It's Midnight in Canada
The tradition at masquerade balls is that revelers arrive in costume and mingle together, sharing repartee and dancing with others in disguise. The charm of the ball lies in its mystery as guests, inhibitions loosened by alcohol and anonymity, speculate about the identity of the strangers with whom they're interacting. The spell continues until the clock strikes midnight, when the revelers remove their masks to finally discover with whom they have been dancing.
This is where we are in Canada today. After seven years of the divisive and mediocre governance by the Liberal Party under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the masks came off Monday with the invocation of the Emergencies Act. The law, which allows for selective suspension of Charter rights and effectively places all people and property under the direct control of the federal government, was invoked in response to the ongoing grassroots demonstrations known collectively as the Freedom Convoy. These demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, with no major incidents of violence reported at any of the main hubs of activity. From the Peace Arch to Ottawa, Canadians have assembled to petition their governments for removal of the vaccination mandates that have so far done little to slow the march of Covid-19.
To be sure, the demonstrations have not been without controversy. Ottawa residents have endured weeks of air horns blowing at all hours from the trucks jamming the streets before Parliament. And border crossings in several provinces have been blockaded, the most crucial of which was the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit. This blockade was finally lifted thanks to the imposition of a provincial emergency order and the calm professionalism of the RCMP and Windsor Police Service. A similar story unfolded at the Alberta border crossing of Coutts, where demonstrators prayed, sang the national anthem and hugged police, thanking them for their service before departing peacefully.
So why the imposition of a nationwide state of emergency when provincial action has been sufficient to deal with the crises at Coutts and Windsor? The answer lies in a quick review of the past.
Two years ago, Canada was paralyzed for six weeks by a series of rail and highway blockades that interrupted supply lines, cost thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in lost revenue. Over sixty ships were trapped at anchor on both coasts, unable to unload due to port blockades. And the national rail carrier, CN, was attacked in a fraudulent lawsuit in the amount of $270 million. Devastating as these actions were to the national economy and welfare of the citizens, at no point was the Emergencies Act floated as a solution.
This is no surprise, given the man leading the country. Trudeau's relationship to Canada is a strange one for a Prime Minister. In 2016, he stated that the very concept of a nation founded by European settlers was offensive to him. In 2017, his government gave a $10.5 million settlement to Omar Khadr, a repatriated Canadian citizen who had done time in Guantanamo Bay military prison for killing U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher Speer during a fire fight in Afghanistan. In 2020, he "took a knee" at a rally sponsored by the openly Marxist and anti-western organization Black Lives Matter. In 2021, he accused his own country of genocide in response to the findings of a government commission into residential schools. And just this year, he characterized those fellow Canadians exercising their freedom of choice in refusing Covid vaccination as racist and misgynistic.
Trudeau's actions speak to a nakedly ideological partisanship that is more BLM than British North America Act, more pro-GLBT than pro-mainstream Canadians, more Marx than MacDonald (John A., that is). When a spate of church burnings spread across the nation, Trudeau's response was a tepid "that's not the way to go." A ringing defense of a faith practiced by 67% of Canadians! And yet he'll virtue signal at a rally by an organization intent on dismantling the traditional family and what it perceives as "heteronormative culture." These are opinions and actions that would be perfectly predictable in a college undergrad. But they are red flags in a national leader.
Canadian Prime Ministers walk a fine line in a multicultural society. The perennial problem of Quebecois sovereignty aside, any leader must reconcile and represent the interests of many conflicting groups, from Sikhs in Ontario and BC to First Nations across the country with their disparate and multifoliate cultures and levels of economic development. The same is true of the political arena, where conservatives and socialists share space with nationalist and liberal parties. A true Prime Minister labors ceaselessly to create as much consensus as possible among such a quarrelsome (but very polite) population. Few succeed to the extent of glowing reviews. But, to date, most have given it the old college try.
Trudeau's partisanship speaks to a nakedly political agenda perhaps best characterized by his comments at a 2013 feminist fundraising event in Toronto when he said: "There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say, 'We need to go green … we need to start investing in solar.'"
Invoking the Emergencies Act is a partisan power grab intended to enable the Prime Minister to assert dictatorial powers. That the act is unnecessary in the current climate becomes starkly obvious when compared to the events of two years ago. That it is a violent assault against the Charter is made plain by the tone and nature of the demonstrations currently underway, and the ordinary Canadians attending them. Rather than engage, the Prime Minister has resorted to smearing the people he leads with the worst insults in the progressive playbook. His contempt for Canadians, the Charter and the rule of law could not be more plain.
It's midnight in Canada and the masks have come off. We now see with whom we have been dancing. As the saying goes, when somebody tells you who they are, believe them the first time.