Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner September 1, 2022
Concerned about our city’s negative national reputation as a place of far-right activity and personnel, I am hereby calling for the formation of a virtual Peterborough Defense Force, a citizen’s group that will alert the population to the potential arrival of loony convoys spouting nonsense, and attempting to arrest police for “COVID genocide.”
This PDF (not to be confused with the computer term), will name names and make connections, if they exist, with political parties and local sympathizers, especially the neo-cons.
This latter is most troubling. Just this week, Pierre Poilievre, who is running for leadership of the official opposition party and is supported, inexplicably, by Peterborough-Kawartha MP Michelle Ferreri, was in the company of Jeremy Mackenzie, one of the most notorious of the “freedom convoy” bunch.
Said Rev. Michael Coren, “It is a coalition of populists, racists, conspiracy theorists, anti-science zealots and Christian nationalists.” He goes on, “I don’t think Mr. Poilievre is one of them, but he gives them oxygen, has their support and does absolutely nothing to dissuade them.”
Columnist Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star goes further. “He is the most dangerous and appalling politician; talking about disposing of all ‘gatekeepers,’ attacking the ‘elites,’ firing the governor of the Bank of Canada and bringing in bitcoin currency.”
The man has no other policies that I can find. How dishonest, for a seeker of a public office in a democracy.
The events that have tarnished our reputation as a reasonable, progressive city, set in a beautiful and green environment, boasting two institutions of higher learning, and having resettled hundreds of refugees, also includes this - a mosque-burning in 2019, the harassing of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, and the ludicrous, threatening visit of QAnon in late August.
I am so baffled by people who find Peterborough a place to set up their toxic activity, that I went to Twitter for advice. Some fine minds are on Twitter. Let me report on what they said.
“These people are unreachable. So far down the rabbit hole of unreason.”
“The only way to reach them is via a close family member guided by the help of a professional mental health worker.”
“I blame Fox News and Donald Trump. They made it normal to release the crazy.”
One correspondent posted pictures of the covers of books by Steven Hassan, an American expert on cults who specializes in recovery and intervention. Hassan has for many years given advice to families. Some titles are “Freedom of Mind,” “Releasing the Bonds” and “Decultization.”
From the University of Miami, professor Joe Uscinski writes, “Almost all of America needs deprogramming,” and “Anyone could fall for cultish thinking under the right conditions. A term like “fake news” short-circuits critical thinking.”
The followers suffer from narcissism, says Ucsinski, a sense of grievance, and a need to find scapegoats for their complaints. The Prime Minister of Canada is a handy one.
The anger is frightening and contains the seeds of violence. How then do we incorporate these citizens into the body politic again? There are deep fears out there, of a world that is going haywire, and sick with a virus. Online anonymous hate poisons the atmosphere.
Three weeks ago, I listed 30 points of light in my own life and in my city. Many of you did the same. That’s healthy. Recently, I saw the wholesome collaboration among hundreds of young adults on 20 fields at the Canadian Ultimate Frisbee championships in Brampton. No referees, just an “observer” or two to consult, on any difference of opinion. Then praise, and gifts for opponents at the game’s end. More of this and less of the other. We need everyone to speak up, call out the stupid and the vicious, and restore our reputation.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at email@example.com or from >Amazon<