The last two weeks saw a massive convoy of trucks cross Canada from British Columbia in the west, across the frozen plains of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and on to Ottawa, the seat of tyranny. Called the Freedom Convoy, they were and are engaging in a massive protest against the Fascist vaccine mandates and lockdowns and all the other State actions of an elitist far-left government.
The Convoy has caught the attention of peoples across the world – people tired of the irrational acts of their own governments that have kept them locked down, forced them to accept a deadly medical procedure on the false assurances that if they submitted, then their lives would return to normal. People who saw two weeks to flatten the curve become two years to flatten their freedoms, their livelihoods and even their very lives. People who were assured that their governments had their best interests at heart and were following the best recommendations of the best scientists in the world, only to learn that the science was manipulated and the so-called vaccines prevented nothing and only made them sicker, and all that the lockdowns and mask mandates did was to destroy businesses and increase the power and wealth of elites.
A Tale of Two Messages
The Convoy drivers came bearing a message to the seat of the Canadian government. They were saying that the people were tired of living in fear, tired of lockdowns, vaccine mandates, tired of having their freedoms trampled on by every petit tyrant serving in some official capacity. They were bringing the message that the people could look after themselves, that they didn’t need some distant authority to tell them what they must do to avoid an illness little worse than the ones they encountered every year in life. They were saying they were tired of official lies about what was necessary to keep them safe, and that it was time to let go and let the people decide what was best for themselves. In other words, they were conveying the message that the freedoms usurped must be restored – that it was time that a government that claimed to serve the people should actually listen to the People, step aside and let the People chose their own course.
As of today, the Ottawa government has given their response. To all freedom loving Canadians they have said: “You don’t matter.”. “We have the power and we don’t have to listen to you”. ” Your job is to shut up, pay your taxes to support us, and do as you’re told.”. The Ottawa government responded with a big middle finger to the rest of the nation.
They did so by sending the police around to confiscate the fuel and propane of the Convoy trucks. It is winter in Canada, and temperatures can reach levels of cold that most people cannot imagine. The fuel and propane are necessary to keep trucks functional and the drivers from freezing. Presumably, the powers responsible thought those actions would lead to dispersal of the Convoy – that rather than risk their lives, the truckers would surrender and quit their protest. Some might, but I think such actions will simply engender more resistance. The fact that the government is now arresting some of the truckers and are blockading any attempts to provide them with food, fuel and other support is simply making things worse.
The Stupidity of Power
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The government reaction is just that – reaction. In fact, it is a typical reaction of an out-of-touch authoritarian government. It is the reaction of a government that has grown complacent and assured of its own security. Rather than taking the concerns of the people seriously, its cowardly leader has run off to hide rather than stay and listen to the voice of the people he claims to represent.
So why is their reaction stupid? While confiscating fuel might seem a clever move, on closer inspection it is actually one of those poorly thought through partly baked ideas. Trucks require fuel to move. If the government wants the trucks to move and disperse, it will have to provide fuel. A truck without fuel isn’t going anywhere. Taking the fuel away from the trucks simply means they are going to stay where they are – probably not the objective those bright administrators had in mind.
Then they want to arrest drivers. Now Canada is already short of drivers. Current estimates are that Canada is short around 25,000 drivers. It is hard to get good estimates of the actual number of drivers involved in the Convoy, and numbers range from just under 600 vehicles to over 50,000. For a country of 38 million people, either number is significant. Arresting a few thousand drivers for protesting a despotic regime does nothing to help the already serious supply chain issues and driver shortages. Given that most of the drivers affected by the mandates are cross-border drivers bringing goods into Canada from the US, and transporting Canadian products south, there is a large negative multiplier effect on the Canadian economy for every driver arrested.
The trucking industry in Canada involves more than drivers. Almost 2% of the total Canadian population is directly employed in land transportation, either as drivers, or loaders, or warehousers, or distribution. That is almost 5% of the total Canadian workforce. While only a small fraction is directly participating in the Convoy, there is a much larger body of sympathetic workers behind each Convoy driver. Furthermore, the Canadian people are tired of Covid restrictions and see the Convoy as a symbol and rallying point for expressing their dissatisfaction.
People who haven’t experienced it have difficulty understanding the power of a Canadian winter. In the central provinces, -40° is not uncommon with wind chills below -100°. Imagine the fortitude it takes for thousands of people to leave their warm homes and stand by a frozen roadside in the middle of a Canadian winter to cheer on a convoy of trucks rolling for freedom.
The Ottawa government is being very stupid by not only ignoring the popular sentiment being expressed, but also by attempting to deal with things with institutional power plays. It is likely that many of the police are sympathetic to the Convoy and resent being used to suppress them. What happens if the police or military say enough is enough?
The government is seriously underestimating the depth of dissatisfaction the Convoy represents. Like many of British heritage, the Canadians are normally a peaceful lot, and respectful of authority. Such protests are highly unusual and indicative of profound dissatisfaction. Further, many of the drivers are independent owner-operators. It is not a trivial thing to put a $100,000 truck at risk in a protest, especially when that truck often represents an investment of life savings and is the primary source of income and support for their families for many of the drivers. Time spent in the Convoy is lost income. Like many before who have fought for freedom, many of these drivers are putting everything on the line. For their efforts, the government is calling them “fringe elements” with “unacceptable views”. Unacceptable to whom? Like so many “liberal” governments, there is only the Left, and the Far-Right fringe.
What will the government try next? Will they call out the Snowbirds to strafe trucks that would join the convoy? Will they confiscate the trucks and train up the Mounties to drive them? Perhaps they will send the military out armed with syringes to capture and jab everyone who resists – after all, they have confiscated most of the guns so how can anyone oppose them?
Never mind that the most that vaccination can offer is that it might make the symptoms of an infection milder, although even that is questionable. After all, someone who voluntarily accepts the “vaccine” may also be more likely to seek medical attention for even mild symptoms, whereas those who resist will tend to avoid “care” as long as possible. Such behavior would seriously skew the results of any study on vaccine effectiveness. We already know the vax doesn’t prevent infection or stop spreading. So, what is the point?
It has now become a contest of wills between the People and their government – a government that claims to serve the People. By engaging in power tactics, the Canadian government is playing with fire. Their actions are hurting not only the truckers but all of Canada. Covid restrictions have not only trampled basic freedoms but have also destroyed businesses and decimated the economy. Disruption of vital transportation could be the last straw. From the Biblical Exodus to the French Revolution, to the fall of the Soviet Union, revolutions have started from less. It wasn’t all that long ago that Canada almost split East to West. What do they risk now?
Power and Persuasion
Governments tend to become complacent, arrogant, and lazy. They tend to forget that they govern by the consent of the governed – that governments require the cooperation of the governed. There are two ways to obtain cooperation – persuasion, and coercion. Persuasion is slow and difficult and is based on the idea that the people are intelligent, able to understand the issues, and either support a proposal or arrive at one they agree upon. That process is the basis of democracy.
Authoritarian governments, on the other hand, tend to favor coercion and intimidation. That is much easier as they only have to issue commands and punish those who disobey. This is consistent with the political philosophy of the Left since, in that view, the people exist to serve and obey the State. An underlying assumption is that one or a small group of bureaucrats is smarter than the whole of the population and is best able to dictate a proper course of action. This attitude leads to contempt for the general population – sheep to be shorn and herded to serve the purposes of the “shepherds”.
A smart government will resist the temptations of power. It will recognize the diverse range of needs and abilities in the populace and will acknowledge its own limitations. It will listen to the people it is charged to govern and take the difficult but proper road to arrive at solutions that reflect the wisdom of the populace – almost invariably wiser than any proposal of a small body of autocrats.
Alternatively, a stupid government will take the easy path and use power to direct the actions of the people. After all, what good is a government if it can’t force people to do what the government deems necessary and proper. Unfortunately, such governance builds resentment and resistance, and any government that has taken that road for too long has fallen – often in very unpleasant ways. Consequently, the indiscriminate use of power, especially against the general will of the governed, is ultimately stupid.
The Canadian government is at a crossroads. Should it follow the direction of its populace – a populace that is vociferously saying that they no longer want to take the approach to Covid that has been tried these last two years and has failed consistently? The people are saying that the cure has been far worse than the disease, and it is time to stop. Can the government stand up and say what it has been doing hasn’t worked, and it is time to try something new?
Or should the government take the approach that the people are wrong to challenge the State, and use its power to try to force compliance – to punish transgression and show the people who is actually in charge?
In the words of a famous philosopher: “Stupid is as stupid does.” The world is watching, Mr. Trudeau.
By David Robb
David Robb is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative and a practicing scientist who has been working in industry for over 50 years. One of his specialties is asking awkward questions. A large part of his work over the years has involved making complex scientific issues clear and understandable to non-specialists. Sometimes he even succeeds.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Blue State Conservative. The BSC is not responsible for, and does not verify the accuracy of, any information presented.
Featured photo by Presidencia de la República Mexicana, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons