The Justice Centre wishes to acknowledge the Members of Parliament who have courageously begun to speak in defence of the right of Canadians to peacefully protest, and the truckers’ attempt to raise awareness, after the nearly two years of violations of the fundamental Charter rights of citizens.
At an emergency session of the House of Commons on Monday, February 7, 2022, multiple MPs spoke in favour of the truckers’ constitutionally-protected right to peacefully protest. Speakers included MPs Colin Carrie (Oshawa), Xavier Barsalou (Pierre-Boucher-Les Patriotes) and Stephen Ellis (Cumberland-Colchester).
In a surprise announcement today, CTV News reported that “Liberal MP breaks ranks over pandemic policies.” Joel Lightbound, the Louis-Hébert, Que. MP, held a press conference on Parliament Hill on Tuesday morning saying that he thinks those concerned about COVID-19 policies have “legitimate concerns” that need to be addressed.
Noting the impact of government lockdowns on Canadians’ mental health, families becoming divided, and people losing their jobs over decisions to not to get vaccinated, Mr. Lightbound said he thinks political leaders are “unwilling to adapt.”
“I’ve heard from hundreds of constituents and citizens who took the time to reach out to me these past weeks, folks who have nothing to do with these demonstrations, who are for the most part vaccinated, who have done everything as they should these last two years,” Mr. Lightbound said.
He added that the pandemic had become politicized and that he was calling on the government to provide a clear plan to lift restrictions, so Canadians are not “left wondering where the hell we are headed.”
“It is time to stop dividing people, to stop pitting one part of the population against another,” he said.
“I don’t really see what’s going on across the country as all that surprising to me. It seems like an eruption of something that’s been simmering of pain, and trauma, and frustration for two long years, and governments have not been listening,” said Conservative MP Raquel Dancho (Kildonan-St. Paul, Manitoba) in the House of Commons.
Joining these MPS, Candice Bergen, Interim Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, and Pierre Poilievre, leadership candidate for the Conservative Party, have also been vocal supporters of the truckers’ right to protest.
On Monday, Ms. Bergen wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that called for a meeting of party leaders to discuss ways to “de-escalate the protests.”
“Today, the chair of the Quebec Liberal caucus clearly and strongly stated it’s time to end the divisiveness and the politicization and end the mandates. We Conservatives could not agree more. This cannot be a slow and dragged out process simply because of the prime minister’s ego, pride, or denial. Canadians are too tired. Canadians need hope. So will the prime minister follow the science, follow the evidence, end the restrictions, end the mandates?” she said.
Today, Garnett Genuis, MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, also implored the government to end vaccine mandates in his speech in the House of Commons.
New Brunswick Conservative MP Jake Stewart, a former provincial cabinet minister, has also gone public saying he did not see any alleged “repugnant and despicable” behavior as reported by the media about the trucker’s Freedom Convoy.
This past weekend, Calgary Centre Conservative MP Greg McLean posted on social media, describing the protest as similar to a “winter carnival day” and said he was calling “shame on what I think is unbalanced media coverage.” Mr. McLean said there were “families with children and babies, people with dogs, people with big smiles, hundreds of Canadian flags and Quebec flags (and I saw one Australia flag)…”
He added there were “tents offering food, bouncy castles, bands jamming… indigenous drummers, people of all walks of life, demographics, ethnicities.”
Mr. McLean also noted that there were “quiet hours after 10:00 or so until work starts – so the notion of people not getting sleep is overstated (and I live in the midst of it),” he said.
Calgary Forest Lawn Conservative MP Jasran Singh Hallan said he walks through the protest daily to get to the House of Commons and noted the protesters “just want to be heard.” Mr. Hall advised government to “extend an olive branch” to the protesters.
“Let’s get together and listen,” Hallan said. “Let’s figure out what is it that they really want because no one wants to continue with these demonstrations. Everyone wants these demonstrations to end.”
One photo that was published on social media photo shows MPs Warren Steinley, Kevin Waugh, Former leader of the Official Opposition and the Conservative Party Andrew Scheer, Fraser Tolmie, Rosemarie Falk and Saskatchewan Senator Denise Batters smiling and some giving a thumbs up, standing in front of a trucker’s rig.
MPs Warren Steinley and Fraser Tolmie said his job is to listen to people who have concerns over Covid restrictions.
“No doubt the mayor of Ottawa is in a difficult position and is facing a lot of challenges, and it’s made more difficult by the fact the prime minister has no plans to meet with the people from across our country who would like to meet with him,” stated Mr.Tolmie. He also noted that people are “tired of living” with mandates and want an end to nearly two years of government restrictions.
“I will be meeting with other members of my riding today to hear their concerns and listen to them, and I won’t apologize for that,” he added.
Mr. Steinly said, ““I think lots of this could be settled if the prime minister would come out of hiding and actually meet with Canadians and hear their frustrations instead of speaking disrespectfully to them and calling them a fringe minority.”
In a written statement, MP Rosemarie Falk repeated Mr. Waugh’s appeal for the protestors to be heard.
“I reject the assertion that I, as a Member of Parliament, should not take the time to meet and listen to Saskatchewanians who have come all this way to be heard,” she wrote.
“Premier Scott Moe’s recent announcements have done more to bring resolve to the protest than the Prime Minister who has only disparaged and dismissed the serious concerns and frustrations of those demonstrating,” concluded Ms. Falk.
“The Charter protects the right to peacefully protest. For two years, legislatures and Parliament have been largely sidelined while lone health bureaucrats unilaterally make oppressive rules for millions of people. These edicts have resulted in the loss of jobs, businesses, and civil liberties. The people are taking their grievances directly to Ottawa, and it is their fundamental right to do so,” states Allison Pejovic, a lawyer with the Justice Centre.