By Stephen Gowans
February 10, 2022
Some people believe the occupation of Ottawa is a leftwing, pro-working-class phenomenon, but that’s hardly the view of trade unionists, community organizers, activists and frontline workers here in the city.
We see, feel, hear, and experience the occupation first-hand, on the ground. That might be why we understand the occupation differently: not as a leftwing phenomenon and democratic expression, but as a far-right movement of racists, evangelicals, union-haters, and conspiracy-minded lunatics, inspired and supported by the likes of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Elon Musk.
To be sure, you don’t have to live in Ottawa to grasp the true nature of the occupation. Ben Norton, who lives in Nicaragua, is under no illusion about what Occupy Ottawa is all about.
Norton recently tweeted:
I've seen enough right-wing, foreign-funded, astroturfed "protests" in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Belarus, Hong Kong, etc. to immediately recognize one in Canada. Yes the neoliberal Trudeau gov't is awful, but allying with even more reactionary right-wingers against it is stupid.
It's so ridiculous that there are so-called "leftists" insisting we should oppose Canada's largest trucker union, representing actual working-class truck drivers, and instead side with Donald Trump and far-right US billionaires to support the rightwing capitalist convoy in Canada.
Teamsters Canada opposes the occupation and calls Covid-19 “the real enemy of truckers.”
Pierre LeBlanc, a local activist, recently wrote to Matt Taibbi, who has written an substack article describing the occupation as Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s Ceauşescu Moment.
In his response to Taibbi, LeBlanc summed up quite effectively why the Ottawa occupation is an anti-labor, far-right phenomenon.
I regularly read you and find much of your writings instructive. This time, you have overreached to cartoonish effect. Attempting to link Trudeau to Ceausescu was gross, baseless hyperbole at its worst. And it seriously erodes your credibility.
I despise Biden, the Clintons and Trudeau as much as you do, and have often said so in my writings, but you totally misrepresent what is going on here.
What is going on here in Ottawa and elsewhere in Canada is a full-on assault on Canadians by organised cadres of the extreme, fundamentalist, rightwing evangelicals, recently or forcefully retired RCMP and other police officers, one of Trump's advisors and a whole raft of Canadian and American conservatives and rightwing wingnuts. Much of it financed by American so-called donors and whipped-up by Fox News and many others. That you should associate your good name with them is sorely disappointing.
Firstly, this is not a truckers' protest. It is a planned insurrection, a version of color revolutions not unlike what went on in Ukraine, Georgia and Bolivia, and the ongoing attempted coups d'État against Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Peru, Chile and many other countries around the world, and the defense and promotion of Apartheid Israel. As well as the attempted,laughable political and economic throttling of Russia and China.
Real truckers who make their daily living crossing the border are few and far between. Indeed, this occupation is deeply damaging to them and their families - they will be long degraded by this cynical hijacking of their good name and profession. Even at the Ambassador Bridge blockade, there are only 5 transport trucks involved in that blockade. The rest are the same people who have been attacking nurses, doctors and other health workers in front of hospitals for over 2 years, and who have suddenly discovered that using their supped-up half-ton toys, 4X4s, SUVs and tractors as weapons is very effective. Much like Kissinger and Pinochet organized a fringe of truckers in Chile in 1973 to overthrow the Allende regime.
The cadres leading this are the who's who of Canada's supremacist extremists (you know the list) linked up with former RCMP officers (the latest iteration of the spokesman is ex-RCMP). They are holed-up in the luxury of an Ottawa hotel with one of Trump's advisors, linked up with other yahoos of the US oligarchy/billionaire club (Elon Musk, etc., and the military complex deep-state agents). Collectively, they are highly experienced in sabotage, artificially creating infrastructure and economic gridlock to bring a society to its knees and whipping up disaffected and naïve citizens as their film extras, blackshirts and peons.
But you surely know all of this, Matt; you're a student of capitalist/imperialist/fascist history. What I don't understand is what motivates you to such drivel. Unless it is some kind of nihilistic desire to replace Canada's capitalist, racist, colonialist system by any means, even if that means creating an even more fascist state.
You're either naïve, seeking attention or a classic disruptor, consequences and massive suffering be damned.
The lunatic far right People’s Party is four-square behind the occupation, as are the interim leader and likely future leader of the country’s Conservative Party. When have anti-union, pro-business, social conservative parties ever embraced an authentic, pro-labor, left-wing movement?
The Ottawa police have done nothing to liberate the city, preferring to avoid confrontation and hob-nob with the occupiers, or avoid them altogether. The city’s chief of police, Peter Sloly, is an endless source of excuses for why he and his officers cannot act. Early on he declared “there may be no policing solution.” The chief’s inaction has led to calls for his resignation, along with that of the city’s mayor, Jim Watson, dubbed Mayor Milquetoast by a local newspaper columnist for offering nothing more than impotent pleas for the occupiers to go home. With what genuine leftwing, pro-worker, movement has the police ever been complicit?
A coalition of local labor unions, community organizations, and residents will hold a rally this Saturday in solidarity with frontline workers and Ottawa residents affected by the occupation.
- Call for an end to the occupation.
- Show support for frontline workers.
- Say no to white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and all other forms of hate that the convoy has directed at residents.
- Call for public health measures that protect our communities.
- Call for immediate support for workers who have lost income due to the convoy, 14 paid sick days for all workers, decent pandemic pay, an end to the crisis in long-term care, and a strong public healthcare system.
A majority of Canadians and US Americans support Covid-19 restrictions. Occupy Ottawa is not a grassroots working-class movement, but an astroturfed corruption of far-right billionaires whose aim is to pressure governments to lift all Covid-19 restrictions and return to business-normal. As The Wall Street Journal, the mouthpiece of the hard-right billionaire class put it, “the message of Canada’s trucker protest” is that “it’s time for the pandemic emergency orders to end.” (How many legitimately leftwing, pro-worker, pro-democracy movements were ever endorsed by The Wall Street Journal?) If the far-right elite and its occupation shock-troops have their way, governments will transition from Covid-19 mitigation measures to a ‘living with Covid’ strategy, more aptly dubbed ‘dying with Covid’–over the opposition of a majority of their citizens.
The Journal acknowledged that most Canadians oppose the occupation of their capital. Musk, Trump, the Journal, Canada’s far-right parties, and the occupiers care not a fig for democracy, not one jot for the well-being of others, and not one iota for the welfare of labor. Their sole concern is to lift Covid-19 restrictions, and they appear ready to go to great lengths to achieve their aim, no matter how reactionary their goal and no matter how anti-democratic and thuggish their methods.
Pierre LeBlanc can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org