Evan Saugstad: The Power of Protest

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​An unvaccinated and unemployed trucker, a partially vaccinated and fully employed professional forestry protester, and a fully vaccinated and partially employed expert on Indigenous rail and pipeline blockades sat at the bar having a beer, not in Ontario, and this bar had a menu from the food truck parked outside so it could legally stay open and serve a pint or two.

Turning to the trucker, the protester, allowed to remove his mask while drinking, asked: “Why the sullen face?”

What the trucker relied on, “Dam Justin, not vaccinated, and he won’t let me drive my truck across the border. If I can’t drive, I guess I can drink beer and drown my sorrows. Of course, I’m glad I’m not in Ontario or Quebec, otherwise I don’t know what I would do.

For a beer, I’ll tell you how to get your truck across the border and still be able to drink your beer“, replied the protester.

Alright, but you can’t tell me to go get vaccinated“replied the trucker.

The expert blocker intervened.For a beer, if she can’t, I can definitely tell you how we’d get your truck across the border.”

“Okay, what the hell are you doing,” said the trucker, “Bartender, beers for my friends.”

And with that, the protester and blocker began to explain that it’s all about timing, understanding your rights, how limited law enforcement is, how to promote the cause and raise funds. so that everything is organized and on the verge of happening.

First you have to get to Ottawa, because that’s where the problem is. Gather some of your friends, the ones you can trust who have trucks, better have those big and loud ones, the ones with those loud horns. You’ll need a few bucks to get started, then start promoting your cause and proudly announcing that you’re all going to be driving across Canada, to Justin’s front door, telling him what you think of him and your problems, and that you will fix your country. Create a Go Fund Me account, set a goal of millions, because it seems really official. Then make it look like everyone will be inconvenienced so they all rush out and put out their own press releases telling the world how bad your idea is, and that’ll get even more truckers, more people, and a whole lot more money, all for free.”

Start by driving slowly, not too fast because you have to let the rest of Canada get stuck behind your convoy as you crawl across the country because then they will add their voices to the din, complaining of being temporarily inconvenienced and it will become you you’ll have even more followers and more money, and it will make it look even more like you’re doing something.

Once you are on your way, invite any other upset people or groups to join you, like all those business owners who have been decimated by lockdowns and closures, bankrupt mink farmers, travelers stranded people and anyone else who might have a hooker with Justin, or John, or… what’s that guy’s name in Quebec? Make the protest sound great, bigger than a few truckers who can’t cross the border, and when you get to Ottawa, every disgruntled person will be smiling at you, cheering you on and cheering you on. And as for those politicians…most will hide and be afraid to come out and face your reality.

As long as the beer was flowing, the conversation would go on until the trucker could repeat, back and forth, the art of protesting until you got what you wanted.

Pick places like bridges, airports, border crossings, and major intersections to stop and wave to the crowd, because that’s where you’ll inflict Justin the most pain. If you have time, stay there until you are served with an order. Each time, a few indigenous people make the headlines. Bring old grannies in lawn chairs, it always looks good and no one will touch them. Chain a few trucks together, chain others to your trucks, because the only police officers trained to untangle this mess are all here in BC. Have unvaccinated to speak about their cause. Post pictures of empty store shelves, hungry baby animals stuck in trucks at borders, long lines and travelers who have missed their flights. Make sure you have your most colorful characters to do the interviews because CBC can’t resist, and the more they try to find out who you really are, the bigger your Go Fund Me account will grow. And above all, enjoy the ride. You will never forget that, and how you changed Canada.

And with that, the manifestation was created and he left.

As I write these lines, the convoy is growing, thousands and thousands of vehicles and ordinary Canadians are on our roads, the British Columbia contingent being somewhere in northern Ontario. Millions of dollars have been raised and this account keeps growing, despite Go Fund Me reserves. Thousands of people are joining and supporting – people who don’t have trucks, just average people who are tired of the political response to our pandemic. And, as expected, the momentum grows exponentially with each press release condemning the effort.

Although I write jokingly about how it started, this is what we have learned in recent years from our fellow professional protesters and what is happening now. Normally, law-abiding, hard-working Canadian citizens are fed up. They have learned that the art of professional protest can shut down our economy one protest at a time and lead once-inattentive politicians to ask for forgiveness and how they can fix it.

Unfortunately, as we have all learned, a democracy struggles when many of its citizens decide that they too will no longer obey the law and will do what they must to get what they need. And, true to form, all Justin sees is the far right, rednecks, western separatists and his hated conservatives being responsible for his torment. And for that mistake, I fear he has committed Ottawa to something for which he and all of his citizens are unprepared.

I read once that to completely destabilize a country, it only takes about 15% of the population to commit to the cause, because in these figures there will not be enough application to say or do other. The problem is, if left on its own for too long, and Justin and his followers don’t pay attention, the protest will grow so large that it will develop its own momentum and… you remember all the protests BLM?

I hope and wish that when Justin put together his cabinet based on gender, ethnicity, age and sexuality as attributes of a good leader, he considered intelligence and the ability to think as being important. Otherwise, God help us all.


Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.

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