A Tale of Two Blockade Protests

Guest Columnist

By: Gilly Davis

Written On: 2022-02-14

Justin Trudeau has presented two entirely different fronts in his governments handling of the rail blockade protests that took place in 2020 and the Freedom Convoy protest that is currently underway in Ottawa. Below I’some quotes on the two protests to show the contrast of Trudeau’s rhetoric as well as a few videos for your reference. (Editor)

Trudeau in 2020 – rail blockades

“… this is a critical moment for our country and for our future …on all sides people are upset and frustrated. I get it, it’s understandable because this is about things that matter – rights and livelihoods, the rule of law and our democracy.” (Justin Trudeau 2020)

“…to those who are feeling the consequences of the blockades and protests, I know that you were going through difficult times.  Rest assured that our government is working hard to find a solution. Priority is to resolve this situation peacefully also to protect rule of law in our country we will always defend that principle …”(Justin Trudeau 2020)

“…we are creating a space for peaceful, honest dialogue with willing partners.  We need to resolve this through dialogue and mutual respect…” (Justin Trudeau 2020)

Trudeau in 2022 – Ottawa Freedom Convoy protests

“…blockades are hurting Canadians…they’re endangering jobs, they’re threats to our economy and to public safety. The blockades are hurting small businesses and neighborhoods.  At the border they’re impacting trade, supply chains and manufacturing.  The people these blockades are hurting are everyday families, auto assembly workers, farmers, truckers, and blue-collar Canadians…” (Justin Trudeau 2022)

“… blockades are unacceptable and they have to end for the good of all Canadians…” (Justin Trudeau 2022)

“…Ontario’s announcement this morning is responsible and necessary.  we will continue working alongside all partners to get the situation under control for the security of people and the economy.  These blockades cannot continue, so make no mistake the border cannot and will not remain closed.  Everything is on the table because this unlawful activity has to end and it will end.” (Justin Trudeau 2022)

Not a surprise for many 

It may come as no surprise to many that the first statements were Justin Trudeau’s response to the Wet’suwet’en railway protests in February 2020, just before the pandemic broke out.  The second set of statements, almost exactly two years later are his statements in regard to the Truckers Convoy. 

In 2020 Trudeau asked for patience and dialogue with the organizers of the protest, in 2022 he is vilifying the participants, organizers, supporters, and refusing to speak to anyone involved with the protests.  What a difference two years make?  Not really, and the difference isn’t solely ideological either.  And the damages done to our rights and freedoms through these current punitive government measures can and will effect all future protests, regardless of which side of the political divide you fall on. 

“…we only ask that you be willing to work with the federal government as a partner in finding solutions.  Our government will continue to work night and day to peacefully find a solution…will meet with them any time and I hope that the offer will be accepted.  This is our opportunity now to bring these together, because Mr. Speaker, what is the alternative?  Do we want to become a country of irreconcilable differences where people talk but refuse to listen? Where politicians are ordering police to arrest people? … we are called upon to find a path forward.  It is our job to choose respect and communication.  We must not embark upon a path where we refuse to listen or where we give into hostilities.  That is not the solution…” (Justin Trudeau’s speech in the House of Commons asking for patience from citizens and for the Wet’suwet’en to come back to the negotiation table.)

“…I have also chosen not to go anywhere near protests that have expressed hateful rhetoric, violence towards fellow citizens and a disrespect not just of science but of the frontline health workers…” (Justin Trudeau’s response to a journalists question about his unwillingness to speak with the organizers of the Convoy)

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa; Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the NDP, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister, and other officials have used language so incendiary in regard to the Trucker’s Convoy and those supporting it, it makes refusing to meet with the organizers almost seem reasonable.  However, their statements have been proven false by hundreds, if not thousands of livestreams from the various locations of the protest. 

The narrative has been that the people on the ground are white-supremacist racists but this isn’t accurate when you see the multitude of participants including members of the BIPOC community.  Words like violent, racist, siege, occupation, terrorising, holding the city hostage… This isn’t a government or officials that are looking to restore order, or listen and resolve differences.  This is a government bent on marginalizing, censoring, and crushing those who disagree. 

The mainstream Canadian media has been complicit in this false narrative as well.  Foreign and alternative media have been on the ground talking to protesters and citizens.  What they are showing is a completely different situation than what is being reported by the likes of the CBC, CTV and Global. 

My personal experience while in Ottawa on February 9th was a peaceful and friendly, party like atmosphere.  I spoke to a resident who said he couldn’t understand why a state of emergency was called because the “festival season” is more raucous than this protest.

The only harassment I witnessed was a couple standing on the street corner who asked us if we were part of the “criminal convoy”.  They then began yelling at us saying they were being “held hostage” and were “losing their freedoms” because of the convoy. 

I’ve heard from many other city residents that are thrilled to have this show of patriotism and unity in their city.  There is also an “Adopt a Trucker” program where city residents build a relationship with one or more of the truckers.  They bring them to their homes, feed them, wash their clothes and let them take a shower. 

Canadian Armed Forces Veterans, retired police, grandparents, small business owners, doctors, Aboriginals, immigrants, women, and yes, truckers are among the multitude of average Canadians from all walks of life who are actively supporting or present at the various protest sites.  This is not a “fringe minority” as Justin Trudeau would like you to believe.  This is the reluctant rebels, the people who would not get involved in politics unless they felt they had no other choice.

The Wet’suwet’en rose up, as many Aboriginal groups have felt forced to do because the government will not listen to their pleas.  The Trucker’s Convoy have risen up because multiple protests, requests for information and a plan to the end of these mandates has not been forthcoming.  Canadians are “nice” people until we’re not.  It takes a lot to move us from our complacency but when you do…you wake the giant.  These truckers and their many supporters have punched above their weight, as Canadians so often do.  They have given a voice to people around the world who thought they were alone in their discontent regarding our rights and freedoms during this pandemic.  It’s uncovered the rot in our systems and the divisiveness that has plagued us, not only for the past two years. 

United we can conquer many of our problems.  Alberta and Quebec disenfranchisement, Aboriginal marginalization, the disrespect for our history and heritage, the subjugation of our Canadian values to appease international interests – together we can set things right, we cannot let ourselves be divided.  This is a monumental time in history and we have the power, right now, to stand up and forge the way into a brighter future. 

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Greg Staley is a husband and a father to 4 beautiful girls. He is the owner of Diverge Media and takes pride in telling the stories that matter - even if they may be unpopular. In addition to writing, editing, and producing videos and articles for Diverge, Mr. Staley also works full-time on a farm. Mr. Staley is working hard to be able to pursue Diverge Media full-time and wholeheartedly believes that it will become a reality in the near-future with the support of the readers/viewers of Diverge Media.