Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than just ideals to be valued—they may be essential to survival.” Noam Chomsky

My father voted for the last time on April 16, 2019. It was the 2019 Alberta general election and although he was frail and wheelchair bound, his body deteriorating due to heart disease, he would not shrink away from what he saw as his duty. 

My parents believed their vote made a difference. And in a province, a city and a neighbourhood that leaned in a particular way in politics, my parents raised election signs on their lawn showing the world, they leaned in the opposite direction. They did so without fear or worry even though they had long become accustomed to something else: unrestricted power and control with little or no freedom.

You see, we were not born in Canada. We immigrated here in search of the ideals my parents cherished: the right to vote and to be heard. They wanted to be in a country where people respected and looked out for one another despite differences of opinion. And where civil discourse was encouraged and supported.

No better example of Canada’s social conscious was displayed during the last two years of the pandemic. As lockdowns persisted, our elected officials established programs to financially assist and support those who lost their jobs, businesses that lost their livelihoods, and those individuals who put themselves in harm’s way to help us all survive.  Yes, this came with mandates, put in place to protect us and to prevent further lockdowns.

So, as I hear words like, “we’re tired of mandates,” “we want our government to resign,” from the trucker protest, and “we won’t leave until they do,” I wonder why after all that has been done and everything we’ve been through together, a certain, small faction would engage in screaming matches and unlawful behaviour. Protest is not unlawful. My parents have been to many themselves, as I have. But trashing property, harassing, and threatening residents is absolutely against the law. 

These protesters insist they want their freedom. As if they didn’t have it. In what country in the world would they be allowed to disrupt a city as they have done over the last week? Certainly not countries that are run by dictators.

Further, I wonder, how is it that the swastika could be displayed on a Canadian flag? Do they know what happened in Nazi Germany? How are lawful mandates equal to the systematic slaughter of innocent people during World War II? I also wonder, how is it that the rants of a failed, and might I say, disgraced president of another country adorn the signage carried by protesting Canadians. How does another country’s former leader represent you? Just asking.

We live in a country where we have the right to vote, peacefully protest, write letters to government officials or the media, and share our opinions. The emphasis here is on peaceful. Lawful, rightful protest never deteriorates into the harassment of innocent citizens. 

We’re all tired of the pandemic, but we’re adults who have taken care of each other for the last two years. And now these demonstrators say they’ve had enough, they don’t care about their fellow citizens. Poor babies. Do you wear a seat belt, adhere to speed limits, and follow any number of other laws to maintain the well-being of yourself and others? Mandates are no different. So, move along, discuss your concerns, write letters to your MLA, or mayor, or the newspaper and in the next election do as my parents did to their dying day, vote. This is what freedom is about.

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