(LifeSiteNews) — Since the pandemic was declared, not only have science and medicine taken a hit, but the rule of law in some countries has been tossed in the dustbin of non-essential rubbish. Sadly, as a Canadian, I have had to watch the Commonwealth nations, such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand go “full steam ahead” with endless government overreach and the suspension of basic human rights.
We have all seen the scenes: Canadian cops barging into Good Friday services, dragging pastors away, and arresting Christian men who stand for God in front their children; the lunatic who runs New Zealand calling for endless snap lockdowns and snarking at the public about how awful the unvaccinated are through a smile that is too big for her face; and of course there is Australian Premier of Victoria Dan Andrews, who has given us a case study in what it is like to watch a man lose his mind a bit more each press conference.
Countries all over the world have been mixed in their responses, and the instigation of vaccine mandates has thrown another variable into the mix which has caused some countries to recapture their totalitarian roots. I do not pretend that Canada has been the worst on earth, but it has definitely been in the same neighbourhood, and the reputation of my native land as a friendly and welcoming place has made the development all the more troubling.
In a way, there is something “understandable” when a place like Austria, Germany, or Russia gets a little out of hand with government overreach and coercion. With all due respect to anyone from these countries, it is not as if there is no precedent for such activity in modern history.
But Canada? Canada is supposed to be a beacon of laid-back and chilled-out acceptance of all walks of life, without any real taste for reichs or revolutions. However, it seems as if Canada has slowly descended into a Marxist nightmare where the law is whatever the leaders say it is, where the truth is whatever the media is told to tell us, and villains are whoever stand for truth.
How did this happen to Canada?
This is a question too big to answer sufficiently for a sophisticated historian, but if I could offer a simple opinion, I believe that our historically recent insistence on constitutional law is to blame for our unconstitutional laws.
Canada is not a revolutionary nation; in fact, we are loyalists par excellence. Even our French are not like the French, having been severed from their motherland before Robespierre’s bloodbath. From a perspective of legal and political heritage, we are English through and through. Our history is one of common law, that is the customary legal system of English Christendom.
It is not a constitutional system like the American, and thus it is not based on metaphysical principles as axiomatic starting points. It is a historical system based on centuries, even a millennium, of precedent, and any good common law system fits the nation like a tailored glove, or it doesn’t really fit at all.
Multiculturalism is key to the equation
There is much to say about how Canada has changed religiously, culturally, and linguistically, but only a brief overview is possible here. Suffice it to say that with the advent of massive immigration from non-Christian nations in the post-war period, the Canadian landscape began to change. The first waves of those who had not lived under Christendom or common law were often from nations that were ruled by the British, like India. Familiarity with the Anglo way of life and governance made for a smooth integration.
Nonetheless, multiculturalism was trumpeted in modernizing Canada, and on October 8, 1971, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (the current PM’s father) announced multiculturalism as an official government policy. From that point, Canada was a nation whose culture was to have many cultures, and whose religion was to be many religions, and whose language to be of divers tongues.
It must be stated that Pierre Trudeau was a cultural Marxist and a revolutionary at his core. He was influential in the rise of the Cité Libre, which was the leading anti-Catholic and anti-Conservative publication that helped fuel the Quiet Revolution in Quebec in the 1960s. He also helped lay the groundwork for the proliferation of abortion in Canada, among other things.
Progressives herald the multicultural moment, but it has not been all sunshine and rainbows, which is not to say anything pejorative about a given culture; but it is a fact of history that rapid integration of radically different groups of people does not often go smoothly, and requires some groups to sacrifice immense parts of their identity and history if relative social order is desired.
Pierre Trudeau ‘fixes’ the problem he created
In order to address the problem that Pierre Trudeau helped to create, he championed his own solution, which is called The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter, as it is commonly called, is a constitutional document that outlines the basic rights and freedoms a Canadian is supposedly owed by virtue of his citizenship.
They include the normally agreed-upon rights that are common in the West, such as freedom of conscience, religion, expression, assembly, and so on. There were good men who were part of the Charter development, and as far as constitutional documents are concerned, it does the trick. But I believe the document has been used as a trojan horse for encroaching leftism and the restriction of true liberty.
Whatever can be said about Pierre Trudeau, he was intelligent and shrewd. As Canada was going through its modern “coming of age,” he pounced on the opportunity to break with Canadian and British common law tradition by implementing a seemingly well-meaning constitution.
He was the head of the Liberal Party, and he could claim that he had helped Canada progress into an age where a version of classic liberal politicking had seized a cultural moment that would define the pluralism he sought after.
But since The Constitution Act in 1982 that brought us the Charter, the social mores and values of Canada have eroded, and the culmination of our constitutional age has been personified by the reign of the former prime minister’s son who has done more to degrade the spirit of what was expected of the Charter than anyone could have imagined.
It has baffled many good-natured and Christian-minded Canadians — what former Prime Minister Stephen Harper called “old stock” Canadians — as to how the Charter can be ignored or even used against the supposed intent.
Limits in the Charter
There are, I believe, two main reasons why this is possible. First, there is a provision at the beginning of the document that permits egregious overreach. Second, we are not a “constitutional people” — I will elaborate.
The Charter begins: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.” So far so good.
Then there is a troubling phrase that sets up the subjective nature of how government is permitted to view the undefined principles and undefined “rule of law.” It reads: “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” (emphasis added).
Now, an honest and virtuous human being sees the provision for “reasonable limits” as only reasonable. For example, we generally agree that our government should not mitigate our religious practice, at least in the positive sense, but we could all accept that in a time of war, it might be that there is a curfew and we could therefore miss evening Mass as a result. The government is not saying we cannot go to Mass, but simply that there is a demonstrable danger and public safety necessitates that we are in our homes due to an impending threat after dark. Fair enough.
But what if the media and the government, which happened to be led by the son of the cultural Marxist who initiated the completion of the constitution, happened to spread the news of a virus that would spread and kill us all?
That is exactly what has happened.
The “reasonable limits” to our rights and freedoms have been subject to criteria that have been “demonstrably justified” by the government and the courts that adjudicate over which rights we are owed according to their criteria and limits. It is a leftist’s dream, and an honest person’s nightmare.
Now, there are certainly good men and organizations of legal professionals, like the Justice Centre for Charter Freedoms, that see the hypocrisy and fight it tooth and nail, and they should be supported without yield for doing so — they are heroes in my eyes.
We are not a constitutional people
However, that battle is thwarted often by the fact that, as I suggested, we are not a constitutional people.
What I mean to say is that constitutionalism is an artificial construct for us and is not organic to the culture. For all the faults of the American constitutional experience, the reason that their constitutional framework has more “teeth” and folkloric sway over the courts and populace is because it is part of who they are.
Granted, there are some vague prescriptions in the American constitutional documents, but those documents are the result of a significant dialogue of intelligent political thinkers who hotly debated issues for a significant period before anything was agreed upon.
In addition, the cultural atmosphere of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence was one of a more striking religious and philosophical hegemony. So when we read in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” it was implicitly understood that “religion” was some version of Christianity, and “speech” was governed by general Christian mores and taboos.
For all the divisions between the denominations and philosophies present in the American constitutional era, the religious, ethnic, and multicultural pluralism of Canada in the 1980s was a radically different scene.
It could be said that the American constitutional framework was laid out at the onset of revolution, when the people largely wanted to live in a Christian-leaning society; whereas the Canadian constitutional framework was laid out after years of cultural revolution when the country no longer resembled its past.
Whether a given revolution was justified is not the point, the point is that America grew out of a revolutionary past where the revolution had a generally unified body of belief, but Canada had already revolted against its beliefs and then attempted to instantiate a constitution based on metaphysical principles when no one agreed on the metaphysical principles anymore.
Personally, I believe that Canada needs to rediscover its roots religiously and morally before we can hope that any judge or politician will interpret the Charter fairly or in the favor of freedom and virtue. Only when we have a moral and religious populace, as John Adams so famously said, will we the constitution been seen through such a lens.