Not With A Bang

By the time you read this, the truckers’ protest in Ottawa may be over. But many questions remain.

Police on Friday and Saturday pushed demonstrators away from Parliament Hill. I watched a lot of it as it was happening, as many of the demonstrators were streaming the actions live. It seemed like a typically Candian confrontation.

There was no widespread violence. The police advanced steadily, the protestors yielded gracefully. Yes, there were isolated incidents of and shoving on both sides, but it seemed to me that what could have been a bloodbath was ended in an essentially peaceful move.

Listening to the streamers, who literally were in the faces of the police as they filmed, was a reminder of how polite Canadians are. Even when a demonstration is being forcibly ended, there was a respect on both sides.

Maybe there were those who were hurling invectives, but I didn’t hear them. The worst I heard was people telling the police over and over again how they were on the wrong side of history in moving to end the protest.

I heard just as many telling the police how the protestors love them. I heard suggestions that they all join in for a street hockey game.

From what I could hear, I understand that some protestors were injured as they resisted being moved by police. It didn’t sound to me like there was any excessive force involved or major injury- in any protest the possibility of injury is always there.

As for the trucks, most were driven away voluntarily. No charges laid. Indeed, as I write this, Ottawa police have arrested and charged almost 200 people with mischief. That doesn’t match the government rhetoric of the past three weeks, but it is the only crime the police could find that fit. Protest is legal after all.

Parliament is debating the government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act, with a vote scheduled for Monday evening. I am thinking that it might not happen.

Listening to debate in the House of Commons on Saturday, it seemed to me that both Liberal and New Democrat MPs were having some second thoughts about the Prime minister’s use of this draconian legislation. Perhaps enough of them that the motion might fail.

That would be extremely embarrassing for the Prime Minister. He declares a national crisis, suspends civil liberties (while insisting he is not doing so) and faces a parliamentary vote on his actions. If he isn’t sure he will win the vote, he would be better off declaring an end to the crisis and withdrawing his use of the Emergencies Act.

My guess is that will be what will happen. The Parliamentary fuss will end just like the one on the streets of Ottawa. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

We should find out on Monday.

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