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Our inbox was full of responses to our Reporter’s Notebook exploring why it’s so hard to talk about the trucker convoy, published on Feb. 10, 2022. Here are a few of your letters, shared with permission and edited for clarity and length.
‘What exactly does freedom mean?’
I have read with interest about the Freedom Convoy and have seen the news from Ottawa etc. I am a Canadian currently wintering in Southern California and my question is, and I haven’t got a clear description, what exactly does freedom mean? From what I have seen there are many agendas and as a result I am not entirely sure what any government can do to satisfy this movement.
Where can we have a rational public conversation?
Thanks so much Julie for your story on the convoy and reaching across differences to try and understand each other.
The polarization between people these days very much concerns me and we are lacking spaces to discuss things because of our isolation — so social media becomes the place these ‘exchanges’ take place. I’d love to witness/see a calm, rational public conversation between two people on: COVID/vaccines/mandates etc. that could include compassionate understanding.
For me, what is most pressing and interesting about the trucker convoy is the (lack of) state response. It is impossible to imagine an Indigenous occupation of the capital or border crossing that would not include the army. I recently read a great article in Briarpatch about the C-IRG and the ‘why’ of forceful state response to threats to extractivist industries. I would love to see something from The Discourse that delves into the lack of state response for this convoy juxtaposed with the violent state response when it’s about protecting industry’s “right” to log or extract oil (for example).
Anyway, thanks for all your amazing work Julie, to you and the team at The Discourse.
Let’s talk about our democracy
Thanks for covering difficult issues at challenging times. I can only imagine how hard and sometimes dangerous and frightening it is for journalists and I’m very grateful for their work.
I have a young friend in Ottawa who is having a tough time because she lives downtown, can’t go to work and is afraid to go out in the street. Another friend says she and her husband are under siege.
There are lots of stories to be told but, for me, the most important is about democracy. It’s not perfect, but I don’t like the look of the alternatives.
I’m interested in non-partisan dialogue about the kind of country we want to live in. I’ve just had this pin made up and already a lot of people have asked for it. The first 50 are going quickly.
Thanks for the very good work you do at the Discourse.
‘Blame game takes us nowhere’
First, I think we all need to admit that we are very frightened about the near future. The blame game takes us nowhere, so we all have to stop scapegoating groups who don’t seem to share our values. That’s just fuel on fire.
Second, we must acknowledge that there is a lot of righteous anger going to waste on quarreling over vaccination, when we could channel that to where it belongs: the cruelty of people grabbing as much wealth as we can while letting others slide into poverty. And we’re all implicated in this.
Third, we have a huge, entangled (what engineers call wicked) problem with corporate globalisation and its impact on the planet.
It’s one thing to look for common ground but if we hang our values on either competition or co-operation and don’t see that there’s a place for both, we’re never going to agree.
I’m one of those who believe that internal political troubles in the developed world were heralded by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. And I am gobsmacked that we are quarreling over vaccination, which is one of the great gifts of science to humanity.
I am not a conspiracy theorist, by my definition of people who can believe six impossible things before breakfast (Alice, Looking Glass, White Queen) BUT I do think we are being manipulated by people whose sociopathic libertarianism has been organizing for a long time, in a test for de-stabilizing the US.
End of rambling rant.
P.S. there are six or seven billion too many humans on Earth. The great reset better adopt local sustainability to help reduce the sheer numbers.
Agree with the trucker convoy message, not the methods
I would like to first say I am grateful to you for addressing these three topics in a safe and respectful way. Here are my feelings on the trucker convoy, vaccine mandates and the effects on our community.
I am against mandates. I believe everyone should have a choice. I am double vaccinated and have my passport but resent having had to do this to be able to see my mother who is suffering with dementia in a long term care home. I support all who want vaccines, but do not agree with anyone being forced.
I live in a small park model community (almost 200 homes). I am heartbroken about the division it has caused between people here. I so dislike the term “anti-vaxxer,” it has become a derogatory term. I am not anti-vaccine. I do not want the current COVID vaccines. It makes me sad to hear people are scared of being near unvaxxed people. Neighbours that used to be friends are now ostracized if they are not vaccinated. It breaks my heart.
I am sad when I hear ideas that people should be treated differently if they’re unvaccinated, such as charging extra if medical treatment is needed or to jail them etc. It reminds me of past debates on treating smokers, or overweight people differently in our medical system.
Even though I agree with the no mandates message, I do not agree with a lot of their methods. I am more of a “stand quietly with my signs” type of activist. Also I am saddened that people with a different agenda are involved. It takes away any credibility the original convoy intent may have had. However people have a right to protest and should not be treated like uneducated imbeciles.
The government has now declared a state of emergency in Ottawa because the protesters are too noisy and are inconveniencing them. It is about big corporations losing money with the bridge access closed. But, there is no emergency when people do not have drinking water, or fire has burned down their home, or floods have ruined their livelihood. The government continues to give permits, tax rebates and grants to companies that are responsible for huge environmental damage as they pillage our natural resources. Why are these issues not exposed on the nightly news?
Our system is broken, so very badly broken.
With much respect,
Be careful with bias
Very good article, thank you very much. I hope the newsrooms are discussing this very important issue. My best example of a small but very telling bit of journalism is hearing a big Canadian [main stream media] newscast lead into the story with “and at the SO CALLED Freedom Convoy,” imagine how one side of this issue would rate the bias of that news cast, and throw out the “fake news” label any time that a reporter of that news outlet is spotted.
Thanks again for the article.