In late August, an oaf in Grande Prairie accosted deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland in a building lobby, swearing and cursing her for daring to come back to Alberta. The media response was quick, and predictable. Quotes from everyone who is anyone, and the obligatory condemnation about those who show no common decency for the person behind their political job.
I agree — the person behind the title isn't fair game for every crackpot to take a shot at. Every citizen in Canada is entitled to their own space and, in that, we are all equal, politician or otherwise, no matter who we are.
But then came the slant about an “angry Canada” and “violent right-wing extremists” and how hard it is for women to hold political office and put up with the crap that some choose to heap upon them.
It's all out there, all partially true, but as a columnist for the Toronto Sun so aptly put it, threats, intimidation, and oafish behavior by louts are nothing new, not limited to one race, or sex, or part of the political spectrum, or part of the country.
I couldn’t agree more with the article. And like elsewhere in Canada, it exists here.
Remember the lout who showed up at the Peace River Regional District meeting when the Board was considering implementing building permits and inspections for rural areas? Remember that he carried a baseball bat into the meeting and placed it conspicuously in front of his chair in the gallery? And if I remember correctly, the Chair temporarily adjourned the meeting until the oaf and his bat were removed, and then carried on with the meeting.
Yup, no debate about political extremism, no debates about threats against women, just a bunch of exasperated Board Directors dealing with a half-wit who thought he could teach politicians about how to make decisions.
But today, oh yes, the oaf in Grande Prairie fits the current narrative with what is wrong with Canada.
Rhetoric aside, what is the real conversation about incidents such as this? What do we do with bad behavior?
In fairness to Minister Freeland, I see no response from her to say that this was anything more than it really was, that louts are still part of the business, and there may be a need to review security for politicians given the polarization that our current crop of leaders seem to revel in.
Is Canada angrier than ever before? Maybe, maybe not, but if our political leaders don’t begin to understand just how people feel then we haven’t seen anything yet, as it will get worse. Most are still stuck being frustrated, still sitting at home yelling at the evening news. But the difference between being frustrated and yelling at an inanimate object to getting up off the couch and doing something about it can be a very short distance.
Missed your flight and vacation because there were no security workers at the airport? Couldn’t travel and lost your booking because there were no passports available? ArriveCan app arbitrarily quarantined you? Ten days off work rather than go to jail… Is anyone happy?
No job because you didn’t wish to be vaccinated? Haven’t got your job back because someone in Ottawa says you can’t? Travelled to Ottawa to protest and had your truck seized, bank account frozen, and then called names by our Prime Minister for your troubles? Got over it yet? Still a wee bit angry?
Well, be happy to know that every time you fill your gas tank Trudeau and Premier Horgan can use your money to give to others to subsidize their vehicle that you do not have the option to use.
Or if your gas furnace quits, be happy to know Horgan has added another tax if you can’t afford the thousands to retrofit your home to go electric.
Or if you can finally afford to buy a used vehicle, be happy to know you now must pay another 12% tax so Horgan can give that to someone else to make their life better.
Are you happy yet?
Happy that Victoria decided you should not have your moose tag this year, despite the pleadings and rationales by the local populations? Happy to see your legally obtained gun declared illegal and then confiscated?
Did you go to hospital emergency only to find it closed and you must drive 100 kilometres to find one that is still open? Isn’t life a joy without a family doctor?
Go to work on the pipeline, only to be blockaded? Or how about logging, blockaded by a different set of louts, many who are on the catch-and-release program by our government, so they are free to pursue their obstructionist trades.
How about the oafs that lay down on our roads, streets, bridges, and freeways to stop our open and free society from being anything close to open and free — only to see on the evening news that they got home before you, another catch-and-release government program that allows them to enjoy their lives and start all over again the next day.
Are you happy yet?
Frustrated, yes, maybe soon-to-be angry. Yet do our leaders care? Who among them would have the intestinal fortitude to stand in front of you, despite the louts and oafs, to answer your questions and solve your problems?
Trudeau summed it up best. Just declare an emergency, throw some people in prison, problems solved.
Although I wish it would, I’m sorry to say oafs and loutish behaviour are not going away anytime soon.
God help us all — or maybe there will be hope as the next generation of politicians realize that job number one is to listen to the people, and to make our lives a wee bit better.
Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.
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