Liberals Steal Freedoms from Canadians

"...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."

For some 80 years after those words were spoken by Wilfreid Laurier in 1894, they were considered self-evident by nearly everyone in Canada. Motherhood statements. Ho-hum.

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 Liberals' 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 Augustine'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.

Instead of taking limited, carefully focused action to solve a specific problem, the Liberals impose sweeping policies profoundly restricting freedom of action. Without preventing or solving a single serious crime, the gun registry has criminalized the once lawful behaviour of millions of Canadians, re-engineering their private conduct. Contempt for ordinary taxpayers is de rigueur. With the bill now estimated at $2-billion, any reasonable administration would back away.

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 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.

Freedoms are not always destroyed through dramatic gestures. Incremental incursions are just as effective. The federal Liberals are supported by a vast apparat of agencies, boards, tribunals and courts, in turn underpinned by numerous like-minded provincial institutions.

So, for example, a few drunken boaters are not dealt with through stronger enforcement of existing laws, but with new laws requiring licensing of all boaters.

The Liberals are openly hostile towards Christianity, still the dominant -- or should we say the most popular -- religion in Canada.

Religious preferences were banished from the memorial for the Swissair crash victims in Nova Scotia and Jean Chretien boasted about avoiding any Christian imagery in Ottawa's 9/11 memorial service. Apparently, people must be made to believe all good flows from the state. Yet amid such behaviour we are to believe that the Liberals will never compel churches to solemnize gay unions.

Laurier used the phrase "last, but not least" in referring to economic  freedoms. With good reason. Without these freedoms it is not only very difficult to run a business, it becomes problematic or impossible to exercise many other rights.

Today vast areas of the Canadian economy, from banking to air travel, are heavily regulated, under government-approved monoploy or subject to ownership restrictions. These severely limit competition, cost untold billions in lost opportunities, and reduce the wealth of the millions of Canadians who are banking on their RRSPs and employers' pension investments.

Yet rather than attacking this regulatory garbage heap, the Liberals are piling on still more. New privacy legislation applying to every company in Canada (despite the provinces' primary responsibility for regulating business) will add hundreds of millions, possibly billions, in new compliance costs, and spawn debilitating litigation, to no apparent benefit.

Even freedoms that Laurier didn't mention are being attacked. We still have the right to vote. But the last change of government took place between elections, the succession fought entirely by factions within one party.

Further, the Liberals are stuggling to prevent anyone other than political parties from participating meaningfully in election campaigns, by attacking the freedom of private entities to spend their money as they see fit. The liberals' defence of the election gag law against repeated challenges has been enthusiastically supported by the chief electoral officer.

The Trudeaupian state has steadily replaced ancient freedoms with fiscal entitlements masquerading as new "rights." These are not freedoms, but privileges contingent on the state's goodwill. Liberty is replaced by the promise of security -- and the implicit threat of punishment.

Freedom is commonly associated with Western democracies, but it cannot be associated with Canada's Liberal government. Are there still enough Canadians who value liberty more than entitlements to build an election platform advancing Laurier's ideas? If so, it will be for another party to assume the mantle of what used to be called liberalism.

George Koch and John Weissenberger National Post, February 23, 2004