A former head of security for the House of Commons said it is “naive” to think that enforcement alone can resolve protests against COVID-19 mandates in Ottawa and elsewhere, as the federal government pursues an extension of the Emergencies Act to deal with the matter.
In a series of posts on Twitter, former Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers said on Feb. 22 that relying solely on enforcement to end protests without opening dialogue isn’t a winning strategy, and called upon the government to follow other countries’ steps in lifting COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
“Enforcement alone is always degrees of losing. Simplistic view of Rule of Law. So naive to think this was going to be all resolved through enforcement. Not only those who are labelled populist but thousands of nurses and 100s of Doctors, Educators were vaccine hesitant,” Vickers wrote of the Freedom Convoy protests and other demonstrations against COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
“Given that Provinces and many countries have already charted a course to remove mandates and restrictions surely their [sic] is soil already ploughed in which we as Canadians respecting science can plant seeds of compromise, unity and hope.”
Vickers, a 29-year veteran of the RCMP and former leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party, noted that protests are likely to continue as many parents are concerned about the impacts of ongoing public health restrictions on children and that Canadian citizens have been “repulsed by what they view as Government overreach.”
Vikers, who was called a Canadian hero after shooting dead the gunmen involved in the 2014 shootings at Parliament Hill, had previously called on the federal government to resolve the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa through “The Canadian Way,” which he said involves debate and dialogue.
He reiterated this point in his latest tweets, using the hashtag “TheCanadianWay” to highlight what he said is “a better way” out of the conflict through communication, respect, and dialogue.
Enforcement alone is always degrees of losing. Simplistic view of Rule of Law. So naive to think this was going to be all resolved through enforcement. Not only those who are labelled populist but thousands of nurses and 100s of Doctors, Educators were vaccine hesitant.
— Kevin Vickers (@KVickers) February 22, 2022
The Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa began as a demonstration against the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all truck drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border. It soon expanded to a national-scale movement after large convoys of trucks arrived in the capital on Jan. 29, attracting supporters across Canada who want to see an end to all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions. It has also sparked similar protests around the world.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had refused to meet with the truckers, or have representatives hear their grievances, during the three weeks they remained in Ottawa. He declared a state of emergency on Feb. 14, invoking the Emergencies Act to give the police sweeping additional powers to oust the protesters, including compelling towing companies to remove the vehicles encamped in the city’s downtown core.
Financial measures were also brought in to allow financial institutions to freeze the accounts of individuals and corporations suspected of being associated with the protest without a court order. The government also broadened anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws to cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use.
On Feb. 21, Canada’s House of Commons voted to pass a motion approving the use of the Emergencies Act, with the Liberals and NDP voting in favour and the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois voting against it.