Below is a summary on recent events. I will discuss Trudeau invoking national emergencies act and how federal government should deal with current problems. Then how provincial governments should deal with loosening pandemic restrictions. Finally a discussion on issue of freedom and why I am worried about direction a large minority want to take our country.
Trudeau has invoked the national emergencies act and its about bloody time. Should have been done days ago, but better late than never. Fact is these are not peaceful protests; these are occupations and blockades that are interfering with other’s rights. Since trucker convoy has shown they won’t leave voluntarily and police aren’t able to remove them, there is no alternative. While provinces should be consulted, I believe feds should proceed where risk is present. Options such as declaring certain areas no go zones and anyone entering them would face arrest need to be considered. Government must use full force to end those including use of water cannons, tear gas and whatever means necessary. I don’t want violence, but if we let this convoy win, it sets a very dangerous precedent. This will just encourage other groups upset with government policy to try to shut down society. And for those on right who support this: Consider fact that when Tories are in government; many groups on left won’t like their policies. Do you want left wing groups to shut down society. On blockades, I have been clear in that I oppose them full stop irrespective of political leanings of who is doing it. Peaceful protest is a fundamental part of a democracy and those opposed to mandates have every right to hold demonstrations including in front of parliament. But they do not have right to shut down society. This is not a protest, this is lawlessness and anarchy. Part of a democracy is based on order not mob rule and if we don’t stop this in its tracks, I fear it will lead to mob rule.
On the issue of federal mandates, I believe vaccine mandates should remain in place for several months and even once eliminated, vaccine mandates for foreigners to enter Canada for non-essential reasons should become permanent. Entering a foreign country is a privilege not a right. And part of that privilege means being vaccinated. Some may say this makes me authoritarian, but quite contrary, I want to protect democracy and freedom and stopping this helps not hinders that. I will explain this in more detail in final paragraph. Also I believe federal government to avoid this really needs to ramp up CSIS monitoring of hate groups, gun lobby, and other extreme groups. And intelligence gathered needs to be shared with other departments as clearly we were caught flat footed here. I would also argue radical left groups to need to be monitored. We cannot continue to naively assume right wing populism and to lesser extent radical leftism is something that only happens elsewhere. Its here too and even if we wish it were not, we need to recognize it is and deal with threat. Otherwise more events like this will happen.
Provincial governments are beginning to ease restrictions and with cases and hospitalizations falling that makes sense. But it should be a phased approach, not done all at once as we’ve seen too often in past various jurisdictions rush re-opening only to have to go back on them. First step should be to end all remaining business closures within next week. Capacity limits for smaller gatherings and business like restaurants and cinemas should go too. Capacity limits for larger gatherings like professional sports, concerts should remain in place, but go within next month provided cases continue to fall and no new variant emerges. Final phase should be eliminating mandatory indoor masking. I would set mid April as target date but could be postponed if things are worse than expected. But even once dropped, governments should make clear, masking will not become a thing of the past. Instead we will transition for indoor masking all the time, to only required during spikes. I suspect long term masking will become seasonal being necessary during winter season but not year round. For vaccine passports, I believe Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan are making a big mistake in eliminating them. For starters this appears to be giving into freedom convoy which is absolute last thing we need to do. But also with low booster uptake, if anything it should be expanded to require boosters, but give a month’s notice so people have time to get them. Vaccine passports cannot stay forever, but there should not be any rush to get rid of them. If anti-vaxxers don’t like it, too bad. I hope BC keeps ours until at least June 30th. Likewise it is my hope private businesses voluntarily keep them even after eliminated, but do worry due to harassment from anti-vaxxers many will drop in fear.
Finally I thought I would outline my thoughts on freedom and why I worry about direction some are going on this. I am like most a strong supporter of freedom, but I realize we live in a complex world and its not as simple as more freedom good and more restrictions bad. With every decision we need to weigh pros and cons and decide accordingly. I understand different people will arrive at different conclusions and that is okay. Because world is imperfect and all policies have advantages and disadvantages, this is to be expected and is a good thing. The absolutist view of freedom is not one I share and I really hope Canada doesn’t go down such road. I support vaccine mandates as I believe with rights comes responsibility. We are a society and we have certain obligations to society. For most of Canada’s history people understood this. Its why most young men during World War II voluntarily signed up despite risks and despite inconvenience as they saw it as part of their civic duty. Unfortunately starting under Barry Goldwater and reaching peak under tea party a decade ago in US, you have seen a strong undercurrent that believes in rights with no responsibility or obligations to society. This sadly has spilled over the border and I don’t believe its something that ought to be embraced. I very much worry we are seeing an emergence of an element in society that celebrates selfishness and only cares about themselves and doesn’t care how their actions impact others.
I have always taken pride in Canada being a compassionate country and I still believe on balance Canadians are a very compassionate people. But unfortunately recent events have shown there is a strong nasty selfish element that is much larger than many of us realized. Politicians should always appeal to people’s better instincts, not try to play off their worst instincts. Yet I feel some on right here are trying to pander people’s worst not best instincts. Asking one to wear a mask, get vaccinated may be a restriction, but I also see it as a sign showing we care about others not just ourselves. If most people were compassionate and responsible, we could have fewer rules. Main reason we need as many rules as we have is because sadly too many are selfish and irresponsible and only way to avoid harms of that is to have rules. As such we need to stop seeing restrictions as bad in themselves and instead look at each one individually in what are the pros and what are cons. Definitely some are not necessary, but this can only be dealt with by taking a reasonable look at them, not a dogmatic approach. Some on twitter have called me authoritarian and its true I am no libertarian and damn proud of that. No country on earth, not even US follows the type of society the freedom convoy wishes. Such society is a mythical one that would never work in reality. Instead Canada is one of the freest countries on earth and still is. Yes pandemic involved more restrictions than normal, but that was due to increased threat. As it recedes those will go.
A lot of this is a pushback on Liberal elites and I have mixed feelings on that. I don’t like some, believe liberal elites are power hungry or have evil intent. I believe most are very compassionate people who want a better society and the rules they favour are to achieve that. Yes maybe they are too idealistic and fail to understand how world is a messy place and it sometimes takes longer to get to desired goal. But that doesn’t mean we should object to their ultimate goal. Just how they plan to get there. Most politicians are people too and want to go back to normal as soon as possible. If you talk to any politician, most would say pandemic decisions have been some of the toughest they ever made knowing whatever they do will harm some and no decision is harmless. And yes some have made mistakes and gone too far one way, but with few exceptions, I believe most have tried their best. In fact Liberal elites remind me of a caring parent or teacher. Yes lots of rules and no doubt as a kid, many hated that. But they did so because they truly cared about you and didn’t want any bad thing to happen to you. I believe liberal elites are very compassionate people who truly care about others and are bringing in such rules because they care. So disagree with them all you want, I often do, but at least respect they are good people with good intentions, just maybe going about it the wrong way. Likewise Canada was and still is one of the most successful countries on earth so seems silly to hate those who helped achieve that. Perhaps maybe fact I have travelled to 64 countries gives me a better perspective realizing just how lucky we are even if imperfect. While at times may come across as arrogant and condescending, I think its more because they are frustrated with those standing in their way of a better society. Its probably true pandemic has widened gap between professional and working class as former was largely insulated from the worst impacts while latter was not. And no doubt those who were less impacted should consider that. But most in professional class I think wanted to see fewer deaths, which I believe all decent people want to see. They just maybe underestimated how damaging restrictions were to some since personal impacts to them were less. But solution here is those impacted explain to them, not to go to extreme trucker convoy has. Often our perceptions are based on our own lived experiences so hearing from others and listening is how we learn.
In summary I really hope this does not lead to our country becoming dysfunctional, more polarization, and more selfish. Canada has been well served by three moderate parties be it NDP on left, Liberals in centre (now more left though) and Progressive Conservatives on centre-right. All more or less accepted same goals and differences were more how do we get there. I would like to see a return to this where we start accepting far more unites than divides us in end goals and big differences are we disagree on how best to get there. And since society is complex, that is to be expected and even celebrated. In fact hearing different perspectives on how to achieve a certain things increases chances you actually get there than just one solution. The more right wing elements who fundamentally reject the principles and values Canada is built on is not something that should be celebrated. Yes they have the right to hold such views, but I really hope it does not become normalized. History has taught us polarized countries don’t tend to turn out well.