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Opinion: Don’t let fatigue and frustration allow you to be misguided by vocal minority

Shelley Desautels responds to messaging from North Okanagan-Shuswap MP

Re: North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold’s Jan. 26 Facebook post regarding “truckers” and “not ultimatums.”

I have seen support for the “freedom” convoy from a number of people, all with different ideas on why they are supporting this rally.

I understand many people want something to be part of that brings hope to them and their families after these last two years. However, I do not want to see this passion being misguided.

It is important to look at the origins of this “freedom” convoy.

The rally is purported to be in support of truckers who are part of our supply chain, but when you listen to the voices of rally participants you hear something different. This rally is anti-government, anti-vaccination and anti-mandate.

“Take back Canada” is a phrase that has been used extensively, which calls to mind the threats and rhetoric that came out of the United States capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021.

The events in Ottawa on Jan. 29 tell me this freedom rally may not be what many supporters think it is.

I wholeheartedly believe in democracy. Advocating and protesting policies you disagree with is a crucial part of a healthy democracy. Swastikas painted on Canadian flags, defacing statues of Terry Fox, and walking over the tomb of the Unknown Soldier clearly are not components of a peaceful and respectful democratic protest. This is not my definition of freedom.

Some food for thought:

• According to The Canadian Trucking Alliance, the vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated;

• The Canadian Trucking Alliance condemns the protests.

• If Canada removed the vaccine mandate for truckers, they would still not be able to cross the border because of similar mandates in the U.S.

Let us discuss freedom and what that truly means. Freedom doesn’t mean rejecting societal and governmental intervention, especially when those things are guided by ever-evolving science. Freedom means the freedom from not getting sick, from not dying of cancer while waiting for hospital care, and freedom allows us to not worry about how we are going to access medical care.

Read more: GoFundMe says funds for ‘freedom convoy’ of B.C. truckers opposed to vaccine mandates will be ‘safely held’

Read more: VIDEO: Protesters show no sign of rolling off as Ottawa residents brace for more disruption

Read more: Trudeau denounces ‘hateful rhetoric’ at Ottawa trucker protest, won’t meet with convoy

Read more: Salmon Arm’s Top 20 Under 40: Shelley Desautels

Our freedoms aren’t being curtailed because of some vendetta from those in government. Countries like Portugal with a much higher vaccination rate than Canada, are already getting back to a much closer to normal life. This is what we can achieve if we truly want to unite and support each other.

Let us also clear up the issue of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. We know that nothing is 100 per cent, but if you contract COVID-19 while unvaccinated you have a much higher possibility of requiring hospital care and even worse, losing your life to the virus. Those who are vaccinated can still contract COVID-19, but the vaccine provides protection so that your viral load is lower, making you less likely to transmit it to someone else and less likely to become sick enough to need hospital care.

The vaccine provides the protection required so that our hospitals have space for those that need it, that the nurses and doctors can take the breath that they so truly need and deserve.

So, let’s circle back to Mel Arnold’s post and his support for the truckers. Who is Mel Arnold really supporting? The minority of vocal anti-vax Canadians or the vast majority of responsible Canadians who are getting vaccinated so they can get on with their lives?

I hear your frustrations but urge you not to let your fatigue and frustration allow you to be misguided by a loud minority. The rest of us, who want unity, who want to protect our neighbours, and who will continue to listen to the advice from the experts, may not be the loudest, but we are, fortunately, the most numerous.

Shelley Desautels is a resident of Salmon Arm and in 2021 was as the federal Liberal candidate for the North Okanagan-Shuswap.
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