South Surrey-White Rock MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay said she “roundly condemns” the actions of a few during the truckers protest, but doesn’t feel their actions represent the majority of protesters – or their message.
On Jan. 25, Findlay tweeted her support of what she termed a “nation-wide freedom convoy” after talking to participating truck drivers and their supporters at the start of their journey in Delta on Jan. 23.
The truckers, many of them from Western Canada, drove rigs to Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates generally, and, specifically, a requirement that they be vaccinated before entering the U.S.
But Findlay’s support of the convoy raised eyebrows locally when – in widely reported incidents on Jan. 30 – some of those converging on Ottawa danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, covered the Terry Fox memorial with protest signs and an upside-down Canadian flag, and brandished Confederate and swastika flags.
On Thursday, speaking from Ottawa, Findlay told Peace Arch News her support does not extend to to those who abused monuments or displayed symbols of hate.
“I denounce any lack of respect, especially to something as sacred as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” she said.
“Terry Fox was a good friend of my brother and my husband, so, clearly, I don’t approve of any disrespect shown to his statue.”
Findlay said she doesn’t pretend to understand the motivation for such actions.
“I presume that in any big demonstration there are some individuals who are attracted to the focus and the publicity and see it as an opportunity to deliver an unfortunate message,” she said, adding that extreme acts are often attached to demonstrations of all kinds in the nation’s capital.
But she insisted the wider protest is “not as it’s being portrayed in the mainstream media,” and that the majority of protesting truckers and supporters in the city are respectful.
She said she is aware of one incident in which a solitary man in a black mask carrying a Confederate flag was howled down and ridiculed by protesters and eventually left.
“They were saying get out of here – you’re not one of us,” she said.
“The vast majority of people coming here are peaceful and patriotic, the majority are carrying Canadian flags if they’re carrying anything at all. We have people here from every province simply wanting to deliver a message to the federal government to be more connected to the people, to look at starting to end the lockdowns; that it’s time for people to get their lives back on track.”
She decried Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s characterization of the protesters as people promoting hate and anti-science views as “divisive politics.”
“We’re one of the most highly vaccinated populations in the world – it’s outrageous to speak of fellow-Canadians this way,” she said.
Findlay said that, as a woman leaving the Parliament buildings at night she has been asked by Ottawa police and security guards whether she wanted to be escorted out.
“I’ve had to walk around the protesters, and I haven’t felt scared one minute, I haven’t been harassed and not once have I felt unsafe,” she said, adding that, during recent snowfall in the capital, she saw truckers out shoveling the snow off sidewalks.
“I understand the concerns of people who live here – albeit they live in a capital city, which is a likely place for protests,” she noted.
“Anytime there is a protest of any kind it results in inconvenience and disruption for the people around it.”
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