Canada No Longer Feels Like A Free Country

The direction of events is moving closer and closer to authoritarianism, with freedom increasingly being abandoned.

Consider these four things:

1) Police raiding GraceLife Church in Alberta:

“BREAKING: Police raid and put up fences around Alberta church that defied lockdown orders.”

2) New lockdowns in Ontario, including a “stay-at-home-order”

“Today, Doug Ford will dump the province into a third layer of lockdowns, with a ‘stay at home order’ to begin the spring. Millions will again lose their jobs.

In non-public sector circles, the move is being met with frustration, and bewilderment.”

3) The former head of the Canadian Supreme Court calling for the government to shut down websites with ‘hurtful words’

“Kill Websites, Says McLachlin: Fed regulators should “take down” websites that are “hurting our democracy”, says ex-Supreme Court chief justice. @CDN_WPF #FreeSpeech #HateSpeech #cdnpoli”

4) Quebec police repeatedly stopping and fining journalist Yaakov Pollak, despite his media exemption

“I’ve been stopped by Montreal police more than 15 times during the curfew and given thousands of dollars in fines, even though I have a media exemption. Last night @SPVM called me over and asked if I was “media juif” — Jew media. Outrageous.”

What is the common thread here?

An assault on freedom in Canada.

This is a level of authoritarianism that would have seemed absurd a year ago, yet here we are with these actions being increasingly normalized and even cheered on by a segment of the population.

The fact is, Canada no longer feels like a free country.

It would be reasonable to go a step further, and say that in many ways, Canada is no longer a free country, and much of the political class is determined to turn that into reality.

So much for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canada is built on a foundation of freedom.

It’s a large part of what drew people to this country from around the world, the freedom of the frontier, the freedom to speak our minds, the freedom to move and travel within our country, the freedom to associate with who we choose.

While the word freedom is criticized by some as ‘too American,’ it is in fact deeply Canadian, so deep that it is in our national anthem as a core description of our nation as “The True North Strong & Free.”

When those in power start to see freedom as ‘inconvenient,’ and use fear to try and take away more and more of our freedom, it represents a fundamental assault on the core of what Canada is supposed to be.

The idea that churches are being raided while malls and big box stores are left open is deeply disturbing.

The idea that the government would shut down websites for ‘harmful words’ is clearly an authoritarian assault on freedom of expression.

Police hounding and fining journalists and asking people to ‘show their papers’ should never happen in a free society.

And, having the government repeatedly impose ‘stay-at-home’ orders and destroying countless small businesses, over and over and over again, should not be allowed to take place.

With all of these things happening in our country, how can we still consider that we are a free nation?

How much longer will we be able to speak out?

The response to this is often “well, you are still free to criticize the government.”

And yes, that is mostly still the case.

However, it is beyond obvious that those in power are seeking to curtail and restrict that freedom as well.

When the former head of the Supreme Court calls for a government regulator to shut down ‘hurtful’ content that ‘damages democracy,’ is about as Orwellian as it gets, because that idea is itself immensely damaging to democracy.

You can’t have a real democracy if the government controls the media and can ban anyone they deem ‘hurtful’.

How many politicians have already complained that people are ‘too mean’ to them online?

They are just itching to ban people from being at all critical of the government.

Further, the Liberal government is already consolidating centralized government control over the media through bailouts, and now a proposal to tax social media companies for links (which is among the dumbest ideas of all time), and give that money (after the government gets it of course), to select media outlets.

Andrew Coyne warned about this in a recent column, straight up saying “the federal government is about to take over the media.”

“I don’t want to alarm you, but you might like to know that the federal government is about to take over the media.

Perhaps you will think I am exaggerating. But before the spring is out, based on its own announced timeline, there won’t be a patch of grass on the media landscape – broadcasting or newspapers, digital or analog, curated or user-generated – that the government does not either regulate or subsidize or both. If takeover is not the word, what is?”

Coyne concludes with this:

“I said I didn’t wish to alarm you. Let me retract that. If the government were only putting all of the country’s newspapers on its payroll, or imposing Canadian content quotas on YouTube, or snooping through people’s tweets, it would be worrying enough. But as it is proposing to do all three at the same time, I think a little alarm is in order.”

Freedom must be defended, especially when it seems inconvenient to do so

Behind all of these things is an apparently growing attitude that freedom is ‘inconvenient.’

We see people saying variants of that all the time, and many politicians have embraced it.

Rather than provide the public with all the information possible and let people take their own level risk, politicians have decided they will decide what risks we can take.

Rather than accepting that freedom of expression means some terrible opinions will be expressed and that is the price to pay for people being able to speak their minds, the government (and much of the media), are clamouring for state control over all outlets.

And rather than respect the rights of small business people to operate their business and take measures to operate safely, governments are slamming them shut, at the same time as they leave big box stores and large retailers (who just so happen to have armies of lobbyists), open to operate.

At each moment when there was a conflict between sticking to a defense of freedom or taking the approach that restricts freedom and centralizes power, governments – and many citizens – are picking the centralization approach.

What is Canada without freedom?

No country is perfect, but one of Canada’s strengths is our ability to acknowledge the past, debate the rights and wrongs, and have a free flow of information that enhances innovation and creativity.

A society of lively discussion and debate is a society that finds its way to success, even when it looks chaotic. A society of censorship, fear, suppression, and centralized control is a society that will end up making huge mistakes, driving people away, and destroying creativity and innovation.

Canada won’t be worth anything without freedom, and if we abandon our principles and core values we will have spat in the faces of those who built and fought and died for this country.

We must turn back from this dangerous course, before it is too late.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – Twitter


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