This article originally appeared in the Toronto Sun.
By Jamil Jivani, September 23, 2022
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally removing most COVID-19 travel restrictions this month, many Canadians are left wondering who can claim credit for these changes.
Alberta MLA Kaycee Madu, who was Canada’s first-ever Black provincial minister of justice, made headlines this week when crediting “freedom convoys” for the partial return to normalcy.
“It never was about science but about political control and power,” Madu stated. “Thanks to all those citizens, freedom convoys, who had the courage to mobilize against these tyrannical policies. They endured a lot hate, name calling, suffered and vilified on behalf of all of us. I thank them!”
Unsurprisingly, Madu’s comments sparked strong reactions. Few things in Canadian politics seem to get a rise out of social media users quite like commenting on vaccine policies.
Regardless of how you feel about trucker convoys, we should all be able to acknowledge the significance of Madu’s comments. He is a prominent Black Canadian leader expressing support for trucker convoys, which contradicts Trudeau’s narrative about Canadians who oppose his policies.
For months, Trudeau has misrepresented the trucker convoy as racist and white supremacist. He has sought to delegitimize the protests by arguing only hateful, ignorant people could empathize with such demands.
But it was never true that opposition to vaccine passports and mandates was a racist or white supremacist movement. This week, Madu helped to correct the record.
Dr. Leslyn Lewis, the first Black woman to run for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, has made similar points in support of the trucker convoy and its relevance to minority communities.
Journalist Rupa Subramanya documented the diversity of the trucker convoy on the ground in Ottawa earlier this year. The Instagram account “POC4freedomconvoy” archived hundreds of videos of people of colour speaking out against Trudeau’s vaccine policies.
A reason all of these people push back on Trudeau’s narrative is that the prime minister’s policies did disproportionately exclude and marginalize people of colour. Even CBC News would have to acknowledge this disproportionality.
It’s unfortunate that the significance of Madu’s message is being ignored by Canadian journalists. The top reply to Madu on Twitter is from Jody Vance, who identifies herself as the Canadian correspondent for Al Jazeera English. Vance accuses Madu of “leaning into disinformation” and she seems completely uncurious as to why Madu is making such a point.
In response to questions about Madu from reporters, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declined to comment but shared an observation on journalists: “I know for some of you in the media, your job when it comes to politics is to be fight promotors.”
Of course, it is fair to disagree with Madu. Mount Royal University’s Duane Bratt, for example, raised worthwhile questions in response to Madu’s statement. “Does your support of freedom convoys include the one that shut down the border crossing at Coutts (Alberta)? Several of those individuals have been criminally charged with major offences. Were they the good guys?”
But Canadians deserve the truth about who is engaging in debates about the direction of our country and why. That means pointing out that Trudeau blatantly misrepresents the people who oppose his policies, and most of the media doesn’t seem to care.
Jamil Jivani is a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and President of the Canada Strong & Free Network.