As a strong advocate for freedom, I tend to use the word with regularity, making the assumption that those I am speaking with understand the need to defend this principle and why it is under threat.
It is the case with any political ideology that ideas can be trapped in language that is no longer helpful, relatable or meaningful. When attempting to promote a specific set of values, it is easy to fall into dogmatism and abstractions which are largely unhelpful when trying to convince others of your creed. With this piece, it is my hope to step outside of that habitual rut.
I want to take some time to discuss what I believe is happening in the current political sphere in Canada, and I want to put forward an alternative vision, which I believe is captivating, powerful, positive and true.
When the word “freedom” is used, many people ask the question, freedom from what? It’s important to clarify that when I’m speaking of freedoms here, I’m talking about those typified as negative or natural rights. Most of the rights and freedoms outlined in our Charter are negative rights, which allow one to act without limitations imposed by government. These negative rights are inalienable, meaning they do not change depending on who is in power or what the cultural climate is.
The Charter states that everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: Freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press, and other media of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association. These rights and freedoms can only be restricted by limits that are demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
A free society does not mean no rules or restrictions, obviously. But the freer a society is, the more duty and responsibility are placed on the individual. A free society requires a mature citizenry.
You wouldn’t leave a posse of five-year olds to run around a neighborhood without any supervision because they don’t have the ability to reason or the maturity to care for themselves, but it’s entirely different when dealing with mature adults.
Throughout history, there have been many sources people have drawn from for stability, morality, virtue, ethics and strength. One of the most obvious is religion or devotion to God. The belief in a higher being to which you give an account of your life has had a way of keeping many on the straight and narrow, so to speak. (There are of course instances where the very opposite has occurred, but they don’t negate the principle.)
Western democracies founded on Judeo-Christian values were set up with limited governments where power was placed in the hands of the people instead of the rulers. It was the people who were responsible for maintaining the moral ballast of society, not the government.
Faith has not been the only stabilizer in democratic societies, community groups, charitable organizations and the family unit have all played a part in strengthening the social fabric, which has allowed for the least amount of imposition by government in daily life.
But, things are changing. Communist dictator, Vladimir Lenin, understood that in order for the complete centralization of power, he needed to destabilize society. He implemented a campaign against religion and had the command state takeover the roles that would have previously been carried out by churches, such as education, marriage, charity, theological teachings, etc.
Instead of belief in God, the Marxist-Leninist strategy was to foster belief in government.
It was a bait-and-switch with less bait and more switch via persecution. Where community groups, social organizations and churches would have provided stability and solace, the communist government became the caretaker and defender of humanity (what a joke). “Justice” in this utopia became retributive and punishment was doled out to anyone who dared question the government or stand in opposition to the murderous regime.
Now, I am not comparing the state of Canada to the former Soviet Union, but I am trying to demonstrate trends and prove a general theory.
The more the state imposes its belief system on the people, the less free they become. When the government becomes the ultimate authority on morality, then it can justify imposing that belief on the rest of us. The result is state-sanctioned censorship, punishment and damages inflicted on anyone who doesn’t buy into the government’s doctrine of the day.
If you can convince enough people and institutions (e.g., media, education) that a state-sanctioned moral purity is what is needed for a tolerant, diverse, forward-facing and progressive society, then you not only have the support needed to carry out that reimagining, but also a powerful mechanism for dictatorial action.
That is what we are seeing happen in Canada. We have an activist Prime Minister who is picking winners and losers by design. If you are not on board with his plan to reengineer this country into one that “moral,” according to his values and beliefs, then you will be left behind. Because Justin Trudeau believes his values are morally superior, he can rationalize restricting the freedoms, namely, speech, of those who stand in opposition.
In this endeavor to impose political doctrine and maintain power, scenarios are either created or exploited to expand the role of government. Propaganda is used to convince the population that the government is needed to keep people safe and secure, guard them from harm, misinformation and offence, and at the core of it, protect them from their neighbor.
Anyone with their eyes and ears open will see that this country has become more divided, more animus, more hateful, more fearful and less tolerant in the last six years. This is not a coincidence.
While the old adage, “with great power comes great responsibility” is true, what we are seeing is both power and responsibility being taken from the people and placed in the hands of a ruling few. Where the onus has been on the individual to be a provider, protector, caretaker, disciplinarian, etc., those roles are increasingly being usurped by a government that is expanding in size daily.
When the government steps in to protect individuals from any type of obstacle or hurdle, they are actually robbing people of the ability to face challenges and overcome on their own. It is by overcoming adversity that we get stronger and come closer to reaching our potential. This process is imperative for a healthy and robust society; it is also what we were made for.
A government that seeks be the savior in every situation is not looking out for the best interest of the people. Justin Trudeau is keeping individuals dependent on government because that’s the only way he stays in power. He is using Canadians for his own political advantage. Instead of creating an environment for growth, stability and success, independent of the government, he is making it harder and harder for individual Canadians to function with any form of autonomy or self-reliance. It’s a masterful plan to maintain power, but it is incredibly harmful for the individual and for our country as a whole.
A leader who wants people to succeed and reach their greatest potential is one who will turn away from the temptation to be the savior, and instead will limit the reach of government and defend freedom. They will use language that calls people up, encourages them to achieve their goals and create an environment for competition and prosperity, rather than tearing them down with infantilizing rhetoric. They will put people before government and realize that it is the people who are the problem solvers, the solution makers and the wealth creators, not the government.
I’m tired of hearing leaders speak to Canadians as if they are weak, defenseless, incapable, scared, angry and needy,
Our country has so much potential because of the people who inhabit it. The Canadian people are strong, ingenious, resourceful, courageous, compassionate, hardworking, generous and freedom-loving.
We don’t need a government to treat us like children and care for our every need, to protect our feelings or to tell us what we should think, believe or speak. We need a government that will guarantee the freedoms of the individual by limiting the power of the state. We need a government that will get out of the way so that we can build on Canada’s greatness and once again stand as a leader on the world stage as the nation that is True North, strong and free.
(Photo credit: North American Human Rights Center)