Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner March 3, 2022
The events of the last two weeks have given me an idea, and enthusiasm for writing about International Women’s Day, March 8.
In this case I hold up the remarkable witness of bravery and good sense of a 21-year-old Asian-Canadian civil servant in Ottawa named Zexi Li.
Not only did she act early to resist the “convoy of the confused” with its malign partners, but she then volunteered to go public and head up the suit that successfully stopped the damaging horn-blowing that was afflicting her neighbours. She volunteered to be the lead plaintiff in a class-action suit brought by the human rights law firm of Paul Champ and his colleague Christine Johnson. It was brought in front of judge who ruled in their favour.
It was an assertive, non-aggressive action within the law, actually making use of the law. And Miss Li was a key player.
Even more importantly, Zexi Li has had the poise and the power with language to explain repeatedly for national audiences what she did and the price it has exacted of her. She is able to articulate her motivation for doing it, on CBC-TV and Cross-Country Checkup and CTV. That witness was brave and pro-social and unselfish.
She spoke of the torment of the noise, day and night, and of the racial slurs she heard on the street, the taunts endured because she was a mask-wearer. She continues to speak so that the offensive behaviors of the crowd for three weeks are not forgotten nor whitewashed, and then become a kind of benign picture of bouncy castles and barbecues. "We won’t be gaslit about what happened,” she says. “Peaceful? No way. Noise at over 100 decibels inside my apartment. Anxiety and fear and choking diesel fumes. Open display of hate symbols.”
About as un-Canadian as it is possible to get.
Who is this young woman, newly graduated from the University of Ottawa with a commerce degree, now working for the Canadian Revenue Agency as an “innovation adviser?” (Well described). Could we clone her qualities widely? She is young and confident and yet modest - a worthy role model for young Canadians especially women, going forward.
She says, “Early in the blockade I called a neighbourhood meeting and invited a community liaison officer from the Ottawa Police Department to speak to us about what we might expect from law enforcement. Someone at that meeting saw my leadership and gave my name to Paul Champ. I knew I was putting a target on my back, but I was happy to do so. There was vile hatred on the street. I agreed with the prime minister’s decision not to meet with those self-appointed 'leaders.' Still, we waited for relief from some source.”
We should celebrate Zexi Li’s civic qualities on March 8. Then we should examine what brought her to that decision, so we can replicate the influences that produced a young person with her clear thinking, personal bravery and sense of community.
As we recover from this period where many Canadians, driven by falsehoods and distorted thinking, acted harmfully against the common good, voices are calling for massive changes in many institutions. Education is a main one. We need required courses in history, particularly that of the holocaust and the background of the American Civil War. We need to increase the intensity of our civics curricula so that we prevent the creation of the smug, poorly educated folks who held Ottawa hostage. They were so badly informed, pleading “First Amendment rights,” that fun was being made of them on such American TV shows as Trevor Noah’s “The Daily Show.”
Education in respect for others is primarily the work of the family and the community with its volunteer associations, including those in sports. Even more crucial is the fostering of a deep skepticism about the reliability of one’s sources of information. Social media skepticism. Avoid Fox News. Avoid Rebel Media.
But we have solid sources. Choose to know. There’s a lesson here.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at email@example.com or from >Amazon<