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Editorial: Ain’t she a beautiful sight? Maybe not

Peter Shokeir |

Unless you’ve been actively avoiding the news (as many sane people do these days), you will have heard about the trucker convoy and protesters in Ottawa last weekend, and as of Jan. 31, it looks like they plan to stay.

Ostensibly, it’s because of the federal vaccine mandate for truckers, but like many mass movements, it quickly becomes about many different causes and gripes—proof of vaccination, mask mandates, lockdowns, anti-Trudeau sentiment, Western separatism and hints of something uglier.

The movement is large, decentralized and occurring not just in Ottawa but across the country, so there have been many examples of atrocious behaviour with these protests, whether it’s bearing Swastikas, dressing up a Terry Fox statue in protester attire, jumping on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or the illegal blockade of the Coutts border crossing.

It will be debated how systemic this atrocious behaviour is to the movement and if it reveals a deficiency of character from all the protesters.

In the spirit of generosity, I will only condemn the protesters immediately responsible and any organizer or political leader who failed to act accordingly or denounce these actions, rather than condemn all of the protesters unequivocally.

This is the same spirit of generosity that allows us to separate all the peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, who stood up against authoritarianism and police thuggery, from the far-left radicals and opportunistic looters that took advantage of an important movement.

Is this convoy as noble as BLM? In my opinion, no.

But are some of their concerns valid? Perhaps.

For one, there are claims of potential shortages due to a lack of truckers, but opponents say these claims are overblown—if this is true, it will become evident soon enough.

As well, the federal health minister has suggested provinces look at making vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory, a proposal that I would have to object to since it violates the ethical principle of informed consent and risks alienating a good chunk of the population.

But it should be acknowledged too that many of these health policies have kept hospitals from overflowing and minimized the death toll that is too high already.

In the end, we must resist tribalism in all forms, because we have to share this country with others, so let’s strive for decency and get off Twitter.

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