There are many saying and idioms that we have when we talk about Canada, our politics and just how we usually go about things. Some are cliches but others are usually held to a higher respect, even included in our founding governing documents. One such phrase is one that most Canadians usually wrap their arms around with pride and usually speaks to the good example that Canada sets. That phrase is “Peace, Order and Good Government”, and really there aren’t many other words strung together that tend to speak to what Canada is.
But this week in Ottawa, those words have become more of a joke than a mantra. I’ve had a fair bit to say about this topic so far, but things continue to escalate (or maybe better put, disintegrate). I mean, take a look at what has happened in the past couple of days in Ottawa when it comes to dealing with the self-called “respectful protesters” that have taken over the downtown core:
I have to say that I’m as floored by all of this as I am angry as hell. Firstly, this group of people are running around downtown Ottawa with impunity, making lives a living hell for law abiding citizens who actually call the city home. Thousands of people who depend on their service jobs in downtown Ottawa are either losing a week and more of pay because their places of work are shut down, or their forced to face maskless, anti-social buggers who threaten them with violence whenever they ask them to simply follow public health protocols. We’re seeing increasing evidence that not only are these “protesters” refusing to leave, and they are getting support from some local businesses who are more concerned with making a buck than the wellbeing of their neighbours, like the Holiday Inn noted above. And now we’re seeing images of folks like MPP Randy Hillier moving munitions and fuel, to support these same buggers.
Add to that situation is the complete ineptness of the Ottawa Police service and the City of Ottawa in this moment. They’ve molly coddled this group from the very beginning to the point where they are even being allowed to us city property outside of the downtown core as some kind of staging ground and resupply point. I’ve taken part in many protests in my day, but I never being a part of one that needed “a logistics camp” to support it. That’s likely because you only need such infrastructure if you are either occupying or invading somewhere.
So I have to admit I was taken aback when Ottawa’s police chief finally admitted what we all have known for days; that this is basically an occupation, that it’s being funded and organized to a great deal with support for foreign nationals, including from the United States and that these people have zero intent of respecting democracy or respecting the people who live in Ottawa. And to that end, Chief Sloly told all Ottawans yesterday that “there may not be a policing solution” to this current crisis. He’s now floating having to bring in the military, which is as clear an admission of his failure as anything else. This force has left these group to maraud, threaten, violate and desecrate this city and its citizens for almost a week while doing virtually nothing to oppose them, and then acts like Ned Flanders beatnik parents when he finds out that doing nothing hasn’t helped a goddamn thing.
Needless to say, that has left many in Ottawa beyond pissed off and at their wits end. That has led to sights like the following, the kinds of things I can honestly say I’ve never witnessed in Ottawa before:
Ottawa is usually a very sleep place, far from being as exciting as some might think. When I first moved to Ottawa in 2009 to start working on Parliament Hill, I was told that “If you want to have a fun time in Ottawa, you go to Montreal”. That joke has remained true for the most part, and frankly, it’s part of what endears me to the city. But seeing people pushed to their breaking points by this crap, I can see how it would finally lead to sights like those above. It’s one thing to see these kinds of anti-social protesters come into their city and disrespect them and it in all ways possible, but it’s something all together different to see City Hall and the Police basically sit idly by and let it all happen. Many in Ottawa have felt abandoned and completely on their own, which forces people to take actions like we’ve seen above.
There is talk that there will be a counter protest going into downtown on Saturday, something that could make matters worse, but I completely get where it’s coming from. Things never should have gotten to this point if the Ottawa Police had done their part here, or at least treated this group the same way it has other protests from the past that actually remained peaceful. Instead they are now paralyzed by a group of 250 people, leading that frustration to grow. But there is one last element in this mix that needs to be addressed, one that bothers me beyond all belief, especially given the events yesterday in the Conservative caucus:
Folks, I had my say about those Conservative politicians who waded into those crowds on Saturday and the implicit message they were sending to that group, and all that still stands. But you’d think that if they had learned a damned thing from the weekend, they would have stayed the hell away from these “protests” as best as they could going forward, especially on the very day we’re seeing photos of munitions and the police laying out malign foreign-funded support and organizing of this group. But instead nope, we get that group of Conservative MPs going down there, to give their unqualified support for all of this shit, all before they walked off Parliament Hill to go to their taxpayer paid Ottawa or Gatineau apartments to sleep for the night, assumably with ear plugs firmly in place. They do that while their sometime neighbours are left to face the brunt of the shit that they are supporting.
They aren’t even hiding it folks, they’re proudly doing it because they see this as being to their political advantage. Forget about the laws broke, their past bellows for the law to be thrown at Indigenous people when they legally protest, or any sense of basic decency. No, they clearly view their fellow citizens in Ottawa as some form of “the other”, not worthy of basic respect. This turn of events is also noteworthy because of what happened yesterday to Erin O’Toole. The far-right elements of his party managed to push him out the door. The Scheers of his caucus, who have been inflaming the rhetoric around this moment got their way, tossing aside any meager moderating influence O’Toole might have brought. They’ve decided to go full-Trumpy, and they were out on Wellington Street embracing it with full gusto (or at least shaking hands and taking selfies with it), all before the corpse of Erin O’Toole’s political career had gotten cold. When faced with a choice between siding with law-abiding citizens of Ottawa who are respecting democracy, and a group of occupiers funded by shadowy foreign money calling for the dismantlement of our elected democracy, Scheer and his colleagues decided to get behind the latter.
But all the being said, this is all a bloody mess that only promises to get worse before it gets any better, as some of this group who left the city on Sunday are planning to staycation again this coming weekend on Wellington Street. The people of Ottawa have already suffered more than enough, as has the standing and strength of our democracy. What exactly is it going to take for the Ottawa Police or a higher authority to finally get this under control and cleared away? Will we have to wait for one of those munitions that Randy Hillier proudly showed the world to be used against us? Will we have to wait for a full-on donnybrook in the downtown when the good citizens of Ottawa have finally had enough? It’s time for some true “Peace, Order and Good Government” to be brought to bear because right now, this whole situation is making a mockery of those cherished words and the solemn meaning behind them.