MP Shields touches on recent trucker convoys

·3 min read

Bow River MP Martin Shields believes protesting is a fundamental right of democracy itself and should not be infringed upon.

“I always believe that people’s right to protest, particularly in Ottawa, is a right of democracy,” Shields said when asked about the trucker con- voy that occurred in the downtown streets of Ottawa for over 20 days and across Canada. “There have been people protesting all the time — I’ve been here on a daily basis. I believe there is now a valuation through a couple of different committees/different processes of how this particular one was handled in Ottawa. I think that report will come on how that kind of demonstration/that kind of process how it happened and why it happened like it did, and the problems everyone envisioned that they saw in the sense of recommendations for how to deal with a mass demonstration. But I believe in the right to protest lawfully and in Ottawa, we see it on a daily basis.”

The trucker convoy was able to hold its ground in Ottawa due to online fundraisers and sympathetic individuals bringing them supplies. The protest was shut down by police after receiving greater authority once the Liberal government invoked the Emergency Act. The Emergency Act is a piece of legislation that was passed in 1988 and allows the government to temporarily take extraordinary measures for the sake of public safety, order and welfare.

When Shields was asked if he disagreed with the Liberal government invoking the act he replied, “Yes I do. The minister who wrote that piece of legislation stated publicly that he never envisioned it would be used in the way it was. It is basically used against the protest and it is such a powerful tool that when you’re talking about freezing bank accounts, when you’re talking about the powers that are in that (legislation), I don’t believe we were at that level of emergency, and to now to have it used once makes it easier to be used again. I don’t believe that was the intention of that piece of legislation. So I believe it is a very powerful tool but it was not needed in this particular instance.”

With there being an ongoing investigation looking into the trucker convoy, Shields commented on how there was some degree of misunderstanding involving the police and that a vehicle protest should have never been able to lock down the downtown core of Ottawa.

“As hearings are going in the committees, both parliamentary and in the city of Ottawa, there’s already information coming out about how mistakes were made at the beginning of the protests and how it got started,” said Shields.

“It is tradition and protocol that vehicles can be on Wellington Street, but as been reported by information that has come out on these hearings, for some reason the police were giving information to truckers so they could use more of the streets and street. Not just one line as in protocol. You’re going to see more information coming out that it was handled in a way that shouldn’t have been and not the protocol for vehicles involved in protests. I think that’s where it’s going to come in the sense of how communication happened how we got to be in where it was as a result of decisions made to begin with and so it led to massive gridlock in a downtown core area which shouldn’t have been what happened in a vehicle protest.”

Shields finished off by discussing how not everything the media reported on was accurate according to witness testimonies and the investigations that were looking into this protest. An example of this was media outlets reporting on a woman being trampled to death by a horse but video footage released only showed her falling down before getting up and leaving the area. “Now, we’re finding out in those investigations and out of those committees from witnesses, that some things that were reported in the media never occurred.”

Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times

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