My Canadian Sheeple Problem

Justin Trudeau’s brutal suppression of the truckers’ protest in Ottawa–and it upholding by the Canadian Parliament–has for me one silver lining. It’s solved a long-running mystery concerning a long time commenter (troll, really) of this blog and then my Twitter account, one David Lloyd-Jones of Toronto. For four years, from 2013 to 2017, we went back and forth, and after that moved the dialogue (such as it was) to Twitter. Sometimes informative, occasionally entertaining, frequently contentious, I often found myself scratching my head: what is wrong with this guy? How could someone who had been as many places as he’s claimed to be (and he was quite proud of that) be this uncritical in his acceptance of the existing order, even when that existing order has changed on our lifetimes?

The answer to that question has finally come. In the days following Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act, the adulation shown by his subjects in the Twitter comments has been shocking. Beating protesters, seizing their assets, anything the government could dole out has been greeted with clapping and barking one would associate with seals. For all of his years outside of Canada, including being a Congressional staffer in Washington, he’s Canadian to the core. The existing order can ultimately do no wrong. I’m sure that, had Trudeau wanted to speed up the job and fired on the protesters, they all would have cheered for that too. (Probably the reason why he didn’t was because, in some parts of the world, it’s considered in bad taste for police/militia/army to fire on its own citizens, the optics are bad.)

The thing that separates me from David Lloyd-Jones (and most Canadians evidently) is that I do not go along with the uncritical acceptance of human authority. That’s more of a life philosophy issue rather than a political one. I explain it in my post Advice to Graduates: The Two Promises I Made to Myself and growing up at the top of this society only reinforces that. That applies to the church I find myself in, which has saved me a great deal of grief. David describes himself as a “country boy” from Sydenham, Ontario, and for him that adds upward social mobility to the mix.

I’m not sure how meaningful democratic process is when the electorate is so much into group think like the one we’re seeing in Canada these days. It’s heartening to now that several provincial leaders and some Canadian human rights organisations have objected to this ex post facto and draconian application of the Emergencies Act. The provincial leaders see extending COVID sanctions as a non-starter, something that state leaders in the US and national leaders elsewhere have already figured out. Whether the Canadian judiciary is independent enough to go against the Parliamentary wave remains to be seen.

If people’s persons and money can be seized for stuff that yesterday was legal and with no new law passed, what will happen is that people will a) stop working and accumulating wealth, which will run down the economy, b) starting finding ways of hiding their money, or c) emigrate to happier places. In all cases both economy and country will run down. We’re seeing the start of this already.

We spent half a century in the Cold War. The question before us now is simple: was it a real victory or just a thirty year delay of imposing a regime equally undemocratic? As one Russian pastor told our church in the 1990’s, our past is your future.

Update: after I wrote this piece, Trudeau cancelled his invocation of the Emergencies Act. This is a positive step, but leaves many questions unanswered, such as whether the freezing of accounts will be reversed, whether he or someone else can do this again, how long something has to go on before it becomes an “emergency” (the Biden Administration has had its own problems with this at SCOTUS,) etc. Most importantly it’s hard to know what motivated Trudeau to cancel this invocation. Perhaps institutional pushback is stronger in Canada then I’ve been lead to believe.

And as for David? He’s locked his Twitter account, whether because of something I did or just a dislike for adverse opinion. So his reaction to this is hard to know as well.

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