Wednesday, 17 February 2021

The "Liberty Coalition" and why Canadians should be aware of it

 Isn't it extraordinary? Some conservative Canadian politicians from across Canada have decided that the best response to a global pandemic is to join a group called the Liberty Coalition Canada.

I decided to have a closer look at this "Liberty Coalition". We should be aware of who is organizing and trying to draw supporters across Canada, and what they are setting out to do.

My observations follow...
#cdnpoli #abpoli #onpoli 
The "Liberty Coalition" seems to embrace several causes, or "initiatives" as they call them. There's the "End the Lockdowns Caucus", "Save our Youth", "Open Small Businesses", and "The Church Must Gather". 
The Liberty Coalition appears to have begun as a campaign to keep Ontario churches open through the pandemic, and has grown into a science-denying fundraising effort for the far right. 
Members of this Liberty Coalition include Maxime Bernier, Derek Sloan, and Randy Hillier. Their web site features a "Resources" page which offers up articles from Rebel Alliance Media, GraceLife Church, Disrn, Western Standard, and Rex Murphy. 
The End the Lockdowns caucus opposes closures to prevent the spread of COVID, saying that restrictions violate citizens' democratic freedoms.
The End the Lockdowns caucus boasts a long list of current and former conservative politicians, from MPs down to municipal councillors. Most are from Ontario and Alberta, but there are a few from Quebec, Saskatchewan, BC, and one from New Brunswick. 
The "Save our Youth" initiative engages potential supporters emotionally. "Spearheaded by mothers", this initiative uses short videos intended to elicit visceral responses. Anecdotal "evidence" is a favourite tactic of the right.
"Save our Youth" emphasizes how harmful missing church is for young children. They provide loads of memes for the like-minded to share on social media.
The "Open Small Businesses" initiative is supported by the Canadian Federation of Small Businesses, a group of small business owners calling themselves "We Are All Essential", a Rebel Media-led campaign called "I Will Open", and Restaurants Canada.
This initiative also provides a lot of memes for use by supporters on social media.
"The Church Must Gather" is the fourth initiative of this group.
This initiative encourages Christians to defy local authorities and congregate for worship services.
The Church Must Gather is collecting names on a petition. They use a string of Bible verses to supposedly justify breaking public health restrictions for church services. 
And, of course, they are fund-raising. They encourage donations to help stop all these terrible things they say shut-downs to keep people safe are causing.
The website is very professional, suggesting that this group has resources. There is nothing "grass roots" about this. I am inclined to suspect the hand of someone like Jeff Ballingall behind the slickness of the campaign. 
They work on making a case for ignoring COVID-19 so that businesses and churches can continue to do their thing. Apparently, they are not concerned about the illness and death that lifting restrictions could cause. 
I will note, also, that "Liberty Coalition" sounds pretty American, and pretty Republican at that. The group seems to be dismissive of public health concerns, while trying to make the case that public mental health is being adversely affected by lockdowns. 
This Liberty Coalition also points to mental health issues and suicide as reasons to end restrictions. But, just like their emotionally cloying anecdotes, they are not basing their claims on factual evidence. 
This is not a new tactic for the right. Albertans may recall Jason Kenney's folksy story about his dear friend who committed suicide "because of the economy". Turns out the guy was under investigation for a 30-year string of violent sexual assaults. Don't take them at their word. 
In conclusion, it appears to me that this group is using emotional triggers to appeal to the public to get what they want. What they want has absolutely nothing to do with the public good. They want to ensure the cash continues flowing into their businesses and churches. Period. 

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