War Egan: The convoy has lost the room. Now how do we lose the trucks?

War Egan: The convoy has lost the room. Now how do we lose the trucks?

War

“In the course of a couple of hours, the “movement” was being blamed for disrespecting the two things in Canada that cannot ever be disrespected — the memory of Terry Fox and the graves of our war dead.”

Publishing date:

Jan 30, 2022  •  11 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •  106 Comments

war Protesters gathered around Parliament Hill and the downtown core for the Freedom Convoy protest that made their way from various locations across Canada, Sunday Jan. 30, 2022.
Protesters gathered around Parliament Hill and the downtown core for the Freedom Convoy protest that made their way from various locations across Canada, Sunday Jan. 30, 2022. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

By day’s end Saturday, and it was bound to happen, the trucker convoy had lost the room.

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In the course of a couple of hours, the “movement” was being blamed for disrespecting the two things in Canada that cannot ever be disrespected — the memory of Terry Fox and the graves of our war dead.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there came news a pair of protesters were harassing the homeless, being aggressive, even racist, toward a shelter security guard and taking food set aside for street people.

And this is how your “message” gets — not just lost — but reversed. Freedom? Freedom to do that ?

Demonstrations on Parliament Hill, by and large, are not done for those attending: they’re already on your side. They’re done for the broader world that will see, hear and read about the promoted cause.

(And this requires organization, which this crew seems to lack, from little things, like deafening horns blaring Sunday during the singing of Amazing Grace to big things, like where is everyone supposed to find a bed or a bathroom.)

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Instead of talking about vaccine mandates and harmful lockdowns, all anyone could talk about Saturday evening was the video clip of a young woman dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial and using a statue of Terry Fox as a kind of political prop.

It wasn’t long before everyone from the mayors of Ottawa and Port Coquitlam, B.C., to the defence minister and Canada’s top soldier were denouncing the violation of sacredness.

war People made their way to the National War Memorial to pay their respects after a woman was filmed dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Saturday.
People made their way to the National War Memorial to pay their respects after a woman was filmed dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Saturday. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

So, straight away, you’ve lost the audience, regardless of whether the offenders were just freelance agitators or just a little stupid. It’s your convoy, you wear it.

(It didn’t help that on Sunday one of the organizing speakers made light of the Terry Fox controversy, which he described incorrectly as “putting a Mandate Freedom” sign on the statue, at Wellington and Metcalfe. “Do you really think,” he asked the crowd, “Terry Fox would be against the basic freedoms that allowed him to run across our great country, which we can’t do now?”)

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war A protester stands on the Terry Fox statue that was outfitted with Canada flags and earlier had signage stuck to it.
A protester stands on the Terry Fox statue that was outfitted with Canada flags and earlier had signage stuck to it. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Its message now muddled, the convoy now faces a second realization: a public that is fast running out of patience.

The non-stop, late-night horns were bad enough, but it’s the hands-off approach authorities have employed that is wearing thin. If you or I parked a big truck on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway or the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, or Wellington Street for 15 minutes, we’d be ticketed and towed away.

war Thousands gathered in the downtown core Saturday protesting COVID-19 health mandates.
Thousands gathered in the downtown core Saturday protesting COVID-19 health mandates. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

This is now going on for three days? What of the businesses and residents downtown who’ve lost customers or access or mobility, or sleep? The Rideau Centre shut for the second day in a row. There was concern expressed Sunday about whether schools (Lisgar Collegiate) could safely open Monday.

How much longer are we to put up with that? Especially when Ottawa’s police chief has just said officers won’t hesitate to arrest lawbreakers.

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And so, to the thorniest problem of all: how do we safely get these rigs out of here, especially when they don’t want to leave?

“If they think we’re going to be out of here in a couple of days, no, no, no,” one of the organizers said on the makeshift stage Sunday.

Trucker Tyler Armstrong, 25, has had his rig, a 2018 Kenworth, parked on Wellington since Friday.

war Protesters started to regather around Parliament Hill, in connection with the Freedom Convoy that made their way from various locations across Canada, Sunday Jan. 30, 2022.
Protesters started to regather around Parliament Hill, in connection with the Freedom Convoy that made their way from various locations across Canada, Sunday Jan. 30, 2022. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

“I’m sick and tired of seeing Canadians lose their rights and freedoms,” he said Sunday. “The mandates have cost me my job because I can no longer cross the border,” said the owner-operator.

“Something has to be done.”

Armstrong said his spirits are good because he’s never seen Canada “this united before” and added he was nearly moved to tears by all the support he’s received en route from his hometown of Hamilton.

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He sleeps in the truck, benefits from donated food and says he isn’t going anywhere until the convoy brings about change.

“As long as it takes,” he said, when asked how long he was staying.

Therein lies Monday morning’s problem. There is no way this “group” or alliance is getting all it wants — from Justin Trudeau’s resignation to the reversal of pandemic policies that are both federal and provincial, while being popularly supported.

And now a public totally confused about their motives, impatient with their loose agenda, furious at their sideshows.

Lockdown on Wellington: the last kind we need right now.

To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-291-6265 or email kegan@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/kellyegancolumn

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