Lamont Statement: Protests in Ottawa

January 31, 2022

Over the last week, a so called "Freedom Convoy" came through Manitoba.

In the last week, in the wake of this convoy, there have a series of incidents that have to be condemned.

We saw someone crash NDP MLA Adrien Sala's office, harrass them and say that he knew what he was doing was illegal. I am sorry that his staff had to endure that.

I've seen people on Facebook saying that lynching is the only answer. I received messages over the weekend saying that because I am a Liberal - that people are coming for me.

I know people are suffering. I know people are tired and frustrated, and angry because this pandemic has been hard. People want relief. We all do. I'll start by saying, I am not going to punch down.

And I want to be precise about this.

You have people waving Nazi flags with swastikas and confederate flags. People dancing on the grave of the unknown soldier in Ottawa. And one of the initial organizers behind the convoy is on video, saying that "bullets" are the only way to solve this problem.

I know people are fed up. But part of the reason for their reaction is that they have been lied to. By radicals and self-styled experts who have set out to manipulate people who are fearful by lying to them about what they have to fear, and who they have to fear.

People have been lied to about vaccines, about covid, and about the law and who is responsible for all of these measures.

It is very convenient for Conservatives to lay all of this at the feet of the federal government when provinces set restrictions and public health orders. Premier Jason Kenney is responsible for Alberta, Scott Moe is responsible for Saskatchewan. Pallister and Stefanson were responsible for Manitoba. And Doug Ford is responsible for Ontario.

Here in Manitoba, John Guenter, MLA for Bordlerland, is the legislative assistant to the Minister of Health.

Conservatives are using this as a way of blaming the federal government for their own failures in pandemic response.

It is an evasion to say that you are not anti-vaccine, just against mandates. No one was talking about bringing mandates until people refused to get vaccinated. People were being asked politely for months to get vaccines and people refused.

The federal government has no say in most of the restrictions, and conservative support for this rally is a way for them to shift the blame for their own choices.

It's irresponsible, but given the nature of the threats we are seeing, it is also cowardly and dangerous.

I am sure many of the supporters of these protests don't know that the people who organized it aren't truckers. They don't know they have a history radical right-wing extremism.

But politicians should. Conservative Premiers and MLAs and MPs should. Journalists and pundits should.

We have conservatives playing dumb by saying they saw nothing.

These threats of violence and intimidation are completely unacceptable in a free and democratic society.

And its not just politicians who are facing threats. Health care workers, people enforcing orders, servers in restaurants who are getting abuse for asking people to follow the law.

I've said it a few times. In politics, we cannot treat each other as enemies.

When we talk about the deep divisions in politics that exist in this province and in this country, it is not just differences of opinion. It is that when we start treating each other as enemies we stop treating each other as full human beings.

And Canadians are being incited to hate by far right propaganda who treat democracy and the rule of law as extreme when they are the ones who are a threat to public safety.

And when supposedly mainstream conservatives voice their support for it, it validates that extremism and that hate based on a pile of ideas that just aren't true.

People who wave swastikas and confederate flags and threaten violence are not freedom fighters. They are attacking the very core of our democracy based on untruths that have been fed to them.

Some untruths about vaccines or public health orders are lies. Some are mistakes. Some are people clinging to false hope. Some of those ideas are people who are pushing propaganda for personal or political gain.

That goes for politicians and pundits as well as Theo Fleury, Elon Musk, Jordan Peterson.

Democracy is about more than one person one vote and it is fundamentally about the peaceful transition of power. We campaign, we knock on doors, we debate, we pass laws.

People who make death threats and wave swastikas don't care about democracy or the rule of law. They are out there because they think the law that applies to everyone else should not apply to them.

We are calling on the Premier and politicians across Manitoba to condemn these acts of harassment and threats of violence - and moreover, to stop pandering to the people who make them.


View More News

Unite Interactive