It has been a little while since I have provided anything like a family or personal update, so I thought I would do so today. Also, I have received quite a number of questions about the Canadian truckers and their Freedom Convoy, so wanted to offer a few observations on that.
I am under some very heavy writing deadlines just now. I’m also in the season of pastoral ministry when I arrange personal visits with a good many members of the church so I can learn how they are doing, how the pastors can better serve them, and so on. It has been busy but blessed days!
I wrote a lot of blog articles over the past month or so and got those all queued up so I could then spend a couple of weeks focused entirely on books—one that is in the final stages of editing, one that needs to be completed in the next few weeks, and one that has suffered various delays but is now finally getting underway. The first of them will be released in September of this year with the others coming in 2023. This has kept me from being able to dedicate the time necessary to organize my thoughts and find something helpful to say about the truckers and their Freedom Convoy. So today I’ll offer just a few brief observations and then direct you to some articles that you may find interesting.
It’s my assessment that most Canadians, and especially Christian Canadians, are at least somewhat sympathetic to the core concern of the truckers—the mandate that keeps unvaccinated truckers from entering Canada without a mandatory two-week quarantine. Not only that, but it seems that a growing number of Canadians—generally a very cautious and compliant people—are ready to be released from nearly all the pandemic mandates and restrictions. The various provinces are steadily ditching the provincial measures and this makes the federal ones appear more out-of-step by contrast. (Note: the United States has recently begun to forbid unvaccinated Canadians from entering at all, so even if the Canadian government cedes to the demands, I don’t think it will fully resolve the situation.)
All that said, there are still many Canadians who are extremely concerned about COVID-19 and many others who fear anything that smacks of protest or rebellion, and for that reason this has become a very polarizing issue in families, churches, and broader society. That’s especially the case as the protests have stretched into weeks and have extended to actions that have much lower levels of popular support, such as blockading border crossings. Some people see tyranny in the government, some see anarchy in the protestors, and some see a combination of the two. If you know Canadians who are not speaking loudly and publicly about their convictions, it may be that they are being discreet lest they alienate family members, offend friends, hinder witnessing opportunities, and so on. It would be unwise to take silence as either support or condemnation.
Whatever else this situation has done, it has almost universally convinced people of the weakness of our government, especially on the federal level. The various minority political parties are united in their condemnation of the way Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party of Canada have handled it. The fact that a relatively small number of people has been able to essentially take over the core of our nation’s capital—and that no one has been able to do anything about it—is making our leaders a laughing stock. The Prime Minister’s insulting statements about these people and his unwillingness to show any compassion toward their plight has only increased their tenacity. It is probably accurate to see the truckers as especially representing the working class in a kind of non-violent uprising against the elite political class, for while the politicians (and the civil servants they oversee) quickly pivoted to working from home and saw their pay cheques unaffected throughout the pandemic (and, indeed, often saw substantial increases), much of the working class was laid off, had their hours reduced, and so on. This explains the symbolic significance of transport trucks dominating streets that are usually trod by only the political elite.
This situation has already cost a police chief his job and the head of the opposition party his leadership. There is much conjecture that it may also cost the Prime Minister his position. His recent decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, a move few people deem wise, necessary, or legitimate under the circumstances, is being widely perceived as a sign of weakness rather than strength—possibly the action of a man who is in his political death throes. Then again, he has survived plenty of scandals in the past and it’s not implausible that he will survive this one. (Update: new polling actually suggests a majority of Canadians may support his decision.)
If you are concerned for Canada, please do pray for peace and justice within the nation. You might pray also for peace and unity within the church. If Canadians have all their freedoms restored or even increased while the church crumbles, there will have been no great victory. If people who lean toward one side or the other have their view vindicated, but along the way become alienated from their fellow Christians, the cause of Christ will still have suffered. If you’d like to pray for more than that, perhaps pray for the truckers and residents of Ottawa who are Christians and for the various groups and individuals who are deliberately going wherever the crowds are gathered to preach the gospel. And why not pray that the first response of Canadian Christians, no matter the situation, would be to get on our knees and plead for wisdom, love, and divine help.
For some helpful reading consider:
- Tristan Hopper’s primer on Canadian politics which helps explain some of the ways in which our political system is different from that of the United States. For example, “we have a regularly scheduled event known as Question Period where the prime minister takes his usual seat in the House of Commons and is assailed with abuse by members of the opposition.”
- Raymond J. de Souza on Justin Trudeau invoking the Emergencies Act.
- Jonathon Van Maren on “Let Freedom Honk.”
- Clint Humfrey & Yanick Ethier on the Freedom Convoy as a form of lament.
Phew! There’s so much more I want to say, but I hear my book projects calling me again. So just briefly, let me turn to family news.
Abby’s wedding is coming up in just three months and much of her attention, as well as Aileen’s, is focused on that occasion. It’s my understanding that the planning is going well, but also my understanding that it’s best if I don’t get too involved! Abby and Nathan will both have school to finish up, so intend to remain settled in the Louisville area for at least another couple of years before re-evaluating. I expect this means I will continue to have good reason to shuttle back and forth on a regular basis. Abby asked Michaela to be her maid of honor, so she is getting ready to fulfill all of the duties that come with it. Meanwhile, she’s pressing on in high school while anticipating the day she can follow in the footsteps of her siblings and attend Boyce College. Nick’s fiancée Ryn remains part of our family, of course. She will graduate from Boyce in May and, the very next day, be one of Abby’s bridesmaids. What a day that will be!
Thanks for reading the blog, and thanks for reading to the end of this rather long article!