• 2023
  • Feb
  • 4

Why Did They Come? From a Freedom-Loving Ottawa Resident

Saturday February 4, 2023

By Beth Blackmore

The Ottawa People’s Commission (OPC) describe themselves as as citizen-led grassroots effort led by Commissioners with experience in human rights and community action, with a goal to promote healing and justice to address trauma and losses experienced by the residents of Ottawa resulting from the convoy occupation. They hosted community consultations, public commissions, and invited written testimonies from Ottawa residents to share their stories and present their views.

During the past fall while the Emergencies Act Inquire was in session, OPC was concurrently running a citizen-led forum. Daniel Bulford (former RCMP and personal sniper to the Prime Minister) actively encouraged Ottawa residents who supported the convoy to participate and ensure their voices were heard in order to avoid a one-sided negative portrayal of the convoy.

OPC did welcome both perspectives, and I was honoured that my submission was accepted. I’d like to share with you the statement that I presented to the commission.

My Testimony for the Ottawa People’s Commission
Original published November 24, 2022

Good afternoon Commissioners and members of the public! Thank you for accepting my request to provide my testimony today.

My name is Beth Blackmore. I’m a lifetime Ottawa resident, mother, wife, and until a year ago an HR professional with the Canadian federal government.

I’d like to weave a question into my testimony this afternoon for your reflection. And that question is…

Why did they come?

Why did the truckers feel they had no choice but to drive 1000’s of miles across the country in the dead of winter to descend on the Nation’s capital?

So a year ago, November 2021, I was an Acting Team Leader of Recruitment with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Our team was responsible for including the new condition of employment for covid vaccinations within the job posters and offer letters.

I, however, knew my fate.

I knew that by not disclosing my private medical status, my employer would force me on leave after seventeen years of service. My last day at work was December 8th, 2021.

Filmed by Chelsea Mooncrazy on February 4, 2022. Click here to see more…

Those of us not complying with the mandates were treated as second-class citizens: livelihoods lost, businesses closed, banned from traveling within our own country’s borders let alone internationally. We were banned from fitness gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, sports teams, ski hills, gatherings of families and friends. Still to this day many unvaccinated healthcare workers are out of their jobs, some children still require covid vaccines for team sports and activities, and many are refused health care or organ transplants or visits with elderly family members in long term care. I’m sure there are even more relevant examples.

Our Canadian government instituted mandates over an entire population with a new medical treatment that is still in clinical trials (until 2023) and was never tested to stop transmission, as evidenced in Pfizer’s original submission filing to the FDA.

Our lives have been affected in a profoundly existential way over these discriminatory and segregating mandates. Our livelihoods, our very existence as human beings has been manipulated and threatened.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the most basic rights of individual Canadian citizens against any overreach by their government. I know we can all agree that ALL citizens should be treated equally. “Equality Rights” are at the core of the Charter.

Our Charter Rights - our civil liberties - were completely ignored: freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, personal bodily autonomy, the right to work and more were just brushed aside and never challenged in an open discourse.

So by mid-January I was feeling pretty hopeless. I remember thinking that the nation’s capital had to be the worst place to live as far as strict covid restrictions where concerned. It was indeed the Capital City of Compliance, with public servants tucked away working in their homes earning their consistent pay, receiving annual increases, and compensation for their home office setup. As a whole, the public service workforce that dominates Ottawa’s industry was very much immune from the fallout of the government’s lockdowns and overreach. Meanwhile any business deemed non-essential was told to shut their doors and their concerns were cast aside.

But rumours of a convoy were starting to circulate and momentum was building for a huge presence in Ottawa, with efforts being coordinated with authorities. It seemed so hopeful in such a dark time of never-ending lockdowns, mandates, segregation, and strained relationships.

After two years of miserable and unnecessary restrictions and mandates, a group of truckers rallied to have their voices heard. We were told by our Prime Minister and echoed by mainstream media that these people were ill-informed, anti-science ignorant bigots who did not deserve our tolerance. Our Prime Minister denounced the protesters even before they arrived.

However I will never forget the feeling I had on Friday January 28 on the Bruin Street overpass, the bridge adorned with Canadian flags and signs of freedom as the semi’s started to descend on the city’s west end. In absolutely frigid temperatures the large crowds huddle together, ignited by the undeniable hope and optimism that our voices would finally be heard.

It’s hard to put into words my experience of participating in the Freedom Convoy in downtown Ottawa. There was this air of hope surrounding us. Finally people who just wanted freedom of choice were assembling together and felt free for the first time in two years. People from all walks of live congregated with big smiles across their faces. Strangers were literally hugging and crying and expressing such relief that finally we might be respected and heard. Everyone was so appreciative of the truckers for their efforts and commitment in the name of freedom.

I personally drove down multiple times with friends or family, and several times alone. I have never felt safer walking the streets of downtown Ottawa. A few times I ventured down by myself at night to get my dose of what I referred to as HOPIUM.

I participated in the Adopt-A-Trucker program, so we hosted truckers and their wives as well as a freedom fighter accompanying the convoy from Thunder Bay. We provided meals, showers, and laundry to the brave truckers in appreciation of their sacrifice.

One of my favourite convoy days happened to be a quieter weekday. A friend and I had dropped off food and made our way to the intersection of Sussex and Rideau where a small snow-covered dance party formed. We found ourselves smiling, dancing, and hugging complete strangers - some of whom were intoxicated, homeless, and indigenous. In that moment I recognized that I felt more akin to the so-called oppressed outcasts of society than I did to my white-collar professional associates.

Filmed by Beth Blackmore on February 4, 2022. Click here to see more…

I drove my vehicle downtown most days and had no problem driving right down to the convoy itself. Many streets remained open, not just for emergency vehicles. Often if I was bringing food, toiletries and hygiene products, returning clean laundry or bringing a Costco cake for one of the truckers’ birthdays I could easily manage to drive right down Bank Street to Queen Street, park amongst the convoy, and easily get out to return home. There were detours in place but definitely navigable and honestly more efficient than driving on a busy weekday pre-covid.

Unfortunately the mayor and city officials deterred the public from going downtown and, worse, deterred business owners from opening their businesses stating that it was a hostile environment and unsafe for the public. I deliberately went out of my way to support business that opened their doors. Even though food donations were abundant, many of the truckers preferred to support local business and chose to eat at the restaurants that remained open.

While I acknowledge there were inconveniences that the Freedom Convoy brought to the nation’s capital, we must remember why they came. They didn’t come to personally inconvenience anyone, they come for dialogue and to be heard - much like what OPC’s purpose is. People’s livelihoods were at stake and human rights were being trampled with the implementation of the mandates. The truckers traveled all the way to Ottawa to give political expression to their stand on covid mandates. And where else should they have gone? Ottawa, as so many seem to forget, is the nation’s capital and should be the centre of Canadian democracy.

I’d like to point out that all the big claims that smeared the Freedom Convoy were simply not true. The convoy overall was not dangerous, not violent, and not foreign-funded. We know there were no guns, no money coming in from foreign actors, and no threats to national security.

And still there were no measures taken to address the people’s concerns or attempt to negotiate. Not once did the Prime Minister offer an opportunity for a meeting, or delegate ministers to have a discussion. The PM treated them like invaders, not a representative group of Canadian citizens with relevant concerns.

All of our hopes of finally being heard were dashed. Government leaders had no response whatsoever - they just accused the protestors of bigotry and turned a blind eye. State-funded and legacy media didn’t do the convoy any favours, instead smearing and painting the protesters as so immoral that the government had no obligation to listen to them.

From no communication whatsoever to the Emergencies Act? The invocation of the EA quite literally trampled on our civil and human rights with police using brute force against a peaceful people and freezing bank accounts of convoy supporters. It was politically motivated to preserve power and protect the policy-makers, which quite honestly destroyed an important pillar of our democracy - the right to protest and assemble.

Democracy in this country has been shattered with the government’s vaccine mandates creating a two-tiered society with no room for dissenting voice. The Freedom Convoy was a justified expression of political challenge. It was based on legitimate grounds.

Fortunately, due to the sheer size and enormity of the Freedom Convoy, it successfully evolved into a global movement that finally gave us a voice on the international stage, even if our own government dismissed our voices.

The truckers and the protesters were merely trying to be heard.

Thank you for your time.

Beth Blackmore is a life-long Ottawa resident, wife, mother to two sons, recovering public servant of seventeen years, and HR professional in both private and public sectors, Beth now helps others overcome their self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours in in order to reprogram their minds for success - health, wealth, and abundance.

You can follow Beth on social media:

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