Trucks on Wellington Street in front of the Parliament Buildings in February 2022.
Trucks on Wellington Street in front of the Parliament Buildings in February 2022. Credit: Patrick McCurdy / Twitter

In Ian Fleming’s 1958 novel Goldfinger, James Bond’s adversary Auric Goldfinger observes: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

With the Bolsonaristas storming Brazil’s capitol buildings last week, we have moved past coincidence when it comes to shambolic plots to overthrow democratically elected centre-left politicians.

Although every news organization on earth seems to have talked about the parallels between the Bud Light Putsch of January 6, 2021 and the Bolsonarista Blitz on January 8 this year, there seems to be less attention paid to the fact that Canada’s convoy protest was working from the same playbook.

Now, to be clear, unlike the other two insurrections, the Convoy of Crazy Canucks never stormed our Parliament building. But it was whipped up through the same social media channels, shared the same shambolic decentralized organizational structure, and its supporters were egged on by the same media outlets, professed similar aims to force a centre-left politician to be replaced, and were feeding from the same troughs

Often, the best way to predict the next five years of Canadian politics is to look at whatever risible nonsense right-wingers in the United States are doing right now, and imagine it being done more stupidly and with less basic competence. This basic incompetence of Canadian conservatives and the construction hoarding around the Parliament Building are probably all that spared Canadians the sight of a defaced Confederation Hall.

Since the convoy protestors were largely unable to apply their violent methods to their intended political targets, organizers are now trying to rewrite the past to claim they organized a peaceful protest. But ignoring the terrorist nature of the convoy protest only makes us more vulnerable to the next attempted insurrection.

In the year after a horde of incensed suburbanites ransacked the U.S. Capitol, more than 900 of the 2,000 participants were prosecuted – and of those least 400 have either pleaded or been found guilty. 

In the two weeks since a mob descended on Three Towers Plaza in Brasilia, more than 1,000 people were taken into custody and warrants were issued for additional organizers.

In both countries, the institutions of government are taking steps to show that this type of conduct has no place in a civilized society.

In Canada? There was a mealymouthed statutory inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act, which often seemed more concerned with determining if the government overreacted, rather than issuing a firm condemnation of the actions of the terrorist mob. 

There’s a stark difference to be seen in how the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack tackled the root causes of the violence in Washington, and how the Emergencies Act Inquiry focused on institutional failures by police. The former was an exercise in accountability, the latter is about being able to move on.

Consequently, Canadians are quietly watching as charges are withdrawn, a concerted effort is made to forget the Convoy ever happened, and media continues to minimize the risk to democracy. The risk is ever present, and basic incompetence by Convoy organizers is the only reason that Ottawa residents aren’t currently being assaulted by a disorganized army of disgruntled riffraff.

I can guarantee you that the American-based propaganda machine and the financial backers of Canadian insurrectionists are taking note of our government’s weak-sauce response. We will come to regret it.

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...