Wokeness is a radical political movement that operates, in part, by “capturing” institutions. Once “captured,” an institution is made woke in its objectives and operations and propagates wokeness using its available resources, often in an authoritarian manner.
For example, an employer that is captured by wokeness will bring “diversity experts” into the company’s human resource department. That department then sets about making woke policies, eliminating liberal policies, compelling employee submission to woke indoctrination, publicizing the employer’s wokeness, and hiring, disciplining, and firing people based on woke criteria.
Woke experts are much like “political commissars.” Commissars are communist party representatives embedded within military units to ensure party control over the military, including through political indoctrination.
Wokeness has captured nearly every Canadian institution: education, charity, government, business, finance, indigenous reconciliation, and even the church.
We are now witnessing the capture of various professional regulators and, by extension, the industries and professionals subject to their regulatory powers. Those powers are vast. They include the power to decide who can work, what education they must take, what values they must hold, and whether anything they do in their professional or private life is misconduct warranting sanction, including de-licensing.
When professional institutions are captured, these powers can be weaponized to achieve woke objectives.
Jordan Peterson, a famously anti-woke psychologist, is under threat from his professional regulator, the College of Psychologists of Ontario, to submit to social media re-education and supervision or face the loss of his right to practice. Similar examples include nurse Amy Hamm, pediatrician Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill, and emergency room physician Dr. Christopher Milburn.
The capture of legal professional regulators is now well underway. Visit the website of nearly any Canadian law society and you will find many pledges of woke fealty and woke projects.
The Law Society of Alberta (LSA) is a case in point. Its website features many woke statements and initiatives. In its annual general meeting in December 2022, woke initiatives were virtually the only business discussed.
Since at least December 2019, the LSA has pledged, as one of its five “regulatory objectives” to “promote equity, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession in the delivery of legal services.” Those words do not appear in the Legal Professions Act, the legislation which gives the LSA its powers.
As part of this woke capture, in 2021, following a similar initiative by the Law Society of British Columbia, the LSA mandated that every one of its nearly 11,000 regulated lawyers undergo woke indigenous “cultural competency” training called “The Path.” In November 2022 it automatically suspended about 30 lawyers who had not completed the training as required.
The Path is purportedly an act of indigenous reconciliation. However, it is politicized regulatory overreach which is more likely to do serious harm to the cause of reconciliation and to Canada in the process.
The LSA likely has no legal authority to mandate cultural re-education like The Path. While some Canadian law societies have the power to impose “continuing professional development” (CPD), the LSA likely does not. The Legal Professions Act is worded far more narrowly than legislation in other provinces.
The LSA seems to claim legal authority, in part, on Call to Action #27 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. However, those calls to action are non-binding requests, they do not in themselves grant legal authority.
Even if the LSA has the power to impose CPD, “cultural competency” training is a different bird all together. It is more an exercise in historical and political indoctrination than professional education.
The Path is a genre of wokeness called “decolonization.” The Path, like all wokeness, employs “post-modern” ideology and relies on a flawed and severely distorted “history” to delegitimize Canada’s political and even social foundations. It tells us that Canada’s history towards its indigenous people is largely one of racism and genocide. It’s a history lesson bursting with wild speculation as to evil psychological motives and socioeconomic cause and effect—all presented as established fact—almost completely devoid of counterbalancing facts, nuance, or context.
“Canada’s colonial legacy is still alive,” it reads. “It’s clear when you look at the overall numbers. While Indigenous people make up about 5% of Canada’s population, they represent 27% of its prison population.”
The Canadian legal system, we are told, remains inherently tainted with this evil: “Events have exposed the racism, the discrimination, the unfair treatment and the inequality built into Canadian law, policies, and structures” (emphasis added).
The Path does contain some practice recommendations which provide a fig leaf of cover for what is essentially a political enterprise. For example, lawyers are taught to treat indigenous people with special care, including not focusing on their “current circumstances” but rather on their (inter-generational) “trauma.”
“But why should I care?” you may ask. “Even if it’s not exactly legal, The Path will help indigenous people and, surely, that’s all that matters.” That’s a well-meaning sentiment, but it’s utterly wrong. The Path’s social and political vision is a utopian dream like any other. Utopian dreams always have an air of plausibility and a profound sentimental attraction, but they nearly always lead to ruin.
“Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!”
Doesn’t that sound nice?
The Path, along with the entire “decolonization” project, will do serious damage to Canada. It will increase racial division, erode liberalism and democracy, and prolong and compound the crushing socioeconomic conditions that have for far too long plagued many indigenous Canadians.
Sentimental dreaming does not solve real problems—thoughtful and pragmatic work does.
To demonstrate the destructive tendencies of The Path, take for example the method of its delivery.
While the woke capture of any professional regulator is dangerous, law societies make a particularly vulnerable attack vector because they are enmeshed within the legal structure itself.
A liberal democracy operates by the “rule of law.” Free citizens elect legislators who make laws. Citizens must know and follow the laws. If someone wants to change the law, they must appeal to voters and legislators.
Lawyers have a special job in a liberal democracy: operating and protecting the rule of law. Lawyers are something like hockey referees. Their job is to maintain and enforce the rules to ensure a good game. Their job is not to change or bend the rules mid-game to favour one team over another. That would be cheating and would ruin the game.
While some may claim The Path contains valuable and important history and proposals for changing Canadian law, note exactly where this history and these proposals are made: to 10,000 captive legal professionals.
The Path seeks to change how lawyers think about the law, how they practice the law, and advocates for changes both to what the law is and how the law should be applied. It effectively seeks to change the law, not through the legislature, but by applying direct ideological force on the “referees.” That is both authoritarian and anti-democratic.
The Path is not only dangerous in its delivery, but also in its content.
Canada is the product of the Enlightenment, including objective truth, reason, and humanist values like individual worth and liberty.
The Path’s post-modern ideology is the Enlightenment’s antithesis. Post-modernism, the product of mid-20th-century French philosophers including Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, is based in “metaphysical relativism” and “moral relativism,” which means, in essence, that there is no such thing as the real world and no such thing as “right and wrong.” Rather, there is only one’s perception of the real world and one’s perception of morality, which differs from person to person, culture to culture. Your perception of the real world and morality are simply the product of your place in a power hierarchy, or in several “intersecting” power hierarchies. These power hierarchies are ones of race, sex, gender, etc. This is why wokeness is obsessed with race and other tribal affiliations. Where the Enlightenment sees an individual human, post-modernism sees only a member of a tribe.
It’s obviously surprising, if not a little suspicious, that a purportedly “indigenous worldview” is a form of European post-modernism.
“We can look at science and at origin stories as simply different ways to describe where we’ve come from,” The Path tells us (emphasis added).
More to the point, though, post-modernism is toxic to our legal system which is very much premised on there being a real world—and only one of them. The purpose of a trial is to determine “what happened,” not “what is everyone’s ‘lived experience’ about what happened?” A court does not read a law or contract and ponder what those words mean to each tribe. Rather, a court interprets language to understand its objective meaning. Contrast this with The Path:
“The Crown thought the Treaty was about land surrender. The First Nations thought it was about sharing the land.”
“Every Canadian should have an understanding of law that allows it to be intensely democratic in terms of how they manage their families, in terms of how they manage their communities, in terms of being a part of the relations of power in Canada” (emphasis added).
One particularly ruinous post-modern tool employed in the Path—and presumably intended to be employed to remedy our “colonial” legal structure—is the woke dogma of “systemic discrimination.”
To understand what the term means you must, first, ignore the word “discrimination”. Systemic discrimination is simply a label which is applied to a system which is not discriminatory but which leads to statistically different results for different races—i.e., to “disparate impact.” The word “discrimination” is tacked onto the term to create the impression that there is some, perhaps invisible, bigotry at play. It is purely a rhetorical trick. The trick works because wokeness knows you are a liberal, compassionate person who reviles disadvantage based on race, or sex, or gender, etc.
As absurd as this definition may seem, the Law Society of Alberta adopts for itself, basically, this definition.
To understand what this means, imagine a bank which lends on the basis of one simple rule: The applicant’s income must be over $100,000. If relatively fewer indigenous people make over $100,000 than other Canadians, the system results in disparate impact. This, and only this, is “systemic discrimination.” Remember, we already have a term to describe people or rules which are racially prejudicial: “discrimination.”
What happens to Canada if law societies, lawyers, and the courts set about eliminating “systemic discrimination?” How would Canada look if we were to ensure that every law, every aspect of the legal system, and every exercise of legal power led to exactly the same result for everyone? That’s not diversity, it’s dystopia.
I explore these ideas further, and explore the damaging impact wokeness, including The Path, is likely to have on reconciliation including, most importantly, the closing of socioeconomic gaps, in a full version of this article which can be read here.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.