Ottawa should give CUPE the Convoy treatment and shut it down

by Conrad Black

Last week was a busy one in the increasingly intense struggle of sensible Canadians to slough off, cast down, and ultimately trample into threadbare fragments, incinerate, and scatter the ashes, of woke authoritarianism. On the positive side, Federal Judge Richard Mosley’s finding that there was inadequate justification for the imposition of the Emergencies Act against the trans-Canada truckers protest in February 2022, was a stirring resurrection of the official recognition of the liberties of the citizen against the capricious and heavy-handed whims of the state. The judge contradicted Appeal Court Justice Paul Rouleau’s finding in the inquiry that the Emergencies Act requires in the event of its imposition, that conditions created by the actions of the truckers justified the use of the draconian legislation. Justice Mosley wasn’t so declarative on the legality of recourse to the Emergencies Act as he was in his finding that it was unjustified: it did not meet the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service’s definition of a “threat to the security of Canada,” and the government could not just fabricate its own criteria.

He effectively found that the only aspect of the conduct of the truckers that justified drastic and extraordinary measures was the blockage of the major crossing point on the Canada-United States border at Coutts, Alta. But this was removed by police action with no requirement of a declaration of a national emergency, no violence (though weapons were discovered), and no recourse to such extreme measures as imprisonment or seizure of bank accounts or ”debanking.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced to the media, while the truckers were still far distant from Ottawa but approaching rapidly, that they were homophobes and misogynists, outrageous and irrelevant allegations with no basis in fact. Leaders of governments who wish to be taken seriously as they implement extreme measures that suspend the rights of hundreds of people should not attempt to prepare public opinion for what they’re about to do by falsely defining those whom they are about to suppress.

This climate of malicious disinformation was aggravated by the stentorian hyperactivity of the federal government’s propaganda apparatus. Potential liberal leadership candidate Mark Carney wrote that the truckers were trying to overthrow the government. This was a deliberate falsehood. Once they arrived in Ottawa, they parked their trucks in inconvenient places, made a good deal of noise, but did absolutely nothing to justify allegations that they were united by extremist views or had any seriously illegal purpose. These were independent truckers who for their own reasons did not wish to be vaccinated and most of their activities were deliveries across the Canada United States border and when they returned to Canada unvaccinated, they were required to undergo quarantine for two weeks. Obviously, this would eventually lead to bankruptcy if not starvation. In the circumstances, and in the light of subsequent research on the Covid virus and its treatment, it is clear that their objections were reasonable.

Of course, no serious country can tolerate the roads adjacent to its principal federal government buildings to be congested by protesters indefinitely. The truckers were jovial and rather likable and only occasionally slightly over boisterous, and this matter could have been dealt with by normal police methods. Other than in the fact that the authorities did not use live ammunition, we effectively, incredibly, managed to emulate the public relations and human rights disaster of the government of the People’s Republic of China in clearing Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989: a thoroughly unjustified recourse to coercive force, extraordinary prosecution, and freezing or confiscation of assets.

This was the first use of the Emergencies Act and the first invocation of extraordinary powers by the federal government since Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau use the War Measures Act in 1970 to impose martial law on parts of Quebec following the murder of a senior member of the Quebec government, Pierre Laporte, and the kidnapping of the British trade representative, James Cross, by the avowedly violent separatist organization, the Front de Liberation du Québec. That was a justified action in a genuine emergency against violent and avowedly extra-legal extremists, but even then, the subsequent McDonald Commission revealed a good deal of astonishing official incompetence. One of the more amusing and innocuous instances of Palooka-like amateurism was that the Secretary of State of Canada, Gérard Pelletier, a respected former editor of La Presse, was on the official list of potential subversives and his Montreal home was ransacked by the police even as his son explained to them that his father had voted (reluctantly) for use of the statute by which they stormed into his house at 4:00 a.m. without a warrant looking for evidence that he was trying to overthrow the government of which he was a member.

The decision last week in the Federal Court was that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Constitution Foundation were correct in their complaint that the government’s “decision to declare a public order emergency did not satisfy the requirements of the Emergencies Act” and that “temporary measures adopted to deal with the protests infringed provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights.” The federal government’s blustering assurances that they would appeal this decision were thoroughly unconvincing. It was obviously a correct decision, but we can all be thankful that perceptions, even mistaken perceptions of a national emergency so grave that it requires emergency measures, have only occurred twice in the 79 years since the Second World War.

On the negative side of the ledger and at the lowest rung of social organization was the revelation last week that the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which inexplicably represents the teaching assistants at York University in Toronto, has demanded that its members use every opportunity, including occasions that have nothing to do with anything in the Middle East, to denounce the “Zionist Israeli state” as a “genocidal colonial project.” Canada itself fares little better and is demonized as “turtle Island… the Canadian settler state.” The presence of Jewish groups and clubs and organizations on the York campus and the research links between York and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are deemed to be evidence of York University’s “complicity” in genocide. CUPE has a long history of virulent antisemitism and psychotic hostility to Israel and to Jews generally, and has frequently and over many years bandied about charges of ”apartheid, genocide, and state-sanctioned violence” against Israel and Canada. The CUPE local at McMaster University directly approved of the massacre of Israelis on October 7.

With the same zeal that the federal government attacked the truckers, it should now put the Canadian Union of Public Employees in trusteeship and decertify it as a bargaining agent for anyone until the authors of this vicious racist vitriol are purged from its membership. That would be a correct use of government authority in defense of peace and freedom, which is its mission and purpose.

First published in the National Post.

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4 Responses

  1. There is absolutely no need to give CUPE the Convoy treatment.

    Mr Black seems to have forgotten what went on for close to 2 years long before the illegal invocation of the Emergencies Act in Canada. In the name of combatting an “apocalyptic pandemic” Canadians were terrorized with non-stop propaganda, forced to remain in their homes & indulge in compliance exercises such as wearing useless masks and adhering to ridiculous arbitrary “distancing” rules. Protests were disallowed (except for the BLM demonstrations in 2020 which in which protesters proved curiously immune to the ‘life-threatening’ virus).

    People not complying with covid tyranny were viciously demonized; and any alternative voices, no matter how reasonable, were ruthlessly censored. In short, what was implemented was everything you would expect to see in a totalitarian police state: government implemented by decree; the entire population forced to display “passes” to move around; and coerced compliance via a barely tested “vaccination” (which didn’t work) mandated in contravention of the Nuremberg code. The lives of people who dissented, especially those who did not comply with the “vaccine” mandate were utterly destroyed: university professors, doctors, firemen, health workers and people in every other organised sector of the economy were thrown out of their jobs.

    The point is that these firings began at least 15 months before a pusillanimous Trudeau panicked and invoked the Emergencies Act in Canada. And they were done on the basis of policy (albeit new and frequently via government coercion) of the organisations concerned. In the same way, Big Tech platforms like YouTube and Facebook censored people on the basis of policy (the euphemism was “violation of Terms of Service”) citing “Hate Speech” and “misinformation”.

    So, if all that could happen, it ought to be relatively simple to counter the odious propaganda of anti-semites in Canadian universities without any government intervention. All that’s required is for the university authorities themselves to declare that virulent expressions of antisemitic hate are not permitted by employees in line with hate speech policy. And fire anyone who does not comply!

    I wonder if they have it in them?

  2. First of all, the name of the entity is the “Canadian Security Intelligence Service”. There is NO “AND” in there, despite the fact that countless stupid and uninformed Canadians will insist on inserting one. The presence of this error calls the knowledge of any writer into immediate question. The correct name has never been any secret and can be looked up anywhere including their own webpage.

    It is also significant beyond being a stupid, lazy mistake. The nomenclature indicates that their role is to collect and process “security intelligence”, which is to say intelligence in a particular albeit broad category relating to the security of Canada. They have a mandate to collect this at home and abroad. They do not have a mandate to collect, inter alia, “foreign intelligence”, which is intelligence to do with the intentions and capabilities of foreign states or actors in support of Canadian interests and foreign policy, except where explicitly authorized case by case by the foreign minister. The insertion of that “and” tends to imply that their scope and authority is broader than it is. It is thus no mere semantic mistake, but one that implies failure to understand the proper nature and boundaries of the organization.

    In British terms, CSIS is like “MI5” the Security Service, and NOT like MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service. In American terms, it is like the national security wing of the FBI, it is not the CIA.

    These are not obscure facts.

  3. Second, and notwithstanding the above, and indeed notwithstanding that I agree with the outcome and Justice Mosley’s decision overall, I am balls out appalled by the idea that CSIS is empowered to define a “threat to the security of Canada”. Excuse me? This should in no way be a power of an executive agency whose mandate is to collect and process intelligence.

    Alas, it SHOULD be the duty of the elected government of Canada, and no one else, and their accountability should be to Parliament, and no other institution. After the fact, in inquiries and judicial actions like this if resort need be had to a standard of judgment, then that standard should be in prior legislation.

    Which it IS. It is given in the CSIS Act, the law that created and governs CSIS. It is NOT, “the CSIS definition”. It is a legislated definition that happens to be in the act that created CSIS to pursue such threats.

    All in all, that’s two examples of sloppy writing and description that I would not have expected of Lord Black.

    Apart from that, the issue should be phrased as, the current government failed to meet a reasonable interpretation of the definition of ‘threats to the security of Canada’ as embodied in legislation, not that it failed to meet the “CSIS definition”. Jesus.

  4. Thirdly, what I really need is some summary of what authority a city or province has, using normal police and normal everyday law, to move people along who are obstructing public places without legal permission, and what force may be used to detain those who refuse to comply.

    If they have none, then the system is wildly defective and I want to know when and how those traditional powers were lost. If they have, they need to be punished for not using them properly and in a timely fashion without the idiotic invocation of national emergency.

    Two things are beyond dispute:

    1. The convoy was in no way a threat to national security/state security/public safety. The state was in no peril. No citizen was in any peril. Strictly, even public order was not in peril. Not any more than when the Tamils used to block the 401 or in any First Nations blockade. The Emergencies Act was thus unjustified.
    2. The convoy nonetheless was a protest without the permit that is required and obtained by all other protests in the capital, it seized control of public space not designated as a protest space for them or in general, it carried on longer than other protests, certainly longer than any typical legal protest in Ottawa that lasts a couple of hours in a designated place or on designated route with a permit, and it obstructed the lawful activities of the citizenry. These were all illegal acts for which they all should have been arrested on the first day. Third day, to be wildly generous.

    I was never in any danger and I walked through the protest areas every day during the events, without harm or risk or even ill manners most of the time. Though one guy part of a group invading the Rideau Centre [mall] verbally harassed me for wearing a mask in there, as though my decision were any of his GD business [his libertarianism and mine clearly were incompatible, as was his libertarianism with the private property rights of the mall owner…]. But beyond that, well mannered and certainly no threat. On the other hand, it meant I walked about 2km to work and 2km back, in decent cold and substantial snow, every day for three weeks, because no vehicles let alone buses could get through the most strategic couple of intersections in the city, being thus disrupted for miles in every direction. For that alone, given my druthers, I would have endorsed indiscriminate use of heavy weapons to clear the streets. No one before, or to date since, has disrupted the lives of citizens with protest activity like that, or seemed to think they had any business doing so.

    Had they gathered on Parliament Hill and adjacent Wellington Street and kept it at that, I would have had no objection, since rightly all the irritation would have affected parliamentarians, not private citizens. They could have stayed for months for all I would have cared, because they would have shown appropriate focus on the government and lawmakers. And it still wouldn’t have been a national security threat, though still illegal.

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