Freedom is about more than honking horns — no matter how loud they are. Today, Baxter Media’s executive editor, Bob Mowat is wondering what the protests going on in Ottawa and across the country are actually all about. Are they about the vaccine mandates that apply for cross-border truckers? Are they about vaccination and vaccination passports? Are they about the lifting of public health restrictions that are in place in jurisdictions across the country? Or are they about something else altogether? All are questions that need to be answered and until they are, he has a message:
Don’t tell me about freedom until you understand how hard this country’s travel and tourism industry has been hit by the global pandemic and how long it is going to take it to recover.
Don’t tell me about freedom until you recognize that the travel and tourism industry has continued to make its case with all levels of government for ongoing financial support, and continued to urge those governments to make changes to rules that are preventing the industry’s speedy and full recovery. And no matter how tired, frustrated and angry they are, through it all, they’ve held on to hope and soldiered on.
Don’t tell me about freedom until you’ve talked to the people in this industry who have seen the businesses they’ve built over many years in danger of closing because they’re uncertain whether they can pay their bills at the end of the month.
Don’t tell me about freedom until you’ve heard from people who have had to lay off one employee or 10 employees or a hundred employees and understand exactly what that feels like.
Don’t tell me about freedom until you’ve heard from those employees who have lost their jobs, and are trying to pay their bills and take care of their families and all the time wondering whether they will ever again be able to work in an industry that is their passion.
Don’t tell me about freedom when the things you’re protesting – vaccinations, vaccination passports, masking and certain other public health rules – represent a way forward for the travel and tourism industry. Consider taking a stand on non-essential travel advisories or pre-arrival and on-arrival testing — you may find some support there.
Don’t tell me about freedom when protest marches by groups with a similar message as those in Ottawa have been allowed to take place in Toronto for almost a year and a half – even when the province was under an emergency stay-at-home order – allowing those protesters to exercise their freedom of assembly when the rest of us were locked down in our homes.
Don’t tell me about freedom until you can actually explain how your freedom has been taken away from you. Choosing to get vaccinated or wear a mask doesn’t count as a loss of freedom — it counts as a choice … and that’s what freedom is all about.
Don’t tell me about freedom just because some opportunistic politicians think it is alright to pose in front of your trucks for a selfie — because it’s not.
Don’t tell me about freedom if you associate with people who carry hateful symbols and use hateful slogans to support their cause — that’s not alright.
Don’t tell me about freedom until you understand that the quality of the character of the people that you associate with will define the credibility of your cause.
Don’t tell me about freedom because 68% of Canadians ‘feel they have very little in common’ with your protest. (https://abacusdata.ca/freedom-convoy-public-reaction-february-2022/ )
Don’t tell me about freedom until you’re willing to accept the consequences and responsibilities that come with exercising your freedom.
No, don’t tell me about freedom until you recognize that your freedom isn’t more important than the freedom of others or the freedom of society as a whole.
Bob Mowat – Executive Editor – Baxter Media