How Canada went from liberal democracy to authoritarian state

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Two decades ago, when I was 4 years old, my parents immigrated to Canada from India in search of greater freedoms, autonomy and economic opportunities. They’re core Canadian values — enshrined in our national anthem, which gloriously heralds “The True North strong and free.”

However, the past two years have seen a near complete erosion of the foundational liberal values that have attracted millions of immigrants like myself to this country.

Under the once-righteous guise of COVID safety and online protections, the Canadian government has taken its power to extreme levels once only imaginable — let alone permissible — in a dissent-stifling authoritarian state.

The control has extended to nearly every element of Canadian society, but nowhere more so than in our everyday personal lives. Take my own case contending with Canada’s COVID bureaucracy a few months back. 

I was returning to Canada from the US when multiple Air Canada employees refused to let me on the plane. Although I had a negative COVID test, the government was suddenly requiring even returning citizens to be vaccinated (unvaccinated foreigners were already barred from entering). 

Canada's Covid travel restrictions remain among the world's most stringent. Even within the country, proof of vaccination is still required for domestic air travel.
Canada’s COVID travel restrictions remain among the world’s most stringent. Even within the country, proof of vaccination is still required for domestic air travel.
REUTERS

Since the most documented adverse effect associated with COVID vaccination — heart inflammation — is concentrated in young men ages 15 – 25, I chose not to get vaccinated. I am 21 years old, have already recovered from COVID and have no co-morbidities. I’m at low risk from serious COVID illness, which is why I remain unvaccinated. But this can make air travel difficult — especially in Canada.

Minutes before my boarding gate was closed, a sympathetic Air Canada staffer “begged” his manager to let me board the plane. “I just gave you a massive favor. No one else would do this,” he said as I finally made my way down the jetway. 

In the Canada of Justin Trudeau’s making, you must now go to extreme measures simply to be allowed to return to your own nation. And for what?

A protester lies down in front of police as they advance to end a protest in opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa.
After trying to dismiss the truckers as a “fringe minority” of “swastika wavers,” Trudeau suspended the insurance of the truckers’ vehicles.
AP

COVID is just the beginning of the Canadian madness. The internationally recognized trucker protests earlier this year were the most flagrant display of political control ever witnessed within the ranks of the Canadian government. After trying to dismiss the truckers as a “fringe minority” of “swastika wavers,” Trudeau manufactured a National Emergency in order to justify truly outrageous tactics. Not only did he suspend the insurance of the truckers’ vehicles, he regulated the cryptocurrency transfers and froze the bank accounts of folks simply donating to the trucker cause.

In my own small British Columbia town, Chilliwack (about an hour and a half from Vancouver), a single mother earning minimum wage who donated $50 to the Truckers Convoy allegedly had her bank account frozen.

Even as Canada's national debt hit the trillion-dollar mark for the first time ever last year, the government is paying $600,000 to “online influencers” to promote vaccines on social media.
Even as Canada’s national debt hit the trillion-dollar mark for the first time ever last year, the government is paying $600,000 to “online influencers” to promote vaccines on social media.
Getty Images

But the crackdowns on truckers were just the tip of the iceberg. 

I know a bank worker in my city who was fired for not getting vaccinated, despite working remotely. A food truck delivery driver in my city met the same fate. If any of this was about “science,” prior infection or regular COVID testing would have been a factor here, but they weren’t. Get the jab or get out.

Trudeau, who once professed to being cognitively unable to do basic math, has plunged the country into over $1 trillion in national debt for the first time in history. Everyday, that number surges by an additional $400 million. Canada is now at risk for stagflation: both economic stagnation and high inflation, as families are unable to meet their bills.

Trudeau has proposed a new "online harm" bill aimed at cracking down on hate speech against minorities; the National Council of Canadian Muslims fears the law could harm Muslims.
Trudeau has proposed a new “online harm” bill aimed at cracking down on hate speech against minorities; the National Council of Canadian Muslims fears the law could harm Muslims.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Meanwhile, the government has devoted $600,000 to paying “online influencers” to promote vaccines (as if the most vulnerable, geriatric populations are spending time on TikTok).

Meanwhile, Trudeau’s government has proposed the “online harms” bill C-36, designed to crack down on hate speech against ethnic and sexual minorities. If passed, the bill would allow citizens to report on others who they fear may post something hateful, leading to possible fines, online surveillance and electronic monitoring.

Justin Trudeau has gone so far as to freeze the bank accounts of citizens who donated to the trucker cause.
Justin Trudeau has gone so far as to freeze the bank accounts of citizens who donated to the trucker cause.
AP

Unsurprisingly, the bill has sparked criticism — and not just from right-wing activists. Twitter has spoken out, claiming the bill could be used to silence political opposition; meanwhile, in a private letter to the Canadian government, the National Council of Canadian Muslims has warned that these measures could “inadvertently result in one of the most significant assaults on marginalized and racialized communities in years.” They believe requiring social media companies to report “terrorist content” on their platforms to law enforcement could disproportionally target Canadian Muslims.

More than 15 years after arriving in Canada to secure a more open and rewarding life, I must now consider the possibility that my civil rights might have been more secure back in India. Once a vibrant, liberal democracy, Canada is now becoming an authoritarian state.

Rav Arora specializes in topics of race, civil liberties, and spirituality. Follow him on Twitter @Ravarora1 and on Substack at ravarora.substack.com





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