On September 3rd, the National Post published a table from a Leger poll which indicated the issues identified by Canadian voters as most and least important to them.
The largest number of respondents (13.5%) chose “cost of living’ while the fewest respondents (2.2%) chose immigration. All of these numbers are low and there is little consensus on what the major issues are. Given the many closed businesses, the huge transformation in the types of jobs available during a pandemic, and the uncertainty how the pandemic constraints will play out, it is not surprising that how we’re going to survive financially is on everyone’s mind.
In Part 1 of these posts, I identified the four issues or topics of particular concern to me in the upcoming election. I have written about preserving our freedoms and securing our oil and gas supply, but I have neglected the middle two, primarily because these concerns do not seem to register on the radar of any of the political parties. Yet I think they are very important. Here is the list again.
- Preserving our basic freedoms
- Keeping the government from interfering in our lives
- Preserving the history and accomplishments of Canada in particular, and western civilization in general
- Maintaining Canadian energy independence and, particularly, preserving the strength and viability of the Canadian oil and gas sector
It’s noteworthy that none of the topics that mattered most to me as a voter, were chosen by Leger for their poll list. At least basic freedoms and preserving our oil and gas sector has been addressed by two of the main parties. So why are points two and three important?
Keeping the government from interfering in our lives
It has been at least a multi-decade trend that our governments increasingly interfere with our lives. From my perspective I our governments increasingly:
- Regulating what we watch on TV or listen to on the radio
- Controlling our eating habits
- Controlling what topics we can debate and change by voting, so that some changes that have been voted in can no longer be voted out
- Educating our children by training them what to think, rather than training them how to think
These past eighteen months, I have seen this interfering trend accelerate. Certainly part of this acceleration has been the pandemic measures that had an invasive impact our personal lives such as:
- when and who must wear masks
- the number of people we can have in our homes, our gatherings, and even our church meetings
- a movement toward coercing people to get vaccinated even if they prefer to take their chances with a Covid-19 infection or because they believe they are at risk of being harmed by the vaccine
But the government has also been working to be invasive in other ways
- restricting what news programs we can watch because they claim some news organization distribute misinformation (isn’t it my job to determine that?)
- limiting some experts from sharing their analyses on Covid-19 because they differ from the government’s directives (shouldn’t the government permit disagreement as long as both sides talk about data and statistics?)
- the government is increasingly taking on the role as an omniscient mind reader because they pretend to determine what speech is motivated by hate, and so, it is becoming increasingly arbitrary what assertions are out of bounds in discourse
Preserving the history and accomplishments of Canada in particular and western civilization in general
If one travels extensively abroad, one realizes rather quickly the privilege and benefits we have had in growing up in Canada. We have had access to education. Our parents have had a major say in our education and they have been permitted to pass on their convictions to us. We have been able to start our own businesses and manage our investments. We have been able to vote and even begin new parties when the existing ones no longer serve their constituents.
These benefits are part of our identity, and have been strongly influenced by our fore-bearers. Our history (both Canadian and European) have strongly influenced the institutions we value (democracy, parliament, rule of law, independent courts). From where I sit, we no longer transmit these realities to our children. Indeed, I have never before seen the intensity of the self-loathing for our history and institutions that is now commonly expressed in news media and even in educational materials.
These trends are not only damaging, but unjust. We have not walked in the shoes of the Fathers of Confederation, yet we condemn them anyway. We deface and damage statues and somehow the rule of law is not enforced.
I find this very troubling and look to vote for those who least support this troubling trend.
2021 Canadian Federal Election – Part 2: What Do the Parties and Candidates Say About Preserving Our Rights, Liberties, and Freedoms?
Why is this subject important to me?
I don’t want to live in a society where I’m compelled to:
- Regurgitate acceptable answers to the most fundamental of questions:
- What is the ultimate nature of reality?
- What is my purpose in life?
- How should I act in light of these realities
- What is my duty?
- Not speak the truth because I will be punished if I do
- Meet only with those people that are approved by the power structure
- Read only the information approved by the power structure
In other words, I don’t want to live in a totalitarian society where my personal freedoms have been set aside and I am reduced to nothing more than a cog in a big machine and my function is to serve the machine, whether I want to or not; but I will be punished if I don’t comply.
Are things really that bad?
If by this question we mean “Are things as bad as they can get?” they are not yet that bad. However, our governing authorities have, in a climate of great fear, set aside our freedoms of religion, of association, of free speech, and to some extent, freedom of the press (especially for smaller news outlets). This has been done, as far as I can see, without having these new rules vetted by the courts, without a referee or ombudsman to whom one can appeal to constrain overzealous and ineffective regulations. Instead our freedoms have been set aside by rules drafted and executed by appointed health bureaucrats in response to a health crisis. To me it shows how fragile and ephemeral our freedoms are when they can be set aside without discussion as soon as a health crisis is declared. Once set aside, we still have no firm timetable for the restoration of our freedoms.
What do the party platforms say about safe-guarding our freedoms?
I will go through the platforms alphabetically. The links to the platforms are found in Part 1. of this series.
Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)
As far as I have been able to determine, the CPC have not expressed any specific intentions to restore freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, nor to put any appeal mechanisms into place to restrain overzealous suppression of these freedoms. Their statements on freedom of speech are shown below.
Liberal Party of Canada
I have looked through the Liberal Party of Canada Plan. None of the topics in the plan seem even remotely related to preserving our fundamental freedoms.
The New Democratic Party(NDP)
I don’t see that the NDP in their platform have made any provisions for defending basic liberties for all Canadians. On page 94 and beyond they talk about ending discriminations against select groups of people. Banning certain kinds of speech may be the NDP’s intent. However, it seems to me, if one bans any disagreeable speech, then free speech has vanished.
The Peoples Party of Canada(PPC)
The PPC party has a whole section on freedom of speech. They also reminded me how the Liberals excluded churches from access to hiring summer students unless these faith organizations renounced their deeply held conscience-based beliefs against abortion. The text from the PPC document is cited below and the link will take the reader to the correct page.
The rights of Canadians to freely hold and express beliefs are being eroded at an alarming speed under the Trudeau government. Some of its recent decisions even require that Canadians renounce their most deeply held moral convictions and express opinions they disagree with.
In 2018, the Liberal government denied summer job funding to organizations, including charities, that would not sign an attestation supporting abortion. It also passed bill C-16 as part of a trend to force Canadians to express support for the existence of various gender identities beyond the biological categories of male and female, and to use pronouns demanded by those who identify with these other genders.
In addition to these assaults on conscience, the government launched a series of regulatory attacks on free speech on the internet and is pressuring social media companies, which are already censoring speech that isn’t politically correct, to crack down even more. It is also considering bringing back Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. This hate speech provision was repealed by the Conservative government in 2013 because it was being used arbitrarily to censor statements that offended some people on the internet.
In what appears to be a first step towards restricting our right to criticize some religions, it adopted M-103, a motion that condemns religious discrimination but only specifically mentions one religion, Islam, and without defining the term “islamophobia.”
Finally, on university campuses, a growing number of faculty and administrators—those who should be fighting for open debate of controversial ideas—have become aggressive advocates for censorship.
History and social scientific research show that freedom of conscience and freedom of expression, when maximally protected, advance the intellectual life of a nation, foster greater ideological diversity and societal understanding, and nurture other freedoms necessary for a successful democracy.
This is why Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees citizens freedom of conscience and religion, as well as freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.
What some people find politically incorrect, offensive or even hateful cannot serve as the legal basis for discrimination and censorship. Canadians should be able to enjoy maximum freedom of conscience and expression as guaranteed in Section 2 of the Charter.
A People’s Party government will:
- Restrict the definition of hate speech in the Criminal Code to expression which explicitly advocates the use of force against identifiable groups or persons based on protected criteria such as religion, race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation.
- Repeal any existing legislation or regulation curtailing free speech on the internet and prevent the reinstatement of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- Repeal C-16, M-103, C-10, and C-36.
- Ensure that Canadians can exercise their freedom of conscience to its fullest extent as it is intended under the Charter and are not discriminated against because of their moral convictions.
- Withhold federal funding from any post-secondary institution shown to be violating the freedom of expression of its students or faculty.
What this Analysis Means to Me as a Voter
I was disappointed that I could not find a single notion or point (aside from glittering generalities) that overtly supported our basic freedoms. It looks to me, under the Liberals, I will be facing increasing, creeping totalitarianism with so many of my thoughts and beliefs under pressure to conform to the ever changing Liberal script.
The NDP platform, if anything is even worse. I have serious doubts about the efficacy, justice, and value of their (in my view) extreme activism.
The CPC Platform was somewhat encouraging, in that it at least recognizes the fact, that if freedom of speech is to have any useful meaning at all, it must tolerate offensive speech. Bland, insipid speech that no one finds offensive does not need any protection. Nor does it allow the kind of active debate, so necessary for a healthy democracy. On the other hand, clearly defined criminal speech, that is to say, speech that threatens violence or incites violence must continue to be prohibited as the platform explicitly states.
I was disappointed that I could not find any provisions or concerns about the curtailing of religious freedom and freedom of association that has occurred during the pandemic. This ought to have been addressed. By my latest count 25 churches from many different denominations, from right across our country have either been burned down or subject to an arson attack. A further forty churches have been vandalized [ https://tnc.news/2021/08/23/a-map-of-every-church-burnt-or-vandalized-since-the-residential-school-announcements/ ]. The most I have heard from our politicians for these criminal acts are the mildest of rebukes and no platform policy statements urging protection for these churches.
Of all the platforms, the PPC platform most strongly supported my concern for the preservation of our most basic freedoms. I especially appreciated that it reminded me of the attack against conscience rights, directed against churches, as they sought to access the summer student funding for projects of general benefit to their communities. PPC also reminded me of the Liberal’s intent to re-establish Federal Human Rights Tribunals. The thought of bringing these back makes me shudder as I remember the injustice of their previous operation when they used government money to bankrupt the unfortunate individuals targeted by HRTs, when incited to do so by activists. The process was the punishment, regardless of how unjust the accusation or how solid the defense.