George Koch and John Weissenberger, writing in the National Post of Monday, 23 February 2004, ask the question: "Who are Laurier's heirs?" A good question and one that ought to be asked by every Canadian over the age of seventeen years.
Opening their article is a quote from Sir Wilfrid Laurier made about 80 years ago. Then, the last, great Liberal prime minister said, "… freedom, freedom in every sense of the term, freedom of speech, freedom of action, freedom in religious and civil life, and last but not least, freedom in commercial life."
Laurier's words are worthy of examination - perhaps re-examination - today. Today, we see that the freedoms so eloquently presented eight decades ago, are greatly tarnished in Canada. Perhaps, more than tarnished; indeed, Canadians have seen those freedoms eroded to the point that today, they exist more in words than in deeds. Consider that Koch and Weissenberger wrote.
Today, after 30-odd years of what's been aptly christened the Trudeaupian state, the same ideas are radical assertions, a revolutionary manifesto. The heirs of Laurier, our federal Liberal government, now represent the antithesis of Laurier's vision. What is the measure of freedom in Canada, using Laurier's standards?
Freedom of speech is under almost daily attack. The latest instance involves Don Cherry's factually correct remarks about hockey visors. Jean Augustine, the Liberal's Minister of State [multiculturalism], warned that "The government will not tolerate statements that create dissonance in our society and disrespect for others."
Freedom to say only what is soothing to all - and approved by the governing elite - is no freedom at all. While one might laugh off Autustine's warning as obviously absurd, Cherry's politically incorrect sentence prompted his employers to undertake pre-emptive censorship normally reserved for open-line callers, and triggered investigations by federal agencies having no authority to do so. This is intellectually totalitarian. Who will be next? The contested topics won't always be so trivial.
There is no doubt that Canada's freedom of speech is under attack by politicians and bureaucrats who think they know what is best for the country. What is best, however, must jive with what they say is best; and that is not necessarily what is best for Canada. Far too often, Canadians have been subjected to government fiats that tend to do more harm than good. A case in point is the Liberal's silly idea of gun registry. In their feeble minds, they thought that by having every gun in Canada registered with a central federal agency, citizens would be safe from dangers imposed by guns. The result is that guns by the thousands are in the hands of criminals and those bent on criminal activity while Canadians - law abiding citizens - are deemed to be criminals because they either did not or they refused to register their rifles, target pistols and the like with a bloated, unnecessary federal bureaucracy that to date has cost Canadians about one billion dollars. The idiocy of the Liberal's plan is there for all to see.
One restriction breeds another. The Liberal-controlled CRTC deems al-Jazeera OK - or at least worthy of serious consideration - but Fox News and Christian channels are unacceptable. As Canadians respond by pirating U.S. satellite signals, what is the government's solution? New laws, tens of millions of dollars spent defending against court challenges and finally, ham-fisted pursuit of the subversives. Even East German communists eventually gave up jamming West German television, but Canada's Liberals are made of sterner stuff.
Canadians deserve better than they currently receive from the Liberals in Ottawa.
In an earlier column, mention was made of a revolution that is not too far off on Canada's political horizon. The people will only take so much stupidity from the Liberals and then the floodgates of rancour will open and sweep over Ottawa like a nightmare. A nightmare, it must be written, that will be deemed to be correct in all its facets. It will be in living colour and will worm its way into the most socialist of the Liberals' hearts and minds on its way to root out the evil that has governed - such a misuse of the word as the Liberals have done more to misgovern than they have to govern - Canada for much of the decades since Laurier spoke his words about freedoms.
Brace yourself for the storm. When it comes, it will uproot many of the complacent ideas that pass for sensible thought in Canada today. What will emerge in its place will be a return to common sense, prosperity and a lean, clean government that listens to the people rather than shove idiocy down their throats. For too long, the tail has wagged the dog. It is time for the dog to bite back and rid itself of its bothersome tail.
Bob Orrick is a private tutor of English grammar, literature, poetry and Canadian history to off-shore youngsters. His pupils hail from such places as Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Venezuela. He was previously in international marketing, was a ministerial assistant to a provincial cabinet minister, spent a few years as a reporter then editor of a community newspaper and enjoyed a career in the Royal Canadian Navy.