WNews Opinion –One of the biggest things that makes up a free country is the right to freedom of speech and press. They are the hallmarks of modern society. Nevertheless, what has been happening in Canada and among its citizens is illegal and, as such, wrong. It is wrong to use violence against protesters, to spread misinformation, etc. There seems to be a lot of gaslighting in the media and within the government regarding the Freedom Convoy.
As a Canadian news organization, we support freedom of speech and peaceful protests. However, we condemn any action that would prevent international border crossings and the use of airports.
The goal of our coverage is to bring you both sides of the story as well as to report as unbiasedly as possible. That is not always the case when it comes to other media outlets.
It is very imperative to us that the truth is told, as well as admitting our mistakes when we do. Our company does not follow along with the party line. We believe that reporters should not be forbidden to tell the cold indisputable facts in their stories.
Background on Protests
The convoy was created to protest vaccine mandates for crossing the United States border but became a protest about COVID-19 mandates in general. The convoys began travelling from several points on January 22 and traversed Canadian provinces before converging on Parliament Hill on January 29, 2022. The convoys were joined by thousands of pedestrian protesters. Several offshoot protests blockaded provincial capitals and border crossings with the United States.
The protesters stated that they would not leave until all of COVID-19’s restrictions and mandates had been repealed. Officials have expressed concern about the economic impact of border blockades. A state of emergency was declared by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on February 11, introducing new legal sanctions for impeding trade routes, highways, airports, ports, bridges and railways. A conversation between Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, and U.S. President Joe Biden took place on February 11.
On February 14, Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time since the act was passed in 1988. In the period between February 17 and 20, a large-scale joint-operation police presence in Ottawa resulted in a large number of arrests of organizers, protesters, the towing away of parked vehicles, and the dismantling of blockades. By the 20th of February, the downtown area of Ottawa had been completely secured by police. The area in front of Parliament had been cleared of protesters, and concrete barricades and fencing had been erected to secure the area.
After the invocation of the Act, Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance announced that the purview of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada was expanded to include the monitoring of funds sent through crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe, where protestors had raised millions that were ultimately refunded, as well as payment providers formerly outside its scope.
Freeland specifically cited cryptocurrency transactions, which the protestors turned to after GoFundMe, as a type of digital transaction that the new measures were meant to cover. Canadian banks were also temporarily given the authority to freeze accounts suspected of being used to support the protests without the need to obtain court orders, were granted legal immunity if they chose to do so, and were allowed to more freely share information with law enforcement and government agencies.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association criticized the invocation of the Act in a press release, saying, “The federal government has not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act. This law creates a high and clear standard for good reason: the Act allows the government to bypass ordinary democratic processes. This standard has not been met.” In the same press release, the CCLA stated that the normalization of emergency legislation, “threatens our democracy and our civil liberties.” On February 17, the CCLA announced it was suing the federal government over the Act’s invocation, stating that the Emergencies Act must be reserved for national emergencies, which they argued was a “legal standard that has not been met.” Alberta’s government announced on February 19, it was going to sue the federal government over the Act’s invocation.
Both Canada and the United States accommodated unvaccinated cross-border truckers by exempting them from COVID-19 vaccine requirements in late 2021, so as not to exasperate the existing disruptions in the supply chain. Canada’s exemptions ended at the end of January 15, 2022, while the US exemption ended at the end of January 22, 2022. In January, approximately 85 percent of the 120,000 truck drivers licensed in Canada who operate regularly on cross-border routes had been vaccinated against the new COVID-19 strain. Approximately 12,000 to 16,000 truckers in Canada are expected to be affected.
The convoy has been condemned by the trucking industry and labour groups. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) stated that most protesters had no connection to trucking. At a blockade in Coutts, Alberta, multiple weapons were seized and four men were charged with conspiracy to commit murder of RCMP officers. That was later found to occur at home near the blockade.
Some officials have raised concerns about some protesters’ involvement with far-right extremist groups, including those who promote violence, and that some protesters have called for the federal government of Canada to be overthrown. Some sources including police have called the ongoing protests an occupation or a siege.
Mayor Watson sent a letter to Tamara Lich and Keith Wilson to negotiate terms with protesters. On February 13 afternoon, Mayor Watson’s Office said that they had reached an agreement with protesters limiting the protest perimeter to “Wellington Street, between Elgin Street and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway” to “reduce pressure on residents and businesses”. Truckers will leave residential neighbourhoods.
On February 15, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly resigned after weeks of criticism aimed at his handling of the protests.
Organizers Chris Barber and Tamara Lich were each arrested on February 17. Lich’s bank account had previously been frozen. Barber has since been released with conditions to leave Ottawa within 24 hours and Ontario within five days. Pat King was later arrested on February 18.
More than fifty trucks moved to a truck stop in Champlain Township, near Vankleek Hill, immediately following the Ottawa clearance. Protesters and Truckers Conyoy known as the Freedom Convoy make its way to Ottawa to protest the COVID19 Mandates including the COVID19 Vaccine passport.
The protesters arrived on January 28 in the capital. There’s has been other protests across the country including the Coutts Border Blockage that lasted over a week. Many provinces have dropped the COVID19 mandates or have a plan to drop the mandates by the end of March.
During the midst of the protests, Erin O’Toole was removed as a leader by the Conservative Party in which Candice Bergen was made Interim Party Leader. Bergen has condemned the actions of the Prime Minister many times.
On February 17, Intern Leader Candice Bergen’s prepared the following remarks. The rest can be read in the National Post.
“This week, for the first time since its passage, the Emergencies Act has been invoked by the Prime Minister. This is historic. And it’s extremely disappointing.
The prime minister has invoked the act, he says, to deal with the protests that have gathered here in downtown Ottawa, and blockades that were happening on the Coutts border in Alberta, the Emerson border in Manitoba and the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor and the Border at Surrey. All of which, by the way, are now open. There are no more blockades at any borders
What’s left are the trucks parked outside here in Ottawa and that need to move or be moved.
Instead, he has jumped straight to the most extreme measures.
He has failed to meet the high threshold set by the Emergencies Act to justify its use. That being: when a situation “seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada’ and when the situation ‘cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.’”
Conservatives don’t believe the government has shown that threshold has been met and thus we will be voting against it. Keep in mind, this act is already invoked and is the new law of the land. Our debate and vote on Monday can only stop it if the NDP vote with CPC and the Bloc to stop it.
Supporting the use of the Emergencies Act is one of the most serious decisions a Parliamentarian can make. However, throughout the last three weeks, the prime minister has failed to take meaningful action to de-escalate the protests here or use any other tools he may have available.”
The freezing of bank accounts by the government is a frightening prospect
Chrystia Freeland, the Deputy Prime Minister, said Thursday that financial institutions have moved quickly to freeze accounts of individuals associated with the protests in Ottawa, leaving an unknown number of protesters in financial limbo.
In an effort to starve the organizers of the funds they need to continue their occupation of the nation’s capital, Freeland has hinted that he will take even more accounts offline in the coming days.
Freeland, who is also the finance minister, told a news conference that the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies had gathered intelligence on convoy protesters and their supporters and that it had shared that information with financial institutions in order to restrict the availability of cash and cryptocurrency.
In addition to this, the law also allows banks to target account closure donors to the GoFundMe and the GiveSendGo crowdfunding campaigns that have fuelled this protest. Freeland said she wouldn’t get into the “specifics of whose accounts are being frozen.”
n a final warning to the assembled protesters, Freeland said those who have their big rigs on Ottawa’s streets will see their insurance cancelled and their corporate accounts suspended — a move that could make it difficult for these drivers to ever work again. “The consequences are real and they will bite,” she said.
One of the scariest things about the Emergency Act being passed by the Government is that it gives the banks the authority to freeze your bank account if the Government suspects that you have supported the protests. This is without a court order as well and no liability to the banks if they do it in “good faith”. Additionally, the order applies to international banks doing business in Canada.
The fact that the Government can order your bank account frozen and then take the money is unheard of in a western country. The sound of this sounds like it belongs to a third-world country or a totalitarian regime like that of China. As part of the order, the government has also ordered the cancellation of the auto insurance of protesters and the revocation of their driver’s license.
Despite protesters protesting against a government, they should not have their bank accounts closed simply because they are protesting against a government.
Essentially, this opens up the possibility that in the future, if you protest that the government does not like, they may come after your bank account and take the money. On a broadcast last Tuesday, Tim Pool, an independent American reporter, stated these facts in the following way.
Let’s say that you send the GiveSendGo link to a friend at work and he/she reads the title quickly and donates $100 to the cause as a result. On a later date, he/she found out that their bank account had been frozen, so they called their bank and asked what was going on. Your bank responded that your account has been frozen due to your donation of $100 to the Convoy. I’m sorry to say this, but the friend who just donated the money while at work, now can’t use their bank account, pay their rent or buy food for their families for the alleged crime of donating money to a protest that the government now considers illegal.
During the protests on Friday, on the support of the Interim Chief of the Ottawa Police, Steve Bell, the protests turned violent as police moved in to clear protesters. There was an elderly First Nations woman who was trampled and nearly killed because she was shouting “we are a peaceful protest”. The elderly woman was injured and spent the night in the hospital recovering from her injuries. Ottawa police responded to the injuries by posting on Twitter that a bike was thrown at the horse, causing it to trample on at least two people. There were many questions raised about the police tweet.
During this Saturday’s protest, a reporter from Rebel News, a controversial conservative news outlet in Canada, was injured by police after tear gas was fired at the crowd’s feet. The reporter can be seen in a video being escorted out of the area by a group of people. The founder and publisher of Rebel News, Ezra Levant, announced on Twitter that he plans to sue the Ottawa Police Department on behalf of the reporter.
“Our reporter Alexa was attacked. Another independent reporter, @AndrewLawton was pepper-sprayed yesterday.” – Ezra Levant
“I have spoken with Alexa and with legal counsel. We will sue the police on Alexa’s behalf. I know the rest of the Media Party is delighting at Trudeau’s brutality and martial law. But we still believe in peace and freedom.”
8. Our reporter Alexa was attacked. Another independent reporter, @AndrewLawton was pepper-sprayed yesterday.
I have yet to see a peep from @caj, @PENCanada, @AmnestyNow, @CJFE, @pressfreedom, etc.
They do not oppose martial law or the crackdown on dissident journalists.
— Ezra Levant 🍁🚛 (@ezralevant) February 19, 2022
A couple of weeks ago, in Winnipeg, a driver drove and injured 4 people in an attack against protesters. That saw little media coverage compare to what has happened in Ottawa.
On February 20, In an apparent attempt to avoid the heavy-handed police response, one of the remaining Freedom Convoy organizers who hasn’t been arrested calls on protesters to withdraw from Ottawa peacefully and immediately.
Speaking at a press conference at the Lord Elgin hotel Saturday afternoon, Tom Marazzo said it was time for demonstrators to leave to avoid further harm.
“There isn’t anything to be gained by being brutalized by police,” Marazzo said.
Marazzo’s announcement comes after police used aggressive tactics – including riot gear, horses and “chemical irritants” – on Friday, February 18 and Saturday, February 19 to disperse peaceful protesters who are demanding an end to the country’s COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
Marazzo said that the grassroots movement would regroup, noting the Ottawa demonstration was “one battle in a larger war.”
Additionally, he confirmed that the elderly woman who was trampled by a police horse yesterday is alive, contrary to rumours on social media that she had died in hospital.
Marazzo continued on to say that it was a dark day in Canadian history.
“Never in my life would I believe anyone if they told me that our prime minister would refuse dialogue, and choose violence against peaceful protesters,” he said.
This headline is remarkably inaccurate. Consider fixing it so that your millions of readers have a real view police clearing of the streets of #Ottawa
— Jody Vance (@jodyvance) February 19, 2022
Many users started a trend of cancelling their online subscriptions to the New York Times.
Amount of misinformation
From the name-calling of the Prime Minister to mainstream media coverage, there has been a great deal of misinformation. There has been a lot of misleading and false information being spread. On the first weekend, we had a reporter there, and he saw a multitude of different groups of people supporting the convoy during that time.
In a comment made on January 27, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “The small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa, who are holding unacceptable views that they are expressing, do not represent the views of Canadians.” That sparked a backlash against the Prime Minister and made things worst in the protests and the response.
On the first day, there were some bad actors displaying the Nazi or other hateful flags. Many in the convoy have condemned them. Videos posted online show the Nazi Flag waving person being forced out of the area. This is a view that we hold as a company that condemns all forms of bullying and racism. A lot of people were waving their Canadian flags.
On a cold Canadian day, there were people of colour speaking to a crowd. LGTQ2IA members participated in the convoy and supported the message of freedom that was being sent out.
Several media outlets have misrepresented the movement as anti-vaccine, racist, and committed to white supremacy. The majority of protesters are calling for all mandates related to COVID19, as well as the vaccination passports, to be removed and cancelled. There were some who spoke and they attempted to claim that COVID19 is not a real event or that it is fake.
The fact that there were Canadians clearing snow in front of the House of Commons on Sunday and Monday can be attributed to them.
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