• 2023
  • Feb
  • 6

Our International Profile: How Bad Can it Get?

Monday February 6, 2023

By Plushie Bug

When I sat down in September of 2022 to begin writing my response to the Public Order Emergency Commission’s invitation of citizens’ comments about the invocation of the Emergencies Act, and everything surrounding it, I was surprised to find the following suggested topic for discussion:

What impacts have the Freedom Convoy protest, and the use of the Emergencies Act against it, had on how Canada is viewed internationally?

To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it.

As an exhausted Ontarian, past hope of seeing any effective protest emerge, to the ever more strict and coercive pandemic measures which had been layered in upon us through 2020 and 2021 — six months burned out of hope for there ever to be any end in sight, to any of it — my whole focus throughout had been on tracking any potential it might have, to get us any relief domestically, ever.

I’d been aware of a few of the comments made by foreign celebrities about the Freedom Convoy protest, and mostly been more irritated by them, than anything else. It might be entertaining to have Elon Musk tweeting “Canadian truckers rule,” but it wasn’t as though such comments from him or anyone else had any bearing on anything in the grand scheme of things. Then for me it was a frankly “Oh, Jesus, must we?” moment when Trump came out with whatever his laudatory pronouncement was about the protest, because I could be sure that would be seized on by leftist media as ‘evidence’ for their favourite delusion about every Canadian conservative being a Trump worshipper: a fantasy that gets to be as tiring as it is obnoxious. All meaningless in terms of effect on anything, so I’d ignored most of it.

But…yes, word had got out. There’d been copycat protests raised all over. Australia, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, Austria… I didn’t have a complete list, but I knew it was a long one, and after some reading around, here’s what I ended up writing in my first, long-draft version of my comments:

Internationally, Canada has won the attention of the world, everywhere the story of the Freedom Convoy protest has reached, and if we leave governments out of it, I think it’s given most of the world a more positive view of ordinary Canadians than it may ever have had before.

The truckers of Canada, those of the Ottawa Freedom Convoy in particular, set a positive example for the world, of how ordinary people could stand up and peacefully make too much noise to be ignored, when faced with governments denying them and refusing to hear or address their concerns about pandemic restrictions with no end in sight. Their aims resonated with people around the world who were feeling similarly abused, to a point where “Canadian style” convoy protests emulating ours erupted in nearly enough every country capable of mounting them. Wherever they are spoken of, they are praised for bringing hope and inspiration. As the expression of a broadly based grassroots movement, producing the largest human rights protest in Canadian history, the Freedom Convoy’s drive to Ottawa promises to go down in world history as an epic story of civil disobedience.

In a good way, it has represented our strength; our toughness and competent practicality in taking on things that are important to see done. It has represented our ability to carry projects through under the harshest of physical conditions. It has also represented the kindness, generosity, and good humour we can bring to the effort.

Use of the Emergencies Act against it, though—that’s another matter.

I might hesitate to say it’s made anything much worse than it already was, because my reading has been that for some years Canada has already come to be considered a bad joke. I could say it might not have done that much extra damage. Given that right now we seem to be mostly rated as governed by a pack of unserious incompetents obsessed with ‘woke’ virtue-signaling, mindless climate-change zealotry, and the pursuit of meaningless photo ops—and also for being a bewildering, rather backwards outlier in terms of maintaining punishingly strict COVID restrictions long after they’d been dispensed with by other G7 and Commonwealth countries. One could be forgiven for wondering how much further we could be ridiculed. How much more embarrassed could we get, above and beyond being an international laughingstock?

But thinking about everything I’ve seen and heard in my online travels since January 2022, I can’t do that.

If it is ever confirmed that invoking the Emergencies Act has in any way represented an effort by Prime Minister Trudeau to counter any conceivable threat to either his reputation or that of Canada, arising from coverage in the international media of what transpired here last February, the irony will be monumental. Because for him, it’s been ruinous.

We may not have seen much reaction from other governments regarding either the Freedom Convoy protest, or the invocation of the Emergencies Act. From the US, UK, and other Commonwealth or G7 members, the silence has been deafening. No surprise: most of these countries have abused their own citizens similarly enough since 2020, and they might expose themselves to charges of hypocrisy if they were to comment. Only a handful of the EU’s MEPs have had it in them to speak out with any force about either: Christine Anderson, Mislav Kolakusic, and Christian Terhes.

But make no mistake:

In the world court of public opinion, I would say Canada now stands substantially disqualified as a free country. Still a vast, beautiful, resource-rich nation with what should be world-leading potential, but it’s now understood as a country where if you protest anything, and the Prime Minister doesn’t like your opinion, or doesn’t like you, you can have your bank account frozen. Where police-state tactics are now an option for assaulting legitimate protesters. We’ve gone from being a country seen as run by an unserious fool, to one in the grip of a vindictive, creepy and dangerous narcissist. An actual would-be dictator. Still weak and shallow, a WEF poster child trying to impress his mentors as strong and decisive and steadfast, and now especially hypocritical, running around making speeches about how other countries should preserve democracy and civil rights, while denying Canadians’ freedoms at home. Which, in the end, as at least a few people from abroad have correctly pointed out to me, in the end we can only call this our own fault.

I rather doubt my comments will be quoted anywhere in the Commission’s final report.

Plushie Bug (@BugPlushie) is a retired composite of financial officer and radar data processing programmer, currently pursuing satisfaction as an aspiring Twitter troll.

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