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Vehicles clog downtown streets as truckers and supporters continue to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, on Feb. 10.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

Someone once said that the end of the pandemic would be harder and messier than the beginning. They were right.

We are at that stage where it seems generally agreed upon that people are fed up – “so done with it,” to use a phrase on repeat these days. A majority of Canadians don’t agree with the tactics of the Ottawa protesters, but seem to share their frustration with pandemic restrictions. An Angus Reid poll released last week indicated the number of Canadians in favour of lifting all COVID-19 restrictions and letting people “self-isolate if they’re at risk” had tipped over to 54 per cent.

After less than two years of having to wear a little mask covering our faces, and less than a year of having to whip out a phone to show proof of vaccination to help guard against infecting others with a disease that has killed millions, people are apparently “so done with it.” It’s one thing to lift some restrictions to help children get back to normal, but throwing it all away at once so that we can dine at a restaurant without the “slog” of showing our vaccine record? I can’t help but wonder what Canadians were saying 78 years ago, as the country entered year four of the Second World War and empty shelves at grocery stores were a daily reality and not a political prop. When food was rationed to help feed our soldiers on the front lines. When a cup of sugar was given to families once a week along with four ounces of butter. When a mother regularly sent a care package to her son in a prisoner-of-war camp.

It’s too bad no one thought of just getting a bunch of truckers together to have them honk their horns until someone ended the war.

So much about the pandemic discussion in this country today is phony, overwrought and false. What’s happening in Ottawa is not a protest against vaccine mandates. It never was. It’s a protest against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The organizers, who hail mainly from the Prairies, hate the man. Many who have since joined the encampment have an intense dislike for him as well. Some are anarchists who want to overthrow the government.

It’s why the federal Conservative Party of Canada were so comfortable crawling into a proverbial bed with these losers. They share a common disdain for the person leading this country. On Thursday, the CPC finally called for the protesters to leave.

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Everyone is pointing at the Prime Minister as if he’s the one who can, with a brush of his hand, end all these horrible mandates that have been the greatest burden known to man. Even people in his own caucus are blaming him for dividing the country and demonizing those who aren’t vaccinated.

Yes, he made some remarks that weren’t smart, tossing generalizations of racism and misogyny at vaccine holdouts as though they were a monolith. No doubt there are some among this group, but there are some among the vaccinated too. But beyond that, mostly what Mr. Trudeau has done is beg people to get vaccinated, same as every provincial leader in this country.

Have people forgotten how this country works? Yes, the federal government has imposed some mandates that affect a segment of the population. But those that have affected the greatest number of us have been applied by provincial governments, and they are the only ones that can remove them.

This seems to be lost on those at the Freedom Convoy base camp. Then again, those people don’t care about that, because their target is the Prime Minister. They want him out. He’s the person they’ve come for. Mandates? Nice cover story.

We hear repeatedly how it’s time Mr. Trudeau start healing divisions and extend an olive branch to those poor folks who didn’t get vaccinated and now feel stigmatized. Right. We should all start apologizing for ever speaking unkindly of them, even if it’s been the unvaccinated who have prevented us from getting out from under pandemic restrictions much sooner.

It’s why Mr. Trudeau and other provincial politicians and public health officers have been imploring people to get the jab, so we can return to “normal” and prevent our hospitals from constantly being on the brink of collapse.

Anyway, those who are “so done with it,” and the protesters in Ottawa and Alberta, are beginning to get their wish. Saskatchewan and Alberta were the first to announce the removal of most restrictions by the end of the month. Other provinces, including Quebec and PEI, also revealed timelines this week that will see many measures lifted come March. Others are certain to fall in line soon. Every province is managing the removal of mandates and other pandemic-related measures differently, just as they (not Ottawa) did when it came to dealing with various waves of the virus.

No one knows for certain whether these decisions are premature, or whether this will all backfire in a horrible way. But it seems the people have spoken – or enough of them anyway – and the pandemic will now be over.

Even though that’s not the way these things usually end.

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