Like father but unfortunately not like son
“Just watch me.”
So saying, 52 years ago former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau when he ordered troops into Montreal and tanks rolled down historic St. Catherine’s Street and within a matter of days an insurrection – yes a violent insurrection in Canada – was well on its way to being over.
I was in Athens at the time – ironically the birthplace of Western democracy –walking through Syntagma Square when a newspaper kiosk caught my eye and I gazed at a front-page picture of tanks rolling down the street and a headline above saying Καναδών in bold letters. Mildly interested, I strolled over to the kiosk and to my horror I recognized a picture of Montreal with the tanks rumbling downtown.
Can you imagine how gobsmacked I was by that picture?
I couldn’t read the story. It was written in “Euclidean,” the ancient Greek alphabet derived from Phoenicia with 24 script-like letters and words running from right to left instead of left to right the way ours do. So, there I was in Syntagma Square in October 1970 knowing that something had happened in Canada even more important than the Stanley Cup!
A few months later, I was back in Canada and the story continued because many innocent Canadians were jailed when Prime Minister Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act and brought the October Crisis to an end. This was possibly the most controversial action any Canadian prime minister ever committed and is still roundly debated and denounced by many Canadians today.
But you know something? It got the job done. The killings stopped and Canada remains united.
The insurrection took more than a half-dozen lives, including the life of a Quebec cabinet minister, but was nipped in the bud by a political leader, who had the integrity and guts to take strong action when strong action was needed.
Yes, there was controversy. The incendiary words Nazism and fascism echoed from coast to coast to coast. Shortly after returning home, I attended an anti-War Measures Act demonstration in Vancouver and got into some heated arguments myself because I supported what Trudeau did. Today, I wish the current Trudeau that leads Parliament would show the crisis leadership his father did. Somebody better do it because no one has done it yet.
In a news conference last week, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said mere policing may not be enough to deal with the “Freedom Convoy” that has paralyzed downtown Ottawa for more than a week.
“The longer this goes on, the more I am convinced there may not be a police solution to this demonstration,” said the chief. Since that courageous statement, similar demonstrations and blockades have broken out all over the country making life even more bleak for a Canadian population already sorely abused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its bastard offspring Omicron and seeing some of the nation’s most sacred monuments draped with Confederate flags, marred with swastikas and even urinated on.
Enough is enough don’t you think?
Clearly, it’s time for action. And before that action takes place, it’s paramount to keep one thing in mind. What are over 90% of Canadian truck drivers doing today? Driving trucks, of course, delivering the necessities of life that keep all of us alive as long as they do it and I have total confidence they will.
So, what should our esteemed leaders and public officials be doing with the malcontents and nitwits and their alleged “Freedom Convoy” that’s trying to bully Canadians into submitting to their will and their twisted notions of freedom and democracy. That’s easy. Arrest them and call in the tow trucks.
If that doesn’t work, we can always use the army. But surely we’ve learned something the past 52 years?
– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who believes action speaks larger than words.