An increase in superficial diversity cannot mask the demand for ideological conformity.
Following the removal of a teacher in Quebec for wearing a Hijab – considered a violation of that province’s Bill 21 – there has been much discussion about whether the federal government should intervene.
Political parties have been torn and divided, with individual Conservative, Liberal, and NDP MPs speaking out against it, while their party leadership – particularly Justin Trudeau & Erin O’Toole – take a more careful stance in an effort not to offend Quebec.
While many issues in Canadian politics these days are pretty clear – massive overspending and money printing generating inflation for example – legislation like Bill 21 and the broader debate over rights in Quebec is far more complex.
A key reason for this complexity is the embrace of the ‘diversity is strength’ mantra by most of our political class.
It’s a nice phrase, but it is also vague and can be used to justify just about any policy.
Such vague and frankly naive messaging tends to generate problems, particularly when interpretations of a word can be so varied.
Consider that there are many different types of ‘diversity’.
Quebec’s legislation is seen as an attack on religious diversity, while those who back it see it as defending the equality of men and women and sexual minority groups from the growth of religious beliefs that would infringe upon those groups.
Both advocates and opponents feel they are protecting the aspect of diversity that is most important to them.
This points to a tendency of human nature:
The dominant societal group wants to impose their power and will, while groups lacking that power seek to be left alone.
When religious institutions dominated Canada, many were willing to impose rigid beliefs upon those outside of that power structure.
Now that progressive institutions dominate Canada, they are willing to impose rigid beliefs upon those outside that power structure.
But, with the debate over Bill 21 ongoing, the question many people (particularly conservatives) are asking, is why so many politicians completely disappear when called upon to defend ideological diversity.
For example, if a politician speaks out against Bill 21, yet remains silent on vaccine passports and the continued expansion of restrictions and mandates, there is a clear element of hypocrisy.
Some CPC MPs have criticized Bill 21, yet are silent on Doug Ford ‘indefinitely extending’ some restrictions in Ontario.
We are also likely to see the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ changing from 2 shots to 3 shots. Will CPC MPs speak out against that?
Rethinking our values
The past year-and-a-half has tested the values of many people, revealing where our true priorities lie. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was all in on the restrictions and fear-based thinking. I have also previously supported ideas like Bill 21.
However, time continues to show that fear-based thinking is a tool used by politicians to gain control over the populace, to generate hate and division, and to expand their power at the expense of individual rights.
Whether it’s Bill 21, vaccine passports, mandates, or climate change fear-mongering, the agenda is the same: Disempower the individual and empower the state.
None of that is compatible with what should be the most prominent value and principle that guides us in Canada, which is individual freedom.
History shows that societies which are able to trust individuals, empower individuals, and defend the rights of individuals are societies that are more peaceful, more wealthy, and more successful in the long-run.
Closely linked to this is that decentralization appears to be essential to generate sustainable innovation and voluntary co-operation in diverse societies.
We often hear people praise the Scandinavian countries as an example of ‘socialist’ governments that succeed at a high level. However, there are a few reasons this is inapplicable to Canada.
First, the Scandinavian countries are mixed economies, and retain robust private sectors. The richest Scandinavian country – Norway – happens to have gigantic oil reserves.
Second, the Scandinavian countries are far more homogenous in population, and – similar to Japan – it is generally easier to have more centralized countries when the population is largely similar in background.
It’s often forgotten that the United States was largely made up of people who tended to hate each other in their original countries (considering the US had immigrants from all over Europe it was by definition more diverse than European countries), and rose to prominence through a system that was highly decentralized, letting diversity of background translate into diversity of thought.
With free speech so highly prized in the United States, and with States having a high degree of autonomy to try their own ideas, the United States brought people in from around the world, and freed those people to think for themselves, compete against each other, test out the best ideas, speak their minds, and generate innovation and wealth.
Superficial diversity, or diversity of thought?
This brings us to Canada.
Our country increasingly appears to be content with seeing ‘diversity’ as a bunch of people of different skin colours who all think the same.
When politicians say ‘diversity is strength,’ are they talking about diversity of thought?
Of course not.
In fact, diversity of thought is actively discouraged in this country, and punished within our political parties.
Look at Canada’s Premiers.
Have any of them pushed back in a meaningful way on vaccine passports and mandates?
Have any of them – unlike some Governors in the US and leaders in other parts of the world – stood up and refused to impose those measures?
What about our political parties?
Was there a big difference between the platforms of the Liberals and Conservatives in the last election?
They both ran on political correctness, big budget deficits, and carbon taxes.
And within our parties, look at how diversity of thought is brutally suppressed.
Justin Trudeau wanted Jody Wilson-Raybould in his party because she represented a superficially diverse image. When it turned out she actually had strong core values, and brought some diversity of thought to the government, she was fired and then booted from the Liberal Party completely.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and the CPC brass are in the midst of a campaign to root out anyone who dares to question O’Toole, and have increasingly shown no willingness to countenance diverse views within the party.
Decentralization & Individual Empowerment
As Ayn Rand once said, “the smallest minority on Earth is the individual.”
If you want to truly respect ‘minority rights,’ and want to truly promote ‘diversity,’ individual rights and freedoms are what we must defend and support.
We must regain our ability to defend the rights of those we disagree with, recognizing that if we fail to do so when we are in power, they will feel justified in trampling our rights when they are in power.
Just as those who want to take our rights and empower the state are relentless in their pursuit of their agenda, those of us who support individual freedom must be relentless in our advocacy for our beliefs.
With Canada increasingly fractured and divided, it is imperative to recognize that a diverse nation like ours can only work if we recognize the importance of decentralizing power away from governments, and if we wake up to the reality that diversity is much more than skin deep.