Many “blue” or pro-Beijing commentators have expressed a deep sense of schadenfreude about the “Freedom Convoy” in Canada that has inspired similar protests in several other countries against Covid-19 mandates. They still, understandably, harbour a grudge against the government of Justin Trudeau, which was among Western countries that condemned the responses of the Hong Kong police and government while ignoring the violence and riots in 2019. “Now the shoe is on the other foot,” they say, “let’s see how you like it.” A common criticism is that Ottawa, and then the provincial government of Ontario, have been so quick to declare a state of emergency after the truckers began peaceful if rowdy demonstrations triggered by mandatory vaccinations imposed by the Canadian federal government in the middle of last month. I am a Chinese-Hong Kong-Canadian, and I am no fan of Trudeau or Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. But compared to the Hong Kong government, the local opposition, and the protesters and rioters of 2019, I would say Canadians have put Hongkongers to shame in all three political categories. The truckers and their supporters have actually achieved their goal, not completely but to a great and reasonable extent. Several provinces are ready to reverse or end Covid-19 mandates and restrictions by next month. Protesting truckers have forced out Erin O’Toole, the former leader of the Conservative Party and main opposition party. Canada’s Trudeau invokes emergency powers to quell trucker protests As famed conservative commentator and psychologist Jordan Peterson said: “You protesters have accomplished an awful lot already. The conservative leadership has crumbled. Erin O’Toole has been replaced by someone who is giving a fair bit of voice to your concerns. “All the people you represent have a voice in the House of Commons. You have four provinces that have moved quite precipitously in the direction that the protest was hoping for. They are starting to lift mask mandates on something approximating as reasonable a timeline as might be expected under the circumstances.” They did all that without violence, so far. While hundreds of demonstrators remain in Ottawa, the capital, police have mostly cleared protesters at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor – a critical pathway for Canada-US trade. The protesters have achieved a limited but defined goal, by forcing officials to speed up ending Covid-19 mandates. Meanwhile, Trudeau has invoked the 1988 Emergencies Act, which has never been used before, for a declared national emergency. He may have been too quick and hypocritical to criticise other governments’ handling of protests, not just Hong Kong’s but those of the farmers in India, but he is right to intervene quickly in his own country. Contrast that with Hong Kong in 2019. As soon as the protesters stormed and vandalised the local legislature, the government should have invoked emergency powers and cracked down on further violence. There was a precedent in the colonial government’s hardline handling of the 1967 riots. But the government was too afraid to do it. In the event, it did declare an emergency – in response to the Covid-19 outbreak in late January 2020! The protesters could and should have ended disruptive mass demonstrations once the government backed down and withdrawn the cross-border extradition bill, just like previous peaceful demonstrators did when they successfully forced the government of Tung Chee-hwa to shelve security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law in 2003. The protesters won in 2003 and again in 2019. But those in the latter year didn’t know how or when to stop. While it was understandable that hot-headed radicals and inexperienced youngsters may have wanted to escalate their fight, pan-democratic old-timers knew their demand for immediate and total democracy was a non-starter that would simply lead to unending escalation. Peterson asked the convoy protesters the all-important question: “You’re now faced with a difficult choice: what are your criteria for satisfaction?” Canada police clear key border bridge but protests still crippling Ottawa So far as I know, no self-styled pan-democratic leader or legislator dared ask the rebel youngsters and protesters that question in 2019. Instead, they stood behind that stupid mantra: “No criticism, total support, stand together no matter what.” That was moral cowardice and political failure of the first order. If the Lam government had conceded on the extradition bill and then come down hard on the protests – “This is it and no more” – and the pan-democrat leaders had intervened and claimed victory for the movement, Hong Kong today would be in a much better political shape. Beijing would not have had the excuse – or reason – to impose the national security law and the complete overhaul of the city’s electoral system. Maybe it would have eventually, but at least not so soon. So, in terms of civic quality and government competence, the dynamics we see in Canada is likely to produce a more desirable and moderate outcome.