Canadians have been barred from deathbeds of loved ones, but authorities deem protests an “exceptional circumstance”

By Jonathon Van Maren

Just days ago, progressives and government authorities were informing us that the COVID-19 lockdowns were absolutely necessary to halt the pandemic. First we were flattening the curve, then we were suppressing the infection rate, and now we appear to have very little idea what we’re doing. Despite that, most of us are obediently following the dictates of the authorities. My family self-isolated for weeks when we were told the curve needed to be flattened, and we did so both out of respect for government authority and concern for our vulnerable citizens.

It is difficult to exaggerate the onerousness of what the government has been asking of us. Weddings have been cancelled or moved online. Businesses have been shuttered, and many of them have vanished permanently. Family restaurants that have been open for decades have gone under. Essential medical treatments have been delayed, suicides have gone up, and addicts have been unable to access ongoing treatments. The economic toll has been devastating. So has the toll on mental health. But we did all of this because the government told us it was necessary. That is why we have not seen grandparents, and have not gone to church, and have had our lives utterly upended. Now, more than ever, the authorities need to act in good faith because we need to know that this has been worth it.

Patience has begun to run thin, especially as police officers have been particularly eager to hand out fines to people for driving in vehicles together, going to the park, and perpetrating other mundane daily activities which pose no threat to anybody. Many are warning that our civil rights are being curtailed without any specific explanation being given, but we are still told that “we are all in this together” by people who will remain utterly unaffected by the economic devastation. (We even have some “we’re all in this together” snitch lines where one can fink on one’s neighbors if they appear to have too many people over for a family barbeque.)

And then George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, and it turned out that none of this actually meant anything. It turns out that some gatherings are allowed, and that some mass activities are acceptable—as long as you happen to be engaging in a mass protest that the authorities approve of. Consider this headline from CTV: “’Exceptional circumstance’: City won’t enforce gathering limit during Friday anti-racism march.” From the article:

The City of Ottawa says it will not be handing out tickets to the people who attend an anti-racism demonstration on Friday outside the U.S. embassy, despite a provincial limit on public gatherings.

The current state of emergency in Ontario prohibits gatherings of more than five people unless they are from the same household, yet Friday’s event could draw thousands. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Ottawa’s general manager of community and protective services Anthony di Monte said police would be monitoring the event in order to ensure public safety, but would not be handing out tickets.

“The City is not permitting or sanctioning the event, per se,” Di Monte said. “We’re in a state of emergency and groups of [more than] five are not permitted. That said, there’s a balance. We live in a democracy. Groups of people are expressing themselves and they’re allowed to do that. Police won’t be issuing tickets. Our simple role will be to ensure public safety.”

Got that? Because this apparently is, as di Monte noted, “a very exceptional circumstance,” even Ottawa Public Health’s associate medical officer of health Dr. Brent Moloughney told reporters that he “understand[s] that people want to march and express themselves” and asked that protestors do what they could to take “steps to keep yourself and others as safe as possible.”

So let’s get this straight: Protesting the death of a man in another country is permitted. Attending the deathbed of a loved one, even a parent, is not permitted. Being with a loved one in their dying hours is apparently not an “exceptional circumstance,” but the police killing of an American man is an “exceptional circumstance”—despite the fact that no sane person thinks a bunch of Canadians protesting something that happened in America will do anything, for anyone, anywhere. Spouses have been unable to attend the funerals of their partners. Men and women have died alone, their loved ones barred from their bedsides by COVID-19 restrictions. This has created unfathomable pain. All of that was because we were told it was necessary to stop the pandemic.

But the restrictions will not be enforced when it is time to protest an injustice in a different country? That is what qualifies as an “exceptional circumstance”? Not the deathbed of a wife or husband? Not the funeral of a grandparent?

The same authorities and commentators in North America and across Europe who told us that to leave the house was the equivalent of killing the vulnerable are now saying that the thousands of people in packed crowds in major cities across the West are fully justified because as it turns out, the rules aren’t the same for everybody. If you want to protest, it just has to be a cause that the authorities approve of. We can apparently sacrifice the vulnerable as long as we’re doing it for a good cause. Then you’re allowed to flout every rule that has been crammed down our throats for months, and the police will save their tickets for moms taking their kids outdoors for much-needed sunshine.

Maybe the authorities are just afraid of the mob. Maybe they’re just afraid of being called racist. But regardless, those who were kept from the bedsides of dying loved ones and were barred from the funerals of spouses should be very, very angry. If the authorities were serious about the essential nature of the lockdowns, then the protests will, by their accounting, cause another spike and force these draconian measures to drag on for longer—which means that because the government suspended the consequences for these protestors, those who obeyed the government will bear the brunt of the economic damage for this. If there is no spike, then we have to wonder what all of this was for once we’d flattened the curve.

Either way, the credibility of the authorities on the lockdowns is gone. We know now what they consider to be a justifiable exception to their rules. It isn’t churches, weddings, funerals, or even last goodbyes. It is allowing Canadians to protest a murder in a different country. The rest of us will apparently just have to wait until the government sees fit to give us back our freedoms, or perhaps reclassify our church services, weddings, and other events as protests against injustice. Those, it turns out, are allowed.

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13 thoughts on “Canadians have been barred from deathbeds of loved ones, but authorities deem protests an “exceptional circumstance”

  1. Sam says:

    Just a quick correction … the authorities didn’t ticket or arrest the reopen protesters either, which protest was certainly not approved of by the Premier, at the very least.

    https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/a-bunch-of-yahoos-ont-premier-says-of-people-protesting-covid-19-emergency-measures-1.4911861

    I will agree with you that the Province appears to have largely wasted the months of social distancing; however, its not correct to say that only approved protests are allowed.

    • Jonathon Van Maren says:

      So it appears that the standard is: Those who obey the law must obey the law. If you don’t, then no consequences. And those of us who have been obeying the law will bear the brunt of it.

    • Karen says:

      Sam here in Wpg, the police did issue warnings of $12k fines or jail time, from the Health Commissioner, to the speaker and organizers of a smaller (150-300 people) peaceful, socially distanced protest against extending the lockdown in Manitoba (May 9).

      Threats of fines accomplished what was intended by the Health Commissioner, as people stayed home the following weekends. NOBODY can risk a fine like that after the economic ruin from Covid19.

      It must be noted that here in MB the provincial total death rate from Covid19 is 7 people and total infected is 300 people, with the curve flattened already in mid April. Hospital have NOT been overwhelmed as only a few cases ended up in hospital from Covid19.

      Jonathon VanMarren. I completely agree with your article but in speaking this truth publicly, others label us racist and that is unjust and undeserved.
      Acknowledging the inconsistency by our government does not trivialize the George Floyd murder nor does it deny the full reality of injustice and rascism in our own country against First Nations and neither does it minimize the risk of Covid19, especially for the vulnerable in any way.

      The topic addressed by this article is the inconsistencies of government response. Facts are FACTS and TRUTH must be told. We need more journalism that speaks truth especially in a time such as this where the politically correct bias in media is not serving democracy well.

      • Sam says:

        Thanks for the reply, Karen.

        However, I just wish to point out two things:

        1) the article is explicitly on Ontario, where the George Floyd protests were not the only protests allowed to carry forward; and,
        2) I didn’t call anyone a racist.

  2. Chuck says:

    Jonathon this doesn’t look good on you. If as a pro-life advocate you can’t understand the importance of these protests I quite frankly don’t know what to say.

    • Jonathon Van Maren says:

      Re-read the article. We cancelled 6 Marches for Life, and suspended all pro-life street activity, as well. Either the lockdowns are unnecessary and protests are allowed, in which case–have at it. Protests are an essential part of democracy. But if we are still supposed to believe that engaging in mass activity will cause the death of the vulnerable, which our leaders have stated, then this is unacceptable.

      • Chuck says:

        I didn’t enjoy the article the first time. I’m hardly inclined to read it again.

        I think you missed the point on why the lockdowns were initiated to begin with, I think you missed the point on why these protests are important and how government opposition to them would further exacerbate the situation, and I think you missed the point on the whole racial inequality issues we have in Canada by suggesting this is simply about “Protesting the death of a man in another country.”

        I stand by my original statement. This doesn’t look good on you. It doesn’t look good on your cause, and your lack of empathy in your post is only out weighed by the tone of self righteous indignation.

  3. Luke says:

    This is not a good look. People are protesting the systemic racism of our society which makes their lives and the lives of their families unsafe regardless of a global pandemic. It takes a remarkable lack of understanding to simplify this to protesting one man’s death. This article is childish and displays a very un-Christian attitude. Our brothers and sisters need our support now more than ever if there is any hope of fixing the deep seeded issues in western society and to write articles like this which boil down to “I cant do things I want to so they shouldn’t be allowed to do their thing” is only furthering the issue.

    • Jonathon Van Maren says:

      You missed the entire point of the article. It takes an enormous amount of empathy to encourage protests it they will, as we have been told, result in *more* death and suffering. The point is this: Either the protests are safe, in which case I’m very supportive. Protest of injustice is a key part of democracy. That would mean that people have been kept from the bedside of dying spouses and loved ones for no reason, and that many are still barred from doing so for no reason. Or the pandemic is still ongoing, in which case these mass gatherings will kill people.

      But whenever these points are brought up, people insist on saying that the protests are necessary. I’m not arguing that. But the entire thing we’ve been doing for months is NOT doing necessary things to stop a pandemic. And if there is a massive spike after all of this, more people die, lockdowns continue, and economic devastation worsens–yeah, don’t talk to me about empathy in response to that. It’s not a very good look, and it is a childish analysis of where we are right now.

    • marie says:

      Thanks for your post. Why anyone outside of Minneapolis is protesting is beyond me. The police who committed the act were arrested and charged. That’s justice. The 5-time felon was on drugs and committing a crime at the time of his demise. He didn’t deserve to die but he’s no role model. Systematic racism means laws like apartheid. You don’t have a twice elected (but terrible) “black” president (or congressmen, senators, 4 star generals, astronauts, mayors, police chiefs, etc.) with systematic racism. In my racially diverse neighborhood, NOBODY thinks these protests are a good idea, especially since they’re co opted and orchestrated by powers that want destruction. Now that’s systematic. Allowing the destruction of whole cities because you want to remain in power so you keep telling blacks they are victims who only they can help (but what have they actually done in the last several decades in power) so you’re angry at a fabrication is evil.
      And I suppose the virus is like the story of Passover? The virus will kill church goers, school children and US congressmen if they congregate but magically pass over protesters?
      How about “Truth Matters?”

  4. Lianne says:

    Thank you, Jonathan! I never comment on anything online but after seeing the negative responses your article received I just wanted to take a moment to comment. I really appreciate how you tackle issues from a Christian, well-balance and common sense perspective! In a world where even Christians struggle to tell right from wrong, we need the type of articles you write to keep us focused on truth.

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