Penticton Western News reporter Brennan Phillips.

Penticton Western News reporter Brennan Phillips.

Shouting it out loud: It can happen here

Democracy is fragile, and we have a duty to protect it

People around the world were glued to their phones, computers and televisions to watch on Jan. 6 as America’s capital erupted into chaos.

We can’t take our democracy for granted, or think that what occurred in the United States can’t occur elsewhere.

To paraphrase the message of the author Sinclair Lewis’ novel, “It can happen here.”

Everyone who voiced their disbelief that such a thing could take place wasn’t paying enough attention.

Pretending there isn’t a problem and ignoring the signs, was how America got to the point of having their national capital building invaded by rioters and protesters, and terrorists with pipe bombs, zip ties and nooses.

Democracies are fragile, and they need the people’s protection.

To say that our own society is above what is playing in America is not only foolish, it’s dangerous.

Not more than a year ago, a Canadian reservist was arrested and accused of allegedly driving his truck onto the grounds of the prime minister’s residence at Rideau Hall, carrying with him loaded firearms. His case has yet to go to trial, and perhaps when it does people will start thinking and talking about him again.

In 2014, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was fatally shot while on his ceremonial sentry duty outside of Canada’s Parliament, before his assailant entered the building and was killed by security.

The War Memorial and Parliament Hill shootings were classified as terrorist acts by the RCMP. Those were direct attacks on symbols of our democracy.

Many Canadian cities saw small pro-Trump rallies pop up the same day of the attempted coup in Washington.

Anti-mask and anti-lockdown rallies across the country have taken place in almost every city and community across Canada. Many of those protesters have legitimate grievances, whether it be the loss of a job, family member, or something else. Yet at the core of those rallies, is an anti-government sentiment that is all too real, and far too dangerous.

Just as the anti-lockdown protesters have their grievances that led to participating in the rallies, many of the protesters and rioters in the U.S. had similar grievances for supporting Donald Trump, but they all had one reason for storming the capital, and that was to attack the democratic process of their nation.

The federal NDP is calling for the Proud Boys, an international far-right group founded in Canada, to be banned as a terrorist group after photos emerged of members participating in the events in Washington D.C.

The signs of potential future dangers for our democracy are there.

A threat to democracy doesn’t begin with a riot. The storming of the U.S. capital building wasn’t produced out of the ether. Those hundreds of people didn’t wake up that morning with the novel but shared idea to riot. It was generated by groups like the Proud Boys – and condoned by a leader like Donald Trump.

We have a system in place for people to have their voices heard. It’s called an election. They’re not perfect. If there is one thing I want to see from the government in the future, it’s reform for our elections, to address valid concerns from people who feel the need to support groups like Wexit, that or others that feel we do not have accurate representation in Parliament.

As members of a democracy, we have a duty to stand on guard and protect our society. That means holding our leaders to account when they condone violence and groups that would sow hatred and division, in a way that respects our laws and more importantly, our democracy.

Democracies are fragile, so let’s do our part to keep it together.

Brennan Phillips is a journalist with Black Press Media

Column