June 22nd, 2024

Should people be held hostage because of rights?

By Lethbridge Herald on February 5, 2022.


Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald

I watched with interest when I was away from the office the stories about the so-called Freedom Convoy of truckers headed to Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates.

Because only 10 per cent of truckers – according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance – were impacted when all essential workers including truckers were required to be vaccinated to enter Canada, I have to wonder about the real motivation for the convoy since this involves a bilateral mandate with the U.S. 

In a statement on its web page on Jan. 22, the Alliance stated “The vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated with the overall industry vaccination rate among truck drivers closely mirroring that of the general public. Accordingly, most of our nation’s hard-working truck drivers are continuing to move cross-border and domestic freight to ensure our economy continues to function.”

It added “the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) does not support and strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways, highways, and bridges. CTA believes such actions – especially those that interfere with public safety – are not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed.”

In light of acts at the Terry Fox monument and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the first day of the Parliament Hill protest, the Alliance wrote ‘The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National War Memorial are sacred sites for Canadians. The desecration of these sites was a disgusting act and is a dishonour to those soldiers who have given their lives for our country and those Canadian soldiers who continue to fight for our freedom today. Terry Fox is a national hero. The defacing of the Terry Fox monument is another disgusting act to the memory of one of the greatest Canadians in our history. The Canadian Trucking Alliance condemns these acts in the strongest possible terms.”

Is this convoy a Canadian version of the U.S. insurrection last year? The fact that Donald Trump supported it while speaking in Texas certainly makes one wonder.

 Another question that needs to be answered is who is donating all the money to the GoFundMe page that was set up for the convoy. Is it from ordinary Canadians or is it funded by extremist groups and individuals? 

The Nazi and Confederate flags are not the symbols of freedom – rather they represent tyranny, death, racism and enslavement – and the motivation of anyone carrying them or supporting those who do demands scrutiny.

Is this protest really about vaccinations and mandates or is it simply an insurrection by right-wing extremists against the Canadian government? 

One First Nation in Alberta this week questioned how the protests would have been handled had Indigenous people been blocking highways or desecrating monuments.

The issues raised by that First Nation are valid given how long the Ottawa protests and trucker blockades have lasted and the impact they are having on others. 

Should things be handled differently by law enforcement and our political leaders? 

The right to protest is one we have in a democracy, a right that deserves to be cherished and protected. 

But when protests impact the ability of others to conduct their own lives, that right has to be examined. People have the right to get the medical attention they need, to buy groceries, to make scheduled appointments and to go to school. 

Is it fair to that their rights are being impeded by protesters? 

It’s a question our country as a whole needs to ask and debate.

Like others, I’m damn sick of wearing a mask everywhere I go, too. I’m absolutely fed up with it. And I understand protesters’ frustration because I feel it, too. COVID has been mentally exhausting and the restrictions are tiresome. But are waving flags of tyranny and urinating on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier the right way to express frustration? Is hurting commerce and holding lives of others hostage the right way? 

I  also wonder how much fuel burned on that convoy could have been used to haul much needed medical supplies or groceries? How much did the convoy contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming? 

And why was it necessary to demand food from a soup kitchen that exists to help the homeless and the needy?

Like the desecration of the two monuments, the actions at one Ottawa soup kitchen are unconscionable.

I want desperately to get rid of my mask and go back to a normal life. But I know how badly COVID has impacted people. It’s hit friends’ family twice. And just last weekend the isolation period ended for a neighbour whose little girls all caught COVID, one of whom was extremely ill.

The middle one of the three had someone deliver to our doorstep a handwritten card saying she had “Cronviris” and had to stay home but wanted to ask “haw are you dooing.”

That card broke my heart and it showed how insidious COVID is, hitting the young and vulnerable who haven’t even experienced life. What also touched me was the disgusting post on Twitter made by some anonymous person when I posted a photo of that card. This individual, who has made snarky remarks about my posts in the past, should be ashamed for making light of a little child’s illness. COVID isn’t a joke, and poor little Lucy’s card didn’t deserve to be mocked. That ranks right down with the actions of some in Ottawa last weekend and speaks volumes about this individual. What kind of person makes fun of a little kid with COVID? 

Our family made sure Lucy got some joy despite her sickness by buying cupcakes and colouring books for her and her sisters because some of us – most of us, I would like to believe – care about one another. 

And wearing masks and getting vaccinated while the epidemic plays out are two ways to show that.

If it means ensuring the little Lucys of this world don’t have to suffer or die, I will continue to wear my mask as long as I have to, I will get as many boosters as I have to regardless of how angry I am because I care about the right of my fellow humans to have life. 

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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