This too shall pass – eventually. And once the latest expression of consequence-free, far-right-mob entitlement recedes into the rear view, there had better be a hard reckoning. Oh, yes, there had better be a hard and honest reckoning about why and how these smug, mostly white, surplus-store-camouflage-gear-wearing louts have been given easy reign to infect Canada with another, this time man-made pandemic of lawlessness by their enablers, apologists and not-so-secret admirers – in and out of uniforms.
A note of warning before I go any further. If the word “louts” rankles your fragile sensibilities or prompts you to accuse me of – horror of column-writing horrors – name-calling, I plead guilty. This bunch of 1/6 wannabes has earned the epithet in spades. Among the first of a long ledger of powerful men in blue and suits who have earned a stern visit to the principal’s office or worse is David Vigneault, the director of Canada’s so-called domestic “intelligence” agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) headquartered in Ottawa – Canada’s capital that is, as I write, still under “siege”.
I suspect that 99.99 percent of Canadians do not know who Vigneault is or what he does for a living. I also suspect that, like his predecessors, Vigneault prefers it that way. Better that the cops take the Bunsen-burner-like heat, rather than the invisible spooks when a “siege” – that is ex-lout-loving Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s word for it, not mine – grips the country. Vigneault’s job is to protect Canada’s national security. That should include, I reckon, helping to prevent a “siege”; or, at minimum, warning his boss, the Public Safety Minister, who then, in turn, can warn his boss, the prime minister, that a “siege” is about to “paralyse” the country.
From the prime minister and company’s stunned, stuttering reaction to the ongoing “siege”, it appears that Vigneault and his army of counter-terror officers did not have so much as a whiff of what was in the offing.
That is not surprising. Not only does CSIS “operate” in the dark, but it stays there – habitually. I remember when, not too long ago, one bad guy with one gun was able to kill a soldier before storming into the House of Commons foyer to shoot it out with the good guys with guns.
After that supposed national-character-disfiguring security breach, CSIS whined: Prime Minister, it is tough finding and stopping “lone wolves”. We need more money and powers. CSIS got both. What has been happening in Canada lately is not the product of a “lone wolf”. It is a broad, well-organised, well-financed, right-wing “siege” to dispose of a sitting government, using “freedom” from vaccine mandates as a convenient and PR-palatable fig leaf to do it.
Where is CSIS? Answer: In the dark. Another part of Vigneault’s job is to identify and stop “bad actors” – inside or outside the country – from disrupting or damaging Canada’s “vital economic infrastructure”.
For days and weeks, hostage-takers in big rigs, tractors, and, of course, pick-up trucks, have been allowed, carte blanche, to block key land border crossings where lots of stuff and people are supposed to flow between Canada and its biggest and most important trading partner, the United States. The damage done is calculated to be in the billions. Given the ease with which they achieved their giddy success, I doubt Vigneault et al had even an inkling of the hostage-takers’ plans on this score, as well.
Here is why. Canada’s AWOL spies have, for years, been too busy spying on Canadians who want to stop wars and oil pipelines and keeping covert tabs on Indigenous “activists” to have been bothered, apparently, with twigging to this nation’s legion of 1/6 fans and wannabes and their costly, metastasising “siege”. Vigneault has some explaining to do.
So do big city, provincial and federal police chiefs who have shown remarkable, but not surprising, restraint in dealing with right-wing “protestors” who want to bag a prime minister, overthrow – by their own admission – his government, and lay “siege” to a country until their demands are met. If the poor, homeless, and Indigenous Peoples or Canadians of colour tried to do all of the above, I doubt the cops or mayors would be “negotiating” with the “protestors” or inviting them to use police cruisers to take selfies because they want to avoid “provoking” violence.
Nope. The cops would be donning their “riot” gear even if there were no riot, deploying SWAT teams, mounting police-trained horses, getting their truncheons and Tasers at the ready before charging into the “left-wing anarchists”. If you think I am exaggerating, watch this video of what Toronto police did last July to concerned citizens trying to stop the eviction of homeless people living in tents from a city park or this video of cops – high-powered weapons raised and cocked – using a chain saw to break into a house and arrest journalists and leaders of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation documenting yet another raid on sovereign Indigenous lands.
If those images do not confirm the blaring double standards engrained in Canadian police forces, media and politics when “taming” dissent, imagine if “left-wing anarchists” had occupied and set up “staging areas” near the seat of government – Parliament Hill – and the prime minister’s office to ferry containers of fuel and propane tanks like they were couriers for Uber Eats while holding Canada hostage. What do you think would have happened?
Do you think columnists writing for Canada’s two allegedly “national” newspapers or some of their deluded readers would have dismissed the threat by praising how peacefully and politely the “left-wing anarchists” and their loveable kids in prams and on bouncy castles had been behaving? Not likely.
Do you think the familiar gallery of former spooks and national security “experts” – who once went on TV to say a mysterious tunnel in Toronto might have been the subterranean work of phantom terrorists planning an attack on innocents – would have been urging patience and for everyone to keep calm and move on? Not likely.
Do you think Premier Ford – who knows a thing or two or three about louts – would have gone snowmobiling at his cottage and waited weeks before declaring a “state of emergency” in response to a state of “siege”? Not likely.
Do you think preening Conservative politicians, like the sneering apostle of “populism”, Pierre Poilievre, would have continued to extend their thanks and gratitude to Canadians for defending their rights and freedoms? Not likely.
The ideological patron saint that the hostage-takers pay ultimate allegiance to is Donald Trump, not Poilievre – even if he becomes the next Tory leader. You can see and hear Trump in every incoherent speech the hostage-takers make, in their me-first “demands”, in their cocky, wrapped in a flag rejection of the unifying sense of purpose most Canadians have adopted – voluntarily and eagerly – to fight an insidious and lethal virus.
Rather than denouncing Trump and his ugly and divisive modus operandi as president, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to mollify him instead. By his silence, Trudeau has encouraged the sinister forces he belatedly condemns. He and Canada are now paying a stiff, indelible price for that appeasement. Trudeau must be required to reckon with that too.