Saturday, August 28, 2021

Canada's very own anti-mask lunatic fringe

We, here in Canada, are used to taking the Mickey out of our oversized neighbours to the south, and we like to flatter ourselves that there is no way that a phenomenon such as Donald Trump, or the January 6th Capitol riots, or even a political party remotely like the US Republican Party, could ever happen here. And, to a large extent, that flattery is reasonable and justified.

Nevertheless, we do have our own loony fringe here too, and they have been on full display over the last few days. Justin Trudeau's election campaign stops have been plagued by loud, raucous and potentially (but not yet actually) dangerous demonstrations by anti-maskers and anti-vacciners. And this has not occurred in redneck Alberta or Saskatchewan, but right here in relatively civilized and peaceful Ontario, the latest and perhaps worst example being in the sleepy commuter town of Bolton, Ontario, where Trudeau had to cancel a campaign stop because he could not guarantee the safety of attending supporters or politicians

It is worth following this link (or this one) to see some of the video footage taken at the rally. I don't remember ever seeing that degree of unhinged vitriol and hostility being levelled at a Canadian politician. Interestingly, a good proportion of the crazies seem to be women, and many had dragged their hyperactive kids along to add to the noise levels. And this, mark you, is apparently all over the relatively innocent (you might have thought) issue of vaccine passports. 

Many reporters seemed to be in a state of shock after the event, and the leaders of the main opposition parties were united in expressing their alarm and outrage at such scenes at a political rally on Canadian soil (several Conservative Party campaigners were prominent among the protesters, so O'Toole had to say something). It remains to be seen how all this might affect Justin Trudeau's re-election prospects.

So, anyway, it has been a salient reminder that we too have pockets of the crackpot right wing, perhaps not as established or organized as the American ones, but a threat to democracy, order and common sense all the same. 

In case you think I am exaggerating when I talk about "crackpots", some of them were talking about "microchips" in the vaccines, Trudeau as part of a human trafficking ring and a pedophile, Trudeau as Fidel Castro's son (I kid you not), many of which claims are familiar as part of QAnon's catechism. Some of the placards just basically consisted of swearwords; one showed Trudeau being hanged. Many of the protesters were literally screaming, manically and uncontrollably, and jabbing fingers and whole arms aggressively in Trudeau's general direction. This was protest at its most basic and it's most violent (short of actual bodily harm).

Maybe these people would prefer to go and live in Florida, or perhaps Tennessee. They really don't seem happy here. They don't seem to fit in.


To add insult to injury, these people - I'm guessing it's mainly the same people - have started protesting and picketing provincial legislatures, police stations and hospitals in Toronto, ostensibly over vaccine mandates, in an attempt to intimidate and demoralize the very people who are doing their level best to keep us safe and get us through this damned pandemic. This follows similar violent protests in British Columbia.

Once again, they were loud, disrespectful and aggressive, this being apparently the only way they can think of to get their point across. God forbid they should actually have a reasoned debate about it. In some cases, they were actually blocking access to hospitals, which seems particularly ill-advised.


And now anti-mask, anti-vaccine protesters outside hospitals, some of them led by the shady and poorly-named Canadian Frontline Nurses organization, a tiny but outspoken outfit which opposes lockdowns and vaccine mandates, and which does not represent nurses, but does include some sacked and/or non-practising nurses.

Have these people no shame, no respect? Nobody really understands why they are targeting hospitals, as far as I know, but most people know it's seriously wrong. Hell, even Jason Kenney knows it's wrong.

No comments: