COUTTS, Alberta/TORONTO, Aug 4 (Reuters) – In late January five friends, just a few years out of high school, piled into a rental car and drove 37 hours in the Canadian winter from southern Alberta to Ottawa to join an anti-government protest led by a group of truck drivers.
“We were worried about protection orders and our freedom, and everything just went to hell,” said Ursula Allred, 22, from her small town of Magrath.
One member of the group, Justin Martin, called home excited to say the protest – which filled Ottawa with tractor-trailers, hot tubs, bouncy phones and widespread hate speech for weeks until it was broken up by police – was “the one”. it’s a wonderful experience,” said his mother, Lynette Atwood.
Among the most well-known sympathizers is Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the leadership race of Canada’s opposition Conservative Party, who has competed with rivals in the debate over who first endorsed the party. See the article : Global public health foresight strategies: a practical guide for WHO staff.
Posing as an anti-establishment force determined to liberate Canadians from “super security guards,” Poilievre posted a photo of himself supporting the convoy into Ottawa.
He promises, among other things, to take over “public broadcasting” by defunding the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the public broadcaster, and firing the governor of the Bank of Canada.
He also promised to ban government ministers from attending the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland — a notorious whipping boy for insiders and supporters from far and wide around the world.
Anger against the forum was sparked by viral videos claiming that the WEF used the pandemic to set up a plan by “global elites” to control society in the “Great Reset” – a twist on the WEF’s stated plan to find solutions to the big ones. problems facing the country.
“The gatekeepers try to destroy anyone who threatens their power,” Poilievre said on Twitter in response to criticism that he was pushing for populist rule.
“I want to be PM to give you back control of your life & make Canada the freest country in the world,” he wrote in another post.
Poilievre’s campaign did not respond to requests for an interview or to questions about his support for the convoy.
Ekos’s Graves says his polling shows that Canadians who support the campaign have a “judgmental, people-oriented perspective” and can be a “strong force in Canadian politics” because they are empowered and motivated to vote.
It’s no surprise that Canada’s conservative politicians are trying to rally supporters and tap into growing public sentiment, says Jared Wesley, a political science professor at the University of Alberta.
“There is a group out there who are conservative politicians who want to bring back the barn,” Wesley said.
“It results in an ever-increasing rise in anti-establishment sentiment, which has a leading Conservative Party candidate promising to fire the Governor of the Bank of Canada.”
SIMMERING RESENTMENT IN ALBERTA
The audacity of the pilot’s march — with days of chanting in downtown Ottawa, border crossings and open displays of swastikas and confederate flags — surprised many outside Canada. On the same subject : The Boston Museum of Fine Arts enters into a work contract with the workers.
But those involved and people close to the protestors said it was a continuation of confusion and restrictions, particularly in western Canada, where resentment of Ottawa has been simmering for decades.
Researchers point to a history of anti-government protests in conservative, oil-rich Alberta. The province prides itself on its frontier spirit and has long felt isolated from eastern Canada, accusing the federal government of relying on its oil without respect or autonomy.
“Albertans see themselves as the people who pay for everyone else in Canada,” said Peter Smith, a researcher for the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit organization that investigates hate crimes and hate groups.
In Magrath and the nearby town of Raymond, where Allred’s four camper van friends lived, anti-government sentiment and concerns about federalism remain strong.
Shortly after Allred and his friends were arrested in Coutts in February, a large black flag that read “Fuck Trudeau,” with a red maple leaf replacing the first “u,” flew from the back of the house on the highway into Raymond.
One house had “Hold the Line for Freedom” painted red in the basement window, while many cars sported Canadian flags and signs of support were covered.
There was much sympathy for Allred and his accomplices, who were charged, along with five others, with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and mischief. They have been granted bail.
In one of the most serious crimes related to van traffic, four men from southern Alberta involved in border closures were arrested in February and charged with attempted murder. They remain in custody awaiting trial.
Two weeks after the Coutts blockade was lifted, another protest camp remained on the side of the highway north of the Milk River: a small camp of tractors and a food truck in a wide open area, watched over by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser parked discreetly. away.
“This is waking up the country,” said Elliot McDavid, one of the organizers of the camp, adding that the protest aimed to force Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke the Emergency Act to remove them.
In an Ipsos survey in February, 58% of Albertans found the participants’ concerns legitimate and worthy of sympathy, compared to 46% nationally.
‘A DANGEROUS TIME’
With strong support for programs such as universal health and gun control, Canada has long been seen as more moderate than its neighbor to the south. On the same subject : News Wire | Friday, July 29, 2022. But analysts say right-wing extremism has long had a home north of the US border — and the “Freedom Convoy” movement and anti-government protests against COVID-19 sanctions have given it new impetus.
A 2015 survey identified around 100 far-right groups. The number has tripled since then, Hofmann said.
The groups have grown apart but the overall number of participants has also grown, Hofmann said.
He and his colleagues have identified about 1,200 participants who appear to have had contact with the police or the media or have been active on social media, he said.
This is higher than previous figures but changing methods make comparisons more difficult, he said.
Another group that has attracted the attention of analysts in recent months is the Hammerskins, an offshoot of the U.S. organization. neo-Nazi. It was quiet in Canada for nearly a decade but now has a presence in cities like Hamilton, Oshawa, and the Greater Toronto Area, with members also registering in British Columbia, said the Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s Smith.
Attempts to contact the Hammerskins for comment were unsuccessful.
“This conference was huge and important and will be a tool for dissemination for a long time,” said Smith.
The Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino, in February, spoke of the link between the protests and extremism, saying: “We need to be made aware of the seriousness of these events.”
He said some of those accused “have strong ties to a far-right organization,” which spoke to one of his offices at the time about the Diagolon-rewing network.
Patches with the Diagolon flag were attached to the body armor police seized in connection with the arrests at the Coutts border in February.
Jeremy MacKenzie, the de facto founder of Diagolon — a mythical deviant country that has become a symbol of anti-government sentiment among right-wing Canadians — has given prominence to the convoy on his podcast and Telegram channel.
In an interview with Reuters, MacKenzie said Diagolon started as a joke and is a free social network for “patriots”, not a political party. He says he is being wrongly targeted by Canadian authorities.
The conference was a success for Diagolon “because one of their goals is to calm and sow doubt, and to give government to government,” a government source familiar with the matter said in February.
Another group, Veterans 4 Freedom, has come out of the protest and aims to protect protesters and oppose the sanctions against CCID-19, said Andrew MacGillivray, a veteran who is part of the group.
“The rights and liberties of Canadians are being eroded and we will work to protect against legal violence in order to restore those rights,” MacGillivray said in an interview.
“We just want to make sure that if there is any kind of protest and conflict that our volunteers help keep the peace.”
The group helped organize a June 30 protest in Ottawa that included a soldier who walked thousands of kilometers to demonstrate for immunity and faced court for criticizing immunity laws while in uniform.
Some words against the suspension are also included.
Outspoken Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski, who is believed to have picked up 40 tickets for violating the ban, has been accused of inciting people to damage or destroy important buildings during a speech at the Coutts blockade.
While on bail, he told Reuters he was fighting crime and that the convoy had “awakened” people to fight for freedom.
“The truth is that I have become a symbol of freedom,” he said, then added that he is thinking of running for office.
“I can clean your bathroom. That’s what I do.”
His son Nathaniel Pawlowski said he worries what will happen if people who are angry about government sanctions are pushed away: “If you study history, you know this is a dangerous time.”
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The Toronto reporter covers among other things immigration and health.