In times of divisiveness, we win when we find common ground.
So, what do we agree on?
Canada is an amazing country. Our right to protest is important. The pandemic is unprecedented in our time. In hindsight, not everything that has been done throughout the pandemic was the right move. Many of us are suffering from the pandemic; whether it is financially or emotionally. Almost all Canadians (whether they remember or not) have been vaccinated for polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis for school, and more recently also for hepatitis B and HPV. These vaccines prevent the disease. All vaccines can have side effects. More than 77 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated against COVID. The elderly and immunocompromised are most at risk of severe symptoms or dying from COVID.
Our health-care workers have been beyond heroic in their efforts these last two years and they deserve a break before they break down. Hospitals are underfunded. Veterans fought for our freedom. Terry Fox was a hero.
Our prime minister’s words are becoming less cogent. Canada’s Corruption Perception Index has gone up under Trudeau’s tenure, which means countries around the world perceive us as more corrupt than we were. We just had an election just over four months ago and we still have the same minority government.
The truckers do amazing work keeping our store shelves stocked. The great majority of truckers are still on the road hauling goods for us and we are thankful for them. Somewhere between 83 percent and 95 percent of truckers are fully vaccinated. The Canadian Trucking Alliance denounced the actions of disrespecting the Terry Fox monument and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and National War Monument.
There is also a lot we should agree on, and most of us do, but not all of us:
Confederate flags have no place in Canada, ever. Swastikas have no place in Canada anymore, thanks to the Nazis. Comparing vaccine mandates to the Star of David used to identify Jews during the Second World War is a distasteful comparison as no one is looking to kill all of the unvaccinated and they are not a protected class. It would be more appropriate to call vaccine mandates a VIP nightclub stamp; where you have to be dressed and act a particular way to be let in.
If this protest had been a group of people of colour, including Indigenous peoples, they would have been treated more harshly and the protests/blockades ended more swiftly. That is very disheartening in 2022; to see how much white privilege is at play.
All governments around the world never agree on anything, but they agree on vaccinations to minimize the effects of COVID. The United States has the same vaccine mandate for truckers as Canada. If you can’t cross into the U.S., then you don’t have to worry about vaccine mandates to cross back into Canada. COVID vaccines reduce our chance of getting COVID and minimize symptoms if we do. Lockdowns and other vaccine mandates, which come mainly from our provincial governments, but also some from the feds, are inconvenient. They were put in place to protect our most vulnerable and keep the health-care system from imploding. Health-care resources have been diverted from other surgeries and procedures when COVID cases surge. Yelling at people, in the service industry or food banks, who have to enforce mandates to keep their jobs, isn’t the right way to express displeasure.
There is misinformation on both sides of this debate. Doing your own research is not a Google search to find articles that confirm your current bias. Science, scientists, and the scientific process matters.
The Queen of Canada (and England and other Commonwealth realms) has been Elizabeth II, since 1952. She was not speaking on the Hill this week wearing a toque, flanked by a few people with homemade signs.
What we definitely do not agree on is a smaller list.
We don’t agree on the number of trucks that were part of the convoy; nor the number of people who protested on Parliament Hill; nor the number of extremists that were part of the protests and convoy; nor the number of Canadians that they represent. We don’t agree that extremists were completely unwelcome in the convoy and protests; and aren’t part of the leadership of it. We don’t agree on how the protests could/should be ended.
Regardless, even where we disagree, I will fight for our right to protest, but I will not be silent when racism (even by a few) or white privilege are at play. Since we don’t agree on these numbers, how about we focus on more important numbers, like the number of Indigenous reserves without clean drinking water and the number of children who died at residential schools?