We Had Us a Convoy

//We Had Us a Convoy

We Had Us a Convoy

“‘Cause we got a little ol’ convoy
Rockin’ through the night
Yeah, we got a little ol’ convoy
Ain’t she a beautiful sight?”
“Convoy” by C. W. McCall

Not “little ol’”, big ol’! A “beautiful sight”? A matter of personal preference. And it certainly was “rockin’ through” a lotta nights in Ottawa, our nation’s capital.

How did you feel about it? It seems many a Canadian maple leaf-shaped heart swelled with national pride. Maybe you agree with my MP from Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, Lianne Rood, CPC, who said, while debating the Emergencies Act in the House, “It was like a Canada Day times a thousand.”

Oh man. Guys. Sorry. I’ve been struggling to see this from both sides now, but despite pandemic fatigue? My values tell me that regaining certain personal rights by removing those of others – the residents of Ottawa, a city used to protests, so complaints valid – is absolutely NOT the way to get your point across.

People counter, well, guy whose name rhymes with Boudreau should have met with them, listened to their concerns. I counter: Who would he have met with? The alleged organizers of this movement rolled loudly into town with a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to bring down the federal government. They walked this back, acknowledged that this document created some misunderstanding. Although some of these organizers mistakenly (and humourously) cited the US Constitution, pleading 1st Amendment rights, freedom of speech, while in court discussing bail, according to an article in The Conversation, “They ‘clarified’ that the spirit of the document was to bring ‘the government of Canada and all Canadian citizens into agreement; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be upheld for all.’”

Freedom is not absolute though, right? With freedom comes responsibility? So much talk of freedom, it was called the “Freedom Convoy” after all, and protesters often yelled, “Freedom!” (And every time? I couldn’t help it, I heard and pictured QAnon Shaman from Jan 6.)

The legal test for Sec. 1 in our Charter was set by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v Oakes, “In each case courts will be required to balance the interests of society with those of individuals and groups.”

Which brings us back around to the purpose of the protests (besides opposition to the sorta rhymes with Rondeau Liberal government), opposition to Covid-19 mandates. We are getting close to what we’d call freedom there, yes? Too soon for some, way too slow for others?

After a (heated at times) discussion with a cousin on the enactment of the Emergencies Act, I’m thinking perhaps the experience of our personal realities has a lot to do with trust. Don’t have it? For government, mainstream “lamestream fake news” (so-labeled by the former President, name rhymes with Chump) media, public health officials and so on, then just do your own research. Everyone has access to the internet. My cousin cited recent studies by WHO that showed inefficacy of Covid-19 vaccines and I would quote them here, but try as I might, I can’t find them.

When I got my booster, I shyly admitted to the woman administering it that I didn’t quite understand about the immune system response and the possibility of too many antibodies with the spike protein. She patted my arm, said, “You don’t need to know that dear,” plunged the needle and that was that. (Blind) trust (upraised-arms emoji)?

Hesitancy about this particular vaccine is warranted. I do know people who’ve experienced adverse reactions: Bell’s Palsy, myocarditis, severe menstrual cycle issues (recognized now, but previously unknown due to the swiftness with which the vaccine was rolled out.)

Many people bring up that rush, the lack of long-term data on Covid-19 vaccines. Did you know the polio shot was rushed too? American parents offered up more than 1.8 million children (doubtful this would happen today) to test the polio vaccine in 1954. It was just one year later that, with great relief, my aunt Mildred and parents went together, rolled up their sleeves for it.

The emergence of Omicron has made this one start to feel more like a flu shot though, hasn’t it? So comparing it to polio? Apples to oranges?

The night police retook Ottawa I should have felt great, but I tossed and turned, weirdly wishing I still had my mommy to talk to. Images from Ottawa’s streets haunted me, mostly the flags, some hate-filled, but the precious maple leaf: upside down (distress), written on, plunked into swear words. My polite little Canadian identity? Shredded.

It turns out trucks are a super-effective way to protest. Crowds in Ottawa were estimated at only 5,000-18,000, whereas huge climate marches, minus big rigs, in September 2019 were 500,000 in Montreal and 120,000 in Vancouver. And Canada is now the origin of a worldwide movement! So many people, onboard with these convoys. Is there something wrong with me?

Due to varying opinions swirling around, I’d pretty much exiled myself lest I upset someone with my negativity toward protesters. This quote, by that former President again, name rhymes with Bump, came to mind: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

I wrote my MP, in an effort to procure a common reality. I suggested that, due to the triggering nature of pandemic mandates, let’s pick a different topic. Recall that in the spring of 2019, a zoo moved into Grand Bend, onto a property that was previously a zoo, but had been rezoned residential. Council quickly passed an exotic animal by-law, but it took almost a year to have a superior court rule that the animals must be removed.

I used to hold a Canada Day Jazzercise fitness and charity event at the Observation Deck on the main beach in Grand Bend. I spun a tale about “what if”? What if I got my permit, but I’d had it with these lions and tigers, feared they’d escape, could no longer enjoy my property, could not listen to them roaring one more night. I wanted my freedom back, dammit!

So, I mobilized on social media, gathered up a bunch of people with big trucks, got a GoFundMe started (there are lots of people afraid of lions and tigers!) and we roared (pun intended) down main street in Grand Bend on Canada Day morning, parking rigs along both sides of the street, around the circle in front of the Observation Deck and down the road to the pier. Sorry to disrupt the live music and fireworks, but our DJ rocks. Oh, and since we planned to stay a while, we set up a staging area on that vacant lot up on Ontario Street, with food, fuel, diapers, etc. If only the mayor would hurry up and get those lions and tigers out of town . . .

Perhaps this recent quote from BC Premier John Horgan applies: “We can agree to disagree, but we should not be disagreeable.”

Full Disclosure: My new habit of “name rhymes with” comes from Amy Schumer. She used it, to good effect, in The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, and it cracks me up every time (sideways- laughing-with-tears emoji).



  1. Gllenda February 23, 2022 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Thank you Rita for being a reasonable voice!

  2. Hilary Slater February 24, 2022 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Much my own viewpoint. If you only get your knowledge from one media source (news, YouTube, fb, etc) then you don’t have a clear view…
    Also, if it’s a huge issue for a person, go to Ottawa and join in/witness.. or write about it..
    Not just watch the internet version which may or may not be true 🙂
    Or make art to have your voice.. like your lovely painting above!
    Truckers have such power by blocking highways. Very dangerous to have such power over governments.. country could end up destroyed if the individuals take over the government.
    And now, on to The Ukraine – more world mess.. 🙁

    • Rita Hartley February 24, 2022 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much Hilary! As I have people in my life on both sides of this, passionately, I’m really really trying to understand and I’m baffled. It’s like, what am I missing here? While I can certainly appreciate people are ready to move on from COVID, I’ve also felt pretty proud of how our government officials have walked this fine line between public health and the economy. And mental health is a huge issue as well. Perhaps these loud outbursts/protests are a result of that?
      Anyway, art sure helps! Thx for bringing that into my life! So calming and colourful and non-controversial ☺️💚🙏🎨

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