Philip Cross: Finally, a Canadian export innovation: Trucker blockades. Sunny ways would have worked better

The Canadian public is no longer responding to Trudeau’s disjointed, selfish approach to governance

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Economists have repeatedly expressed concern about the lack of innovation that hampers Canada’s ability to export. Last week, however, unique Canadian innovations were exported around the world as convoys of trucks clogged major transport interchanges and destroyed the centers of major cities from New Zealand to Europe. Many of these international protesters are hoisting the Canadian flag to recognize the debt to the original “Canadian-style” demonstrators who introduced the tactic.

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This time, governments can confidently claim that they have played a key role in major innovation. It was the ill-fated policy of the Trudeau government that required American drivers to be vaccinated to enter Canada, which sparked a protest. As Liberal MP Joel Lightbound said in his scathing remarks about the government’s party struggle against the pandemic since the start of the 2021 election campaign, this policy contradicts the recommendations of the World Health Organization. In addition, according to Lightbound, the government has not provided any epidemiological evidence that truckers were spreading the virus. The policy was adopted solely to score party political scores, not as an instrument to combat the pandemic. Accordingly, such a cynical policy, developed for political purposes, has become a serious responsibility for both the government and the international image of Canada.

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Trudeau exacerbated the inflammatory rhetoric when the convoy arrived in Ottawa, following the tactics of French President Emmanuel Macron “really (wanting) to anger” the unvaccinated. Instead of lowering the temperature, Trudeau raised it, calling the protesters a “mobile minority”, “racists and misogynists” and “extremists”, exaggerating the latter, hiding for a while.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo by Dave Chan / AFP via Getty Images

The stunning incompetence of the city of Ottawa helped the protests gain a foothold in the city center, as David Pugliese put it in The Citizen of Ottawa. It’s not as if the convoy made its way into town overnight. Truckers announced their arrival a few days before crossing the country with the stated intention to occupy the city center for a long time. Local authorities ignored warnings, did nothing to close downtown from oncoming trucks, and even secured a critical supply hub at the local park. After the start of the protest police suggested that it will last only one weekend, as if people go through Canada to simply spend an idyllic weekend in the capital, and then humbly return home. Police did not comply with the bylaws, leaving the 21-year-old resident to file a class action lawsuit to stop the constant noise of beeps.

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It is difficult to see how the blockade in central Ottawa will be easily resolved, given the personal animosity between the prime minister and the protesters and the refusal of tow truck operators to participate. And it is unlikely that Trudeau can call for a violent response to civil disobedience, when sitting at the table of the Cabinet Stephen Gilbo, the same Stephen Gilbo, who illegally climbed the tower of CN Tower in 2001, famously hung out a banner Greenpeace, was arrested, received a reprieve and was forced to pay part of the damage caused to him. Like Gilbo, some members of the convoy turned from anonymous truck drivers to international media stars in one night, who are reveling in their fame for discovering tactics that have paralyzed the center of the G7 capital. Call them anti-Grets, who have been in the spotlight of the world media, once rendered by a grim teenage environmentalist from Sweden.

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The whole mess is a fitting summary of Justin Trudeau’s legacy. When he took office in 2015, he promised to return to the “solar paths”, by which he apparently meant good times – not understanding the true meaning of Wilfried Laurier when he accepted the phrase in 1895. Lorie was referring to Aesop’s fable about the competition between the sun and the wind to see who would be able to get the traveler to take off his coat. The more the wind howled, the tighter the traveler held on to his coat. On the contrary, a constant dose of sunlight quickly caused the removal of the coat. However, instead of adopting this “solar path” approach to governance, Trudeau almost always turns to noise when confronted by the opposition. A solar approach to the motorcade would have yielded a much better result than the confrontational one he adopted.

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Like Dominic Duchamp, the beleaguered coach of the unfortunate Montreal Canadiens, who was recently fired when his team advanced from the Stanley Cup final to last place in the NHL, Trudeau “lost his room”. The Canadian public is no longer responsive to his selfish approach to governance. It’s time to move on to a new leader who can communicate with all Canadians.

Speaking to parliament in 2012, Barack Obama said: “The world needs more Canada.” Neither he nor Trudeau ever imagined that the world would receive from Canada a new model of civil disobedience. The elitist worldview shared by both men does not allow the working class to be anything other than obedient pawns that can be manipulated on their political chessboard. Obama and Trudeau shared both “bromance” and a bright blind spot for the dominance of populism that threatens to become their main legacy.

Philip Cross is a senior fellow at the McDonald-Laurier Institute.

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