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If at first, you don’t succeed in overthrowing the government, try, try again. That appears to be the thinking behind the carbon tax protests that popped up across the country on April 1, which involved many of the same people who wanted the federal government replaced over its COVID-19 measures in 2022. Alas, the organizers behind this latest iteration of the convoy still haven’t learned how our country and its democracy actually works.

Karl Douville, who helped operate the Coventry Road base camp during the 2022 occupation of downtown Ottawa, held a press conference last week to outline the carbon tax convoy’s concerns. In it, he suggested that “in a true democratic society, people have the right to vote on … matters that impact every aspect of their lives and their livelihoods.” We’ve now had two federal elections that revolved at least in part around the Liberal government’s carbon tax, of course, but Douville seems to think those no longer count. “Is it time for a referendum? Give Canadians a voice. Let them decide for themselves.”

Douville was joined by Robert Dorion, another veteran of the 2022 Ottawa encampment and a conservative activist who believes the Trudeau government isn’t behaving democratically. “When 386,000 Canadians signed the largest petition ever in Canada to resign or call elections, [Justin Trudeau] brushed it off. In my opinion, that’s not democracy.”

What he neglects to mention, of course, is that we’ve had multiple confidence votes in the House of Commons over the carbon tax and every single one of them has failed. A petition with the signatures of less than one per cent of the population does not carry the weight of, say, a federal election, and letting it trigger a national referendum would set an obviously destabilizing precedent.

As to their concerns about the carbon tax, they predictably lack any factual substance. When asked by a reporter what they would do differently on climate, Douville went off on a rambling tangent about the tax’s impact on our exports — despite the fact the federal system of output-based allocations is explicitly designed to shield exports from the tax and protect competitiveness. He also suggested that “we are the most environmentally clean country in the world, and we’re carbon-positive — we’re very, very well off, and we’ve very environmentally aware of our industries.”

Some of this incoherent word salad is a function of him operating in his second language, but most of it is a reflection of the fact they haven’t thought these issues through. Dorion, for example, suggested Quebecers like him have “been paying an environmental tax on fuel for a long time and it’s been hidden from us. We’re just learning about it.” That’s odd, given that there’s been a carbon price on fossil fuels in Quebec since 2007, and a cap-and-trade system covering 80 per cent of the province’s emissions since 2013. If people are just learning about it now, that’s probably on them.

On one level, there’s no need to take any of this seriously. The protests are really just thinly populated convoy reunions where the people who found meaning and community in their shared opposition to science and public health measures try to recapture some of that dubious magic. If a few dozen people want to gather by the side of the road and wave their anti-Trudeau flags at passersby, well, they’re welcome to fill their boots.

And for all their complaining about the lack of democracy and suggestions the prime minister in a minority Parliament is somehow a “tyrant,” they seem to have no problem getting their voices heard. This isn’t even the first time this year that the Parliamentary Press Gallery has been transformed into a kind of Speakers Corner for convoy grievance merchants, after all.

But let’s be clear: none of this is actually about the substance of the carbon tax, much less climate change, and it’s certainly not about respecting or upholding democracy. It’s about a small percentage of the population finding new ways to express their disdain — hatred, even — for Trudeau and the values he represents. If the carbon tax was repealed tomorrow, they’d attach their antipathy to some other issue or cause.

Two years after they occupied Ottawa and tried to replace the government, the freedom convoy is rallying around opposition to the carbon tax — and still making the same fundamental misunderstandings about how our democracy works.

It might be tempting to think that this will all disappear if Trudeau and his government are defeated by Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives. Given how high the convoy lifers seem to get off their own supply, I find that a little hard to believe. Instead, they’ll find some other political bogeyman to chase, whether it’s at the federal, provincial or municipal level. Maybe they’ll even lean on Joe Biden if he wins re-election in November. For the convoy, the whole point now is to keep the trucks rolling indefinitely, no matter what those pesky facts might have to say. And, hey, if it increases their greenhouse gas emissions in the process? Well, all the better to them, I’m sure.

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Is it just me or is anyone else a little tired of these "convoyers"? It seems the organizers have latched on to something that has brought them notoriety and, in all likelihood, money. Don't these people have jobs? I bet you more than half of them have received or are receiving government assistance 'cause there's no way a boss would say sure, take as much time as you need for your little convoy and your job will be here when you get back.

Of course they all have jobs. They're right wingers, official discourse rules state all right wingers have jobs no matter what they might be doing, whereas every person who engages in a protest oriented left-of-centre is a jobless moocher sucking on the teat of the state while growing their hair long and doing drugs.

So for instance, it might seem, if you're looking at crude facts, as if Ayn Rand lived on Social Security while doing all her anti-government polemics and jeremiads about useless eaters, but that's just an illusion; on some higher plane of existence she was a productive captain of industry.

Ayn Rand lived on social security? I didn’t know that.

I'm more than a little tired of them...

Maybe we need Speaker's Corners in every city, like in Germany where people can rank endlessly.

Also, the problem with referendums needs to be addressed, A Federal Law based on the Irish Citizen's Assembly/Referendum process needs to be implemented. Politicians proposing leading questions where one side will be out funded is not democratic in the least no matter what that dimwit Pius Manning says

The right-wing politics of the USA seem to be infecting a number of countries with the same play book of anti-science and intolerance of "others". We have seen it with Brexit and Trump, where "experts" are seen as the "elite" who control everything and keep "my people down". I'm seeing the same flags and banners in Canada that I have seen in the USA, just replacing Biden with Trudeau. Politics are becoming excessively tribal with little focus on running the country for the benefit of all and the substitution of culture wars for real policy.

And "[o]n one level, there’s no need to take any of this seriously" is exactly what the Democrats said before Trump was (not really) elected.

Point taken Julie.

I love how the Hostage Convoy folks spell "immature" with a capital C on that giant banner of theirs, which also broadcasts their racism (the subconscious ignores pesky little words like "not").

Read about Texas for how much worse it gets, the more the Convoy sort of person gets their hands on power; just more and more corruption and abuse.

The more we hear from this fringe trucker crowd the more they unwittingly draw attention to the real issues at hand. Protesting mask mandates by the radical action of blockading Ottawa is not about the inconsequential task of wearing a mask, nor is the carbon tax protest about a mosquito bite of a fee that is largely rebated.

But if these are their excuses to ignore facts and dramatically overreact, then please make downtown Ottawa -- or at least the Parliamentary Precinct -- pedestrian-only, and establish road pricing based on vehicle weight in order to recoup a portion of the massive pubic subsidies that underpin the nation's road network that benefits truckers mightily.

Lastly, as Max pointed out, this is not about democracy. Democracy got us several terms of Trudeau. What they want is to be rid of Trudeau by cancelling government without an election and installing their favoured leaders. In most places that is called a coup, and most coups end up being very bad for ordinary citizens.

Oops! "...public..."

I think this unprecedented "revolution" is explained by the hatred for Trudeau having been stoked on the internet for years now; it's taken on a life of its own.
The internet is destroying civilized society in just this way, by creating an unprecedented public forum free of the usual school/teacher constraints regarding style and decorum, so you can finally express what you REALLY think, and say it however you want, AND be among legions of like-minded others unleashed and full of their own pent-up anger, resentment, and hatred. So it was and still is clearly heady stuff to find such a truly unprecedented and heretofore unimagined community.
Before the wonderful algorithms honed hatred into action, Pierre Trudeau and the federal government were already a target here on the prairies because he SO pulled rank on them in all their provinciality, first personally with his obvious erudition, being from a higher social class AND from the remote (and in their opinion unduly powerful) French wing of central Canada, and secondly by acting as the federalist he was by imposing the despised National Energy Program. And then there was the time he gave farmers the finger....
So real hatred developed against the more powerful federal government in principle and "brand Trudeau" specifically from then on.
But ultimately these guys are just another mob of rabid fans at some playoff game, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing and with nothing useful on offer, like all conservatives.

Right now the right wing AfD party in Germany is polling higher than the other three parties, but nevertheless they won’t be able to form government because all the other parties are refusing to enter a coalition with them. Their policies are too extreme. Without a coalition they will be unable to reach the 50% required in Germany’s electoral system, which is based on proportional representation.
Such an electoral system forces parties to moderate their policies to allow other parties to even consider forming a coalition with them.
Contrast that with Canada, where in 2025, the right wing Conservatives will likely get a majority of seats with a minority of votes, regardless of whether or not their policies are too extreme to attract other parties to a coalition to form a true 50% majority of voters.
If that contrast makes you more interested in the Canadian grassroots supported Charter Challenge for Fair Voting, which is aiming for proportional representation, learn more about our current Appeal phase at this link.

Many voters support proportionality, but most parties here oppose it, mainly lured by majoritarian rule, false or otherwise.

If we ever witness a government willing to consult with the people on PR systems (sometimes miracles do happen), let it be a Citizen's Assembly formed through a random pick lottery among a sampling of Canadian society (100 individuals?) that controls the process with government staying out of it. The Assembly would tour the land and invite submissions from experts, politicThen put it to the people in a national referendum pinned onto a federal election. Let the pass score be 50% plus one vote.

This is the process BC used and it seemed to be superior to other public consultation processes led by a politician. The BC Citizen's Assembly

[Cont'd.....having issues posting by phone.]

...required a 60% pass. The referendum garnered 58%. A party can currently win government with less than 40% of the vote, which translates into a majority of seats, and go on and cause great damage.
But switching to proportionality requires a supermajority?

That's absurd.

The Charter Challenge for Fair Voting is arguing that the right to representation is a civil right. Civil rights are inalienable and are therefore not subject to popular opinion. If you pose a civil right AS A question (eg in referenda) then you put a civil right INTO question. Section 3 of the Charter ensures that every Canadian citizen has the right to representation, including those who vote for MINORITY parties. Referenda, on the other hand, are all about MAJORITY opinion. Learn more about the Appeal phase of the grassroots supported Charter Challenge for Fair Voting at this link:

If I should ever have the opportunity to ask His Highness Sock Tucker Trudeau a question t'would be. WHY IS CHINA, AMERICA AND INDIA IMMUNE FROM A CARBON TAX ? As I've never ever heard anyone ask that simple question that I discuss with my friends and we all agree WHY ARE CANADIANS PAYING A CARBON TAX ???? That is ruining our future taxpayers inheritance... !!