On the truckers convoy, extremists in Ottawa, and a fundamental misunderstanding about COVID-19

Organizers let an influential member of the sovereign-citizen movement to speak from the stage, just days after he had suggested that Hitler was fighting the right enemy

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      A former leader of the B.C. Greens, Stuart Parker, recently wrote a thoughtful essay about how the media have been stigmatizing the folks demonstrating in Ottawa against vaccine passports and vaccine mandates.

      In his post, Parker raised a worthwhile point about how journalists have smeared some of the demonstrators through guilt-by-association to the various Nazis and white supremacists in their midst.

      He pointed out that there were some left-wing extremists in the peace movement in the 1980s. That's true. And it didn't take away from the views of others who were participating in those marches. There was a diversity of opinions. That's what movements are: multi-segmented animals that are all travelling in a somewhat similar direction on a certain issue.

      Parker correctly condemned the hysteria being expressed over a sign being placed on a Terry Fox statue. It was a harmless gesture that will have no impact on Fox, his legacy, or the  statue itself.

      I cringed as I watched Port Coquitlam mayor Brad West on TV acting as if this was some sort of devastating denigration to the residents of his municipality, where Fox was raised.

      Moreover, Parker raised legitimate concerns about centre-left political parties' mania for maintaining absolute discipline over what its legislators and prospective legislators say.

      However, I parted ways with Parker over the following passage.

      "The most bigoted and ignorant Tweets and Facebook comments by individuals supporting the truckers are being cherrypicked and reported as news about the protesters’ shared beliefs, usually without even checking to see if the person is even in Ottawa as part of the protest," Parker wrote. "The views are not those of the organizers, just its most offensive and deranged supporters. This move, akin to writing a peace march article primarily covering the views of pro-North Korea and nudist activists at the walk, is going over shockingly well with Canada’s urban centre-left because it signifies to them one or both of two things (a) the truckers are all homophobic Klansmen or (b) the organizers are unable/unwilling to control the speech and signage of every participant in the protests."

      I want to repeat one line from above: "The views are not those of the organizers..."

      The reality is that the man identified early on as the organizer of the convoy, Pat King, is an extremist. The proof is in the tweet below.

      In a January 15 message, King acknowledged that he was taking a fee for coordinating the event in Ottawa.

      After this became a matter of public controversy, King suggested that his name was removed from the list of organizers "due to PR".

      Another extremist, Christopher James Pritchard, was invited by the organizers to speak on the stage at the rally in Ottawa. He's one of Canada's most influential advocates for the so-called sovereign-citizen movement and he recently defended Hitler in a long diatribe praising former general George Patton.

      The organizers knew what they were doing when they put Pritchard on the stage. 

      Those who are not aware of him can hear his sovereign-citizen ideas in this clip below.

      Here's my question to Parker: why would the organizers give someone like Pritchard, a.k.a. Christopher James, a platform on their stage, given what he was saying about Jews just a few nights earlier? What type of person deliberately allows Pritchard to reach so many people?

      I suggest it happened because the organizers themselves were not disgusted by what he has to say.

      Moreover, to say this is a "truckers' protest" is somewhat misleading. In reality, it's an anti-mRNA vaccine rally with some truckers put at the front of the line.

      The Straight has pointed out in the past that several of the organizers of the rallies opposing vaccine passports and vaccine mandates are right-wing extremists, including Holocaust deniers

      They've seized upon the COVID-19 crisis to try to swell their ranks.

      The rally in Ottawa is an example of the far right's organizational efforts. The organizers had a choice—they could have said yes or they could have said no to Pritchard's desire to speak on-stage. They said yes. That, to me, speaks volumes.

      For Parker to minimize the extremism of the organizers undercuts the brave work of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network in highlighting growing fascism in Canada.

      The organizers of the convoy, no doubt, have harvested the names, email addresses, and contributions of people who hate the governing Liberals. That could be useful information for future campaigns.

      I'm sure that there are many nonracist people who oppose vaccine passports and vaccine mandates. No doubt, there are many in the crowds in Ottawa.

      Young and middle-aged people in the hospitality industry, to cite one example, have suffered enormously as a result of this. And they're pissed because many probably don't believe that the Omicron variant poses a huge threat to their lives.

      But I also think the media and public-health officials have done a disservice to them and all other Canadians by not letting people know that COVID-19 is a serious vascular disease with primary symptoms of a respiratory ailment.

      The media and public-health officials have also failed abysmally in educating Canadians that COVID-19 is airborne, which has all sorts of public-policy consequences.

      This is helping to fuel the anti-mRNA vaccine movement.

      In my mind, those media sins are far more worthy of condemnation than Parker's guilt-by-association complaint. But hey, I'm one of those urban dwellers who believes the extreme right is, in fact, behind the rally in Ottawa.