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Editorial: Don’t forget what just happened

With so much chaos in the world, it’s rather easy to forget about the trucker protests and the government’s response to them.

Of course, the Ukraine situation is far more urgent of a matter and deserves the coverage that it’s getting, but it also diverts the attention of politicians and the media, both domestic and abroad, from discussing what just happened to Canada.

This Ukraine crisis may have also saved Justin Trudeau’s career, as everyone forgets about his divisiveness and overreaction, and he gets to play the role of a loyal ally.

But I’d rather not let Trudeau or anyone else off the hook, because what happened in Ottawa will shape Canadian politics for months if not years to come.

First, it must be acknowledged that the protests had gotten out of hand—consider the guns seized at the Coutts blockade plus the four individuals charged with conspiracy to commit murder, how disruptive the blockades had become and the sheer amount of conspiracy thinking swirling around the protestors.

But Trudeau decided to overreact by using the Emergency Act and freezing the bank accounts of citizens, after dragging his heels on properly responding to the crisis and authorities not enforcing existing laws to deal with the problem.

Trudeau inflamed the situation to begin with by imposing a vaccine mandate on truckers that had no solid justification, while also questioning if we should “tolerate” the unvaccinated, whatever that means.

And despite the fact that the blockades had been cleared, Trudeau had his Liberals and NDP allies extend the act, only for him to revoke it two days later when nothing had changed, except perhaps some opinion polls and how the Senate wasn’t completely on board.

A leader shouldn’t be able to suspend civil liberties just to save face and clear away a few yahoos off the streets, nor should a leader respond to a Jewish MP’s criticism by accusing opponents of standing with “people who wave swastikas.”

Yes, the convoy had a bad stink to it, and Conservatives should have thought twice before playing footsie with these protestors, but this crisis was a test of leadership that Trudeau failed in spectacular fashion, leaving Canada more divided and bitter than ever.

And while Ukraine might have people preoccupied for now and gotten Trudeau off the hook, there is no doubt that the damage remains.

Peter Shokeir

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