OTTAWA – NEWS – Last night a line was crossed – a line I never imagined would be crossed in Canada.
At 5:29 PM on Thursday, the security team for Parliament Hill sent a message to every single Member of Parliament alerting them of threats from the anti-vaccine protest descending on Ottawa. The security teams warned that the family homes of some parliamentarians might be targeted. They warned us to keep our staff safe and ensure we were not engaging with the protest.
In my 18 years of parliamentary life, I have witnessed all manner of protests on Parliament Hill but I have never seen a warning like this.
The pandemic has been long. We are all rattled, and we are all exhausted. I understand the frustration of people who want to rally for an end to the pandemic and the health measures. The reality, however, is that the pandemic doesn’t care if we are tired. And neither do the United States border authorities, who have stated that the small percentage of truckers who refuse to get vaccinated will not be allowed across the border. It doesn’t matter how many roads are blocked in Canada. Those are the rules.
This latter point made me a target for the anti-vaccine crowd.
I had posted about the American border rules earlier this week, and the result was a long tirade of abuse and rage. By and large, the majority of this abuse was just dumbed-down anger. The language of a small group talking about me standing trial or being put in jail caught my attention.
It brought me back to an arena in Cleveland in the summer of 2016 when I was an official observer at the Donald Trump convention. I remember the chilling feeling of being in an auditorium full of ordinary Americans who chanted “lock her up” in a mob celebration of their hatred against Hillary Clinton. I returned to Canada thinking that there was no way Trump could get elected because Americans were just not that extreme. And I certainly didn’t think it was possible for Canadians ever to reach a point where we demonized political opponents in such extremist terms.
What we see with this convoy is how much of that “lock them up” language and other extremist tropes of Q-Anon and white extremists have worked their way into the national political language. I am no supporter of the Liberal government, but I am appalled by Facebook memes showing trucks running over Prime Minister Trudeau.
This is way over the line.
I imagine that most people who descend on Parliament Hill on Saturday will follow the Canadian way of respecting each other and adhering to the rule of law. It’s the minority of extremists who have wrapped themselves in this anger that I am concerned about. When they claim the right to threaten public figures or shut down the work of democracy, that is a line that we cannot allow to be crossed.
I am going to work on Monday because I have a mandate from the people of this country to be in Parliament to represent their rights. The extremists and haters can honk all they want, but we have work to do.
Stay safe, my friends; we’re in this together.
Charlie Angus MP