February 11, 2022
For Immediate Release (Treaty One, Winnipeg): The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba (CCPA- MB) is deeply concerned that the protests and occupation at the Manitoba Legislature and across the country are promoting the ideas of the far Right. We unequivocally condemn such ideas.
The protests are ostensibly a condemnation of the government response to the pandemic. Governments play an essential role in protecting health. They could do much more to protect and help Manitobans through the pandemic with protected sick leave, hazard pay, funding for hospitals, schools and childcare centres and COVID testing, for example. Governments must be held accountable for failing to adequately protect workers and families during this pandemic. It is revealing, however, that the protesters have said nothing about these issues – that is, our freedom to be healthy.
The fact is, vaccines limit the spread of the Coronavirus, reduce the pool of bodies available for viral mutation and protects health care systems from being overwhelmed. They are a justifiable response to COVID. Over 100 countries have some version of mandatory vaccination for school children against diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus or polio.
The protestors’ message appears to be that “freedom” means no restrictions whatsoever on their right to do as they please, irrespective of the damage caused to others. Freedom gained through the oppression or deprivation of another is unworthy of the name; though it is unfortunately a big part of our Canadian history. The misuse of the concept is especially egregious given the many noble and courageous struggles for genuine freedom—think residential school survivors, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, for example—carried out by those who have long been oppressed.
The protests and occupation are promoting dangerous far-Right ideas. In Manitoba a geometric symbol with origins in antisemitism was marked in the snow outside Manitoba’s Legislative Building. Confederate flags and swastikas have been flown at rallies in Canada, symbols of history’s most heinous crimes against humanity. The effort across the country is getting financial and political support connected to far-Right sources. Leaders of the protests have documented ties to anti-Islamic and white supremacist causes. Here in Manitoba we question why the protestors are flying a massive American flag in front of our legislature.
The right to protest is a cornerstone of democracy. However protestors should not abuse others. These protests have seen residents, workers and school children harassed. Horns blaring all day and into the night is not only disruptive, it is profoundly disrespectful.
CCPA Manitoba stands for positive freedom: striving to make sure everyone has what they need to make a good life for themselves. This can only be achieved through democratically elected governments acting in the public interest, constantly pushed by an informed citizenry, and committed—as we are—to a set of political, economic and social values that are most likely to contribute to the building of a fairer and more just society in which each of us and all of us can thrive.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba is a charitable, independent research institute. www.policyalternatives.ca/manitoba
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