Trudeau Fanning Protest Flames by Invoking the Emergency Act

The prime minister should have opened dialogue with protesters
February 15, 2022 Updated: February 15, 2022

Commentary

Canada has been wracked with growing anti-mandate protests since the truckers’ Freedom Convoy descended on Ottawa over three weeks ago.

The government and legacy media initially tried to ignore the growing convoy.

As the convoy gained steam and interest across the nation while it moved through city after city towards Ottawa, the government tried to pretend that it was simply a handful of discontented truckers and dismissed them.

When the City of Ottawa found itself absolutely paralyzed with thousands of protesters supported by hundreds of tractor-trailers, the government moved on to a campaign of division and villainization. They tried to paint the protesters as extremists, racists, and misogynists.

Trudeau went into hiding for over a week only to surface now and then, toss some more fuel upon the fire through insults directed at the protesters, and then drop back into hiding.

With every passing week, the number of protesters continued to grow along with the locations for protests. Border crossings in a number of provinces have been hindered and blocked by protesters and it appears that the demonstrations may spread further. We have even seen convoys springing up in foreign nations inspired by the Canadian protests.

It is pretty evident that the government’s strategy for dealing with the Freedom Convoy has been an abject failure.

Now, having totally lost control of the situation, a panicked and desperate Justin Trudeau has invoked the Emergencies Act.

The Emergencies Act is a new incarnation of the War Measures Act and the invocation of such a measure hasn’t been done since 1970 when the militant Quebec separatist group FLQ was literally bombing, robbing, and kidnapping Canadians. The truckers’ protests to date have been incredibly peaceful considering how many thousands of people have taken part.

One thing Justin Trudeau never tried for a second was respectful discourse with the protesters. He doesn’t have to go out groveling and kneeling among them as he did with the Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020, but he could have at least been receptive to listening to them. He never even made the slightest effort.

Some could claim that such an effort to deescalate things would be a waste of time, at least they could before Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson made a deal with protesters to move them out of residential zones in the city. The convoy protesters moved out of the residential areas without complaint or issue.

What magic did Watson do to get these intransigent extremists to bend to his will? How did he manage to defang this angry beast?

Mayor Jim Watson offered the protesters something Justin Trudeau has refused to give them: respect.

Watson wrote a letter to the protest organizers politely asking them to move their protest closer to Parliament Hill in order to take pressure off residents. He explained how it was exhausting and causing stress for people living in the area. The protesters nodded and complied. No threats. No police lined. Just a polite letter.

This isn’t to say that the protesters would decamp from Ottawa if they received a nicely written letter from Justin Trudeau asking them to go. It does show that the protesters are receptive to reason and compromise when it is offered to them though.

The very first step in resolving any conflict is to initiate a dialogue. A responsible leader will explore and try every avenue to deescalate a situation before resorting to force. It doesn’t mean the leader is capitulating or letting themselves be pushed around. It just means the leader is not acting in dangerous haste when there is a possibility for a peaceful resolution.

Invoking the Emergencies Act against the protesters should have been a step of absolute last resort. The act suspends a number of civil rights and can potentially pave the way for military action against Canadian citizens. In using this hammer against protesters who have been peaceful, Trudeau may turn these protests ugly. Images of police or possibly even military action being taken against peaceful protesters could tear the social fabric of Canada irreparably.

As with every other action from the federal government with the Freedom Convoy, I expect their latest move will only inflame and entrench the protesters further. Tensions are going to escalate as the number of protesters grows and physical conflict may end up being inevitable.

This all could perhaps have been avoided if the Trudeau government had begun with an attitude of respect for citizens and tried to open dialogue with the protesters.

We will never know now because the government didn’t even try.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Cory Morgan
Cory Morgan is a columnist based in Calgary.