The world is naturally, and justly, absorbed in the reckless and cruel invasion of Ukraine. And anyone with even the mildest taste of history will know that Ukraine for much of the last 100 years has been a site of great cruelties imposed by communism and its most savage tyrant Stalin. Putin is doing his best to offer some rivalry to that demented butcher.
It is with no intent to bypass this moment, and there will be time for much comment on the great and grim moment we are enduring. Yet it is also, even in such straitened times—perhaps especially in such straitened times—to pay attention to our own conduct. Scale does not give a permit to bypass more local outrages.
Following the imposition—in my judgment without justification and certainly without publicly exhibited justification—of the Emergencies Act, the authorities in Canada swept down on the trucker protest in Ottawa with speed and force. Remember the act was brought in under the flimsy claim that this protest had as its goal “the overthrow of the government.” A sillier pretext could not be imagined.
There were even speculations on the venerable but greatly enfeebled national broadcast service, the CBC, that perhaps “the Russians” were behind it. That dark Lord Putin had reached into Red Deer and Weyburn and pointed West, manipulating the convoy for his fiendish purpose. A Confederate flag, a single one, became the point symbol for much media coverage.
But for reporters not ossified in their point of view—reporters who actually went into the Ottawa streets and met and mingled with the “insurrectionists”—no such alarms had the most meagre of justifications: This was not 1917. The whole and vast majority were what they said they were: protesters against imperatives and edicts from the federal government that hit their livelihood. And they behaved, as in no other protest in the last decade of any seriousness, with politeness, good cheer, patriotism, regard for civility, and no violence whatsoever.
Hence when Mr. Trudeau unloaded his volley calling them racists and homophobes, and Jagmeet Singh, his political dance partner, weighed in even more callously, and columnists reached for the lower drawers of their vocabulary and declared them yobs and louts—these characterizations provided at least some cover for the gross overreach of that emergency declaration.
It was not justified. But it went into effect, the “occupation” was cleared, the leaders arrested or threatened to be, bank accounts of protesters frozen as if they were “terrorists,” and some sent straight to jail.
Among them, perhaps the first to see the iron bars from the inside, was Tamara Lich, one of the convoy organizers. I do not know Miss Lich but during the “insurrection” did follow her on Twitter. I was impressed by the stability and calmness of her postings, and never once heard a “call to arms,” a cursing of the police (so essential to every other kind of protest), nowhere an incitement to violence, and nowhere a call for “direct action” (the black bloc euphemism for vandalism, street mayhem, and physical assault).
However, upon being taken to court she was denied bail. Tell me differently if I am wrong, but Miss Lich had neither committed nor incited any violent behaviour whatsoever. She was not arrested carrying a gun, or after some shooting offence, which is a common reason for arrest in many Canadian cities, and frequently a repeat offence, for which bail is granted.
But not Miss Lich. She was deemed by a judge who was once a federal Liberal candidate too dangerous for bail. She was immured for the time being.
On March 2, she appeared again for a second bail hearing. And here is the hard part.
She was brought into court shackled with leg chains. What was that about, and who ordered such a wickedness?
Was this woman a danger to the court? Was she expected to leap upon the guards and rush the bench? Was she such a danger to the Canadian state that even at a bail hearing she had to be shackled?
O sweet, sweet Canada that witnessed such pathetic overreaction.
The judge, may he be praised, ordered the shackles removed.
It is, as I said at the beginning, a small thing in this time of global ignominy, but it should not be let pass. Miss Lich deserved much better, and our justice system—to give it a term that in this case it does not deserve—needs to answer for the humiliation, the mistreatment, of a citizen before her case has even been heard.
And not, by any measurement, incidentally; she is being charged with mischief.
Mischief! While gang shooters get bail in a minute and dance back to the streets, a woman exercising the rights of a democracy to protest is denied bail and perp-walked in chains to a court hearing.
It is so wrong.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.