You have to feel for Paul Rouleau, the Ontario Superior Court justice tasked with chairing the Public Order Emergency Commission. While the rest of the country gets to spend the next few weeks enjoying the holiday season with friends and family, he’ll be buried under the mountain of evidence his inquiry just spent six weeks collecting from more than 70 different witnesses. He and his team will have just a few weeks to dig themselves out, weigh those testimonies alongside the approximately 9,500 written submissions sent to the commission and write the final report that will be tabled in the House of Commons and Senate on Feb. 20, 2023.

On some fronts, at least, he has a bit of a head start. It’s abundantly clear the police made things far worse than they needed to be, both in their failure to prepare properly for the threat posed by the convoy and their inability to dislodge it once it had taken root in downtown Ottawa. The sheer scale of their shared incompetence demands an inquiry all its own, one that can get to the bottom of this dysfunction and the curiously situational approach some police officers have to enforcing the rule of law.

It’s also clear that direct negotiations with the convoy, an approach many conservative politicians and pundits wanted the federal government to pursue, would have gone nowhere. As Rex Murphy suggested in a recent column, “what would have been wrong with someone, anyone, from the government being willing to meet and talk with some of the citizens they represented?”

The leaders of the convoy answered that question in the course of their various testimonies, where they repeatedly contradicted each other and even sometimes themselves. As the Toronto Star’s Tonda MacCharles and Alex Ballingall noted, “The overall picture that emerged this week was of a gathering of infighting protest groups that had differing and sometimes competing agendas, and lacked the ability for any one faction to control another.”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s clear that, by and large, the system works. Yes, people like Murphy are already moving their intellectual goal posts in anticipation of a final report that upholds, at least to some degree, the government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act. As he wrote in his column, “I am beginning to wonder which is the more empty, the more theatrical — the invocation of the Emergencies Act, or this dubious shell of an inquiry.”

For those who approached the proceedings with a more open mind, though, it’s hard not to see a certain beauty in the way events unfolded over the last six-plus weeks. By and large, the hearings were defined by respectful disagreements, exactly as Justice Rouleau said he hoped at the outset. Lawyers were able to ask pointed questions of elected officials, citizens had their concerns heard out and law enforcement agencies were asked to account for their choices in full view of the public. Canada, a country that has long been defined by its commitment to “peace, order and good government,” can be proud of this process.

Don’t expect the convoy’s supporters to share that sentiment. As he wrapped up the public testimony last week, Rouleau said: “I think this process, I hope, will be of assistance to people to understand and move forward.” But that assumes that everyone involved wants to do those things — and when it comes to the convoyers and their various political, legal and media enablers, that’s clearly not the case.

Anything short of a summary conviction of the prime minister and his closest advisers will be spun by the convoy’s leaders and their various enablers as a betrayal of democracy, an insult to the rule of law and yet more evidence of the government corruption they were protesting in the first place. They’ll blame Justice Rouleau. They’ll blame the process. They’ll blame the press. Heck, they’ll blame anything and anyone but themselves. And they’ll continue to chase the contact high they got during the occupation of Ottawa, one that’s being carefully nurtured by a rapidly expanding far-right information ecosystem.

They will continue to believe they’re squarely on the right side of history, and that, as convoy leader Tom Marazzo demonstrated in a recent Twitter post, anyone who supported vaccinate mandates or other public health measures is somehow comparable to a Nazi. They will continue to spurn the mainstream media in favour of sources that flatter their feelings and nurture their sense of victimhood. And they will continue to pursue what many of them are really after: vengeance against a system, and a society, they feel wronged them.

Anything short of a summary conviction of the prime minister and his closest advisers will be spun by the so-called freedom convoy’s leaders and their various enablers as a betrayal of democracy, writes columnist @maxfawcett. #cdnpoli #opinion

Justice Rouleau can’t, and won’t, give them that. Neither will any of Canada’s courts, as the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms’s string of COVID-19-related legal defeats continues to demonstrate. But no matter: as the JCCF’s recent surge in fundraising shows, there’s plenty of interest in tilting against this particular windmill. Preston Manning’s “National Citizen’s Inquiry,” which officially launched earlier this month, will almost certainly give this country’s pandemic grievance merchants another golden opportunity to ply their trade.

This is the other form of long COVID that Canada will have to contend with in the years ahead — one that affects the hearts and minds of millions of Canadians. The convoy die-hards will believe they are victims of an enormous injustice, one perpetrated by their own government, and the informational silos that have sprung up around them will only reaffirm and reinforce that belief. There is little that any of us, even someone as eminent and experienced as Justice Paul Rouleau, can do to change that. At this point, their feelings simply don’t care about the facts, no matter how artfully or articulately they’re arranged.

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so the right question to ask anti-vaxer ,convoy I’m a victim / grievance-chasers is , “ what made you a victim? where is your wound? how can you become a citizen partner and get out of your ‘aint it awful !’ hole? not likely to work, but maybe….

Apparently they breed people from birth in Alberta to feel hard done by , while objectively they are the spoiled brats of canada. Saskatchewan under their current breed of leaders are the tag-@-long wannabe little brother to this ugliness.

Ditto to that comment, and to the last sentence of Mr. Fawcett's piece, to which I would add a quote:
"It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never
reasoned into."
-- Jonathan Swift, satirist (30 Nov 1667-1745)

A true story. After the convoy dispersed the human wreckage flowed our from Ottawa along the major Ontario highways. It happened I was in my little neighbourhood grocery store in line to pay when one of those protester riff or possibly raff decided to employ his new found extortion skills and barged in front of everybody at the checkout. I said something under my breath which elicited a body language threat of actual violence of the sort I hadn't seen since schoolyard days. After that nothing happened. This robust young man didn't seem to care that a pensioner followed him out to the parking lot. And, that's when I discovered the source of his discontent. Because no kind of protest is likely to free him from whatever life circumstances put him, together with his groceries, in the passenger seat of a black 4x4 pick up - driven by his 'mother'.

Wow… that sums it up perfectly doesn’t it?

What in hell has happened to Rex Murphy btw? The intimidatingly articulate Rhodes scholar who we all watched on CBC for years as one of our first "pundits" in politics; he came off as very "Canadian," Newfoundland quirky but wittily incisive. His unusual physical appearance was part of his charm but that wild-eyed look seems to have become who he IS.
There seems to be a phenomenon of uber-male public figures strutting before us at the moment, like Putin, Musk, and Trump, all who appear to be kind of "losing it" before our eyes, and all are associated with the "far" right. So conservatism has become more and more like a cult of/for disaffected men who are trying to stoke their self-esteem somehow, similar to Robert Bly's "Iron John" movement in the nineties. Men ran in the woods and beat drums together in an attempt to restore some essential, latent tribalism. It was seen as a response to feminism but because Bly was educated and a poet, it was more of a "woke" version that spoke of being parallel initially, which was/is worthy, but it seems to have devolved instead, growing into a sort of basic oppositional defiant disorder against modernity in general, along with any and all "powers that be" so a trenchant libertarianism and anarchy.
So the convoy was a "going into the woods" event that has taken on a life of its own, cementing the brave new world that has been fomenting. So much feeling, so much filial emotion is involved. I remember seeing an interview with one older convoy guy who was almost in tears saying he was doing this for his grandchildren!? It was all so stupid ultimately.
Fortunately, there's no way in hell this will happen again; they "shot their wad," completely blew it, and although they'll keep going on the fumes for some time, we're now onto them. "We" being the majority of Canadians who require "peace, order and good government." Happily, I think the entire Convoy Party of Canada will ultimately follow them.

I hope you are right but fear you are wrong. Fascism is rising all over the world and these people make the perfect patsy.

Your comment also reminded me of that saying: Losing privilege can FEEL like oppression. It seems that it is a common theme running through many white tribes today.

And here many of us women hoped that men being encouraged to have and express more of their "feelings" would be a good thing......?!
I guess the surprise also gets them since a feature of entitlement seems to be not knowing you're entitled.
As far as there being an end in sight, the expression that so often seems to fit conservatives is "just give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves" because they're such greedy a*holes they always go too far.

I would add Rex Murphy's head to this 2014 sculpture in Berlin indicating figures drowning in a flood, 'Politicians Discussing Global Warming'. The image was later juxtaposed with real people caught in a recent flood in Germany. Paid op-eds casting denial, delay and doubt are no doubt subsets of 'discussion'.

Re: Rex Murphy - I totally agree with you, Tris. My theory as to what happened to him comes from reading George Lakoff. He posits that conservative-minded people have a very different worldview from liberal-minded people. Conservative-minded people are very dedicated to hierarchy ie. from top to bottom it's God, man, woman,children, other races and so on. They very much look to "Daddy" for guidance and become uneasy when there are violations of this compact. That may explain why Americans who weren't overtly racist were very uncomfortable with President Obama. Add to this the current radicalization of the right. Conservatism is moving farther to the right and conservative minded people are very much team followers. It's very difficult for them to say "Hey! This is wrong. I'm not going along." It's especially difficult when the movement is gradual. I used to respect Rex Murphy quite a bit, also, but I think he was always a conservative thinker and, as conservatives are pulled to the right, he follows right along unconsciously. This also explains his obsession with Greta Thunberg. In this worldview children are to be seen and not heard and it's completely wrong for them to criticize their elders. Rex Murphy also takes money from the CPP to deny global warming. I think he wouldn't need the money to hold the same view because Team Conservative says that there's no global warming so that's good enough for Rex.

I see the same phenomenon with Jordan Peterson. If you listen to his talks with scientists they are usually very interesting and insightful. When he interviews conservatives it's all soft balls and he has no interest in holding them to account at all. I don't think Peterson even realizes he's doing it. It's weird to see his IQ drop about 50 points when he talks to someone like Maxime Bernier, Senator Mike Lee of Utah or, and I haven't had the stomach to attempt this one, Newt Gingrich. SMH!

There's a lot of this mentality in the Convoy people, too. But also Alberta has a significant inequality issue so some of these people ARE hard done by - by the Alberta conservative governments - but one Trudeau or another is always a great scapegoat for Albertan's problems.

Another Factor with the Convoy people is that a lot of them have not ever been to something like a Grateful Dead concert or any kind of rock festival - a social bachanal if you will - so they have no idea that they can have the kind of fun they had in Ottawa in some other way - a way that doesn't infringe on other people's sanity. Ian Brown did a piece in The Globe a while back positing that their insular and physically isolated lives mean they don't run into a lot of different viewpoints and experience other ways to have fun. This was obviously exacerbated by the lockdown when no one could have social fun.

I love how former Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlan explained how 'freedom' is different in Canada and the U.S.::
“… Canada, like the United States, has a constitutional guarantee of free expression. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression, subject to such reasonable limits as are "demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society". In other words, we have free speech, but the state can limit it in reasonable ways. This may be contrasted with the absolute language of the First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights, which states: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." The words of the Canadian guarantee acknowledge the state's right to limit free speech; the words of the American guarantee forbid the state from doing so.

Mark Twain said of the United States: 'It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.'"

I loved 'banging pots guy' who for a short period gave all of us the opportunity to better feel and understand that people's rights are not unlimited. Now let's go celebrate a peaceful end, and a good test, of the Emergencies Act. Nothing like this had been thought of when the Act was being drafted, but nor had we expected there would be a prolonged period of law-breaking, in a place of three jurisdictions, that removed the right to enjoyment of property of many within earshot.

Give them enough rope ....

So the convoyers want another go at Ottawa, do they? Let them try, and utterly fail once again to express a single literate comment on the "need" to change the state of the nation. It will provide yet more visuals for the cameras more interesting than a standard evening newscast gets out of winter in Ottawa, but they will likely fail to say anything legitimately based in the real world. Sorry, but "F*ck Trudeau" is so old and stale that it's now meaningless hot air.

Meanwhile, while they are rousing their rabble, a $300+ million class action suit against the violation of human rights and measurable damage their illegal occupation wreaked on the citizens of the capital is still quietly building steam and gaining momentum. Perhaps Round One will enter the courts just as the redhatters are warming their hands again over flaming barrels set down on Sparks Street, and just as the mics are predictably shoved in their faces asking for comments on the 400+ individuals, trucking company owners and donors to the Insurrection Lite named in the suit on the national news.

Confiscating hundreds of trucks, taking away convoy conspiracy believer's incomes and dishing out major fines will also generate a lot of news. The fact is that the class action lawyers specifically requested that plaintiffs carefully record exactly how they were impacted by the convoy, so thousands of hours of video dutifully documenting the crimes against the freedom, well being and livelihoods of residents and businesses will be entered into the public record along with hundreds of written and verbal statements. Astute journos will have lots to feed on, and a few may even have the lower anatomy danglies to hunt down and confront individual convoyers with video evidence of their crime at the very moment it was committed.

Convoyerism is old news. Bringing down the law where it counts on behalf of ordinary citizens damaged by the mob, now that would be refreshing.

Yup, nothing like a good lawsuit to wake people up

Folks entrenched in fantasy cannot be persuaded to change their minds. I'm still trying to figure out why these truckers, anti vaxers and anti society folks could get their shorts in a knot about being vaccinated to return to Canada from the USA when one had to be vaccinated to enter the USA in order to return. A lot of bricks short of a load. Plus any group of citizens who go to Ottawa with view of overthrowing our government, bring out the Emergencies Act and army.

The point you made about this being the new version of long covid was bang on! And your part about dear old Rex Murphy who sailed his thoughts to sea a few years back when the CBC cut him from cross country check up. They're will not be perfect harmony after the Feb 20th verdict is read, just more wound up people felling as if they are hard done by. They still don't know how many groups or leaders there were at the Ottawa occupation, that was one thing I found most interesting in the inquiry questioning.
The police didn't have control nor did the unknown protest leaders.

I remember writing to the CBC *years* ago about Rex Murphy's on-air climate change denialism. The response we got? Blah blah, right to free speech, blah blah, we don't censor, blah blah. Imagine if those denier voices had been squelched when they first started squawking ... we wouldn't be in a climate change emergency now.

Hey, maybe another class action lawsuit is in order! It's easy to name the outspoken deniers ... I've got a list.