Public unrest and the Freedom Convoy of 2022

freedom convoy
This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Report of the Covid Commission

While the following series is fictional, the principle objective is non-fictional – to explore the likelihood that sooner or later, Canadians will demand a full-scale investigation into the management of the COVID crisis by our federal government.

Preston Manning

The public unrest which led to the establishment of what came to be known as the COVID Commission began prior to 2022. But it did not become a formidable political force until late in the spring of 2022, when it triggered the creation of the Commission.

By that spring, the physical manifestations of the pandemic and its mutations were finally abating. But public anger grew in inverse proportion as the multiple, long-range impacts of the federal government’s management of the COVID crisis began to manifest themselves economically, socially, legally, and politically in every part of the country and among every segment of the population.

Canadians who had been told for decades that Canadian Medicare was one of the best health care systems in the world learned the hard way that this claim was false.  The system was incapable of handling the demand created by the pandemic and thousands of citizens with non-COVID-related illnesses were left to languish on ever-lengthening health care waiting lines, over 10,000 of them dying.

Millions of Canadians who had been told that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms constitutionally guaranteed their fundamental rights and freedoms learned to their dismay that those rights and freedoms could be easily violated by health protection measures implemented by well-meaning but unelected bureaucrats and suspended at will by the federal government through a presumptive and unnecessary invoking of the Emergencies Act.

And millions of Canadians also suffered job and income losses, some of them permanent, as thousands of businesses were crippled or destroyed by governmental decisions to “lockdown” the economy – decisions taken without any advance assessment of the breadth and depth of their negative economic impacts.

The Freedom Convoy, originally launched by independent truckers protesting a vaccine mandate which put thousands of them out of work, was joined by thousands more Canadians from all walks of life. The Prime Minister’s refusal to meet with the protesters and his characterization of them as “a fringe minority composed of racists, misogynists, and right-wing extremists largely financed by U.S. interests” – a characterization unchallenged, repeated, and amplified by most of the mainstream media – only heaped more fuel on an already smouldering grassroots fire. And then, when the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act to suppress the protest, deploying the police to arbitrarily override the protesters’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and mobility, public anger and resentment continued to mount even after the government hastily revoked its ill-advised use of the Act.

By late February of 2022, as testified later by a disillusioned communications consultant formerly attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Trudeau government was desperately searching for something, anything, that would “change the channel” away from its mishandling of the COVID crisis and the truckers’ protest to some other issue capable of seizing and maintaining public attention. The Russian invasion of Ukraine was seen by the PMO as a heaven-sent opportunity to do just that – to “change the channel.”

Most of the mainstream media went along with the channel change, and it was assumed that most of the public would follow. But as it turned out, the Prime Minister’s Office was in a bubble largely of its own making, relying much too heavily on information feeds and news that only reinforced its previously held views.

Freedom Convoy shows we need direct democracy in Canada by Mark Milke
Canada lacks a practical ability to channel frustrations from citizens to governments
Trudeau response to Freedom Convoy turned it into a global movement by Shawn Whatley
The world is watching Canada. Trudeau must separate his blend of public health and authoritarianism

As part of the change-the-channel strategy, the Prime Minister was sent on a hastily arranged visit to several European capitals, making unctuous statements at every stop declaring his deep concern that the Russians were violating the rights and freedoms of Ukrainians. But as one British observer acidly observed: “Who in the world would believe the sincerity of such expressions when this same Prime Minister, in his management of the COVID crisis at home, shamelessly and unapologetically violated the rights and freedoms of his own people.”

A further component of the Trudeau Government’s change-the-channel strategy involved the government entering into a coalition agreement with NDP members of the House of Common on March 20, 2022. Under this agreement, both parties committed themselves to supporting massive increases in federal government spending. The NDP agreed to support increased defence spending, which it had previously opposed, in return for a pledge by the government to increase federal spending on public health, including a universal dental care plan. The agreement was to bind the NDP to support the Liberal government in the House until 2025, ostensibly ensuring that any motion of non-confidence in the government made during that period would be defeated.

One curious omission from the Liberal/NDP coalition agreement was its failure to provide any cabinet positions for the NDP, normally a condition insisted upon by any minority party agreeing to support a governing party in a coalition. As it turned out, there was more to this omission than met the eye, and there were several other undisclosed aspects of the coalition agreement that ultimately contributed to its undoing. More on this later.

Preston Manning’s long record of public service includes work as founder of the Reform Party and as a Member of Parliament.

Preston is a Troy Media Thought Leader. For interview requests, click here.

Next: The Common Sense Coalition


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By Preston Manning

Preston Manning tirelessly championed the cause of democratic and political reform throughout his impressive career as one of Canada’s great political visionaries. His presentations provide an inspirational and substantive discussion of both current issues and future challenges, all imbued with a surprising dose of humour that you might not expect from a politician. A reformer at heart, Preston is right at home challenging the status quo and conventional thinking. Serving as a Member of the Canadian Parliament from 1993 to 2001, Preston founded two political parties – the Reform Party of Canada and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance. Both of these became the official Opposition in the Canadian Parliament and led to the creation of the Conservative Party of Canada, which formed the federal government of Canada from 2004 to 2015. Preston served as Leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2000; is a Companion of the Order of Canada, a member of the Queens Privy Council for Canada, a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and has received honorary degrees from six Canadian universities. He is also founder of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy – a national not-for-profit organization that supports research, training, and communications initiatives. He has published two books: The New Canada, and Think Big. He has also served as a senior fellow of the Canada West Foundation, the Fraser Institute, the Market Place Institute of Regent College (UBC), and as distinguished visitor at the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto.

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