I have been blessed being one of nine children and as a result now have a large extended family. Life was and still is always interesting, challenging, but most importantly loving. There was and yes still is always someone in the mix who offers sympathy and support when needed, but usually not everyone. We do not always agree on the politics of the day, and so it is that we have some Liberal supporters, some Conservative and some who will not say. This mix lends itself to some fun family debates and discussions.

My experience has been Trudeau supporters towed the line when it came to the lockdowns, restrictions, masking and COVID shots. (I intentionally use the word "shots" because as it did not provide immunity as required by the definition of vaccine, it was not a vaccine). Those with opposing political views felt they were being subjected to an authoritarian government and it had to stop. Discussing this issue became so different from what had been fun family political debates. As defined by Trudeau, you either cared about others and did what the government dictated; otherwise, you were a mean, bigoted and selfish individual. Our family was a microcosm of the Canadian population at large.

All the restrictions and lockdowns directly impacted me. My husband was in long-term care. For months he was not allowed any visitors. It was heart breaking to hear the sadness in his voice during our daily phone chats. Not only were residents not allowed visitors, they could no longer socialize with one another. Finally, when pre-arranged outdoor visits were permitted, there was a large plexiglass separating us, while we sat about 10 feet apart. My husband was so disappointed we could not hug. Direct visits did eventually resume, but there were always restrictions in place, i.e, masks, no touching (we did anyway) . Seventeen months ago he died in the hospital, alone and without a loved one holding his hand.

Again, our lives are a microcosm of society. Our society is fighting a drug epidemic. We have too many people still living in fear and suffering with mental health issues.

Professor Wark can argue you should have been more critical of the protesters and more sympathetic to the citizens of downtown Ottawa. They all suffered, and continue to do so.

I have yet to read your book, Paul. I fear it will only unleash more sad memories. You always try to present situations as you see them, while still providing enough material to generate discussion. Thanks for that. In time, I hope to pick up a copy.

What resonated most with me during the Rouleau hearings was when Tamara Lich described how she had previously argued in favour of the western provinces separating from Canada, but when in Ottawa she met Canadians from all walks of life and from all parts of Canada. It was this coming together with others that made her realize there is "more that unites us, than divides us". Social contact is so important to our well-being, and the lack of it has taken, and still takes, a toll on our well-being as a society. When you actually sit down and discuss with those holding views dissimilar to your own, that one can come to Tamara's realization, and it is for this reason that sitting down with the protesters, even though they were a disjointed group, could only have been beneficial for all of Canada.

As for my extended family. With the lifting of all the restrictions family gatherings are resuming, and with that more conversations with each other, and with that the barriers are crumbling.

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May 4Liked by Paul Wells

Angels in America is brilliant. I had the good fortune to see parts one and two staged in a single day a few years back -- it’s a lot to take in at once but also helps make you feel the weight of the work, if you ever get the opportunity I’d encourage you to take it!

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I think that this is first of all a great response to Wesley Wark’s criticism. It’s also in its own way a useful reminder of the useful work journalists do. As you said, you thought about it for months and attended the hearings.

I didn’t have time to do that, but I’m sure will learn a ton from reading the book.

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This, more than anything, convinced me to purchase your book.

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It’s good of Paul to spend some time with my critique of his book. I have written a further reflection in my substack. I hope Paul enjoys the Writers’ Festival!

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OMG I laughed so hard all the way through the piece. You have outdone yourself with this one, Paul. I agree entirely with you on Trudeau's "bullshit on stilts." Anyone who can in all seriousness refer to his dissenters as "people with unacceptable views," has no business leading a country. Not then, not now, not ever.

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I haven’t read Mr. Wells book about the Freedom Convoy and the Rouleau Inquiry and have reached a conclusion that thinking about these events isn’t worth the anxiety anymore.

Call me cynical, but I had a feeling that the Liberal Government would pull a fast one on the Rouleau Inquiry, basically throwing a big chunk of hardwood in the spokes of fairness and transparency. Canadians had to wait until the very end of the testimony, but when Justice Minister/Solicitor General Lametti refused to release the legal opinion that underpinned the revoking of civil rights and arbitrary freezing of assets without due process...well what can you say. As hard as that is to choke down, Commissioner Rouleau had a stunning lack of curiosity about being shielded from seeing the legal basis for invoking the Emergency Act. Let’s remember, it was the Emergency Act that triggered the need for the Inquiry in the first place. Various participants also testified that the Emergency Act legislation was outdated and didn’t fit the modern digital age, which gave them license to stretch the intent of the law to meet their needs. Doesn’t anyone find that troubling?

Canadians got an inside look at authoritarian government at work. We crossed a threshold into no persons land, where rules that shape a civil society are thrown overboard and new law can be applied without having to justify a legal basis for doing so.

I mourn for our Country. We need to find a new crop of political leaders who can restore faith in our public institutions.

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My favourite line:

"The people who are most eager to "debate" are least likely to even hear contradictory evidence".

Same goes to people who "love" to argue!

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Paul, I've long wondered if there's some reason you were so hard on the convoy folks in your last few Maclean's pieces and began softening your stance as soon as you jumped over to this platform - if it was a function of not having an editorial line you had to hew anymore, maybe. You don't explicitly address that question in this piece, but I infer from this piece that your mind simply changed, which I respect.

My view of the convoy is much, much closer to Wesley Wark's than yours, but I think the comments on his post that you linked to are emblematic of the issues you discuss in your post. If I had to summarize the convoy, I'd say that it was a bunch of Canadians with sincerely-held views that differ from mine the maximum amount, trying to advocate for the social change they wanted to see. I don't understand those who think it must have been some sort of Russian/U.S. conspiracy and that, therefore, they don't have to reckon with it because it wasn't "real". Generally, I think another thing we've lost is the ability to accept that the other side is sincere in their beliefs. Most of your commenters are way to my right, but I believe they mean what they say and that they've come by their values honestly.

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Thoughtful comments, not one liner bashing. This is why i subscribe to this Substack and not twitter.

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I read it in a single sitting the Saturday after it arrived, April 14. Thank-you for your insights into the process of writing it. I admire the dedication you have to the dissemination of writing tradecraft.

I hope to read something by you about the graduate student stipend issue. Best wishes.

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I don't believe that the striking workers asked people to honk their horns at all hours of the day or night in the same way that the freedom convoy people did. So, I can't agree that the two actions are equal. They are both annoying but I believe that one was far worse.

With respect too heavy-handed decision making on the part of the government, they were acting on the advice of epidemiological experts not making decisions because they wanted to control anyone's life. I really don't believe that any Canadian government has ever done that. Epidemics often require that individual freedoms must be curtailed for the good of the majority or the very vulnerable. It has been this way throughout history. That's what they were trying to do. Many people died during the pandemic. I cannot have sympathy for someone who feels that their freedom is being curtailed by wearing a mask so they don't care that others are at risk. Sorry, but that's just selfish and unreasonable. There reaches a point where tolerance of another's point of view fades when it puts others lives at risk. Surgeries were postponed, people died, people became worse because of delays - because emergency rooms and ICUs were overcrowded by people who refused to follow simple public health rules. I have little empathy for those who wish to express their freedom in the way that the convoy did. They are frustrated because they don't believe in science and medicine. And don't trust decision makers. A lot of things were changed as information came to light - masks/no masks, etc. but that's what happens in a pandemic. Especially with a new disease-causing organism. That's just the way it is. I think it's just that people don't understand how it works and don't trust anyone except those that spread conspiracy theories. So much easier that way! It's also so easy to criticise when you don't have access to all the information, don't understand the big picture and have no responsibility for making decisions.

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I won’t read Paul’s book. It’s really not worth revisiting the anxiety and pain that the ridiculous “freedom” convey caused. It’s easy to criticize and smug after the fact. The convoy meant well but the government didn’t. I don’t understand why the compassion and understanding he displays for the convoy cannot also be assigned to the people in government who had to make difficult decisions in a stressful situation. Sorry, but I agree that they came to Ottawa to be obeyed, not so much to talk. I can accept that they had a point of view but don’t we all? And we all make decisions based on our values, beliefs etc. It’s easy to use your word skills to be smug and condescending but I feel it might be more of a a way yo grab attention and provoke discussion than anything else. Not sure how he really feels anything. However it’s all good! No worries.

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Thank you for your book, Paul.

For what it's worth, I thought that you were a little too hard on the protestors. From my point of view, they were uninformed (or misinformed) and their actions probably constituted public mischief. But I do believe that the vast majority meant well. They thought that they were exercising their rights, and they were surrounded by others who thought the same. When they discovered that there were people among them who might actually want to overthrow the government, as at Coutts, they stopped their protest.

Mr. Justice Rouleau recognized that the protests were breaking up, even before the invocation of the Emergencies Act, but feared that the protestors might return. I found that a very weak rationale.

Finally, the most important part of your book for me were the failed attempts at de-escalation. Prof. Wark illustrates perfectly why these were not successful (we don't talk to such people). Yet, not talking means that you polarize the situation and are in danger of forcing the very violence that you decry. So that leaves me with the impression, perhaps unfair, that the federal government were out to crush the protestors -- how dare they not have the proper ideas! As to freezing bank accounts, I do wonder how much of that was prevention of further protests, and how much was punishment of those who dared disobey.

I look forward to the trials of those protestors who have been accused of various offences. I predict that many of them will be found not guilty.

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Thanks for sharing your reflections, both on the substance and process of writing the book

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Well, I appreciated your interview with Eric Stubbs. It's easy to let news from the U.S. inform our impressions of what the police are like, and the only way we get over that is to have access to our own stories.

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