Convoy of the deluded

As Yogi Berra once said: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

Here we go again with another truck convoy to Ottawa by the misguided fuzzy-thinkers.

Three years ago, it was the “yellow vest” movement that inspired a convoy of trucks to leave Edmonton and head for Ottawa.

image: Pinterest

I spoke to one yellow vest protestor back then who had brought her vest to Mexico and intended to wear it on the beach as a symbol of solidarity against PM Trudeau and immigration. Wearing it would have been puzzling to the Mexican tourists, who were in the greatest numbers by far. She never did.

In 2019, the “Stand Up Canada Yellow Vest Pipeline Rally” began a truck convoy that was supposedly inspired by the French yellow vest protests. But much was lost in the translation.

Other than the wearing of yellow vests, named after the fluorescent garments that French motorists must carry in case of emergency, the Canadian version was a mishmash of slogans and vague anger.

Unlike its unclear Canadian counterpart, the French yellow vest movement was actually about something.  In France, on Nov. 17, 2018, hundreds of thousands of people occupied roads and tollbooths, blocking traffic around the country to protest a fuel tax hike. They vented anger at the broader economic policies pursued by centrist President Emmanuel Macron, who is seen as favouring the rich.

The Canadian yellow vest movement raised about $100,000. According to the group’s gofundme page, its cause was:

“Our goal is to put Western Canada’s oil field workers back to work, end the useless and redundant carbon tax, end the dependency on foreign oil and stop shipments from Saudi Arabia, see pipelines constructed to tidal water.”

However, the cause was muddled elsewhere. Yellow vest protestors in Calgary carried signs reading “Quebec please separate,” “Build pipelines” and “The UN is a scam.”  The protest against Canada’s acceptance of immigrants referred to a move by the United Nations to deal with the migration crisis out of Syria which was on a scale not seen since the Second World War.

Then Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said that signing of the UN motion would mean that “foreign entities” would be able to dictate Canadian immigration policies.  Scheer’s characterization of the pact’s legal authority was later dismissed as “factually incorrect” by a former Conservative immigration minister, Chris Alexander.

Fast forward three years and here we go again with an ill-defined “freedom convoy.”

Now Andrew Scheer tweets that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “the biggest threat to freedom in Canada.”

Some Conservatives are falsely claiming that vaccine mandates are leading to empty grocery store shelves.

Protesters are carrying “F–k Trudeau” flags, harassing journalists and staff a homeless shelter, and desecrating national monuments.

And straight out of Trump’s la-la land, convoy organizers have written a “memorandum of understanding” calling on the Senate and the Governor General, to repeal all vaccine-related restrictions.

In shades of the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol a year ago, one organizer called Trudeau a “criminal” and said the goal of the convoy is to “compel the government to dissolve government.”

Like groundhogs, Canadian dark-web dwellers emerge every few years. Blinking and confused in the bright daylight, they regurgitate the slogans and vitriol seething inside them. They jump on whatever bandwagon is passing by.

Antivaxxers grow desperate as their world collapses in on them

Kamloops lawyer Jay Michi took his kids to Riverside Park Last Thursday for what he expected to be a Remembrance Day ceremony.

Riverside Park. Image: Jay Michi

What he didn’t know was that that it was about to be hijacked by antivaxxers and that the official ceremonies were being held at the Cenotaph for invited guests only.

Instead of tributes to Canada’s fallen war heroes, Michi and his kids were subjected to antivaxxer diatribe. Jay Michi (@jaymichi) tweeted:

“Took my kids to Rememberance Day ceremony in #Kamloops today. It turned into an Anti-Vaxx event. Never again.

It broke my heart. I will never subject them to that again. I will find a different way to teach them about the sacrifices of their great-grandfathers.

SHAME!”

In a poorly thought-out response to the antivaxxers, the shocked crowd was about to receive foul language when an angry veteran took over the microphone:

“The Veteran who took the mic from him then apologized,” tweeted Michi, “but proceeded to drop fuck bombs throughout his ill-thought speech.”

Jay Michi’s tweet obviously hit a nerve. It received 37 replies and over 100 retweets.

The attempt by antivaxxers to highjack a solemn occasion indicates just how desperate they have become. They lash out as their world shrinks under the weight of public opinion.

What’s next? Will antivaxxers start going from odor-to-door with their wild theories of chip-implantation by Bill Gates in his attempt at mind control?

TRU Professor Michael D. Mehta (@DrMichaelDMeht1) reflects on how zealous antivaxxers have become. He says in his reply to Jay Michi:

“Riverside Park is an issue. I spent several weekends down there playing ukulele on a bench and had to deal with dozens of zealots. One even prayed for my soul right there after I refused to discuss my religious beliefs. We need a no religion, no politics rule for public places.”

Antivaxxers respond with anger. A comment on a recent column of mine attempts to personalize the debate:

“Charbonneau is an immunity denier. He also fails to mention that many of us are simply opposed to forced medical treatment without informed consent. These vaccines do not prevent transmission or infection and it has now become clear their efficacy wanes over a short time. It’s all about political control and compliance and Charbonneau is about as compliant as you get.”

Will antivaxxers stand on street corners and preach the gospel of the Georgia Guidestones?

What? You haven’t heard of the Georgia Guidestones?

It’s a series of 20-foot high granite slabs with warnings for a future “Age of Reason.” Billed as “America’s Stonehenge,” it’s built to instruct survivors of an Armageddon.

Denise Powers tells me on Facebook:

“Check out the Georgia Guidestones…..  this edifice has been around for 40 years and is the Ten Commandments of the NWO [The New World Order, a secretly emerging totalitarian world government] and the elites. Read about it…it will chill you to the bone and you might see what I am talking about now with the depopulation program underway with the vaccination program being pushed so hard.”

Well, I do find it chilling –the degree to antivaxxers have fallen into a delusional dark spiral from which they lash out in desperation.

Conservatives can increase chances by decreasing happiness

The antics of some Conservative leadership hopefuls are pathetic. Chris Alexander at a rally bobs his head in rhythm to the chants “lock her up” in reference to Premier Rachel Notley, tone deaf to the toxic implications; Kellie Leitch calls for immigrants to be tested for “Canadian Values” even though no such test exists and if it did, she would probably fail.

Huffington Post

Huffington Post

Trump-style populism into will not succeed because Canadians are not ripe for such politics –we need more inequality and the resultant unhappiness for this approach to work.

Inequality creates a sense of injustice and anger that manifests itself in a variety of ways. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Nattavudh Powdthavee researched the effects of inequality for the Harvard Business Review (January, 2016). They found that anger and stress increased in countries where the richest 1 per cent controlled the greatest share of wealth.

“In societies where the richest hold most of the country’s income, people were more likely to report feeling ‘stressed,’ ‘worried,’ or ‘angry’ on the day before the survey.”

Angry politicians appeal to angry voters. Trump’s anger is what propelled him into power; that’s why his racist and misogynistic views were largely overlooked. He was as mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it any more.

It’s not just anger that is affected. As anger went up, life satisfaction went down.

“We examined data from the Gallup World Poll and the World Top Incomes Database and found that the more income is concentrated in the hands of a few, the more likely individuals are to report lower levels of life satisfaction and more negative daily emotional experiences.”

Life satisfaction exacerbates unemployment. For every 1 per cent increase in the share of income of the top 1 per cent, unemployment rises by 1.4 per cent. There are a couple of factors involved –exporting jobs to areas of cheap labour increases profits; unhappy workers tend to be less productive, take longer sick leaves, and quit their jobs.

At the other end of the scale, greater wealth also creates unhappiness. Nobel laureates Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton calculated that day-to-day happiness peaks at an income of $75,000 a year, after which it plateaus. Inequality creates unhappiness at both ends of the wealth spectrum.

Canada is the sixth most happy country in the world according to the World Happiness Report behind the Scandinavian countries but ahead of the U.S. at thirteenth. Can you guess how these counties rank in equality? Right, the Scandinavian countries are the most equal followed by Canada and then the U.S.

Inequality is rising fastest in the U.S. where the top 1 per cent increased their wealth from 8 per cent of total wealth to 19 per cent in just thirty years (Scientific American, September, 2016).

Equality and satisfaction of life can be increased, and anger reduced, through fair taxes and benefits to the poor: like minimum wages, child care, job security, employment insurance, and an affordable education.

Conservative leadership hopefuls can increase their chances by increasing inequality and decreasing the happiness of Canadians by lowering taxes, increasing tuition, resisting wage hikes, and reducing job security.