In the weeks since the convoy descended on Ottawa, it has fueled a climate of hate and emboldened racists and bigots who have targeted health care workers, transit workers, and those who are respecting public health measures.
There has also been a steady increase in threats and acts of hate, harassment, and violence directed at elected members of government and public health officials.
On January 22, the day the convoy began, the constituency office of NDP MPP Jill Andrew (Toronto-St. Paul’s) was vandalized by someone who threw eggs and feces at the office’s street-facing window and entrance, targeting a large photo of MPP Andrew.
In the early hours of January 30, the day after the convoy arrived in Ottawa, the home of St. Catharines City Councillor Karrie Porter was vandalized by someone who threw a rock through her living room window while her family slept.
“These despicable acts are part of a growing escalation against local and provincial leaders in Ontario, including public health officials. They must stop,” said Patty Coates, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). “We condemn these acts, but we must also challenge the climate of hate that makes such acts possible in the first place.”
Even before the convoy began, a growing number of municipal and provincial representatives and local medical officers who have publicly supported and promoted public health measures had been targeted: at their places of work, in the streets, and increasingly outside their places of residence. The targeting has included verbal abuse, threats and acts of violence, and often racist and sexist hate, mirroring attacks facing health care, transit, and other frontline workers throughout the pandemic.
“The intent of these attacks are obvious: they are meant to intimidate, threaten, and isolate leaders and officials who, along with frontline workers, have worked tirelessly to keep us safe,” added Coates. “These attacks are unacceptable. We condemn these acts, express our solidarity with elected and public health officials, and organize to stop the hate.”
The OFL is grateful for the work of local Labour Councils across Ontario that are on the alert for incidents like these, and supports their efforts to speak out against these attacks and to show the solidarity and support of the wider labour movement.
The OFL also supports local organizing initiatives by residents, trade unionists, and other community members throughout the province to speak out against hate and support their communities (see here and here).
“In the coming weeks, as we mobilize for our province-wide Activist Assembly on March 6, we will continue to speak out against hate wherever we see it, and build a positive and hopeful vision for Ontario based on love, respect, and solidarity,” said Coates.
The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.