How quickly can one of the oldest, most stable and most credible democracies descend into rank authoritarianism?
How about three weeks? On Monday February 21 the Canadian Parliament approved the Emergencies Act – even though the legislation had been on active duty for the previous week, crushing dissent and bashing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political enemies. It was a little over three weeks after the Freedom Convoy arrived in Ottawa to oppose Canada’s lingering and oppressive COVID-19 mandates.
We all know – or at least we should – the lesson of Nazi Germany and how the democratic Weimar Republic was jettisoned by Chancellor Adolf Hitler in about a month with the Enabling Act after he was able to use the Reichstag Fire to outlaw first the Communists and then other opposition parties by declaring a national emergency.
But Germany’s democracy was fragile and was not built on a solid historical foundation. It was preceded by a Parliament that was ultimately controlled by a monarch and manipulated by the military.
Not so with Canada. But here, the walls of authoritarianism are closing in after just three weeks of a manufactured “emergency.” Trudeau is essentially ruling through emergency powers that enable the police to arrest people at will, confiscate their bank accounts and rigs, seize their children and even threaten to euthanize their pets.
By Saturday night, a Frankenstein monster-like police force forged together from SWAT teams from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Quebec Provincial Police had pushed the Freedom Convoy that had sat in front of Parliament Hill for over three weeks into a one block square of the city. It was surrounded on all sides by police but the truckers and protesters – despite massive arrests and the towing of their trucks throughout the day – were in a party mood, with a DJ playing “We Will, We Will Rock You.”
It was the last Freedom Convoy celebration. And I was there to witness the end of a protest that shook the Trudeau government and scared the hell out of a prime minister who was sounding increasingly like President Joe Biden – dismissing all of his opponents as white supremacists and vile racists. No wonder there hasn’t been a word of criticism from the Biden administration over Trudeau’s often brutal crackdown on a determined but peaceful band of blue-collar workers.
It had taken me over an hour to walk from my car, down side streets, across the frozen canal to get to this point. The police had isolated the downtown core and were not allowing any cars into the area. Pedestrians had to prove that they lived in the area. For journalists it was luck of the draw – if you worked for the state-owned CBC it was no problem, but if not, the police more often than not told you to go back.
Ottawa resembled Allied-occupied Berlin in 1945 when the U.S., British, French and Soviets all controlled sectors of the city and residents had to walk through a series of checkpoints to go anywhere. In Trudeau’s police state, it was probably more difficult to navigate the police presence than it was in that farago Berlin.
This is all possible because Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day ironically – to provide wide powers of arrest and seizure to anyone suspected of aiding or abetting the Freedom Convoy protest. Although the prime minister insists none of this undermines the Canadian Charter of Rights, of course it does as people are being denied their basic freedom of speech and assembly rights.
All throughout Friday and Saturday, police had pushed protesters forward, knocking people over at will and sometimes walking over them.
They apparently used tear gas and rubber bullets on Saturday against a Rebel News journalist who was denied access to the protest site the next day because she wasn’t with the approved media.
A group of mounted officers from Toronto literally ran over an elderly woman in a walker – ironically, though Trudeau has made a cottage industry out of talking about “reconciliation” with First Nations people, the woman is a Mohawk and in the hospital with shoulder injuries. It could have been much worse.
And it was. Members of the famed Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are also in town, living it up in high style at the tony Fairmont Chateau Laurier, the most expensive hotel in town. They are apparently relishing their assignment to terrorize the protesters and found the horse incident a source of great amusement.
On Saturday night, a whistleblower released RCMP correspondence that revealed the officers cackling over the woman’s experience, calling it “awesome.” One of these so-called peace officers suggested the protesters should “hear their jack boots on the ground.”
What is so egregiously ironic about this wish is that Trudeau has constantly played up fanciful stories of the Convoy protesters flying swastikas but it would appear that the cops are the ones embracing Nazi imagery.
There is more than a hint of Stalinism to this exercise too. In fact it looks like a purge. Even people who donated to the Convoy’s GoSendMe fund are having their bank accounts frozen in the same way they would be if they assisted a terrorist organization. Of course the Trudeau Liberals have found a way to somehow implicate former President Donald Trump in all this, Canadian Justice Minister David Lametti told CTV News on Wednesday that anybody who supports a “pro-Trump” movement should be very “concerned” about their financial well-being.
The police are even targeting restaurants that stayed open and served truckers during the protest. I was in an Asian restaurant Saturday night that was filled to capacity with truckers and protesters. The owners were happy to be serving them and had throughout the protest. But baton-carrying police arrived at the front door and told the restaurant to clear the building or they would arrest everyone inside. I actually heard this. Even though I was a journalist and not a protester, my waitress recommended that I leave by the backdoor or risk incarceration.
Even before the declaration of the Emergencies Act, the Ottawa Police Service seemed to let open the cages of their most severe enforcers.
It was shocking for many around the world to see the release of a YouTube video showing a Ottawa police officer swearing, arresting and throwing a 78-year-old man against his car – not for resisting arrest or hitting an officer but for honking his horn.
It is difficult to comprehend that all of this is happening in Canada – the closest ally of the United States.
One of the most difficult issues to deal with for conservatives is the role of police. We are automatically revolted by calls to defund their services and instinctively support their work as foundational to the law-and-order society that conservatism supports both philosophically and in practice.
But what do we do when the police are co-opted by authoritarian regimes to hurt us and kill us? The police in Ottawa are not on our side. They are on Trudeau’s side and are enthusiastically endorsing and executing his orders to obliterate political opposition. What happens when the police become the Gestapo (an abbreviation of Secret State Police in German) or the dreaded Soviet NKVD? We don’t want these police forces funded or aimed against us.
In the United States, we have already had to deal with this question in terms of how much the FBI was politicized by Democratic administrations and how much it worked against the Trump administration.
Trudeau, who has made a pastime out of performing in public and in private in blackface, remains the hypocrite in chief as he plays his latest role of dictator. While he has labelled the protesters as Nazis and connected to some vague white supremacy group, he continues to demonstrate just how politically stupid he can be.
During last Wednesday’s Question Period, he actually accused a Jewish Conservative Member of Parliament from Toronto of standing “with people who wave swastikas.”
To say Melissa Lantsmann was offended would be to understate her emotion. But when she rose in the House of Commons to demand an apology from Trudeau, the insouciant boy leader was nowhere to be found and had left for his office – where he has apparently been watching every installment of “The Matrix” because that is the alternate reality he is currently living in.
The worst villains in this tragedy might be the vast majority of the Canadian media who unhesitatingly repeat Trudeau’s baseless accusations against the truckers and report the police actions by seemingly reading their news releases verbatim. They have refused to investigate, preferring instead to regurgitate what the government tells them. If it had not been for the presence of Fox News and independent media from the U.S. and Canada, Trudeau might well have succeeded in portraying his power grab as necessary for the safety and security of the nation.
And we’ve all heard that justification before, haven’t we?