For protesters – and for other Canadians who supported or opposed rolling convoys and blockades across the country in recent weeks – the rallies were always about more than vaccine mandates.
It was about politics, law, public policy, economics, trade, symbolism, social responsibility and even about national identity.
Western University experts will lead two wide-ranging panel discussions on Friday, March 25, to help illuminate the gamut of issues the demonstrations have raised.
Conversations since the protests began in January have been polarized across the country, said Faculty of Law dean Erika Chamberlain, one of the co-organizers of the forum.
The “trucker convoy” descended on Ottawa and border cities with the U.S. in January, in protest of regulations that truckers crossing the borders show proof of vaccination. The blockades inspired similar demonstrations across the country, in the U.S. and in Europe and became a hot-button issue across the legal, social, economic and political spectrum.
“Some of the commentary has not always been as well-informed as it should be. Some people didn’t know which levels of government had jurisdiction over specific decisions, or how police services boards direct police, or what’s necessary in order to invoke the Emergencies Act, just to name a few examples,” Chamberlain said.
“And we have researchers from a range of disciplines who do have that knowledge and can make the conversation richer, more thought-provoking, more nuanced.”
The first of the two Zoom-based webinars will highlight the protests’ symbolic, rhetorical and political issues; the second will illuminate the legal, trade and economic ramifications.
Both sessions are open to the Western community and to the broader public and pre-registration is required.
Law professor Andrew Botterell, the other organizer of the panels, said it’s intended to be at least as proactive as it is reactive: not just what happened, but what happens next and how public discourse can change.
“We want to focus on a host of issues that maybe haven’t got a lot of play in media – and maybe discover some synergies and collaborations across research areas as well.”
Botterell, who will also be panel facilitator, said there will be opportunity for questions and answers from viewers and panelists during the two, 75-minute sessions. “This is the kind of conversation you could have over an entire weekend. You could probably have an entire conference just devoted to some or all of these issues.”
This has captured the public’s attention, Botterell said, partly because of the different layers of involvement and interest. “People were genuinely taken aback that there was this amount of anger … and also puzzled by the lack of action, this kind of jurisdictional hot potato. There were also these different definitions of ‘freedom’ and that was a very puzzling and, I think, troubling aspect of the language and discourse around the protests.”
Botterell added, “This is what we should be doing as a university. We should be getting people together who happen to have expertise and interest in these areas, and discussing those with the broader community.”
Two panels and how to participate:
Webinar 1: Reflecting on the Trucker Convoy —Identity, Culture, and Politics
With professors Cody Barteet (Arts & Humanities),Kate Korycki (Arts & Humanities), Patrick Mahon (Arts & Humanities), Laura Stephenson (Political Science)Friday, March 25, 2022 09:30 – 10:45 a.m.
Webinar 2: Reflecting on the Trucker Convoy — Trade, Economics, and Security (five panelists)
With professors Akis Psygkas (Law), Ananth Ramanarayanan (Economics), Gal Raz (Ivey), Tom Streeter (FIMS), Wade Wright (Law)
Friday, March 25, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.