Those who can’t hear must feel

    Feb 9, 2022
    'Freedom Convoy' supporters gather along Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa on Jan. 28.

    OTTAWA—It’s so rare for political pundits to be right—just look at Stephen Maher. Or John Ibbitson. Or Jesse Brown. Or Jen Gerson. But I can assure you that this is not the case for yours truly. I’ve been telling y’all.

    We are now into Day 12 of the “Freedom Convoy,” which has turned into an occupation. Let me be clear: the capital city of Canada’s downtown is under occupation by a band of white supremacists. And it wasn’t difficult for them to do.

    Let that sink in.

    I have been writing about the threat of white supremacy for the almost three years I’ve been writing for this paper (time flies). I have been writing about how white supremacy is the basis by which Canada was formed, how the police are implicated, the discrepancies and inequities throughout our institutions, the racism born from white supremacy in the federal public service that I—and many other racialized and marginalized people—experienced. I also wrote about how white supremacy and patriarchy work hand in hand. I’ve even written about how disinformation works to underpin it all.

    In other words, I told y’all. And y’all either dismissed me as a hysterical race baiter who is “over the top” because I dare write about and discuss race in concrete ways, or thought I didn’t know what I was talking about, or worse (I’ll leave your unconscious bias to fill in the rest).

    Let me give you an example. In September of last year, I wrote a column called, “Canada isn’t ready for what comes next.” Within this jewel of prescience, I wrote, “The anxiety of the pandemic, increased time spent online, and a former American president that platformed hate are all ingredients to a cauldron of white supremacy that’s about to boil over.” I went on to write in that same article, “Hate doesn’t stay bottled up, it’s explosive and reveals itself in giant waves of overwhelming violence before the recipients or observers of that violence can absorb what is happening. And it’s exploding.”


    I could use this space to talk about how correct I was about the Conservative Party going further right and that their new standard bearer would uphold their years-long tradition of insulting women and BIPOC with their affinity to the MAGA crowd. But I already wrote about that, too.

    I could write about how media has chosen to preserve its whiteness, thereby making themselves ineligible to speak about the times we’re in with any great authority because, frankly, they’re part of the reason we’re in those times. The refusal of Canadian media to diversify means we only get a white, and most likely the heterosexual white male, perspective. But I already wrote about that.

    I could write about law enforcement and how they have failed to treat the threat of white supremacy seriously in the face of its growing influence. I could go on to say that they’ve focused too many resources on surveilling Indigenous land defenders they consider “a threat.” Or killing unarmed Black people while white male rage gets a pass. Where are our tax dollars going if the RCMP, CSIS, and CSE cannot recognize—and protect us from—global white supremacy? Or do we only need protection from brown people? Imagine if all the resources poured into Project SITKA had been used to track down the real threat—one that’s materialized into tacit support of this occupation, since in all that alphabet soup, they’ve done very little to alleviate or remove these people.

    And now we’re an international embarrassment. It’s the Canadian way to put our heads in the sand, pretend it’s not happening, roll out the toxic positivity of denial, and be shocked when the chickens come home to roost. We did this to ourselves because we weren’t vigilant about the dangers of white supremacy (not me, Y’ALL).

    Our federal politicians are playing fast and loose with this mob, using them for their own political gain while abandoning their leadership posts in the maelstrom. In Politico’s newsletter, Playbook, I wrote, “Canadians confuse authority with leadership; those with rank are assumed to have competencies that equip them to lead. Incompetence is the status quo.”

    We have been abandoned by leadership. We are on our own. No one is coming to save us. And there is no accountability.

    Welcome to Pandemic Canada, the far-right utopia.

    Erica Ifill is a co-host of the Bad+Bitchy podcast.

    The Hill Times