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“Most of us are just trying our best to build the…most peaceful and healthy today.”
Back in January, Ant-Man and the Wasp actor Evangeline Lilly made headlines for attending an anti-vaccine rally in Washington, DC — which she claimed was to “support bodily sovereignty while Canadian truckers were rallying for their cross-country, peaceful convoy in support of the same thing.”
She concluded her statement with a pro-choice message that has been co-opted by many who are against vaccines: “I was pro choice before COVID and I am still pro choice today.”
At the time, several of her fellow Marvel actors seemed to call her out on Twitter.
Recently, Evangeline asked Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to address the so-called Freedom Convoy, a group of protesters who occupied the city of Ottawa for three weeks in opposition to lockdowns and vaccine mandates.
In a video shared by the Bridge City News Instagram account, Evangeline said, “Dear prime minister Trudeau, I want to speak to you today about your current approach to and current treatment of our fellow Canadians who are protesting your federal vaccine mandates.”
She continued to urge the prime minister to “unify people by finding solutions together, not by vilifying those who say there is a better way.”
On Monday, Feb. 14, Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canada’s history, which granted the government broad but temporary measures to clear the protests and freeze their funding.
In the video, Lilly continued, “I have heard firsthand accounts from people in Ottawa saying that they have had local Ottawa citizens come down and see for themselves the fury and destruction that is going on in their own city, only to find thousands of people singing, dancing, hugging, waiting patiently, speaking kindly, cleaning up the streets, and generally sharing the true Canadian spirit.”
BuzzFeed News reported that, on Sunday, Feb. 13, residents of Ottawa took to the streets themselves to physically block the Freedom Convoy’s movement.
Joel Harden, the provincial representative for Ottawa Centre, said, “I hope the convoy knows they’re not welcome in our city anymore. They made their point; it’s time to go.”
Addressing Trudeau, Lilly continued, “[The protesters] have been mystified because you and the corporate media have painted a very different picture. You as a group have gone from ignoring these protesters to dismissing them as a fringe minority to smearing them as racist and misogynist to now attacking them as terrorists.”
According to the BBC, some Freedom Convoy protest signs depicted Nazi symbolism and compared the COVID-19 measures to the Holocaust, which the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies called “a heinous form of Holocaust distortion.”
Trudeau refused to meet with the protesters and said, “Freedom of expression, assembly, and association are cornerstones of democracy, but Nazi symbolism, racist imagery, and desecration of war memorials are not.”
Lilly said, “When you became prime minister of Canada, you did not just become prime minister of the people who agree with you. … You don’t get to pick and choose who you will care about.”
At a press conference, Trudeau said, “Here in our capital city, families and small businesses have been enduring illegal obstruction of their neighborhoods. Occupying streets, harassing people, breaking the law, this is not a peaceful protest.”
Lilly continued to insist that the protesters are “not terrorists” and that “it is the civic duty of every Canadian…to hold our leadership accountable…if we think they are wrong in monumental decisions they are making on behalf of the people.”
The people of Ottawa, on the other hand, were frustrated with local police for failing to stop the convoy.
Addressing “everybody listening,” Lilly said, “If you think that the person on the other side of this divide is your enemy, please take time to get to know them. … Most of us are just trying our best to build the brightest future for the next generation and the happiest, most fulfilling, most peaceful and healthy today.”
She said, “Don’t let the press brainwash you into division and hatred. The antidote to prejudice is knowledge. Because of the algorithmic way your Google searches are filled, it can be very hard to find good information on the other side. Ask someone you know.”
So, I opened an incognito Google Chrome window and did an anonymous search for the “opposite side” — “why are vaccines bad?” Unsurprisingly, the top results all pointed to the same conclusion — vaccines are safe and effective.
Lilly concluded, “If you could share five things with me that would explain your point of view, what would they be? I want to listen to them.”
So, here are five things I would share with Evangeline Lilly:
1. According to the official Canadian government website, “evidence indicates that the vaccines used in Canada are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.”
2. When Health Canada authorizes any drug, the “benefits must also outweigh any risks,” and, based on scientific and medical evidence, they’ve determined that vaccines are both safe and effective.
3. Globally, COVID-19 has killed more than 5 million people (according to NBC), but history shows us that vaccine mandates are effective ways of stopping the spread of dangerous diseases — including smallpox and measles.
4. As of Feb. 18, almost 80% of the Canadian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
5. According to Reuters, the number of infections and deaths due to COVID-19 is falling in Canada.
And finally, once again according to the official Canadian government website, “vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect our families, communities, and ourselves against COVID-19.”