Editorials - Feb. 17, 2022
What’s the point?
While under a ban from officially competing on behalf of Russia due to a previous state-sponsored doping scheme, Russian athletes, representing the Russia Olympic Committee, are once again embroiled in controversy with the World Anti-Doping Committee.
Despite a pre-games positive test for a banned substance, 15-year-old Kamila Valieva was allowed to continue her Olympic competition with the caveat that should she place in the top three of her events, no medal ceremony would occur. Final standings under those circumstances will not be awarded until a full investigation into the positive test of Valieva.
Valieva’s status as a minor has afforded her protection and a perceived leniency and it certainly doesn’t seem fair to the other figure skaters, including the U.S. and Japan women’s team, which won’t receive their silver and bronze medals at an Olympic ceremony from the first event that Valieva competed in and won.
The anti-doping rules and punishment directives have no teeth and the Russian team seems bent on exploiting both the establishment and its own members, including a 15-year-old, regardless of the banner under which they’re competing. – DS
The eyes of the world
Since the occupation of Ottawa began, social media has been awash with videos, stories and commentary about the abuse - verbal, physical and otherwise - being hurled at journalists working to cover the events. Here in Huron County, the Feb. 5 parade of vehicles included signs declaring “the media is lying” and that “media is the real decease”. (Failure of public education or deeply coded threat? You be the judge.)
The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) stated that “journalists in the field have frequently been unable to record an interview or news item without being interrupted, threatened or assaulted” while noting an “alarming” rise in threats towards journalists. This is not new. In October, Carleton University and the CAJ held a roundtable on online hate and harassment targeting journalists. The CAJ and the Canadian Journalism Foundation released its findings from the roundtable earlier this month and the professional and psychological impact of online harassment on journalists is clear. This all before a single vehicle began making its way to Ottawa.
A Tweet from Jeremy Thompson, a reporter for CTV in Edmonton, has garnered plenty of attention and support as he shared the news that his office has instructed its reporters to remove network branding from their vehicles, citing safety reasons. It’s hard to believe it’s come to this, but as people tirelessly seek out alternative news sources that only tell them what they want to hear, their anger towards those telling them otherwise is growing with real people on the other end of that anger.
It’s encouraging to see the House of Commons pass a motion that “reaffirms the vital and essential role of journalists in a democracy and condemns the attempts to intimidate them over the past few days in their coverage of the events in Ottawa.” But actions speak louder than words and journalists need to be safe to do their work. – SL
What have we wrought?
There was a time when signs of Canada brought relief and joy to people the world over, even before we had our current national flag. During World War II, for example, villages and countries in occupied Europe who saw Canadians approaching knew that peace was on the horizon and, to this day, celebrate what Canada stood for then.
Unfortunately, due to the illegal actions in Ottawa and across the country, the flag has come to mean something different to some, and not necessarily something every Canadian can get behind.
The protestors have made the Canadian flag (among other, less desirable ones) a constant part of the ongoing occupation and, in doing so, made it so other protestors in other countries have adopted the same practices, making dissidence one of our most popular current exports.
The problem here isn’t fighting against a mandate that some feel is unjust, the problem is that these protests aren’t targeting those responsible for making that decision. Politicians in Ottawa aren’t being inconvenienced any more than the thousands of people whose day-to-day lives have been interrupted by these protests. The companies that were hurt by the actions at border crossings don’t have any control over the mandates. Even our local “slow roll” protests didn’t target any politicians and were more likely to hurt parents trying to get to hockey games or families trying to go shopping.
Canada’s world image is changing because of these protests and it’s not necessarily for the better. While everyone is entitled to speak their truth and call for change, it can’t be done in such a way that it hurts people who have nothing to do with the problem.
As protests inspired by the illegal occupation of downtown Ottawa pop up around the world, Canadians need to take a look at the message being spread and ask, should this be our export to the world? – JDS