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Deachman: Convoy’s scars still evident a year later

The convoy’s continued pervasiveness in our psyche owes something to the fact that it just doesn’t feel like it’s over.

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Of all the objects in the mirror that are closer than they appear, last year’s convoy crew has an amazing ability to avoid a timely retreat.

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I can barely remember who the Tory leader was between Stephen Harper and Pierre Poilievre, but a quick glance over the shoulder of my memory and I can see the “F-Trudeau” flags (not to mention the Confederate and Trump and Nazi flags in the margins) as distinct although for the first time ever they sullied our sense of decency. I can smell the diesel exhaust. I hear the blaring train horn of a particularly annoying rig among many other annoying rigs. The echoes from the convoy members telling me it was a peaceful and loving demonstration are almost as loud and clear as they were a year ago and still just as untrue. The sight of Canadian flags on pickup trucks still inspires revulsion.

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The convoy’s continued pervasiveness in our psyche owes something to the fact that it just doesn’t feel like it’s over. Just last month there was talk of a jubilee gathering on the streets of Ottawa, a plan that eventually moved to Winnipeg before being canceled altogether, according to organizers. They weren’t welcome in Ottawa, they argued, although that hardly stopped them the first time they went beyond the bounds of accepted protest by besieging residents for more than three weeks. And it was worse than that schedule would suggest, as it had no known or foreseeable ending at the time; Protesters were poised to meddle indefinitely while authorities, despite Peter Sloly, Ottawa’s then-police chief, doing his best Liam Neeson-tough impression, appeared unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

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The trauma that Ottawa residents felt – and still feel – is nowhere more evident than at the Ottawa People’s Commission, where about 300 people, some as recently as last month, shared their experiences over the past few weeks. It should be noted that not all of them opposed the convoy – two of the commission’s public hearings were dedicated to supporters of the convoy, while overall an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of those who testified supported the protest – but the majority who spoke out towards Word reported or described how the convoy affected them negatively. And while we would do well to remember that the right to protest is a fundamental one, the collateral damage caused by this particular one was beyond justification.

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“It was very clear within the community that people were very traumatized by what they had been through and it also became clear over the days and weeks following the convoy that this trauma was not going to go away,” said Alex Neve , a human rights lawyer and one of the four commissioners of the OPC, in a recent interview.

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The People’s Commission, he said, has given the hardest-hit residents, particularly those in the so-called Red Zone, an opportunity to be heard, which other bodies, such as the Public Order Emergency Commission headed by Paul Rouleau, are doing to review the response of the city by Ottawa City Comptroller Nathalie Gougeon is barely included.

“Overwhelmingly, that community perspective was left out of all the processes that were looking into what happened,” Neve said.

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The OPC will publish its report in two parts. Part I, entitled ‘What we heard’, will be published on January 30th and contains the main findings and highlights of what the people of the commission said. Part II with further analyzes and recommendations for action will be published in March.

“One of the obviously strongest aspects of all that we have heard and read is that the injuries and abuse and the feelings of intimidation and terror that many people have endured were more widespread than most members of the public understand.” said Neve. “And that it was deeply traumatizing and therefore, unsurprisingly, didn’t go away overnight.

“Especially when the community feels, very rightly, that no meaningful effort has been made on the part of officials, and perhaps even society more broadly, to truly understand and appreciate what they have been through, and it in any way.” validate and legitimize. So here we are a year later and yes, people are still traumatized.”

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The damage to the community was so deep, Neve noted, that the idea of ​​a Convoy 2.0 reunion a year later, still possible when the commission held its final public hearing in December, wasn’t just a bone of contention. “People referred to it with a sense of absolute terror and fear. So it’s still raw. People still wear it.”

For many, a full cure is likely a long way off. Getting through this anniversary without further incident will no doubt prove salve to soothe the scars, while the OPC’s reports will help by acknowledging the damage done to Ottawans and hopefully recommending the kind of transparency and accountability , which is needed by responding organizations to prevent future protests from inflicting these wounds in the first place.

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