THE WORD ‘FREEDOM has been co-opted by the Ottawa occupiers as a rallying cry. Like many words that become politicized, it’s lost its original meaning.
The meaning of freedom is fluid. Janis Joplin sang; “Freedom‘s just another word for nothing left to lose” in the song Me and Bobby McGee. I think she meant that the accumulation of useless stuff is a burden and you’re better off being free from consumerism.
More significantly, freedom has been used historically by civil rights movements to liberate slaves and the oppressed. Martin Luther King said: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
But whose freedom is being promoted by the Freedom Convoy of Ottawa? Just who do they imagine are the oppressors and the oppressed?
I asked a Kamloops’ Facebook user, a supporter of the occupation of Ottawa, what the issue was? She replied: “Freedom to choose.”
The use of the word freedom has been subverted. It now means the right to do as you please regardless of the harm to others through the spread of disease and the clogging hospitals with vaccine deniers; regardless of the harm to the economy through the shutting of boarders; regardless of the harm caused to the mental health of Ottawa citizens though the occupation of Ottawa.
The right to spread disease and clog hospitals is not exactly what Martin Luther King had in mind.
The truckers and their anarchist supporters want an end to “vaccine mandates” but no such mandates exist. No one is being hunted down and forcibly vaccinated. Rather, if you want to work in certain professions you must be vaccinated.
The Ottawa occupiers represent a grab-bag of grievances. Some want to overthrow the Liberal government. Others believe the COVID-19 virus is not real and that the media is propagating a lie. Others are simply vandals who want to do their dirty work under the cover of “freedom.”
Canada has gained global notoriety under the banner of freedom. Protesters around the world imagine Canada’s freedom fighters descending on Ottawa to overthrow a tyrannical government. What a joke.
The drive-in protest is a new low in demonstrations. It’s the lazy man’s protest. Real protesters don’t sit in the comfort of their cars and trucks and hold tailgate parties.
Real protesters walk shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, in solidarity. The couch anarchists should study how genuine demonstrations are held, like in 2006 when thousands of protesters in 40 Canadian cities and towns walked, rallied, and stood in opposition to Canada’s participation in the war in Afghanistan.
Under the slogan “Support our troops, bring ’em home,” 500 real demonstrators marched through downtown Ottawa to Parliament Hill to protest the military mission and demand the return of Canadian troops.
Then they went home.
The federal Conservatives have jumped on the freedom bandwagon. Conservative leader candidate Pierre Poilievre’s said he would make Canadians the “freest people on Earth,” with “freedom to make your own health and vaccine choices, freedom to speak without fear.”
“Freedom over fear,” Poilievre tweeted.
During the last federal election, People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, the far-right’s current standard-bearer in this country, was greeted with chants of “freedom, freedom,” at his campaign stops.
What the anarchists don’t seem to understand is that their freedom to swing their fist ends where my nose begins.
David Charbonneau is a retired TRU electronics instructor who hosts a blog at http://www.eyeviewkamloops.wordpress.com.