A few weeks back, a convoy of trucks left the west coast of Canada, bound for the nation’s capital of Ottawa.
The convoy’s express purpose was to protest the Canadian government’s newly-imposed COVID-19 vaccination requirements for border crossing. This new restriction came just as many countries were relaxing restrictions. One more restriction atop many doesn’t sound like much; however, anger and frustration at the government's arbitrary imposition of extreme and often incoherent measures in response to the virus - coupled with the aggressive suppression of dissent - followed by a refusal to consider evolving scientific opinion and experience-based knowledge had been building for months.
As the convoy rolled across Canada, it grew to the cheers of thousands of supporters from roadsides and overpasses. When the convoy converged on Ottawa, gridlock ensued, but there was no violence and no property destruction.
There was quite a bit of noise, however. The truckers made liberal use of their air horns. They wanted to be heard.
Even more concerning than the government's response to the virus, however, is its response to the protests. Faced with widespread sympathy for the protestors' cause - as evidenced by the resignation of the Ottawa police chief, the refusal of tow truck drivers to drag the trucks away, the scores of people bringing food and fuel to the protestors, and the millions in donations - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nevertheless refused to speak with the protestors and, instead, publicly insulted and threatened them.
But here's the most disturbing part: Despite rising political opposition, widespread criticism of his insulting rhetoric, and a committed group of protestors, Trudeau rejected any political or diplomatic solution. Instead, he doubled and tripled down. When starving and freezing the protestors didn't work, he released the kraken of unconventional asymmetric warfare: financial sanctions.
To be sure, such tactics are familiar in international affairs, often used against terrorists and rogue states. But wait, we're dealing with ordinary citizens here, working men and women with families and mortgages. Aren’t they entitled to due process before being hit with such crippling and extreme measures? Nope, not if Trudeau invokes a never-before-used statute, unilaterally declares a state of national emergency, and tags the offending truck drivers and their supporters as domestic terrorists.
So now the truckers face $100,000 fines, canceled insurance, canceled drivers' and business licenses, impounded equipment, confiscated donations, and, last but by no means least, personal bank accounts frozen by banks under the thumb of government regulators. Once he cut off the supply lines of the newly designated domestic terrorists, Trudeau called in hundreds of reinforcements to bust heads and jail those who, at significant personal risk, had kept the supply chain rolling throughout the pandemic. Perhaps the truckers now are wondering whether the designation “essential worker" was actually government-speak for “expendable tool."
So, things got ugly, and it looks like Trudeau won this lopsided battle.
But will he win the war?
At least for now, the Canadian people have recourse at the ballot box. They'd better be smart how they use their precious franchise or they will find their country in a perpetual state of emergency, with all individual liberties suspended indefinitely "for the greater good.”
Yes, but in the next election will a modern-day Cincinnatus reluctantly step forward to save the liberties of the Canadian people, or will they find themselves faced with the usual slate of self-serving demagogues? Hope abides.
In closing, this is a heads-up for us Americans. All our lockdowns and mandates were imposed under so-called emergency powers, which have been in force for almost two years now. We have experienced much the same arbitrariness and arrogance from our political elites and their apparatchiks as have the Canadians. We also have witnessed the “rules for thee, but not for me" hypocrisy of the power elite as they flaunted their own mandates.
And lest you think it can't happen here, just consider the US "Justice" Department ordering the FBI to investigate as “possible terrorists” disaffected parents who speak rudely at school board meetings.
Sound familiar? Sadly, civil disobedience sometimes becomes necessary to get the attention of an insular power elite. Our nation began with an incident involving the destruction of a shipment of tea, which grew into a war. The founders deliberately designed our Constitution to prevent the re-emergence of the sort of tyranny which led to the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution; however, the survival of any democracy depends on an informed, vigilant, and personally involved citizenry.
As Ben Franklin famously said of the Constitution’s great gift to the people, “A republic ... if you can keep it."
Skip Brock is a Birmingham businessman. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.