There is supposed to be a free-wheeling & unpredictable feel to democracy. In Canada, those in power have done everything they can to take surprises out of the system.
Canada is still a somewhat democratic nation.
We can join political parties.
We can vote.
We can (though with ever-tightening limits) speak our minds.
And yet, I’m sure you can feel that something is clearly off.
Canada feels far less free than before, and that’s not even including the draconian restrictions we’ve seen put in place over the past year and a half.
The reason for this is that Canada increasingly resembles a ‘managed democracy,’ a place where the external trappings of democracy exist, but the freewheeling, chaotic, and unpredictable aspect of democracy (which is essential) has been removed or severely weakened.
Consider the points I mentioned above:
We can join political parties, but party leaders have immense centralized control, can boot out any candidate they wish, can take away someone’s party status, can appoint candidates against the wishes of local members, and can run the party as a quasi-dictatorship.
We can vote, but the parties increasingly resemble each other. Even though getting Trudeau out of office is the most important thing due to the Liberals becoming a disturbing personality cult, the Conservatives & NDP have been dramatically narrowing the distance between themselves, meaning the ability to vote for a drastically different agenda is blunted. Parties that differ from the norm, such as the PPC, have been suppressed by the establishment media organs and their government partners, as evidenced by their exclusion from the debates despite outpolling the Greens (who are included).
And when it comes to speaking our minds, our freedom of expression is clearly being ratcheted down, both at a societal level with the self-censorship of the ‘woke’ era, and by government, with the Liberals pushing for legislation like Bill C-10 & Bill C-36 that will dramatically expand government power at the expense of individual free speech.
The key is to realize that democracy is not simply an ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch. It is more of a spectrum.
What matters most is where the trend is heading, and in Canada – as in much of the Western world – the trend is towards less democracy and more authoritarianism.
Indeed, many governments seem to be trying to emulate China’s hyper-controlled state, abandoning the principles of individual rights and limited government power that helped the Western world flourish. While most have been more subtle about it, we of course know that Justin Trudeau straight up said he admired China’s ‘basic dictatorship,’ and is clearly trying to make the Canadian government more like the all-encompassing states we see in Communist nations.
Reaction to protestors
One of the more notable ways in which we are becoming a ‘managed democracy’ is in the reaction to protests.
Usually, when people protest against a public official, the focus is on why people are angry and what politicians have done to generate that anger. Leaders are not seen as passive victims of circumstance, since we recognize that leaders have a high degree of responsibility for nations that become divided and deeply polarized.
Yet, in the reaction to the protests dogging Justin Trudeau during the campaign from both the establishment media and from Trudeau has been to cast the protestors as ‘the other’ and further deepen polarization.
Note how the establishment press doesn’t even mention that Trudeau began the campaign by flipping from his previous stance (when he was against vaccine passports and vaccine mandates), to a stance that explicitly demonized unvaccinated Canadians.
Trudeau went about as dark and divisive as it gets, calling unvaccinated Canadians ‘those people,’ pushing for a massive restriction on their freedoms, and making a clear attempt to divide Canadians in ways reminiscent of the dangerous authoritarian rhetoric of the 20th century.
When leaders use tactics like that to generate hate and anger towards their ‘targets,’ some of that hate and anger will blowback on them.
To ignore the cause-and-effect relationship here, and to ignore the culpability of leaders like Justin Trudeau is to feed into an authoritarian atmosphere.
That authoritarian atmosphere has certainly received a huge boost over the past year and a half as well, with so many people gripped by fear that they are – in many cases literally – demanding the government further restrict their freedoms and the freedoms of others.
So now, we witness the disturbing spectacle of a leader purposely demonizing certain Canadians, dividing the country, and then acting like a victim when people push back – with much of the media and the political class embracing his victimhood narrative rather than pointing out the danger of his divisive rhetoric.
A return to core values
The antidote to the spread of ‘managed democracy’ is to remember the core values of our country and Western civilization.
The fact that individual freedom and free expression have proved so successful in generating innovate, wealthy, and free societies shows that those core values work.
By contrast, authoritarianism, whether in a fascist or communist form, always entails immense human suffering, incredible levels of state violence, economic struggle, and the cheapening of human life.
It seems to be some sort of unfortunate reality that we must continually relearn these lessons, and are destined to continually fight for freedom against those who want to expand their power over individuals.
In the moment, fear often makes authoritarianism feel ‘necessary’ and ‘justified,’ but the expansion of state power and restriction of freedoms always outlasts the temporary crisis.
The more we allow fear to divide us, and the more we pin all our hopes in a powerful centralized state, the further we stray from the values and principles that made Canada and the Western world such a great place to begin with.
And particularly here in Canada, we need to break the stranglehold of the political and media establishment, return some real democracy, freedom, and uncertainty to our political process, and remember that democracy is supposed to feel unpredictable & freewheeling, not ‘managed’ or ‘controlled.’