Freedom for all or free-for-all?

“There’s lots to unpack there,” was the answer when we questioned our reporter about the “Freedom Convoy” that headed east through Puslinch last week.

The initial part of the question had to do with his story where he suggested 150 people had gathered near Morriston to protest. As noted in his story, the crowd ebbed and flowed that day but he was entirely comfortable with the estimate. The overpass there is an incredibly busy place and not the easiest for people to reach, which may explain why other overpasses drew larger crowds of 200 or 250 (according to protestors).

According to numerous media outlets and reaction on social media, the enormity of the cross-country protest was being under-reported, whether it be numbers of trucks or numbers of people supporting truckers. “Seen it coming” one local said in response to another post claiming attendance was “downplayed” in our story. Despite that nonsense, our reporter was able to interview numerous people, from farmers to those who lost jobs in health care.

Regardless of the count, that incredulous reaction offers some insight into protestors and the protest itself – an absence of focus and an affinity for arguing over some items that mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Initially this convoy action began as an awareness exercise about the Canadian government requiring truckers crossing the border to be vaccinated. As the protest gained steam, that initial talking point was over-shadowed by a bevy of other issues, whether it be disdain for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, vaccine passport measures, corporate worship or lockdowns such as they are.

Clearly, this protest became an opportunity for malcontents of every description to latch on and add their cornucopia of complaints. In the end, this is very much a watered-down train wreck, disavowed by trucking associations across the country.

Curious about the convoy and aware of much of the rhetoric associated with its descent on Ottawa proper, we spent quite a bit of time this past weekend watching newscasts and diving into online news sites. Matching the imagery with the analysis and trying to make sense of it all proved futile.

Maybe this whole thing is as simple as people have had enough. Patience is almost threadbare for some and those stories need to be told. One such effort by CBC with an independent trucker who was quite articulate and sensible was overshadowed by some dolt waving a “CBC is fake news” sign. His colleague had a nice interview live, speaking in his own words. People really need to get a grip and figure out time and place on these things.

The saddest point, however, was the demonstrations of head-shaking ignorance. Whether it was prancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, cloaking a national icon like Terry Fox in unbecoming garb, urinating on the war memorial, or scarfing down food meant for the homeless, these are not actions of patriots. To be fair, this isn’t the first protest, nor will it be the last, where public treasures are treated with disrespect, but it is pretty tough to seek respect, let alone demand it, when unable to return it on the most basic levels.

As the fleeting remnants of the Freedom Convoy continue their occupation it is lamentable that their exercise of rights and freedoms is now negatively impacting others. A bit of common sense would suggest that causing businesses to stay closed, forcing malls to close early and generally disrupting commerce and residential districts in downtown Ottawa runs contrary to those demanding freedom.

The irony and hypocrisy are galling.