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The Battle of Billings Bridge

A story of Canadian heroism

By Julia MarsiglioPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 5 min read
Image by 101cats from Canva Pro

It was a cold February day in Ottawa, Ontario, the capital city of Canada. A pair of men on horseback rode down the snowy streets, between rows of transport trucks moored to the ice. The video zoomed in on the second figure, proudly waving his blood-red flag high in the air—and the caption read: "the calvary has arrived".

It's not uncommon in Canada to see police on horseback in our cities. Sometimes they are dressed in mountie-red, with their iconic striped breeches and singular hats. But this was no mountie, and the symbol he displayed was not Canadian.

It was a Trump for President 2024 flag, being lauded as a hero by the Ottawa occupiers—a group intent on unseating our recently re-elected prime minister over dissent targeted at his covid policies.

But their grievances run deeper than that. For the convoy participants, it's personal. Many seem to believe that Trudeau is the unclaimed son of Fidel Castro, is part of an elite cabal intent on enslaving the world and is trying to kill us with vaccines and masks: some variation of "the great reset" conspiracy theory. Many hold up Trump as an anti-Trudeau—a figurehead who represents their worldview more closely.

They seem to have a particular disdain for what they call "legacy media", which most people simply call Canadian media.

White supremacists and anti-Islam individuals have found safe harbour for their views amongst this group, and this fits right in with their great replacement myth: the far-right conspiracy that there is an active genocide intent on erasing and replacing white people with everyone else. The vaccine, for some, was a vehicle to eliminate them by weakening their immune systems.

It all started with a Memorandum of Understanding and a handful of trucks. Throughout the pandemic, dissent about covid policy bubbled, particularly in Western Canada, a place with no lost love for our current prime minister, Justin Trudeau or his father, the iconic Pierre Trudeau.

Several years back western separatists and white supremacists had attempted a trucker's convoy to Ottawa to protest oil issues and immigration among other things. It failed to pick up the necessary steam and funds to cause much disruption and the truckers went to Ottawa, said their piece and returned home.

This time, however, was different. Vaccine mandates and covid restrictions were a highly divisive issue in Canada. Some Canadians looked at our neighbours to the south who on average enjoyed fewer restrictions during covid than we did and felt that our government was overreaching. Others looked at the same picture with gratitude that our covid death count per capita was nowhere near as high as the American count.

This divide was exactly the catalyst needed to gain momentum for an anti-government movement. It was time to try the convoy again. A GoFundMe was set up and dates planned. Support was rolling in.

There was just one problem, however. Much of the support was not Canadian. Vaccines and masking were divisive in America as well, and it appears that Canada has become a proxy battleground of sorts for these waring perspectives. The American divide came to Canada.

As the convoy progressed towards our capital and settled in, the Ottawa Police presented GoFundMe (the convoy had raised nearly 10 million dollars worth of funds) with evidence that the convoy was promoting violence and harassment.

It also became clear that much of the money was not from Canadians but from foreign sources and possibly from questionable sources aimed at interrupting our democracy for nefarious reasons.

Not only this, but the Memorandum of Understanding put forth by Canada Unity called for the disbanding of parliament to be replaced by an unelected committee of citizens—themselves.

Polling made it clear that only a minority of Canadians supported the aims of the convoy. Ottawa residents, most impacted by the convoy, in particular opposed it. Foreign money to fund an insurrection in Canada was not to be tolerated.

GoFundMe froze the money, and eventually returned it to donators. The convoy simply switched platforms, raising further millions on GiveSendGo, an American Christian platform, notorious for raising money for Proud Boys' legal battles.

When the Ontario Superior Court ordered that they freeze the assets GiveSendGo refused to comply, vowing to send the money in another way. By this time, American right-wing politicians had gotten involved, condemning the actions of Canadian police and courts. Many American citizens proclaimed their support.

By now the convoy was settled into the streets of the capital. They brought in saunas and pizza ovens, hot tubs, bouncy castles, fireworks and DJs. For the convoy supporters, this was one long festive party. Ottawa residents that live nearby were telling a different story, however.

They claimed that the honking of the horns day and night interfered with sleep and could damage hearing, especially for children. Ottawa residents reported assault, harassment and hate speech directed at them for wearing masks or trying to film the protest. An attempted arson, where the arsonist tried to tie the doors of the building closed to trap residents was recorded. Witnesses reported that the perpetrators claimed to be convoy participants.

Citizens proclaimed that convoy participants were defecating on private property, behaving belligerently and generally disregarding the law. Hate symbols, such as swastikas, were being sighted as well.

In the meantime, even after a city-wide and provincial declaration of emergency, the police failed to remove the convoy participants, who had been asked to go home repeatedly by officials. The police targeted the fuel supply, but Ottawa residents complained it was rarely enforced.

Ottawa citizens were fed up. One young woman, 21 years old, spearheaded a civil suit on behalf of Ottawa residents that led to a moratorium of honking horns for 10 days.

The capital city began to be flooded with false-flag 911 calls, designed to tie up emergency services and delay response time. This is an action that puts Canadian lives directly at threat. Most of those calls were determined to have originated from America. It was growing increasingly clear that this was an operation that was well organized and both funded by and supported by Americans.

This made many Canadians very angry.

And then, on February 13th, 2022, came The Battle of Billings Bridge. It all started with a dog walking community group. Ottawa residents were fed up with the disruptive presence of convoy participants and with their undemocratic aims and foreign support. They no longer felt that the police were protecting them, so they came up with a plan to do something.

Chatter online indicated that a section of convoy participants was heading to join the Ottawa occupiers. Ottawa residents moved quickly. They headed down to block off the passage of these would-be convoy participants. While heated words were exchanged, the blockade remained peaceful and Ottawa citizens managed to successfully prevent the section from joining the occupation in Ottawa.

The people of Ottawa rose up to protect themselves and all Canadians from an occupation aimed at undermining our democratic institutions and backed by foreigners. Where the police failed to act, they stepped in and peacefully and firmly declared that they had had enough.

These ordinary citizens were the heroes of Canada, stepping in where our institutions failed, to protect the interests of the vast majority of Canadians who still believe in our democracy, in the government we elected mere months ago and in the rule of law.

Ottawa residents, you are our true hometown heroes. We thank you. Stay strong. Canada is with you.

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About the Creator

Julia Marsiglio

Loss parent. Canadian poet. Fiction and nonfiction writer. Intersectional feminist. Writing on trauma, grief, mental health, marginalization, neurodivergence and more.

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