First they came

Written by Brenda Schimke

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me!

It’s a poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller who initially was an antisemitic Nazi supporter. His views changed when he was imprisoned in a concentration camp for speaking out against Nazi control of churches.

It’s a poignant message about being ever so diligent in safeguarding our minds.

So, when MAGA-cap wearer, Candice Bergman—now Conservative Party interim leader, and born-again Christian, Andrew Scheer—former Conservative leader, and Pierre Poilievre—likely next leader of the Conservative Party, stood with occupying forces in Ottawa, surrounded by swastika, American and confederate flags, the Star of David patch, signs hijacking God, effing-this and effing-that slogans, mutilated Canadian flags, a desecrated War memorial for the unknown soldier and unapologetic intimidators of the local citizenry, it was a frightful sight.

When any swastika, confederate or foreign flags are displayed at a peaceful protest in Canada, and when our intelligence community identifies the occupation as heavily funded by international bad actors, the protest is no longer about public health restrictions, it is about hate, anarchy and lawlessness. 

That’s when all peaceful protesters should have gone home, and all politicians should have stopped ‘playing chicken’ with our Constitution.

All Canadians are tired of the pandemic, but the majority aren’t prepared to share a protest with foreign actors and insurrectionists whose stated goal is to overthrow our elected government.

Progressive Conservative leadership of the past would never have gone near this unlawful protest. They weren’t naïve enough to believe negotiations were possible with Putin-wannabes whose vocabulary doesn’t include the word ‘compromise’.

It never turns out well when you use bad actors for your personal beefs (anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-Trudeau, anti-vaccines, anti-masks, anti-French, anti-urban, anti-immigration, anti-First Nations), and then expect the mob to go back in the box when you’re finished with them. It doesn’t work that way.

There are far too many leaders in today’s conservative parties who seem overly concerned about losing the worst element of right wing fanaticism to the People’s Party. Instead, they should be rejoicing and taking the opportunity to say ‘good riddance’ as they re-engage all of us lost mainstream fiscal conservatives, and beat Trudeau the ‘old fashioned way’ — win an election.

The conservative leaders of Canada, Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan seemed intent to ‘let Trudeau wear the Ottawa and Coutts blockades’. However, they greatly under-estimated the consequences. 

Premier Ford by ignoring his responsibility for Ottawa policing, emboldened like-protestors to shut down Ontario’s auto industry. Premier Ford sure knew then how to use his provincial policing powers. 

Premier Kenney, too, has the absolute power to continue condoning the blockade of critical economic infrastructure at Coutts, or not.

The hard lessons learned by Pastor Niemöller always circle back to the present. First, they came for Trudeau . . . then, for city folks . . . then, for auto workers and cross-border truckers . . .  then for our democracy . . .

“And then they came for my freedoms and there was no one left to speak out for me.”


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.