Victoria not putting out the welcome mat for convoy protesters

Protest patience runs out

Here’s the fear: If the convoy people get rooted in Vancouver Island, they’ll be harder to get rid of than scotch broom, ­American bullfrogs, murder hornets or any of the other invasive species that have made their way here.

They wouldn’t be the first tourists to come for a spring break, fall in love with the place and decide to stay.

Also, doesn’t the idea of importing more malcontents to Victoria, the crackpot capital of Canada, seem just a tad coals-to-Newcastleish? Traditionally, Vancouver Island is where the snowy part of Canada shovels its flakes. Out here on the fringe, we’re already knee-deep in anti-establishment contrarians who not only march to a different drummer but dance to their own horn section. For generations they have swarmed to the Island as though it were doused in the conspiracy-nut equivalent of Axe body spray.

The protesters who honked their way down-Island to the legislature each weekend for the past two months did so again last weekend, though this time they ran into a police presence arrayed in anticipation of another convoy that was supposed to be headed here.

While Saturday’s convoy had plenty of out-of-province and off-Island participation, it was not the cross-Canada one whose arrival we have been bracing for since Ottawa protest instigator James Bauder took to social media and spoke of occupying Victoria for months. A social media post by one of Saturday’s organizers indicated Bauder’s group now might not show up for a few weeks.

Convoy types were aghast Saturday to find their vehicle access to James Bay blocked by the police.

There was all sorts of wounded outrage about government unleashing its goons to prevent a peaceful protest on the legislature lawn, which might have been a reasonable complaint if all the protesters had been doing for the past several weeks was quietly singing Kumbaya in the shelter of the big sequoia tree.

Alas, such is not the case. Being intentionally disruptive, using blaring horns as a substitute for reason, is not peaceful protest. Nor is convoying down the Malahat (Highway) in a “slow roll,” with big rigs swerving back and forth over the lanes to make sure no one can get by. Nor is parading through downtown when your path is blocked. James Bay residents have felt like hostages in their own homes.

I’m sure the protesters felt justified in their actions, as all those who take part in disruptive protests inevitably do. The capital is no stranger to those who, emboldened by a seductive feeling of community and a self-righteous sense of mission, act in ways that are as self-satisfying as they are obnoxiously counter-productive.

No one is going to have their mind changed by such actions; on the contrary, if you block the highway to save the whales, our temptation is to harpoon Moby Dick, just out of spite.

By this point, I neither know nor care about whatever excuse the convoy people are using for clogging the roads and making life miserable for the people who live here.

Vaccine mandates, masks, gas prices, they don’t like the way the Island votes, the same ill-defined disaffection that allowed Trump to become president, whatever. Doesn’t matter.

You can protest for or against whatever you want — really, fill your boots — but once you start treating ordinary people as cannon fodder in your class war, or whatever it is, you have lost the plot and revealed who you really are, no matter how much you gaslight them with talk of love, freedom and Woodstock.

Vancouver Islanders are fed up. We have been through a hard two years, with most of us doing our best to row the boat in the same direction. Go honk somewhere else.

Jack Knox isa columnist with the Time Colonist newspaper in Victoria.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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