What Kind of Man Are You?
Under direct police surveillance, a funeral director defies the rules
Michael Vogiatzakis’ supplementary testimony. 15 April 2023. Click image to go to video; begins at 8:25:15.
The National Citizen’s Inquiry is currently holding hearings in communities across Canada to examine the way this nation responded to the COVID pandemic. I haven’t been able to pay proper attention to those hearings, but while locating the testimony of 15-year-old Kyra about whom I wrote yesterday, by chance I caught a few minutes with a man named Michael Vogiatzakis.
He’s a Manitoba funeral director. It seems the Inquiry asked him to return to the podium on Saturday to talk about an experience that wasn’t discussed during his testimony the previous Thursday. I don’t expect to ever forget these remarks.
Beginning at 8:25:15 on Saturday’s video, he explains that funerals for children are particularly difficult, and that he oversaw one for a six-year-old boy during the period in which funerals were capped at 10 people. He was obliged, he says, to stand on guard at the door in order to prevent distraught family members from entering and saying their final goodbyes to this child.
After telling an uncle he couldn’t come in, the uncle expressed understandable distress. “What kind of man are you?” he demanded. Mr Vogiatzakis says that, as a result of this exchange, he made a decision to defy the government on that occasion. He let the uncle in. Then he went out into the parking lot, to which other grieving relatives of this child had been consigned, and invited them inside, as well.
His testimony suggests a police cruiser was often parked across the street, monitoring his funeral home. Apparently every last murder had been solved, every last rapist had been apprehended, and the geniuses in charge considered this a good use of police time.
A few minutes later, he says, the cops came to the door and told him he was facing a $50,000 fine. When he asked an officer if he had kids, the response was “What does that have to do with this? You broke the law, we have a limit, and you’ve passed it.”
A few moments later, after the officer admitted he was, indeed, a father, Mike explained: ‘I have a little six-year-old lying in the chapel, and the family needs to see him. They need to say goodbye.”
He says the officer looked at him “dead in the eyes, and said the F-word, and walked away. And that day I didn’t get a ticket. And that day I didn’t get harassed any further.
“But what I did do was allow a family to have closure…No family deserves to lose a child, never mind being told that you can’t come to a funeral service.”
This is the kind of society Canada turned into, practically overnight. A society in which the police intrude on private grief, interfering with people during some of the worst moments of their lives. In which agents of the government behave as though heartless rules trump basic decency.
The courage displayed that day by Mr Vogiatzakis was like rain falling on a parched desert. The same kind of courage was exhibited, en masse, by the Freedom Convoy truckers.
Government overreach doesn’t stop until ordinary people grow a spine and push back.
Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at ThankYouTruckers.substack.com. It is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.