ENOUGH: Garth Turner says Freedom does not travel on a Kenworth or a Peterbilt

By Garth Turner

Now that the truckers and hangers-on have swarmed the capital and will soon dissipate in a cacophony of air horns, profanity and endorsements from Donald Trump, we should keep a few things in perspective. Like, numbers. There were not 50,000 trucks. Maybe it was a hundred, Or three hundred. Enough to paralyze the core of a city, for sure.

Ottawa cops say as many as 10,000 people tromped on Parliament Hill. That’s a lot. Impressive. But routinely 100,000 come to the same spot to celebrate Canada Day. And they don’t need a questionable $7 million GoFundMe campaign to do so.

Big crowds always attract morons. The BLM and January 6 people found that out. This was no exception. Some truckers parked on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and their vehicles were ordered removed. Then others danced atop the tomb. A vid was widely published. How ironic that their freedom to be in Ottawa protesting the government was paid for by the blood and death of that soldier.

Some idiots turned the statue of Terry Fox into an anti-vax, anti-medicine monument. They stuck a placard in his arms, a ball cap on his head and an inverted Canadian flag in his hand. More irony. Fox is a hero for his crusade against cancer. Lately those afraid of vaccination have helped swell hospitalizations and cancel cancer treatments for so many people.

And hundreds, perhaps thousands (as appeared on social media) stormed the Rideau Centre, Ottawa’s big downtown mall, refusing to wear masks. That was an illegal act, thus the mall was forced to close. Small shops, takeouts, restaurants and large stores were shuttered. Brave people who work through the pandemic plus entrepreneurs trying to stay afloat were impacted. Ironic that independent truckers were so willing to trash the income of others.

Meanwhile “F*ck Trudeau” flags were everywhere, underscoring the intelligence level and civility of the crowd. There were some Confederate rebel flags, also. Even a swastika or two. Like I said, there is no shortage of morons. Many of them were provided by the Max Bernier movement. Others by the Maverick Party. The leaders of both are former Stephen Harper confidants and insiders. It’s a sad and confused time for Conservatives.

The Freedom Convoy will accomplish much. It will deepen and intensify the rift on the political right. As such, it’ll repel many centrist Canadians, 90 per cent of whom think vaccines are the best idea to stop people from dying and overwhelming hospitals. That should help elect more Liberals. The convoy will vex Erin O’Toole. The tomb dancing and Fox desecration are lasting images. He was on the wrong side of this issue. Not radical enough for the fringe. Too rad for the rest. (Editor’s note: Erin O’Toole was removed as Conservative Party leader on February 2, 2022.)

Are you tired of the pandemic? Yeah, me too. Everyone is. Two years later Omicron was the last straw. So many new infections that governments stopped counting or seriously testing. One vaccine dose turned into two, then three. My mask not only bends my luxurious moustache, but fogs my glasses on frosty days. Hate it. Nobody likes this stuff. And think of all the people whose elective surgeries were scratched or disease treatments suspended. Getting a vax QR code is stressful. Airplanes are trouble. The subway seems dangerous. Remote learning sucks. And your dog has to be surrendered in the vet’s parking lot. More stress. But that pales in contrast to those who have had to lock up their restaurants three times and failed shopkeepers whose dreams are now dashed.

And let’s not forget the thirty thousand dead among us. Every time I hear a cowardly and selfish protestor diminish deaths because the victims were old folks – ‘who would die anyway’ – it makes me wonder about society.

But then I remember. These are not mainstream people. Over 85 per cent of all truckers are vaccinated. In most major cities 90 per cent of citizens are the same. On the streets of Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa or Vancouver almost everyone is masked to protect themselves, and each other. Most people put distance between them, respect the rules and understand that nurses, public health officials, doctors, paramedics and politicians have actually been doing their best.

We’re all pandemic-whacked. Yearning for the spring and more freedom from both risk and restrictions. The collective wisdom is that we’ll get to normal faster if we yield now. A little longer. It’s close.

Over the last few days I’ve taken flak for dissing the ‘freedom’ fighters, as I have consistently stated that the only path out of this epoch is through science and medicine. Not bullying and big machines. There will always be people who believe their interests supercede yours. They place their rights above those of society. They use vile language, intimidation, noise and antisocial acts to gain attention. It’s not about liberty. It’s about them. They lack your patience and trust.

I’ve run for office. Been elected. Done my best. Nobody I have ever met – even those I disagreed with mightily – went into public life to make things worse. The opposite. The government is not our enemy. Politicians are citizens who stepped up to try. None of them, like you, asked for a pandemic. And none deserve vulgarity, profanity or threats.

Freedom does not travel on a Kenworth or a Peterbilt. It comes with respect.

Go home. Give thanks you live in a country this open and forgiving.

This article was originally titled Enough and published on January 30, 2022. 

John Garth Turner is a Canadian business journalist, best-selling author, entrepreneur, broadcaster, financial advisor and politician. First elected to Parliament in 1988, he served for nine years in different capacities, including as the Minister of National Revenue and Member of the Privy Council of Canada. Turner is an Investment Advisor and principal with Turner Investments at Raymond James Ltd., where he is Senior Vice President, Private Client Group. 

Photo: @brandon_d_allen