I sometimes have restless nights and so stream CBC Radio One Vancouver because the time change lands me in the middle of excellent overnight programming. Last night was like that. As I slept and woke, and work and slept, I caught multiple hourly news reports broadcasting in real time the invasion of Ukraine. As the hours progressed, I listened to Margaret Evans reporting first from her downtown Kyiv hotel room to eventually reporting from an underground subway station that folks were using as improvised bunkers to evade the bombs exploding above them outside.
Listening to Evans’ steady voice, I kept thinking about the trucker-protesters here in Canada (and their inspired “compatriots” in New Zealand, Belgium, France, Finland, and the US), some of whom we heard in downtown Ottawa call for the execution of journalists because, they claimed without substantiation, journalists are in bed with government and are propagandists misleading the public with deliberate lies, etc. I didn’t hear a peep from any of the other protesters, nor their exuberant boosters, condemning such vile and violent calls to action. Nor did I hear a peep from them when journalists were spat at and screamed at with expletives, though not executed. This gaping silence was accompanied, in equal measure, with colossal hubris, otherwise known as a total lack of humility — the disingenuous swagger of self-righteousness.
Journalists like Margaret Evans, and thousands more, go to work with helmets and flak jackets on. They wade into raging crowds to ask questions and discuss what’s happening. They don’t have body guards. They don’t arrive in armored vehicles – not in downtown Ottawa anyway. (Margaret Evens, though, might be climbing into one when she emerges from that subway station-turned bomb shelter).
Part of a journalist’s job can involve putting themselves in harm’s way, even on domestic stories like the current one in Canada's capital city, a county that enjoys an international reputation of being “nice”. The least these protesters, their boosters, and their spectators at home can do is call out and unequivocally condemn the rallying cries to kill journalists, and condemn all other manner of violence visited upon them as they simply try to do their job. A job that might get them killed, even in Ottawa where bombs aren’t raining from the sky.
So while Margaret Evens reports to us from a makeshift bomb shelter, the trucker freedom-fighters in Ottawa have installed a hot tub in the downtown of the nation's capital where some cavort in the hot frothy water while knocking back a few cold ones — it looks a lot less like they're fighting for their freedom a lot more like rocking their freedom to me.