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Evan Saugstad: How soon we forget what freedom is

Freedom is not only about being able express our viewpoints, but it also includes being treated fairly and not persecuted because you happened to embarrass some PM, Premier, or Mayor.
Tamara Lich, an organizer of the Freedom Convoy who organized fundraising for the protest which became a weeks long blockade, embraces supporters as she leaves the courthouse in Ottawa after being granted bail, on Monday, March 7, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

During a recent conversation on the federal Conservative leadership race, a good friend mentioned he wasn’t sure if he could support Pierre Poilievre. His concerns stemmed from Pierre’s meeting with and support in principle of last winter’s Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.

I disagreed and believed that it's Pierre’s willingness to buck the trend, despite the obstacles, and his willingness to take risks that makes him attractive as Canada’s next leader to be. This, despite the personal attacks by our media as being un-Canadian.

Why, one must ask, should our political leaders not be willing to meet with ordinary folks who are fed up with the status quo? Shouldn’t all MPs have stopped to say hello to those who drove thousands of kilometres to express their viewpoint? Is it not the job of the Official Opposition to listen to concerns, especially when they have been ignored by those elected to represent us?

I thought then, and still do today, that all MPs, including Pierre, who took the time to stop and talk to those protesting outside of Parliament were and are the ones we should be thinking of as ordinary Canadians and fit to govern our country. Such simple acts demonstrate care and their wish to make Canada a better country than what we have let it become today.

As to Pierre’s promise to make Canada a freer place than it is today? Wouldn’t take much to accomplish that. Could start with reviewing those judges and Crown prosecutors who have forsaken their oaths to uphold the law, and instead made it their personal mission to try and do what the Prime Minister, or the Premier of Ontario, or the Mayor of Ottawa couldn’t do, and that is to make it look like last winter’s emergency order was real and was needed. Yes, they do need someone to be the “fall lady” and Tamara Lich you have been selected.

I know many will disagree and believe what they read in our national papers about how deserving Lich is to be locked up for the year or two it will take for her to get a chance at a fair trial. How soon we forget what freedom truly is. Freedom is not only about being able express our viewpoints, but it also includes being treated fairly and not persecuted because you happened to embarrass some PM, Premier, or Mayor.

Fortunately, as I write this, there finally was a judge who did not follow the Prime Minister’s wishes, or those of the Ontario Premier or the Mayor of Ottawa, and put his own mind to the task and once again set Tamara free to go home on bail.

Interestingly, his instructions (not verbatim) were to follow her bail conditions and don’t do anything to the contrary as she is being carefully watched, and scrutinized by those who still wish to see her behind bars; and, if they do get the chance, she is likely to go back to jail and stay there, no matter how trivial the charges truly are. Really, as if our police or Crown prosecutors would do this on their own. Yes, 45 days in jail on charges that many believe will not stick and that this a political show trial that will take years to resolve, to ensure she can never embarrass Trudeau and his helpers ever again.

We keep hearing about how politicized the U.S. judicial system is with their appointments based on left or right political beliefs. Are we any different? How many judges have Trudeau and his Liberal predecessors appointed?

Remember the two Michaels (Spavor and Kovrig)? Remember how our Canadian government was so dismayed that any government would arbitrarily lock someone up for days and days (years) without a fair trial, without a chance of bail, or without fair representation? Remember how Trudeau talked about what we, as Canadians, would do under similar circumstances?

Remember how bad Meng Wanzhou of Huawei was treated during her detainment? Wasn’t it awful that we allowed her to live in her own house, travel about town freely, meet and talk with who she wished, and even enjoy the internet? A plus for her was she was not Canadian, as if you are, and you embarrass Trudeau, look out. The Liberal machine does know how to put anyone they wish behind bars. In their world, justice is not blind.

August 14 was supposed to be day to remember Tamara and call for her freedom. Now that she is once again at home, not sure what the plan will be, but if nothing else, do not forget and do not let Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland, or the Justice Minister think for one moment we have forgotten, because we haven’t. Travesties have a way of righting themselves, and this will. Karma does exist. Just hope one day she might be sitting across the aisle in Ottawa looking at what is left of the Liberal party and their bought-and-paid-for friends in the NDP and ask, with the wry little smile, “What do you think of me now?”

And what about all those cutblock, pipeline, and road blockaders that have been violating their bail conditions for years? Should every person responsible for ignoring court orders be locked up until their trial? If Tamara Lich is to be our example, wouldn’t it also be fair to put a few of those who call themselves chiefs and political activists behind those same bars?

I do wish Pierre all the best in his leadership bid, as it will take someone like him thinking about and focusing government back on such mundane topics such as there being no such thing as a free lunch — someone has to pay. Personal finances and affordability are important (nothing like being able to look after one’s family without government handouts), as are balanced budgets (stop mortgaging our children’s future), and putting more crooks who belong behind bars (and no, not because you offended someone). It will also take someone to move our Canadian psyche from the far left back to the middle. 

Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.

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