By KERRY DIOTTE
Member of Parliament
Are you wearing a red poppy this year to honour and respect people who died for our freedoms and democracy?
I sincerely hope so.
Canadians were justifiably outraged and insulted when Amazon-owned Whole Foods outlawed the wearing of remembrance poppies for its staff.
The company’s apparent justification was grotesquely misguided. Poppies were essentially pooh-poohed because they weren’t in keep with the acceptable standard uniform, an official said.
News media quoted a Whole Foods employee as saying a poppy somehow violated a policy against supporting a social cause.
Whole Foods officials were otherwise tight-lipped but it was obvious to most people why they’d banned poppies. Apparently, red poppies are not politically correct.
Most people realize poppies are worn to honour the sacrifice of the men and women who fought and died for the democratic freedoms we hold dear.
But among the hard-core, left-leaning, so-called progressive, super-woke crowd, the red poppy is a symbol of oppression, imperialism and the glorification of war. The internet is full of these ludicrous claims regarding poppies.
But after the Whole Foods wholly stupid poppy ban was reported in the news media, the public rose up in anger. They took to social media en masse and bashed the chain for its brain-dead ban.
While it took longer than it should have, Whole Foods lifted the poppy ban.
This time of the year, we celebrate and remember the people who fought for our liberties. We should reflect upon the notion that, arguably, the most sacred aspect of democratic society is freedom of speech.
Alarmingly our free speech is perpetually under fire by ultra-woke warriors who attack anyone expressing contrary views.
Dare to say that there is no human life that DOESN’T matter, and you’ll almost certainly be dubbed a racist.
Wear a cap or T-shirt emblazoned with a patriotic slogan and you risk being tagged with the same accusation.
Show up at a university campus touting a reasonably held opinion contrary to the groupthink of woke warriors? You could be banned from speaking or physically attacked.
This is a dangerous crowd. This is a dangerous movement.
This is the misguided bunch that condemns large swaths of our population as racist (especially all police), abhors most all elements of our Canadian history, celebrates tearing down statues of those who built the nation and seemingly hates the very country in which they live.
Don’t agree with them? Refuse to take a knee when they command it? You won’t denounce Canadian nation-builders? Won’t denounce your own race or culture? Dare to say you support the efforts of law enforcement? You’re in trouble, my friend. Big trouble.
Any one of those things could cause you a heap of hurt from this malevolent mob and purveyor of cancel culture.
They swarm people on social media, hog the headlines in the mainstream press and know how to mobilize. Just ask any one of the scores of people who’ve lost jobs for offending these self-righteous, misguided self-proclaimed, self-serving social justice warriors.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has consistently shown he’s sympathetic to them. He’s a poster child of the ultra woke who believe more in groupthink than free speech.
The world was horrified recently about an attack in France by a terrorist that saw a professor killed and beheaded. The educator dared to show cartoon images of the prophet Mohammed in a class on free speech.
Trudeau, embarrassingly, put his wokeness on full display to the world.
When asked by media about the horrific attack in France he said, “We will always defend freedom of speech.”
But it came with a major caveat.
“Freedom of expression is not unlimited,” Trudeau said. “Everyone must act respectfully towards others and not try to needlessly or arbitrarily hurt someone we share this planet and society with.”
So are we to think then that a professor who was killed for teaching a lesson about free speech was partially to blame for his own death? That’s insane.
Trudeau’s less-than-wholehearted criticism of a terrorist attack and lack of support for free speech was said to have offended France, one of Canada’s most loyal allies.
After mounting criticism, including in the House of Commons from federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, Trudeau was forced to call French President Emmanuel Macron. Trudeau called, presumably to say he really, really condemns the terrorist attack and really, really believes in free speech — hurt feelings of others be damned.
It was too little, too late. Trudeau’s lack of character and his poor judgement had been embarrassingly exposed.
All of this is a wakeup call to beware of the woke crowd and those in society who would trample on our free speech.
The men and women we celebrate during this time of year fought and died for freedom, including freedom of speech.
They were the true social justice warriors — the real deal.
We have a duty to continue their fight by standing up against anyone anywhere who tries to undermine freedom and justice for all.
It’s the very least we can do.
Lest we forget.
Wear that poppy proudly.
(Your comments are welcome. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)