Protesters on Parliament Hill against COVID-19 mandates have remained firm and have made it clear they’re in it for the long haul, but now several MPs are condemning the protest as others defend the convoy in Ottawa.
The protest, which has entered its second week, has prompted an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday night.
Several Calgary MPs are also weighing in on the protest.
Over the weekend, Calgary Centre CPC MP Greg McLean posted on social media, describing the protest as similar to a “winter carnival day” and calling “shame” on media reports about racist symbols at the protest, suggesting the symbols were “props, perhaps?”
In a later statement, McLean called for the end of the blockades and said he supports law and order, adding that he “did not intend to minimize the gravity of the situation” in his earlier post.
McLean was unavailable for comment on Monday.
Duane Bratt, a political scientist with Mount Royal University, questioned McLean’s differing comments on the protest.
“Did conditions on the ground change over that time period? No,” Bratt said. “What changed, I think, was public pressure, particularly for an urban Calgary MP in a swing riding that may be very different from a rural Alberta MP.”
Other prominent Conservative MPs have publicly supported the trucker protests in Ottawa, including posting photos with some of the protesters.
On Monday, CPC interim leader Candace Bergen wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that called for a meeting of party leaders to discuss ways to “de-escalate the protests.”
Calgary Forest Lawn CPC MP Jasran Singh Hallan said he walks through the protest daily to get to the House of Commons and noted the protesters “just want to be heard.”
Hallan said he wants to see the government “extend an olive branch” to the protesters.
“Let’s get together and listen,” Hallan said. “Let’s figure out what is it that they really want because no one wants to continue with these demonstrations. Everyone wants these demonstrations to end.”
Calgary Signal Hill CPC MP and former Alberta health minister Ron Liepert said he believes support for the trucker protest against COVID-19 mandates has since “deteriorated” because it “has turned into an occupation.”
Liepert, who has publicly supported both vaccines and mandates, said he is fearful for how the protest will end and wants to see the protesters disassemble.
“I do not believe that the majority of my constituents support what is now happening in Ottawa. I don’t believe it was supported at the beginning, but it clearly is not supported now,” Liepert said.
“The majority of my constituents would support me in asking these folks to start to disassemble and do so peacefully.”
Liepert said elected representatives’ inboxes have been flooded with emails about supporting the protest, but he cautioned against believing it’s the majority view of the general population.
“If you walk down the street in your neighbourhood and talk to people on their doorstep, their issues are going to be very different than what you’re hearing in your inbox,” Liepert said.
“That’s not to say you ignore what’s in your inbox, but I do not believe that you should make decisions or govern by what’s coming into your inbox.”
According to Calgary pollster Janet Brown, public opinion on the protests and blockades continues to evolve and that is creating a challenge for elected officials as they attempt to take a hard line.
“One of the reasons it’s hard to assess public opinion right now is it’s hard to differentiate between the loudest voices and the most voices,” Brown said.
“I think, right now, we’re seeing minority voices speaking very loudly and the majority is very silent right now.”
George Chahal, who represents Calgary Skyview, is the only Liberal MP in Calgary.
In an interview with Global News, he said he remains concerned about the ongoing protest in the capital.
“The protest has turned from a protest of concern of government interventions and public health to much broader than that,” Chahal said.
“Peaceful protest is always welcome, but disrupting the lives of community members in the city is not welcome, and I think it’s important that action be taken by the local police service and the Ontario government to deal with the illegal blockades and protests that are occurring.”
Global News reached out to the offices of every MP representing the Calgary region but only the representatives included in this story responded to our request for an interview.