Accountability

Architects of unrest

Events unfolding in Ottawa revive memories of January 2021 when Trump followers tried to subvert the democracy America has practiced for generations. Urged on by Republicans, hateful mobs repudiated civil behaviour and rejected the rule of law. Now, encouraged by Conservatives, similar protesters have taken centre stage in Canada.

Unable to gain adequate support without embracing fanatics, the second largest party in Canada’s parliament boasted of a “Big Blue Tent” but ensured it held open a doorway for the far-right. Like Republicans a year ago, Conservatives share part of the blame for encouraging the formation of street mobs in the capital city.

Members of Canada’s Official Opposition are comfortable spreading disinformation and hyperbole, but the most dangerous instigators of disruption are operatives using social media, chat rooms and dark corners of the Internet. Radicals are encouraged by corporate elites and right-wing media, and some may be assisted by foreign powers conducting campaigns to roil targeted societies.

When I studied political science long ago, we examined philosophy, the history of governance systems and slow movements toward democracy. I believed representative government was secure in the 20th century in most of the world’s developed nations, but democracy was rock solid in the USA and Canada.

Today, more cynical than naïve, I fear that democracy is at risk, especially in America, but also in Canada.

Seventy-five years ago, Winston Churchill wrote:

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…

In modern times, we are accustomed to politicians making promises in campaigns but forgetting their commitments when elected. Those issues are significant but for most, not sufficient to embrace hate and violence.

So, when hordes of disaffected people threaten peace, order, and government, we should try to understand what motivates them to join the mobs. Eighteenth century French philosopher Voltaire issued a warning:

Truly, whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. If the God‐​given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God‐​given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well.

A paper by researchers at Berlin’s Charité University Medicine provides information:

 [Embitterment] is a response to injustice, humiliation, and breach of trust. There is the nagging wish to undo what happened, reinstate justice, get even, and take revenge...

Injustice is experienced as an act of aggression and downgrading, resulting in counteraggression. Victims of injustice strive to restore justice and their self-worth, if necessary, by taking revenge…

Economic injustice has been growing in Canada in the past forty years. The rise of neoliberalism resulted in a massive push of wealth to financial elites and the gap between rich and poor has never been wider. CCPA wrote, “If any group is faring well in the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s Canada’s billionaires whose wealth has increased.”

Families struggle to meet basic needs. Seniors worry about survival; young people worry about opportunity. Lives are disrupted by the effects of climate change but the fossil fuel industry dictates policy. Unionization in the private sector has been declining and secure, liveable wage employment is replaced by gigs, short-term contracts, and freelance work.

Immigration sustains our economy and provides professional skills that our governments choose to develop in numbers too few to meet Canada’s needs. But right-wing media ignores our dependency on new citizens and promotes racism because their audience feels threatened by a diversifying population.

Social restrictions needed to moderate the impact of COVID-19 create a new layer of stress on much of the population. Since the days of Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservatives have undermined trust in science. So too has the powerful oil lobby and allied climate change deniers. Ordinary folks are conditioned to be skeptical of expert advice, particularly when the guidance makes life more difficult.

Politicians who advocate policies to get elected and promptly set off in opposite directions contribute to mistrust felt by citizens. Political leaders promise ethical behaviour but are unguided by ethics, speak hollow words of reconciliation while sending armed forces to evict Indigenous people from traditional lands, pledge transparency while pulling down veils of secrecy. They are architects of unrest.

Where we are today is a result of interconnected events.


Climate organization 350.org circulated statements that explain the demonstration in Ottawa but encourage us to push aside distractions and take actions that are vital to progressing on the climate change that threatens future generations of Canadians. It is shown below:


As of this morning the “Truckers for Freedom” occupation has entered its third day in Ottawa, choking off access to the downtown core and putting hate symbols on open display.Whether they were watching on the news from the other side of the country or from their front doors in downtown Ottawa, people across the country were disgusted by the harassment, vandalism and hate. 

You probably know by now that members of Canada’s far-right movement organized the convoy, and the protest has attracted the sympathy of thousands more who are angry and disaffected by a system they know is rigged.2

In fact, the current convoy camped out on Parliament Hill looks remarkably similar to the Yellow Vest convoy that descended on Ottawa three years ago. Claiming to be in opposition to Trudeau’s carbon tax, it similarly became swept up by anti-immigrant and far-right sentiment.

Right wing politicians and their operators have been pouring fuel on working class frustration ever since. Instead of addressing the problems we face, they’ve successfully tapped into working people’s rage in order to further their visions of everything from fossil fuel expansion to privatization to white nationalist ideologies.

We can’t combat the rise of the far-right by ridiculing or ignoring it away. We have to out-organize it. We have to build a movement big enough to stop them — one that holds space for people’s anger against a broken system, and channels it into a positive vision for the future.

That means organizing our communities around the vision of a bold, inclusive just transition that responds to this moment of crisis without leaving anybody behind.

The convoy has generated a lot of media coverage and that’s been frustrating to see too, especially when I think about how often Canada’s news outlets ignore and marginalize our own, much bigger movements. These so-called “Truckers for Freedom” are sidelining the majority of transportation workers – particularly immigrant and South Asian truckers who are currently struggling against poor working conditions and wage theft.3 

Fighting for a Just Transition is how we can come together across movements and build power in our communities to win the future we deserve. Get involved now by adding your voice to the thousands who have already signed the petition.

Out-organizing the far-right is the only way forward. Together, we can push this Parliament to meet the moment and pass sweeping just transition legislation that acts at the speed of the climate crisis, creates good, green jobs, and leaves no one behind.

Signing our Just Transition Act petition is the first step. Add your name now.

PS – We’ve published a blog post with these thoughts, plus a list of places to donate. The convoy has raised more than $9,000,000 from 115,000 individual donors backing their radical, right-wing agenda. We can fight back by supporting grassroots organizations fighting against hate and injustice. Please read and share the post!


  1. CBC: Trudeau will address Canadians as anti-vaccine mandate protest enters 3rd day in Ottawa
  2. Canadian Anti Hate Network: The “freedom convoy” is nothing but a vehicle for the far right
  3. Toronto Star: ‘Freedom Rally’ is distracting from truckers’ other day-to-day battles, some argue

The video noted by Lew Edwardson:

Categories: Accountability

21 replies »

  1. I’m about halfway through a book written by John Restakis entitled Civilizing the State, which lays out pretty clearly the lines of the broken social contract. This mirrors pretty much what’s written above. This, along with Rebecca Solnit’s annotations on Orwell’s discourse on political language (Orwell’s Roses) inform much of the ruminating I do on this score. It looks as though the window for backing our of this blind alley is rapidly closing as ‘truckers’ fight noisily for the right to participate fully in a most destructive economy while neglecting the rights at the root of the struggle to keep some form of civil in civilization.

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  2. Mr. O’Tool; Quick, seize the moment, It’s again time to change your Party’s name. You people have tried with various names in the past to try an attract people to join your political ideas and dogma. You certainly do attract more than your fair-share of wingnuts. Why don’t you try and name the old “Conservative Party” to the new “Trump Party”. This will attract people who will believe everything that you or any of your future leaders say.

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  3. Now that you mentioned it . I have noticed and have talked about the frightening aspect of the pandemic concerning so many people showing a destructive crazy kind of behaviour. People that who seemingly are being led to believe in absurdities of the worst kind, and once past that stage, and it has taken hold in their psyche, then many could possibly commit atrocities. We seen it in America and it is I believe taking hold here.
    The people that are causing these divisions in society for their own purposes and subvert democracy are of course evil. Some I believe are being paid by us the taxpayer and hold officialdom in government, backed up by some of the super wealthy elites and corporate hands that have a common interest in creating subterfuge against the people democracy.
    They need to be stopped is the only answer that I have for it.

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  4. norm farrell-have read many of your articles and for the most part semi agree with what you come out with howsomever you need to re-think comparing jan 6 with what is happening in canada today-it has been long overdue for the people of canada to take back there own country from the corporate elite-this freedom convoy 2022 is just the cumulation of many years of political lying cheating-crooked-corrupt-corporate and political corruption–truth be know i was worried that canadians would not fight for their own rights and natural born priviliges–many i know have said for years now have said they are not proud to be canadian or of canada–as of late over the course of recent events these same people have said today- i am a proud canadian–i think the people have spoken clearly–down with mandates-down with tooo much govt control over our lives–you should pay heed to this as this is only the begining—mark meiers-charlie lk bc

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    • Mark, Do you think that this group has an interest in removing th4e corporate elite? That hasn’t been in anything that I have heard from them. On the contrary it looks to me that they are being manipulated by those same people. The right wing, which is my understanding of the political base of the corporations, the Conservative party, the Maverick Party, the Peoples Party, seem to be the ones adding their voices. The people that have consistently stood for profit over human rights.

      There are probably some of the participants who think they are on the right track as you suggest, but they are riding the wrong horse if they are.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great article Norm.
    Canadians have been upset since the late 1950s and early 1960s when PM Diefenbaker was forced to convene a Royal Commission on unfairness of taxation. He escaped having to do anything regarding this report , and all subsequent Governments have done the Canadian thing , as reported by W5 yesterday, by repudiation of the report and Mr. Carter , ever since.
    Taxation unfairness is only only one symptom of a bigger issue that has been festering for 70 years.

    If Canadians like the idea of a country where peace and unity prevail there is a lot of mending to do.

    The W5 report on “whistle blowers” made it clear, that based on “our walk” , there is only improvement from being the global worst , left to us.

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  6. “encouraged” by the Conservatives, perhaps, but the protestors don’t need any “encouragement”. Its more like the protestors got out there and the conservatives are trying to take advantage of a situation, which could, they hope benefit them. Unfortunately for them it is doubtful it will work.

    It would appear to me the original group has been hijacked in their agenda, but it also indicates there are “unhappy” Canadians. They ought to try getting a life. some of the protestors who were yelling on t.V. were carrying on like a bunch of teenagers at a boondock party. They were screaming about freedom. OMG, it just cracked me up. Perhaps they’d like to try living in Afghanistan, China, Russia, ,Saudi arabia, any number of other countries around the world

    Most of them ought to sit down, read the Constitution, the history of pandemics and a few other books. While they were screaming, freedom, my question was, wonder when the last time any of them voted, at any level. attended a local school board meeting, or helped at a charity function.

    To various individuals the meaning of freedom varies. If I were to drive to down town in any major city in the country, there would be people who want freedom from the cold and rain. They want freedom from having to sleep in the street. All of those protestors in their vehicles and walking about looked pretty well fed and clothed and had the money to attend the rally. The protestors remind me of people with “first world problems”.

    When it comes to freedom, what exactly is it. For me its going to be the ability to go out and about like I used to, without being afraid I’ll catch covid. I’m one of those over 70 with 3 health issues. There are a lot of people out there like me. so whose freedom takes priority, theirs or mine? (I’ve decided to be vaccinated, wear a mask, reduce my contact with strangers–no going to the mall, etc.) so I have to a degree freedom from death, well until old age catches up with me.

    We live in a democracy, but few actually exercise their rights at voting time. Municipal elections have about 30% of the population vote. Part of living in a democracy is “the greater good: without interfering with the rights of the miniority (to a reasonable extent) Governments have been given the authority by the voters to set limits on our “freedom”, i.e. no shooting at the neighbours becuae they play their music too loud, you phone the police.

    No one is forcing any of these people to be vaccinated or wear masks, etc. but they then are constrained from doing other things because they may infect and cause hospitals to be over crowded and others to die. /The Premier of Quebec got it right when he said, you don’t have to be vaccinated but you can’t go into liquor and cannibas stores. Didn’t like his fines, but the first item was fine by me.

    The majority of people at this protest appear to be in their 40s, perhaps 50s, but the majority of them have never lived through a pandemic or a time when disease killed and it could not be stopped. As aging baby boomers we know about polio before we had vaccines, along with other child hood diseases. We remember when AIDS killed, and there were no medications to slow it down or stop it. Some of us who study history know about the Spanish Flu pandemic and the Black Plague.
    Some of these protestors have never lived through a time when about the only disease which could kill you was cancer. They have clean water and food. Medical care, etc. All available to them.

    If the protestors want unfettered freedom, have a look at some areas in Mexico where the cartels have unfettered freedom.

    The federal government might have done a better job of advising the public why they were mandating truckers who crossed the border to now be vaccinated. A little explanation, some facts and figures might have helped.

    The majority of people in Canada have been vaccinated and many have their boosters. To the protestors, the majority of us in Canada don’t really care what you’re doing. You are not the majority and the rest of us have no interest in catching coivd. It is hoped none of the protestors become ill due to their activities, but if they do, thank the medical workers who will save your life, if possible.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Canada, we have a problem.

    After years of neglect by all politcal parties, the fruit of their incompetence is growing. An ever growing number of Canadians are loosing faith in their government and the media.

    A great number would like to point a finger at the Conservatives, yet the Liberals and sadly the NDP have fallen out of favour with the Canadian voter.

    There is a politcal vacuum happening in Canada and as we all know, nature abhors a vacuum.

    This is the same sort of breeding ground that spawned the NAZI Party or later the rise of Trump.

    It is those who have the genius of attracting the so called “common man”, the same “common man” who has been ignored by the politcal elite, tend to be on the sinister side.

    Unresponsive politcal parties are letting this festering sore turn into a major carbuncle and a failure to address or modernize political platforms, the carbuncle will explode creating mayhem.

    Watching to much FOX news, too much fake news, those in this “freedom Convoy” the nuseful idiots, are nothing more than pawns in very strategic game of chess, played by those would delight to see the demise of Canada.

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  8. I fear that democracy in this country is constantly under assault from ignorance and a population inadequately equipped to understand the true reality of how human evolution brought us to where we are.

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  9. The events in Ottawa and across the country have shocked some and angered many. It was difficult to refrain from smashing some of the vehicles with confederate flags and the swastikas however we should all plan ahead for the next federal election and remind thinking people they should not support any conservative candidate. Conservative supporters should be aghast but since Harper and Kenney have taken over there is little hope for progressive people in that party.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I used to follow all your blogs with great interest, but as of today I have heard enough of your parroting the rhetoric.
    The trucker’s protest was about peaceful, respectful behaviour hoping for dialogue with Trudeau but of course he hid out behind lame excuses.
    It is well known that there are often trouble makers show up at large gatherings, some paid by the other side. This government is certainly not above being involved in that sort of behaviour.
    I question why the continued push for 100% vaccination when the science is very clear now that these ‘vaccines’ do not protect against Omicron and the ‘booster’ will probably only last 10 weeks max.
    I will be ‘unsubscribing’ from your posts as of today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What utter foolishness.

      There is nothing respectful about the behaviour witnessed by all in Ottawa in the past few days.

      It is idiotic to suppose the way to dialogue with the Prime Minister is to disrupt a city by gridlock, by displaying swastikas and Confederate flags, by harassing people in a homeless shelter, desecrating the Terry Fox memorial and dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, stoning an ambulance and uttering a racial slur at the paramedic inside, and threatening individuals wearing masks, preventing blind people from walking the streets of downtown Ottawa, etc.

      Anyone who ignores or excuses what has been happening in Canada’s capital is not dealing with reality.

      The science is truly clear that vaccines reduce the chances of death or serious illness. While the percentage of unvaccinated people is small, they make up an outsized number of the people in critical care in Canada’s hospitals.

      The rate of vaccinations in Canada is almost one-third higher than the USA. The rate of deaths-per-million in the USA is more than three times higher, probably more because statistics in many Republican controlled states are unreliable.

      A peer reviewed paper published by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine concluded:
      “Real-world data have consistently shown high levels of short-term protection by vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), with regard to clinical disease and, more so, with regard to severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death.”

      People who refuse vaccinations and encourage others to do the same are equivalent to drunk drivers. Their behaviour puts innocent people at risk of injury or death.

      Liked by 1 person

    • @ Joan Webster

      Excuse me, but what is this protest basically about?

      Vaccine mandates so we can control the spread of this nasty virus, COVID.

      It is the duty of being a Canadian to get vaccinated and prevent the spread of Covid. Those in the trucking industry, not should be, rather, must be vaccinated.

      What we saw in Ottawa was a protest of the ignorant, the malcontent, and the good old boys network of racists and the antisemitic.

      Remember Polio? I sure do, the kids with leg braces who could attend school and the PSA’s in grade 1, with the wheeze – clunk, clank of the iron lung. Still gives me nightmares.

      We were all vaccinated and guess what, polio is almost has been erased from the world. Local outbreaks were among religious cults who forbid vaccinations.

      Contrary to your fake news, vaccinations meant, if I contracted Omicron, I will not die of Omicron – why?

      The vaccine prevented the virus from being fatal.

      What we saw in Ottawa and in major cities were yahoos, thumbing their nose at the law and those which did the right thing, with their hanger-on’s trying to justify their actions in the various blogs in Canada and internationally.

      I only hope you are vaccinated, because I have had far to many acquaintances die from the effects of Covid, most were vaccine deniers as well. Those who have been vaccinated, have lived to enjoy 2022, 2023 and beyond.

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  11. What utter foolishness.

    There is nothing respectful about the behaviour witnessed by all in Ottawa in the past few days.

    It is idiotic to suppose the way to dialogue with the Prime Minister is to disrupt a city by gridlock, by harassing people in a homeless shelter, desecrating the Terry Fox memorial and dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, stoning an ambulance and uttering a racial slur at the paramedic inside, and threatening individuals wearing masks, preventing blind people from walking the streets of downtown Ottawa, etc.

    Anyone who ignores or excuses what has been happening in Canada’s capital is not dealing with reality.

    The science is truly clear that vaccines reduce the chances of death or serious illness. While the percentage of unvaccinated people is small, they make up an outsized number of the people in critical care in Canada’s hospitals.

    The rate of vaccinations in Canada is almost one-third higher than the USA. The rate of deaths-per-million in the USA is more than three times higher, probably more because statistics in many Republican controlled states are unreliable.

    A peer reviewed paper published by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine concluded:
    “Real-world data have consistently shown high levels of short-term protection by vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), with regard to clinical disease and, more so, with regard to severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death.”

    People who refuse vaccinations and encourage others to do the same are equivalent to drunk drivers. They put innocent people at risk of injury or death.

    Like

  12. Norm states above that, “…the most dangerous instigators of disruption are operatives using social media, chat rooms and dark corners of the Internet. Radicals are encouraged by corporate elites and right-wing media, and some may be assisted by foreign powers conducting campaigns to roil targeted societies.”

    Alex Inselberg mentioned Michael Mann’s “The New Climate War” in a comment on Norm’s article “As soon as the shit hits the fan…” last Thursday. I’m currently reading that book and must say that Norm’s statement above aligns perfectly with the first chapters in which Mann lays out the history of deception and misinformation campaigns used by the tobacco industry, gun lobby, and beverage industry to sow doubt and divide the public to their advantage. The fossil fuel industry has built on those tactics, in many cases using the same people who invented them. Mann names these individuals and calls them “deniers for hire”. He says, “Using online bots and trolls, manipulating social media and Internet search engines, the enemy has deployed the sort of cyber-weaponry honed during the 2016 US presidential election. They are the same tactics that gave us a climate-change-denying US president in Donald Trump. Malice, hatred, jealousy, fear, rage, bigotry, all of the most base, reptilian brain impulses—corporate polluters and their allies have waged a campaign to tap into all of that, seeking to sow division within the climate movement while generating fear and outrage on the part of their ‘base’—the disaffected right.”

    The signage and comments of the “truckers” involved in this protest indicate that some on the right have again managed (or more likely been managed) to work themselves into a state of extreme disaffection. In that state rational thought or dialogue is impossible.

    It would likely therefore be more productive to ignore them and focus on politicians who can and must effect the policy actions that will bring about the necessary systemic change.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Joan, I don’t know what channels you were watching, but the ones I watched showed people screaming their faces off like some bizzaro. They danced and pissed on the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, they ran their inappropriate flags on the statue of Terry Fox. The “invaded” a shelter for the homeless demanding food–most of those protestors looked like they hadn’t missed a meal in a couple of decades. They blocked streets and caused shops to close. They made it impossible for others to get to work, open their shops, etc. because they don’t want to get a vaccine. Well suck it up. Get a vaccine. No one is forcing people to get vaccines, the various governments are simply saying, no vaccine, no access to the following places. Makes sense to me. why should I become ill and die because some one else wants to breath their germs all over me.

    Many people who become ill with covid will die or become long haulers. That is the freedom these protestors want, the freedom to cause others to become ill and die.

    What we are seeing is an attempt at tyranny by the few over the many. In a democracy, the majority rules keeping in mind the rights of the minority and governments have done that. We have all sorts of rules for all sorts of jobs. Don’t follow the rules, no job. Its not anti democratic. Its protecting the health of the many. remember little kids aren’t vaccinated,

    Truckers need special licenses to drive their big rigs, they need to demonstrate they are in good health and their eye sight is good. They re required to keep their vehicles ijn good running order, put chains on their tires when the roads are full of ice and snow. There are all sorts of rules for truckers. Now there is one more, get vaccinated or you don’t go into the U.S.A. Not only does Canada have this rules, but so do the Americans, so even if Canada lifted the mandate the Americans won’t. So what is the point, except you all got to have your 15 seconds of fame.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. new topic concerning the iron fisted dictaorship control jh has over bc cabinet ministers–ag minister lana popham was totaly against site c–as soon as the jh govt stepped into office all his people had to without question strictly adhere to his policey that site c was to go ahead even though he had campaigned against that himself-so the crooked corrupt corporations running site c told horgan what to do and horgan told his followers you are going to follow my orders or else get out-seems like all in job protection mode decided to follow jh orders even though they were against site c-some thought they could still help the agricultural community by choking the bile in their throat back and sucumbing to jh will—instead of jh appointing someone to take their place that would follow orders without question—guess if you can live and look in the mirror every day and be happy with yourself then thats ok

    —-what i am getting at is the total crooked corrupt dictator rule we have in canada and bc—treasonous traitors that have robbed the world of the pristine peace river valley all for crooked corporate and political gain—

    which brings me to todays trucking events in ottawa-couts and around the world people are sick and tired of this authortarian dictatorship control-crooked corporate media fake news that gets repeated incessently to brainwash the masses into believing the fake news–

    good thing we have social media so we can get some un-censored real news-long overdue for people to stand up for what is right-they have been bombarded by fake news for so long they have begun to think it is the truth—

    so my hat is off to all that stand against tyryny and fake news-crooked corrupt politics federally and provincially—

    mark meiers-charlie lk bc

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Lew for contributing this. Since the link doesn’t work for all, I added the video to the bottom of the article.

      Like

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