Nunavut Conservative Sen. Dennis Patterson says he has left the Conservative caucus after not seeing some of his colleagues condemn the ongoing protests in Ottawa against COVID-19 health mandates.
He also said that when Erin O’Toole was ousted as Conservative Party leader last week, he didn’t feel confident that a future leader might support a “more centralized, progressive, solutions-oriented approach.”
“This is the Conservative Party, which has been known as the party of law and order, and I’m very upset with the lawlessness and the desecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the hateful, repugnant symbols (like the Nazi swastikas) being used and I’m disappointed that this has not been called out,” said Patterson.
The trucker convoy blockading the downtown core of the nation’s capital has been billed by many attendees as a “peaceful” protest against public health measures currently in place to fight COVID-19.
Some organizers of the convoy, however, have well-documented ties to white supremacists and there were multiple instances of Nazi flags, Confederate flags and Canadian flags marred by swastikas being waved by individuals in the crowd last week.
“The country is divided,” said Patterson. “It’s obvious to me that there are very strong voices in the general public supportive of vaccine mandates as well as probably 90 per cent of truckers, so there are strong voices in the general public.”
However, he said that he hopes more voices among the Conservative MPs and Senate caucus “wake up.”
“They need to speak out more and help bring us back to the centre road that frankly is the only path to power for us.”
On Friday, leader of the Conservative Party Candice Bergen released a statement on the ongoing demonstrations in Ottawa, calling on trucker drivers in Ottawa to remain peaceful.
“Call out and denounce any acts of hate, racism, intolerance or violence,” she said. “Canadians and Conservatives have heard you loud and clear.
“Regardless of political stripe, we all want an end to the demonstrations, and we all want an end to the restrictions.”
Even though Patterson has left the caucus, he said he still remains a member of the Conservative Party.
He has also joined the Canadian Senators Group, which is a “non-partisan” parliamentary group in the Senate of Canada where he will continue to represent and show support for the voices in his region.
“The second-largest Inuit community in Canada after my own hometown of Iqaluit is Ottawa. There are thousands of Inuit who live in Ottawa who come here for health care services, work, education, and some who end up homeless on the streets,” said Patterson.
“And I’ve heard very strong voices from the Inuit community and their representatives in Ottawa that they are feeling insecure and unsafe from the hostage-taking that’s underway now,” he said, referring to the convoy blockades.
He also added that people from his region are “deeply offended and traumatized” by the white supremacist imagery showing up at the protests.
“Voices from my own region and my constituents in Ottawa, as well as in Nunavut, have also impelled me to take a stand and disassociate myself.”