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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

February 18, 2020 (American Thinker) — To describe Canada as a totalitarian state-in-progress sounds like a gross and indeed absurd exaggeration. Yet many premonitory signs are present. In the words of political philosopher William Gairdner, author of The Book of Absolutes, The Great Divide, and The Trouble with Canada, Canada “has just crossed the red line between soft-socialism and soft-totalitarianism.”

Gairdner has assembled a virtual mountain of evidence for his claim: Bill C-25 seeking to impose “diversity” on all corporations; financial penalties against organizations that do not comply with government programs; a teeming brigade of government surveillance “inspectors” — that is, spies: wage spies, speech spies, feminist spies, pay equity spies, Human Rights spies; paralegal bodies known as Human Rights Tribunals with the power to levy crippling fines, bankrupt families, and shut down businesses, impose prison time for contempt of court, and compel conformity via “re-education.”

The list goes on. Bill C-16 prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, which sounds unexceptionable except for the obvious fact that “discrimination” is in the eye of the offended beholder and the government enforcer. The bill effectively mandates that citizens address others by their preferred pronouns and transgender fantasies — or else! It’s “zir,” “ze,” “zem,” or “zeir,” or you’re done for. It’s Emily, not Brian, or your job’s in peril. The Ontario Human Rights Code stipulates that “refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity … will likely be discrimination” in social areas like employment, housing, education, and so on. As Queen’s University law professor Bruce Pardy writes, “human rights have become a weapon to normalize social justice values and delegitimize competing beliefs.” There are other laws on the books, bills such as C-59, C-75, and C-76, that reduce and even criminalize freedom of expression, infringe on privacy rights, compromise due process, and render government transparency a thing of the past.

The assault against normalcy, common sense, civil rights, and charter freedoms gives no indication of relenting. Bill S-202, an act to amend the Criminal Code now before Parliament, would outlaw what the government misleadingly calls “Conversion Therapy” — that is, by criminalizing parents, lawyers, physicians, and church leaders who object to state-compelled hormone-drugging and genital mutilation procedures, the bill would effectively prevent minor children undergoing forced transgender operations, surgical and hormonal, from receiving the help they need. “This whole agenda to sterilize and mutilate children,” write the editors of Action4Canada, “is pure evil and in violation of … the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as a physician’s ethical commitment promising to ‘First, do no harm.’” 

In an article for the National Post, columnist Rex Murphy, one of that rare breed of truth-telling Canadian journalists, writes: “This government, or the agencies of this government, are establishing a pattern of misusing the authority of the law.” Among other instances of official malfeasance, Murphy skewers the Liberal government’s fraudulent case against Rebel News founder Ezra Levant for publishing and promoting a book critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, The Librano$, during the October 2019 election without “registering” the book with a government agency. “Can anybody name any other book, ever,” Murphy asks, “which has been the subject of an investigation by the Commissioner of Canada elections? … Will PEN Canada, defender of authors and journalists, take up the banner for Mr. Levant?” Rhetorical questions, obviously.

As of this writing, new developments have come to the fore. Not satisfied with relying on the misapplication of electoral law or conducting dodgy prosecutorial attacks on individuals whom the party wishes to intimidate, silence, or arrest, Trudeau’s Liberals are considering a motion requiring all news content–creators to procure a government license for approved content, thus controlling public access to information. “These are autocrats that Canada has empowered,” writes spokesman for Canadians for Language Fairness Gordon Miller (personal communication). “Now we will pay the price.”

Not content with such despotic measures, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) proposes to identify news sites that are “accurate, trusted, and reliable” with the intent to enhance the “diversity of voices.” Truth be told, there are precious few “accurate, trusted, and reliable” news sites in Canada. As in the U.S., they are almost all parabellum outfits, taking dead aim at honest reporting. Moreover, we know that emphasizing “diversity of voices” is equivalent to the imposition of the grievance-driven identity-group and social justice model on public broadcasting while constraining factual reporting and bridling the dissemination of genuine news. It is, in effect, tantamount to a government monopoly on information, which, as Conservative shadow minister for industry and economic development Michele Rempel Garner rightly warns, “puts us in league with countries that control the media.”

That the warning comes from a Conservative M.P. who, like the majority of her colleagues, has embraced many of the Liberals’ woke policies and progressivist attitudes shows how far gone we are. Indeed, the contagion has spread throughout the House. All of Canada’s political parties signed on to Bill C-76, which received royal assent in December 2018 and imposes further restrictions on third-party speech during extended election periods. This is to be expected. Every political party steers to the Left, including, as noted, the Conservatives, who are essentially Liberal Lite. Trudeau is simply the most visible embodiment and effective bellwether of the political virus infecting the country.

The treatment of Omar Khadr is another case in point. A Canadian citizen and youngest son of an Al-Qaeda terrorist family who was detained at Guantanamo Bay for “violations of the laws of war” in Afghanistan, including killing American combat medic Christopher Speer, Khadr was repatriated to Canada and awarded a $10.5-million compensation settlement by Trudeau. Although the issue is clouded and precise information is difficult to find, it appears likely that he remains on a no-fly list. No matter: Khadr recently flew first class to keynote a panel discussion at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

The beleaguered Levant confronted him with a series of questions — was he aware of a no-fly list? Did he donate a portion of his cash windfall to the widow of Dr. Speer? (Levant did not mention that Khadr has purchased a strip mall in Edmonton for a substantial portion of his payout.) Khadr is regarded as a Canadian hero who suffered at the hands of the dastardly Americans, while Levant is nothing but a gadfly, so it was no surprise to see Levant grilled by four policemen and unceremoniously escorted from the airport. They got the wrong guy, as the expression has it, but that’s how things happen in a nascent police state.

Canadian combat veteran Jeremy MacKenzie, who attended the event — or tried to — was livid with righteous fury, recalling his buddies who gave their lives in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and the likes of the extended Khadr family. Responding to Trudeau’s excuse in reference to military veterans’ pensions that veterans “are asking for more than the federal government can afford,” MacKenzie fumes that, that notwithstanding, “we will make Omar Khadr, the Taliban terrorist, a multi-millionaire.” Canada, he proclaims, “is not the country that I signed up to fight for and it is certainly not the country that those men and women died for.” Like Levant, he was escorted from the premises — an analogy for the dwindling remnant of patriotic Canadians being escorted from their country.

These are developments that should not be dismissed as mere desultory details. They add up. As Gairdner points out, soft totalitarianism is a considerable way from hard totalitarianism. “But it all starts somewhere, and this week, the road got shorter.” There is a sort of political Martini curve at work as Canada races to keep up with the Leftist conformity of the modern international elite. Regrettably, Canada has no Donald Trump or Viktor Orbán or Boris Johnson on the current political horizon. Nor is there a term limit on the office of prime minister, which suggests that a socialist troll and ideological jamoke like Justin Trudeau may be in power for years to come. The one party that promised a return to social, political, and fiscal sanity, Maxime Bernier’s The People’s Party of Canada, was deep-sixed by the media and wiped out at the polls. That tells us all we need to know.

To say it can’t happen here — the title of Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel, though he targeted the wrong constituency — is an expression of overweening confidence and lack of historical awareness. One does not have to think back to the demise of the Weimar Republic in Germany. A mere glance at the European Union’s unelected, bureaucratic authoritarianism, or a recognition of what the Democrat Party is demonstrably planning for the United States, should awaken us to the danger. To be awakened, we might remark, is the opposite of being woke. Canada stands as a vivid illustration of what would be in store for the U.S. under a Democrat administration.

It can happen here, and it is happening right now, right here, in Canada.

David Solway’s latest book is Notes from a Derelict Culture, Black House Publishing, 2019, London. A CD of his original songs, Partial to Cain, appeared in 2019.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.