Protesting is a freedom

By Darren Lum

There was a certain level of anxiety that I felt after seeing footage of angry protesters waving Canadian Flags with the “Freedom Convoy” at Parliament Hill.
It wasn’t because they were protesting, but how they were protesting and what they perceive to be the loss of our freedoms. There was a lot of anger and it bothered me they were so aggressive with reporters trying do their job on the street. It’s ironic the protesters were shouting about fighting for freedom, but at the same time making people leave a public space. Footage about a person dancing on the tomb of the Unknown Solider, images of Nazi flags, reports of incidents at a downtown soup kitchen, and how Ottawa paramedics had rocks thrown at them and were impeded in doing their jobs muddies the protest’s credibility. It’s cost Ottawa $800,000 a day in police services since the arrival of the convoy of a few hundred vehicles and thousands of people.
The convoy started a few thousand kilometres before with the central idea of being anti-vaccine mandates.
From the Freedom Convoy 2022 page on Facebook, it said, “the Government of Canada has crossed a line with implementing COVID-19 vaccine passports and vaccine mandates.”
After this weekend, the movement has shown itself to have taken on other causes associated to hate that I believe take away from the trucker’s grievances. It’s important we don’t forget the truckers, who are out there delivering our goods. Many that didn’t participate and disagree. It’s been reported that close to 90 per cent of truckers are vaccinated.

I recognize we’ve lost a lot with the pandemic. I want to watch the Canadian soccer team at a bar with a bunch of other screaming people, wearing red and white. I want to see my mother’s smile and her eyes light up with recognition in the light of day. I’m not saying don’t protest. This is still a free country, and people here are allowed to protest regardless of any perceived loss of freedom. However, when protests infringe on others and create an atmosphere of intimidation then it’s time to reevaluate the protest. The message definitely gets lost. On Jan. 15, the federal government implemented the vaccine mandate to cross-border truckers, but so did the U.S. shortly after. It’s worth noting public health orders and proof of vaccination is largely the jurisdiction of the province. Hello, Doug Ford.

By Sunday, my anxiety was displaced by people celebrating the Canadian men’s soccer team’s 2-nil victory over the Americans in World Cup qualifying game by waving flags not in frustration and anger, but with joy, and hope for something that the country can get behind without debate. It was heartwarming to see what has become a regular post-game celebration. An entire stadium of people in Hamilton clapped with hands over head in time with the slow beat ona large drum played by Canadian Jonathan Osorio surrounded by his teammates, as an action to show the audience they are appreciated.

With the win, the Canadians sit at the top of the table for qualifying in the CONCACAF region, the Canadians have virtually punched their ticket to the greatest soccer championship in the world. A win in El Salvador this Wednesday and a some help – other teams losing – will guarentee the World Cup berth to play in Qatar this year. It’s something they haven’t done in 36 years, so the significance isn’t lost on the team nor its supporters. When their journey started back in March, this team believed. They have exhibited courage and resolve despite the odds. I too believe in this team, what it represents for sport and for how we can come together as country despite our difference. Let’s just do it in a civil manner, respectful of and appreciative of everyone.