Question: Are there really 100 children who live in the Ottawa protesters’ rigs and trucks — in temperatures down to minus 20ºC?
Seems to be speculation, possibly started by police, that hit the media on Feb. 8. The problem is that the presence of children was discovered on Feb 8 –12 days after the start of the Convoy occupying Ottawa. However, in the last week there has been virtually no more detail about the children who are supposed to be living in the vehicles parked bumper to bumper on Ottawa’s streets.
Headlines a week ago screamed Many children living in truck convoy during Ottawa protests, Large number of children among protesters hampering response, and Ottawa Children’s Aid Society cites ‘child welfare concerns’.
Police claimed that one in four vehicles had children- some under the age of 12. Ottawa’s City News interviewed Irwin Elman, Ontario’s former child advocate. He stressed that parents have a duty of care to their children and a duty to remove children from danger. He noted the encampment has dangers such as fuel, gas tanks, and fumes. Having kids there ,”it’s risky,” said Elman. He urged the police to report any suspected child abuse or negligence to the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO).
Where are the children?
The CASO responded to the call to monitor the situation in a rather lacklustre 200-word media release
“CASO will assess circumstances that are within its mandate and will work with families to create safety plans should they be required.”Media release by CASO here
There is little to no evidence CASO has been actively investigating or inspecting the protesters’ vehicles, or warning parents, and there has been no talk of apprehending children. But suddenly yesterday, CASO did send out a warning,
A hundred children are about three big classrooms full of kids – and incidentally why aren’t the kids in school? Even in the midst of Covid, schools remain open across the country and normally kids should be in school. Of course some children are probably pre-schoolers so how do the parents manage their “duty of care” to them –despite the lack of fuel to heat their rigs which are used as living space 24/7 –as the temperatures are staying well below zero. Police claim they are intercepting protesters who carry jerry cans to refuel their rigs and trucks. One wonders how these 100 children are faring with little heat, no decent home-cooking, almost no access to showers or indoor plumbing, constant loud noise, and the ubiquitous smell of diesel in the air.
Well — if it is indeed true that there are 100 children at the protest camp –– they don’t lack for things to amuse them. There’s a bouncy castle to play on, a gym set up on Wellington St., a hot tub, a soup kitchen, a small grocery kiosk run by protesters, BBQs, a bandstand, music, dance parties and more.
The police and the media – one after the other — churned out the headlines about children at risk on Feb. 8. Were there ever more than a handful of kids living at the site? I wonder.
Yet the federal government’s new Emergencies Act bans parents from bringing their children under age 18 to within 500 metres of where an unlawful assembly – such as the Ottawa protesters’ camp — is taking place. Disobeying the law could mean fines up to $5,000 or five years in prison.
Dangers of the Emergencies Act
Trudeau’s Emergencies Act does not contribute to building democracy in Canada. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, along with other groups in civil society, say there is no need for the Emergencies Act – that to implement it would be overkill.
In 1970, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, famously dared Canadians to “Just watch me” when his government passed the War Measures Act. Today we have to tell PM Justin Trudeau to “Just watch it.” The Act, with its draconian fines and years’ long prison sentences for those who contravene it, along with new roles for the banks to control money to radical organizations could just as easily be turned against Indigenous peoples, those seeking social justice, and the Left.
Featured Photo above: Convoy vehicles continue to block Ottawa streets, Feb. 16. (Credit: Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse–Getty Images)