Harassment of a Nation


What we have just witnessed in Ottawa is something that is happening on a smaller scale all over the country: harassment of the innocent by the bullies of our society. This can happen any day in any school, workplace, recreational area or street in the country. Because our society is only recently coming to realize of the serious nature of this epidemic, we are only now developing the resources to deal with it.

What we have just witnessed is a textbook case of how to handle situations of harassment at any level.

Know Thy Enemy

Bullies always have a game plan that involves pushing the blame onto other people. Remember, “He started it!” from your schoolyard days. The only way to beat that game is to put up with enough abuse that the bully overdoes it and steps over the line into unacceptable (illegal) behaviour. Nothing in our laws gives the police the right to punish someone for a crime they have not committed yet. It’s tough when you’re the victim, but you have to put up with the abuse until public opinion (namely, the law) is squarely on your side. Only at that point will you have enough evidence to bring the power of the law down on the perpetrator. It’s a weakness of democracy, but it’s the best we’ve got.

Taking Action

We know very well how to handle these situations. We just need the will to apply the method, because it isn’t easy to maintain your cool in the face of abuse. The people of Ottawa did an admirable job of it.

Step 1: You state your position. You must clearly and calmly show the perpetrators how they have stepped over the line. This gives them a chance to correct any misunderstandings and change their behaviour. You record this meeting in detail.

Did the Ottawa police do this? Yes. Over and over. (A parking ticket is a pretty clear statement of a problem. Likewise, an injunction against blowing horns.)

Step 2: You do not retaliate. You follow the rules. You collect data.

Did the Ottawa police do this? Yes. It may have seemed that they were not doing enough, but the collecting of evidence was extremely important here, for future court cases, building public opinion, and allowing the naïve and less guilty time to leave.

Step 3: You absorb the punishment. This is the hardest part. By putting up with the harassment you gain sympathy in the general public and allow the police to collect more evidence. Incidentally, this also provokes the perpetrators to commit further acts because they think they are winning, upping the likelihood of convictions in court. But this is a given; for the victims, the authorities never seem to act fast enough.

Did Ottawa do this? Yes. The citizens of Ottawa paid a high price on behalf of the rest of us. Until they had absorbed this abuse, the provincial and federal governments had no right to interfere. The ultimate win for the protesters would have been for the federal government to play its hand too soon and take action it had no right to. That would have proved the government to be non-democratic.

Step 4: You up the ante. Once the perpetrators have demonstrated clearly to the general public and the law that they are anti-social and have no intention of compromising, then the upper levels of government have the right to act.

Did the government do this? Yes, by invoking the State of Emergency. For all of you who think this should have come sooner, consider this; until Doug Ford (Conservative Premier) was on line with Justin Trudeau (Liberal Prime Minister), this step could not happen.

Also, this action made everyone in Canada aware of the serious nature of the situation and allowed those protesters with a brain in their heads to get out while they still could.

Step 5: Take measured action. The police have to move in with overwhelming but restrained power and be very careful how they interact with protesters. “Police brutality” charges will always be a problem. The onus is on the police to be squeaky clean in this respect.

Did the police do this? As of the time of this writing, with great success. Their technique of pushing the crowd to another place and then arresting anyone who resisted was another way of sifting the semi-innocent from the guilty.

Step 6: Follow through. Very few people will be sentenced to jail time over this, because they’re mostly first-time offenders, but a night in a cold cell is a good start. The police should not take on the duty of the court. Let cooler heads prevail in a calmer venue. One follow-up action I find rather satisfying is Ottawa’s application to the courts to be allowed to sell the impounded vehicles to pay for the money the merchants lost. Of course, they’ll probably discover that most of the trucks are unroadworthy junkers, but it’s the thought that counts.

The Bottom Line

The “Freedom” that the protesters are demanding is not to be confused with democracy. The right of any person to do anything he or she likes is called anarchy. These protesters are just the next generation of anarchists, whose goal is the breakdown of organized society, in the hope that the resulting chaos will result in an authoritarian state with them on top.

Unfortunately, the residents and businesses of downtown Ottawa drew the short straw in the battle between democracy and anarchy. As all first responders know, the necessity of maintaining a calm and law-abiding front in the face of anger and violence is very difficult.

I hope this will help the people of Canada realize how hard it is to allow criminals all the rights they are trying to steal from the rest of society. We owe the citizens of Ottawa a great vote of thanks for taking the brunt of this attack, which was, in truth, aimed at all of us.

I have a sneaking suspicion that we also owe former Police Chief Peter Sloly thanks for taking the fall when he was only doing what was required of him: a measured, proven approach to a problem our society needs to deal with at every level.


Other Factors to Consider:

  1. Confidence in the police forces of our country and especially their ability to act with restraint is at an all-time low. The most potent weapon protesters have is the accusation of police brutality.
  2. Nobody has ever come to a protest with as effective a weapon as an 18-wheeler. And until they did something illegal with those trucks, they were free, as any citizen is, to drive them on any public road they chose. Hindsight like, “they should have stopped them from coming into the city” just doesn’t work.
  3. The right to protest is undergoing a reassessment in this country at this time. People with legitimate complaints, like ecology-minded groups and First Nations, have been ignoring court orders with excuses very similar to those that the protesters in Ottawa used. “We’re doing this for the good of the people of Canada. You just aren’t aware of how important our argument is.” And where does that end? I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call this anarchy and domestic terrorism. This group of unquestionable terrorists has played very neatly into the hands of government and police by demonstrating what happens when their sort is allowed to run free.


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