I had never seen such a mixture on Canada Day.
There were protesters chanting “freedom” with their fists raised while waving Canadian flags. And the others, the little families, just as patriotic in their white and red clothes.
Among the first, the anger of the protester. In the others, the relaxed air of the vacationer.
The resemblance of the uniform was as striking as the difference in their respective moods.
Except for these mindsets, and perhaps also the anti-Trudeau/vaccines/sanitary measures posters, it would have been difficult to differentiate the protesters from the others.
We celebrate freedom as we can, or as we want.
Faced with this strange spectacle that seemed to overwhelm her, a young immigrant who has lived in Toronto for two years told me: “I see two groups of people who love their country just as much, in their own way.”
If only it were that simple.
Which brings us to Pierre Poilievre, who supports the so-called “freedom convoy” wholeheartedly.
Playing in the flowerbeds of Maxime Bernier may help him win the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
It went very well for him. His lead seems to be insurmountable.
But in the compact crowd of tens of thousands of people, the rebels of the convoy form only a small minority.
And their grievances have not aged very well as health measures evaporate.
Their call for freedom rang all the more false among the joyful mass gathered.
On this Canada Day, in Ottawa, we were able to see the strength, but also the limits of the echo chamber formed by the “complosphere”.
Maxime Bernier has no realistic intention of taking power, he told me this weekend on the sidelines of the celebrations.
The case is quite different for Pierre Poilievre.
However, both drink in part from the same well.
It is this attitude that led tenors of the conservative family like Brian Mulroney to no longer identify with it.
Like many ordinary Canadian patriots, they did not recognize themselves either in the demands or the anger of the convoy.