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Editorial: Anti-vax campaign protesters show ugly political undercurrent

Mob mentality of anti-vaccination crowd has echoes of U.S.A. events
anti vax Protest3
Hundreds of anti-vaccine protestors gathered outside Vancouver City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

There’s a disturbing undertone of meanness and bad intent that’s broken through the surface of public discourse in the past week.

While political protests are normal during an election, the mob that’s followed Justin Trudeau appears to have an anger that’s not fuelled by partisan politics.

Many are anti-vaccination, anti-mask conspiracy theorists who’ve resorted to vulgar shouts and gestures.

Rather than political backrooms of opposing parties, these protesters appear to be organizing in social media back channels.

This week the nasty undercurrent spilled over into someone in the crowd throwing gravel at Trudeau at a campaign stop.

Other leaders were quick to denounce the action.

But the escalation of ugly words into ugly deeds is concerning.

The crowds that have dogged Trudeau contain many of the same people who bully and threaten waitresses and store clerks, who’ve borne the brunt of enforcing public health measures.

They are also many of the same people who last week stood in front of local hospitals (thankfully Lions Gate was excluded) making it difficult for patients to access medical care.

None of this is acceptable behaviour. In fact, it is a marked departure from the kind of public discourse we expect in this country. It is fuelled by the echo chamber of social media and has much in common with the mob that attacked the US capitol on Jan. 6 – itself fuelled by fact-free populism.

Think such violent actions couldn’t happen here? The actions of the mob in the last week indicate otherwise.

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