Driving north into Penticton on a fine sunny Saturday the mood was soured by a convoy of cars and trucks bedecked in Canadian flags heading to Osoyoos to jam up the border and disrupt the lives of people living in that small town in the name of freedom.
What I find most infuriating is the way this small bellicose crowd of science deniers, far right fart sacks, willfully ignorant mouthbreathers and credulous conspiracy consumers pretend to represent Canada by flying the Canadian flag.
They have taken the beloved Maple Leaf, the flag our soldiers fight and die under, the image that our athletes tearfully display on the Olympic podium, the symbol Canadians proudly attach to their luggage when travelling abroad, and besmirched it in a tawdry display of selfish intolerance. Even debasing the statue of national hero Terry Fox with an upside down flag.
These convoys have nothing to do with the Canadian government. They have nothing to do with mandating vaccines for truckers who cross international borders. They have nothing to do with the trucking industry, which could use some fixing on the drivers’ behalf. There is only one border by land from Canada and the U.S. requires vaccines to cross it. The Trudeau government has zero control over that. End of story.
These faux patriots, either through choice or the luck of the birth lottery, live in one of the greatest countries on earth, a place where hundreds of millions dream of immigrating because it is a global bastion of freedom and opportunity and one of the world’s oldest democracies. Yet for reasons few faux patriots could articulate, they advocate for the overthrow of the duly elected government, replacing it with a committee of their choosing.
What could go wrong, Canada?
First off, in a democracy, the majority rules. This is a plain and simple fact that every child learns early in their schooling. The majority of Canadians want vaccines and mandates, another simple truth even the most obtuse mouthbreathers should be able to grasp.
This is not taking away freedom from a small minority, this is fulfilling the will of the people who elected the government. This is the way democracy works.
The majority of Canadians want drivers to have a license to operate motor vehicles and to obey the rules of the road. They do not want our streets and highways to become deadly free-for-alls for anyone with access to a vehicle. We accept this because it is sensible.
Similarly, the government requires people to show I.D. when purchasing liquor or marijauna or upon entering a bar or strip club. This is because the majority of Canadians think protecting children from the temptations of the adult world is the right thing to do.
Our kids require vaccines to attend public schools because the sensible majority believes in science and sees the benefits of eradicating diseases like smallpox.
In short, a democracy functions because patriotic citizens respect the will of the majority even when it goes against their personal beliefs.
This is not to say people do not have the right to protest if they don’t like a particular government policy. This is the unalienable right of people living in a free society, a cornerstone of democracy that we all cherish. Have at it.
Honk your horns. Hold hillbilly tailgate parties. Howl at the moon. Just do it somewhere where you are not infringing on the rights of other Canadians to go about their lives. And don’t do it under the auspices of the Canadian flag.
You do not represent Canada. You are a small minority having your 15 minutes of fame giving the finger to the majority, who in your paranoid conspiracy world you imagine look down on you from positions of privilege.
You revel in the size of your Trump-inspired rallies, citing the thousands who turn out as an indication you have a lot of support. The truth is if the tolerant majority runs out of patience with your continued belligerence and perceives you as a real threat to their cherished democracy, you will be crushed by crowds of millions of righteous freedom loving Canadians who will send you back to your conspiracy rabbit holes with your bunny tales tucked.
The support you are getting from right wing extremists in the U.S. and throughout the world should signal Canadians to be on guard. When Ted Cruz is on your side… well, enough said.
The Canadian flag is a proud symbol of our multiculturalism and our national tolerance of diverse viewpoints. It should never be dragged into politics or be flown at rallies rooted in hate advocating the overthrow of our elected government. It should never be in the same picture as a swastika.
Tolerance is one thing, but history tells us that allowing extremists to flaunt the law without consequences never ends well.