Lionizing illegal occupiers has nothing to do with freedom. Instead, it is an attempt to overthrow the social compact that Canada was built on.
By Sheila Copps
First published in The Hill Times on July 4, 2022.
OTTAWA—Freedom obviously means different things to different people.
In some parts of the world, freedom is survival.
If you don’t have access to food or water, how can you worry about anything more than securing the basics of life?
If you are a woman in some countries, you do not even have the right to leave home unless accompanied by a male member of your family. Absurd though it may be, your son may actually have the authority to keep you locked inside.
If you are a girl in Afghanistan, you don’t have the right to an education. Even if your family could afford to send you, schools are verboten for those who have been born with a vagina.
If you are not a straight male, there are many places in the world where you could be imprisoned or even killed simply for loving someone.
You are not free to be who you are, but must either hide your sexual orientation or simply bury your sexuality to be free.
In some countries, there is no freedom.
But that is not the case in Canada. And as we celebrated our national holiday on July 1, it is time to start calling out those fakers who claim they are fighting for freedom in our country.
Can you imagine any other country in the world where you are so free you can park a bouncy castle in front of Parliament for weeks, paralyzing the operations of government, without being arrested?
Threatening judges and disobeying court orders is common amongst those who claim they are fighting for our freedoms.
Our “freedoms” involve infecting others with variants of COVID simply because they refuse to embrace the reality that vaccines make us all safer.
Why would any political party want to associate themselves with a bunch of fake freedom fighters whose main claim to fame is an illegal occupation of Canada’s capital?
Last week, interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen authorized all caucus members to meet with these fakers, in the name of democracy. She told CTV “I support peaceful and legal demonstrations, and if my MPs want to be there, they’re free to do whatever they want and they’ll answer to their constituents.”
Conservatives are currently battling with the People’s Party of Canada for the favour of those illegal occupiers who continue to display their disdain for the very system they claim to support.
Illegal convoy organizer Tamara Lich was released from prison in March after she agreed to bail conditions which prevented her from inciting another illegal occupation.
Instead, her lawyer confirmed she was arrested last week in Medicine Hat, Alta., for allegedly violating bail conditions. Meanwhile, political parties battle to share the spotlight with Lich.
“This is disgusting,” tweeted Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada. “Tamara Lich is a political prisoner and the Liberal regime is persecuting her like all authoritarian regimes do with dissidents. We will continue to support this courageous woman.”
Meanwhile, one judge involved in convoy prosecutions is alleging claims of harassment, intimidation, and even death threats.
In an interview with Radio Canada under concealed identity, the judge said multiple threats forced them to change the locks on their home, vary their daily path to work and consider moving their children out of the family residence.
This is harassment and intimidation from a group that claims to be fighting for freedom. The fact that any of these illegal protest organizers could be characterized as political prisoners illustrates just how bizarre our political narrative has become.
Even more strange is the fact that any legitimate political party would want to be associated with this group of twisted malcontents.
Conservative front-runner Pierre Poilievre constantly peppers his speeches with references to freedoms, underscoring that his political goal is to give liberty back to Canadians.
There may be many challenges facing our country, including the bite taken out of our wallets by rising inflation, but it is pretty hard to absorb the notion that we live in a country replete with political prisoners.
That claim has zero credibility.
As we celebrated our real freedoms on Canada Day last week, let’s not fall into the trap of legitimizing the goal of those who use illegal means to make their message heard.
Shutting down communities, blocking roads with bouncy castles and hot tubs, lionizing illegal occupiers has nothing to do with freedom.
Instead, it is an attempt to overthrow the social compact that Canada was built on.
Living in society comes with collective responsibilities.
Happy and Free Canada Day!
Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister. Follow her on Twitter at @Sheila_Copps.