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  • Hunter Cresswell

Flags for free dumb

It only took 72 hours to undo 57 years of Canadian identity and pride in our national flag.

Canadian flags flew from most of the vehicles and big rigs that descended on Parliament Hill the weekend of Jan. 29 during the so-called “Freedom Convoy.” Originally truckers from out west organized the convoy in protest of vaccine requirements for international truckers coming into Canada. The U.S. also has this rule.

But as the convoy traveled across Canada, it picked up stragglers with different goals. These folks co-opted the convoy and detracted from the original intent of the demonstration. The convoy became a symbol of anti-vaccine, anti-mask and white supremacist sentiment in Canada.

By this time, most readers will have heard about these things: a pickup truck bore a Confederate battle flag down Elgin Street; convoy supporters demanded food from Shepherds of Good Hope; demonstrators flew Nazi flags; a statue of Terry Fox was given an upside down Canadian flag and a sign that read “mandate freedom”; protesters harassed reporters trying to do their job; businesses shut down; authorities advised people to stay home.

The hateful division sowed during Donald Trump’s campaigns and presidency is one of the reasons that I left the U.S. in August 2018. Now the COVID-19 pandemic and the rhetoric surrounding it is doing the same to Canada.

The Freedom Convoy drove this home for me.

Since 2016, the large American flags flying on the back of pickup trucks might as well be red flags — warning signs. To me, the people inside these trucks are more likely to hold views that are far rightwing, anti-science, anti-LBGTQ+, fundamentalist Christian and prejudiced against other races.