Dan Albas

Dan Albas

COLUMN: Examining a protest in Ottawa

Trucker protest shutting down much of Ottawa’s downtown near Parliament Hill

For the most part, events that are the focus of attention in Ottawa are seldom the same concerns I hear from citizens locally. This is why Ottawa is often referred to as “the Ottawa bubble.”

This week all of that changed.

The focus of many across Canada has been on Ottawa as the trucker protest organizers have named the “Freedom Convoy” has arrived in addition to news mid-week that the leader of the official opposition was also voted out as leader by a Conservative caucus vote.

By the time you read this there will likely be a new interim leader of the official opposition that will have been elected by Conservative MPs.

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As for the trucker protest, it is less clear what will become of this movement currently shutting down much of the downtown area around Parliament Hill.

During my time in Ottawa, I have been fortunate to sit on both the government and opposition sides of the House of Commons.

Over that time frame I cannot recall the exact number of different protests that have occurred on the front lawn of the House of Commons, but it is fair to say a great many.

It is unfortunate, but not uncommon, that fringe groups with a different message or agenda will also join in on a protest.

Sadly, this has occurred with the protest in Ottawa where some individuals have used the protest as an opportunity to spread hateful messages and symbols.

Examples include use of Nazi and Confederate flags, disrespect of national moments, and other actions that have no place in Canada.

Fortunately, all Parliamentarians have condemned these hateful messages through various channels including some resolutions that passed unanimously in the House of Commons.

That said, there are many peaceful, law abiding citizens, the majority of them professional truck drivers, who have expressed other areas of concern most often, not the opposition to vaccination but a mandatory vaccine mandate where one can lose their job if they are not vaccinated.

Other concerns have been raised against the Prime Minister specifically as well his Liberal government. From my perspective this is also not uncommon.

When I was on the government side of the House of Commons, there were often protests against former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Last year we witnessed protests where rail lines and some highways were shut down in opposition to energy projects.

During the protests last year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was quoted by CTV News as saying, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the disruptions must be resolved through dialogue, not by ordering in the police.”

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola and the Shadow Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.

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