Having not written in almost two months, I hadn’t pictured that I’d end up writing again twice in the same day the first time back. Yet things are moving fast tonight and there has been a couple developments that have come out regarding the protests heading to Ottawa. I’m going to post them both together, as I honestly can’t separate them in my mind:

The first Tweet posted is from journalist Justin Ling, sharing a copy of a statement the likes of which I’ve never seen in all my time working on Parliament Hill. It in, it is calling on MPs to basically lock themselves at home and watch out for dangerous people coming to their places of residence in Ottawa. In the second, we see Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole giving one of the worst performances I’ve ever witnessed from a party leader in this country, promising to meet with representatives of the same group that the Parliamentary Protective Services are warning all MPs to protect themselves from.

I can’t separate these two Tweets from one another because of the brazen shithosery of them. I spent a decade on Parliament Hill, and I saw many protests. I was there for Idle No More, I saw years of March for Life protests and I even saw Greenpeace protestors rappel from the roof of my building, right in front of my office window overlooking Wellington. I also saw this event take place in late October 2014:

That was the day that part of my workplace was shot up by a lone terrorist. On that day, while my NDP colleagues were in a conference room on one side of the hallway where the shooting happened, Erin O’Toole and many of his current Conservatives caucus members were across the hall in their conference room. After the shooting, you could see the bullet marks in the stone in the hallways, and see where bullets nearly pierced the double soundproofing doors to those conference rooms. For our room, a bullet passed through the first door, only to be logged in the second. In the room behind it, some of my colleagues were sitting at desks on risers, and that bullet was lodged at the same level as those sitting on them.

That was a harrowing and frightening experience for everyone involved, and it was a day that none of us who worked there at the time will forget. To this day, I assumed that included Mr. O’Toole yet after what just happened, I now honestly have to wonder if he truly does. I mean, if he did, surely he wouldn’t go into a nationally televised press conference and promise to meet with a group of people who have been hanging the Prime Minister in effigy, or who have been uttering death threats at some of his colleagues in the House and journalists sitting in the audience. If he did, surely he wouldn’t promise to meet with a protest with organizers linked to all kinds of alt-right, antisemitism, racism and worse. If he surely did, you would think that he would confidently be able to stand up to anyone in his caucus who dared to suggest such a thing.

Yet here we are, with O’Toole bending to the will of a group who police clearly have enough concerns about to issue such a warning to members of his own caucus, the rational and others, and all members of the House of Commons and Senate. Instead of chastising these people for trying to come to the homes of Parliamentarians in Ottawa to harass and threaten them, if not worse, he gives them an audience and gives them exactly what they want. And what is it that they want? Legitimacy. In doing this, he is giving legitimacy to the same kind of people who have harassed medical professionals at work and home, to the point where he himself voted for a law to make it illegal just last month. And when they turn to the same tactics towards the people who he shares a workplace with he invites them to coffee and gives them some of his time?

In my earlier piece today I asked how things had slide so far since fall of 2020, when we were all up in arms at dangerous people making dangerous threats against people in public life. I was concerned that for those who were trying to take political advantage and trying to run to the front of this parade of anger, that there would no longer be any red lines left for them to cross. Of course they exist in all of our minds, but I was worried that they would no longer recognize them. Clearly openly supporting people who are making threats against the lives of your fellow Parliamentarians much be such a red line, and O’Toole crossed it with what appeared to be little coaxing or pressure.

I still remember even back on that day in October of 2014, in the wake of the worry about other shooters or the potential for future similar incidents, the Parliamentary Protective Services never issued such a warning to Parliamentarians. They were never told to lock their doors, secure their homes and don’t mention a protest on social media. They didn’t because even in that darkest moment, it wasn’t necessary. Yet within hours of that unprecedented step being taken today, Erin O’Toole gave those people causing such a warning comfort and part of what they are coming to Ottawa for.

History will not judge this moment kindly, and in my mind, this is one of the darkest moments in recent Canadian political history. I remember after that shooting in 2014 how so many of us from across party lines were able to come together and find some common humanity in the aftermath. We had all just experienced a similar experience, with similar fears and despite our political differences, we never wished anything close to that experience upon our opponents again. So here we are, just over seven years later, and when faced with impending danger Erin O’Toole chose the side of those making the threats over his fellow Parliamentarians whose only apparent “crime” here is following science, the law and being decent human beings. To those who are protesting, they seen that as the worst possible thing and when faced with that, O’Toole has decided to give that tacit validation and to hear them out over Timmy’s. We have crossed a disturbing rubicon tonight, and it managed to come 48 hours before the trucks hit Ottawa. In this moment one thing is crystal clear; some haven’t learned a bloody thing from the Hell we’ve seen play out stateside in the past year and when faced with that kind of dangerous energy, the Conservatives have decided to try to harness it rather than repudiate it. We’re seeing how that works to our South and I feel safe in saying that it will not go any better up here with those who try this now.

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