It was the hot tub that did it. Photos of Canadian convoy supporters relaxing in a hot tub on a downtown Ottawa street last weekend were splashed all over the news. Now Justin Trudeau is mad and he’s gone and invoked war measures, known as the Emergencies Act. He wants that hot tub off the streets, pronto, and he needs wartime powers to get it done. Civil liberties remain 'temporarily' suspended... just for two weeks, while we flatten the protesters!
On announcing the 'state of emergency', (state of emergency piled upon pre-existing state of emergency), Trudeau’s government immediately declared that banks are allowed to freeze personal and business accounts on the mere suspicion of involvement with the protest, without obtaining a court order. They cannot be sued for such actions. Police, intelligence agencies and banks are authorised to share 'relevant information'. Banks are now required to report financial relationships of persons involved in the protests to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The Act also allows the government to force businesses (such as tow trucks) to provide services against their will, to ban public assembly and travel, to forbid the use of a specific property, and to secure specific areas. Its implementation was opposed by four provincial premiers.
Judging by his behaviour, Trudeau has been hoping for some kind of violence ever since the truckers’ movement started. He needed something, anything that could serve as a Canadian 6 January moment so as to arrogate even more dictatorial powers than Canada’s existing state of emergency allowed. But despite constant provocation, truckers gave him nothing to work with. Even the efforts of Canada’s finest state-subsidised creative writers (the mainstream media) couldn’t spin this thing — in all its bouncy-castle, dance-party, hot-tubbified glory — into a believable insurrection.
Yes, there were and are border blockades — but peaceful ones (the most significant blockade to date, at Ambassador Bridge between Ontario and Michigan, was resolved before Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act). Peaceful civil disobedience is an established means of drawing attention to injustice when ordinary means of recourse have been exhausted. Theorists write of the need to reserve this method for cases of seriously entrenched injustice, where there is a reasonable chance that civil disobedience can attain the desired end.
However, Canada’s elites, both on left and right, sadly, are fixating on the presence of truckers in the capital and at the borders only as an embarrassment, a kind of excrescence on the face of the nation. For them, the problem is not one of citizen discontent but one of optics and economics. They aren’t interested in hearing about the impact of the mandates on citizens’ lives. They don’t want to carry out a public cost-benefit analysis or provide a clear exit plan from the Covid measures.
Their attitude proves that ordinary lines of communication between people and government have been broken. It has not been possible for the truckers and their supporters to have their grievances addressed by ordinary civic means. Of the conditions required to justify civil disobedience, one, at least, has been met.
This civil disobedience is all Trudeau can cite in justification of the Emergencies Act. The rationale is that ongoing protest and peaceful civil disobedience constitute a threat to national security and to the economy. Yet a credible government would have avoided this situation entirely by addressing, or at least expressing a willingness to evaluate, the suffering it is inflicting on its own people. The Emergencies Act is only supposed to be invoked as a last resort in a genuine crisis — the War Measures Act, its predecessor, was last invoked under Pierre Trudeau in response to actual terrorism involving numerous bombings and the kidnapping and murder of a cabinet minister.
It’s absolutely true that the blockades are costing enormous amounts of money, controlling key access points to the nation, annoying the US, Canada’s best auto-parts customer, and making Trudeau’s government look bad. But instead of punishing the symptoms, why haven’t federal and provincial governments looked to the cause? Trudeau and his team seem to have deliberately allowed this crisis to develop, inflamed the situation with insulting and contemptuous language. Trudeau waited for the moment when he felt he would have enough support in the echelons of power to silence dissenters, seizing control over everyone’s bank account while he was at it.
These are totalitarian methods, not the methods of a justly governed, civilised nation. What is particularly notable in government discourse over the last couple of weeks is that Covid has become an afterthought. Nobody in power appears genuinely concerned about anything other than maintaining control and saving face. Two-thirds of the Canadian population now support dropping all mandates.
It is starting to become clear that the mandates have nothing to do with Covid. The measures don’t work, and travel restrictions are pointless when Covid is already widespread within the country. But the government won’t let go. Over 80 per cent of Canadians are vaccinated. They want 100 per cent to get vaccinated. Why? So they can move the goalposts and demand another proof of compliance? The message is plain: participation in normal life is a privilege, not a default. Only those 'in compliance' get to participate.
Canadians don’t want participation in normal life to become a privilege granted only on government say-so. That’s what these protests are about. But their goal will not be secured until the vaccine passport system is gone. Even though some provinces say they are dropping the pass, they’re maintaining the existence of the system. It remains legal for businesses to enforce it for employees or clientele. But the QR code system must be dismantled and its use made illegal. It is the backbone of a potential social credit programme — a totalitarian’s dream. Don’t let it come true, Canada.
This article first appeared on The Spectator World website.