OTTAWA—Imagine waking up in the morning, washing your face (assuming you bathed the night before), brushing your teeth, getting dressed for the work day and tweeting this: “As we approach Canada Day and potential protests in Ottawa…everyone actually agrees on something: if you hate @JustinTrudeau and his govt you have every right to come here and scream about that. Just don’t block roads. Don’t stay for three weeks. Fair?” as CTV Ottawa reporter Graham Richardson, did June 28 on Twitter.
As we approach Canada Day and potential protests in Ottawa…everyone actually agrees on something: if you hate @JustinTrudeau and his govt you have every right to come here and scream about that. Just don’t block roads. Don’t stay for three weeks. Fair? #ottnews
— Graham Richardson (@grahamctv) June 28, 2022
The egregious part of Richardson’s tweet is that he ignored and dismissed the people who were trapped in Ottawa, many of whom couldn’t leave and isolated themselves in their residences after two years of isolation from COVID. They were harassed, threatened, and lived under the fear of violence from both the protesters and the cops. Yes, the media is biased—it accepts its class bias as a given—objectivity be damned. Never mind that much of the media took the convoy’s words and transcribed them with little-to-no interrogation.
And therefore, Canada Day can go screw itself. I’m over it.
News last week that many MPs of the official opposition met with convoy leadership is an example of how Canada opens the door and enthusiastically welcomes white supremacy and its resultant violence. It’s also disheartening that these politicians are supporting the demise of democracy to, ironically, get votes. CTV News reports: “24 Conservative members attended meetings with convoy spokesperson Tom Marazzo, convoy director of security Daniel Bulford, adviser to former U.S. president Donald Trump Paul Alexander, and Canadian soldier James Topp, who is currently on a march across Canada protesting vaccine mandates.” CTV continued to report that these MPs used their power and privilege, wrapped in a veneer of institutional protections, to give tours of Parliament Hill to the other insurrectionists, much like the one Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk gave to white supremacist anarchists on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
The welcome mat was provided by Conservative MP Dean Allison in his majestic MAGAness; I wouldn’t be surprised if he set up the AV equipment for the presentations. Yes, there were presentations, as CTV observed: “The presentations included extensive anti-vaccine and anti-mandate speeches from Alexander, as well as a discussion from Topp on a group he has founded called the Canadian Citizens Coalition.” I have questions for the Canadian military and whether they are confident their soldiers fight for this country, not the nation state of whiteness these people want to build.
As someone who was racially profiled on Parliament Hill, this cuts deep. The fact that white supremacist seditionists and anarchists can come through the undefended capital city of Canada is an embarrassment. The fact that as a Black woman, I didn’t belong there, just like former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes didn’t belong there. Just like former NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq didn’t belong there. However, if you’re plotting to overthrow the government and destroy democracy, not only do you get a pass, you also get an invitation, an escort, and MPs’ time for presentations.
Got “mistaken” for catering by a white woman at @TheHillTimes party at Sir John A Macdonald building on Parliament Hill. This is what casual racism looks like #cdnpoli #cdnmedia Casual racism begets #microaggressions. Seems being Black on Parliament Hill ➡️ an act of aggression
— Erica Ifill (@wickdchiq) June 4, 2019
The behaviour of the Conservative Party was—and continues to be—deplorable. And revolting, and frankly, disloyal. What this proves is that the party will continue to sell this country out for votes.
After spending almost a month this year under siege, I’m not sure how anyone who lives in Ottawa proper could go on with Canada Day celebrations as though nothing happened. We saw the first of many—I’m sure—episodes of the tearing apart of civil society, based on the whitelash. Make no mistake, anyone who supports the convoy after knowing that the organizers were part of the far-right is someone who upholds white supremacy and fascism as tenets of their being—or they don’t mind it that much, which is just as bad. One doesn’t get to pick and choose which part of the occupation they agree with and which part they don’t—that’s not how it works. Before I attend a protest, I find out who the organizers are and with whom they are affiliated. That’s being an adult and taking responsibility for knowing with whom you surround yourselves. Saying you didn’t know isn’t good enough when the stakes are this high.
Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.
As for the colonialist experiment that is Canada, the Canadian flag is not a symbol of unity to me; there is no unity in Canada if the rest of the country didn’t care that the capital city of their country—which they claim to love so much—was under siege and cut off from the rest of the nation-state. The flag or other outward expressions of Canadian pride read as nationalism and the violence and racism that comes with it, much like the American flag. When I see you waving that thing around, I just assume you want to turn the country into Jim Crow and subjugate me to whatever whims and fancies your privilege will allow. I also can’t support the flag knowing how many people will fight for white supremacy and continue to threaten my existence.
If you wave that flag around, I’m crossing the street for my own protection because that flag is now a symbol of fascist and racist violence.
Erica Ifill is a co-host of the Bad+Bitchy podcast.