protest. Mr. Melfi however, may have come to the attention of the authorities, particularly after giving interviews to the Canadian Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Epoch Times and many independent media, which went viral around the world.

There appears a phenomenon that some Judges have become so tied up with legalisms, so far removed from their formative roots that they are wholly innocent of any knowledge of what Justice is all about.

For Dana-Lee Melfi, to be charged with “obstructing Justice” is sheer irony.

We have a legal system and a Justice system, and ne’re the twain shall meet.

Protests are intregal to the consent of the governed in every country, whenever we feel the governments overstep their limited power we have a solemn duty to call them out and hold them to account.

For two long years populations were compliant; co-operated with restrictions, consented to lock-downs, agreed to vaccinations, promised that we could now live with Covid, but petty tyrants found it difficult to relinquish their imperious power. Striving for freedom is instinctive.

For The Toronto Globe and Mail, to feature a smug complacent opinion from the former Chief Justice of Canada, expressing her negative opinion of the protestors, appears contemptuous of public expression, further endangering the chance of objective court cases.

More on Beverley McLachlin @:

The entire court system of Canada is under trial by the public and if found wanting here, make no mistake, we are following the American path to a society tearing itself apart.

And whose fault is that? May I suggest, inadequate regulatory oversight of institutions from our less than responsible political leaders?

What happened to regulatory oversight?

Transparency International has down graded Canada again for lack of regulatory rigour.

For the non-profit Innocence Canada to have 10 cases of wrongful convictions, in front of federal officials awaiting decisions, and 90 more in the works, some of whom have been waiting for 15 years , is glaring evidence that the Canadian Courts have failed the people of Canada.

For the government of Canada to tell us that they don’t have the money to provide justice for the wrongly convicted, is an insult to all Canadians. Why do upright citizens have to crowd source for justice? What has the CJC got to show for all the money it has squandered in its fifty one years?

By invoking the Emergency Powers Act to freeze all crowd funding appears an egregious and blatant violation of all Canadian citizen’s fundamental right of where to spend their own hard-earned money. The optics indicate a seeking of totalitarian power via systematic tyranny.

Buying beer in Manitoba historically conjures premonitions of having to sign for it. Recently, in July 2022, wishing to arrive at a relative’s home with a six pact, I had ominous reservations about entering a Liquor store. This was substantiated when I was accosted and instructed to go back to the entrance and provide identification. I was informed it was a necessary precaution to prevent theft.

Why do ordinary law abiding citizens have to suffer the imposition of unwarranted identification, when there are alternative methods of dealing with shoplifting?

If repressive government authoritarian actions look like fascism, feel like fascism and have all the attributes of fascism; then they likely have fascistic tendencies and mindsets.

Most great literature poses the question: If the state acts in an unjust way, what is your role as a patriot? Accept or resist?

Sophocles in Antigone, Aeschylus in the Oresteia, Shakespeare in Hamlet, Macbeth and others, Miller in The Crucible….

Hamlet contemplates whether to take up arms;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes, …

Some officials display such towering contumely over us ordinary, unworthy, sovereign citizens, acting as if they, like Lady Macbeth feels, none can hold us to account.

Recent liberal politicians reflexive response to citizen’s genuine concerns tend to be: “do nothing”. - most problems will resolve themselves “without my stir”.

Why the delay in dealing with Covid? That default position of leaders demonstrates a lack of resolve to act promptly. Why were Big Rigs allowed to block streets and roads for so long? The pathetic Western, too little too late, response to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine is cringe-worthy. No wonder we turn to strong decisive leaders.

In On Liberty, Mill argued that:

“the only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others.”

Trucks, blocking traffic, did harm to others.

When inaction fails, Deny, Deflect, Denigrate: Find someone else to blame and when that also fails, blackguard the protesters.

Democracy is lauded in lip service, but disavowed in practice.

When Authorities lose their authority, people resort to protest. Not all protesters are right wing rabid ratbags; some harbour legitimate unresolved grievances. There had been weeks of protesters gumming up the city’s streets with marches against mandates, vaccines and a grab-bag of other grievances and conspiracies.

We are all drowning in a sea of distrust in our governments’ failures to act on obvious injustices and simply impose new restrictions.

I side with Voltaire’s:

“I wholly disapprove of what you say—but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

A vibrant Democracy is not threatened by the actions of a few, but the inactions of the many. As sovereign citizens we not only have a right to dissent; we have a solemn duty to protect and preserve our freedoms and power. Governments of the people, by the people and for the people. There are always leaders or institutions that attempt to extend their power, especially through fear. All power should be defined by its limits.

“We are living in dangerous times. It is important that people recognise that they have to care, and actually apply some effort in democracy, so that it will work. No one else is going to fix it for you. You are the system. Birgetta Jonsdottir – Iceland – Pirate Party

Tyrannical politicians, pusillanimous martinets (as will religious zealots) use fear to control and manipulate the masses, hoping to suspend our rational judgments. They then assure us that they alone can protect us.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H. L. Mencken

Adam Bandt warns, ”unscrupulous governments use people’s legitimate fears to illegitimately take away their freedoms”.

“Those who are willing to sacrifice an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither”. Benjamin Franklin.

The enlightenment led to a more rational view of how we can only be governed by the consent of the governed. This is misunderstood by power freaks.

The American model justifies open rebellion of tyrants:

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. or:

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."Thomas Jefferson

Democracy is an imperfect system. It is easily undermined and debauched. Citizens need eternal vigilance.

“The thin and precarious crust of decency is all that separates any civilization, however impressive, from the hell of anarchy or systematic tyranny which lie in wait beneath the surface.” Aldous Huxley

“It is a truth wearily demonstrated by history that acts of tyranny condoned against some will finally become a tyranny visited on all.” Richard Flanagan

The Philosopher, John Gray maintains;

It’s tyranny we often seek – with rather more zeal than we like to imagine. “Tyranny offers relief from the burden of sanity and a licence to enact forbidden impulses of hatred and violence.”

What might help is if Canadian parliamentarians curbed their obsequious deference to the Supreme Court and large trucks and paid more attention to the cries, raw pain and needs of their constituents, delivering on their responsibility to provide Justice - not legalisms or empty platitudes.

Christie Blatchford claimed Canadian deference to authority and excessive respect of judicial mystique must be overcome.

Trudeau promises to hold Institutions of Government to account, however his actions are directed at the symptoms rather than the root causes of the demonstrations. Rather than targetting the Big Rigs, he singles out the many ordinary citizens who contribute hard earned dollars to legitimate protests. 60% of the money came from ordinary Canadians.

The JCCF reports that Ontario Constable Michael Brisco, a highly trained and respected police officer, who donated $50.00 to the Ottawa Freedom Convoy was found guilty of discreditable conduct and the Tribunal ordered that Constable Brisco should forfeit pay for 80 hours of work as a penalty.

This case raises questions about the Charter’s protection for freedom of expression, the right of police officers to support political causes while off duty, and the privacy rights of all Canadians.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman appears of the opinion that all protests are unlawful and anti-democratic. How else should citizens get their views across to our leaders when they simply refuse to respond to our submissions? Certain issues demand people rise up in protest. How else can we keep institutions true to their calling?

Most successful protests are unlawful; but that doesn’t mean they are not legitimate. The mass Chicago protests in 1968 were refused permits, so unlawful, but were eventually successful. Most Black Lives Matter protests fail to be granted permits, yet proceed to raise our awareness of this gross injustice.

Hannah Arendt pairs privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation.

“When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving”.

Other ironies abound:

Ottawa, failing to listen to complaints, was forced to listen to Truck horns.

The dominant image overseas, of a Big Rig looming over Canada’s Supreme Court suggested two bulls about to lock horns. Not a good look for either side.

Both need restraining.

To avoid this Mexican standoff, the government should never have allowed Trucks to block roads. All freedoms end when they encroach on others. Immediate ultimatums to clear throughways or the army would be deployed to impound the trucks with heavy fines to compensate those adversely affected could have been imposed.

Prompt, firm, decisive, forceful and resolute actions from our leaders are sometimes required to keep all power in check.

Ignore and deplore! #

Instead, paralysed Authorities hesitated, posturing through political spin. Officials, who have ignored complaints for years, now simply brand all protesters as engaging in “unlawful” and “harmful” activities, and of promoting “hatred” and “violence,” but provide no evidence.

True leaders seek to unite the country rather than divide it.

Many protesters are ordinary citizens, concerned about encroaching authoriatarian edicts. They should not be tarred with the same brush or dismissed as extremists or fringe idealists. They are a disparate group who feel disenfranchised, bound by their losses and all just want to be listened to and treated with respect.

As a redeemed and resurgent John Carpay put it:

desperate politicians demonise protesters for “engaging in vandalism or dishonor the memory of our veterans” and express “hateful rhetoric, violence towards fellow citizens and a disrespect not just of science but of the frontline health workers.”

All the evidence in Australian media points in the opposite direction; scenes of community, feeding the homeless, cleaning up the streets. One Ottawa resident claims under oath that:

“the truckers I have interacted with have, at all times, been friendly, courteous, humble, considerate and peaceful. I have not observed any aggressive or inappropriate behaviours.”

Only after severe provocation, did aggressive reaction occur. He hit me back first!

Just like the courts, for politicians, evidence is irrelevant!

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, more than 1200 Manitobans contributed to the convoy protests, including Professors from from three Universities. I can’t tell whether to characterise them as commies or right wing wing-bats. Maybe they are just concerned citizens wanting to preserve our democracy.

For the government to block these funds does appear anti-democratic.

However, nothing is ever that simple. GiveSendGo’s website was hacked and a dataset containing the private details of those who had donated more than US$8.3 million to the protest was released online. It does indicate much of the seed money does come from right wing extremists sources.

The salient point here is that normal citizens would not get sucked in if the political situations in our democracies were not such fertile soil for all kinds of unresolved grievances. If we felt the governments were listening to our concerns, we would trust them - not organised conspiracy theorists, peddling disinformation - we get enough of that from our own authorities.

We do face a real danger of moving blindly into the future; a lab rat-like submission of the people to inordinate arbitrary power, loss of freedoms to the assertive arrogant authority of unscrupulous officials, protected by the unaccountable power structures of modern government institutions.

Police, established to protect the public, can also be used to crush the voice of the people, just like the Peasant’s revolt following the Black Death was brutally put down. Or Nicholas II’s insouciant response to his supplicants. Or President Hoover’s discrediting tactic of simply labelling legitimate 1st WWI veterans grievances as “communistic”, before sending in the army with tanks and infantry men; 54 injured and 134 veterans arrested.

Today we just label them right wing wing-nuts or QAnon - maybe that’s progress?

According to a federal prosecutor, “The justice system is the means by which the upper class pays the middle class (the Police) a good living wage to keep the lower classes in check”.

Governments around the world, give us someone to respect and trust!

Ukrainian’s Volodymyr Zelensky is an inspiration to a West that’s lost touch with righteousness.

“There can be something a little distasteful about Western onlookers (myself included) cheering on Ukrainians for a cause that our countries are not willing to join, a stance that risks raising the price of a peace that will be paid only with Ukrainian blood,” Tom McTague

All western democratic leaders should be shamed by his example. We have no difficulty attacking Iraq or Afghanistan for selfish objectives, but lack the courage and conviction when our immediate interests are not at stake.