Canada used to be a free country. And it is often reluctantly that, as state power mounted during the 20th century, Canadian governments followed the statist fashions that originated elsewhere, including in the U.S.
Canadians avoided the alcohol (and,in some states, tobacco) prohibitions that hit the U.S. in the early 20th century. The American central bank was created in 1913, its Canadian counterpart only in 1935. The American Securities and Exchange Commission was founded in 1934, one decade before its weak Ontario version, and two decades before the Québec securities commission. The income tax was introduced in Canada four years after the U.S. and, until the 1960s, top marginal rates were often lower in our country. The war on drugs is an American enterprise imported into Canada. Excluding the Nazis, the contemporary anti-tobacco jihad is an American invention that Canadian governments plagiarized; much of the same can be said of the environmental religion. Laws and regulations against money laundering and their Surveillance State apparatus were imposed in the U.S. two decades before hitting Canada. Official ID numbers and photo ID papers developed in the U.S. before Canada: in the late 1990s, there were still Quebecers living legally (and easily) without government-issued photo ID. Numerous other examples can be produced.
We must not idealize the past too much. In Canada as elsewhere, the natural tendency of the state was to impose whatever the political market would bear. For example, Canadians were submitted to numerous restrictions on free speech before Diefenbaker’s and Trudeau’s charters. Indeed, “blasphemous libel” is still nominally prohibited by the criminal code. (See Bob Tarantino, Under Arrest: Canadian Laws You Won’t Believe, Dundurn Press, 2007.)
Yet, the liberticidal laws were enforced in the Canadian way, and it is probably true that a normal individual, and even an eccentric one, could spend a whole peaceful life without being caught in the police-judicial system.
Nor should we exaggerate today’s “tyranny of the majority” and “administrative tyranny”, to use Tocqueville’s terms. Tyranny, like its opposite, liberty, is a question of degree. The situation is worse in many other countries – although it depends about which activities and which groups one is talking about.
Consider some of the liberties you have lost over the past decades, sometimes just over the last few years:
* Destroying a beaver dam on your own land
* Selling (or buying) wheat or milk freely
* Purchasing any health insurance you want
* Establishing a hospital
* Hiring or firing whom you want
* Runing a business without monthly or quarterly GST reports
* Buying or selling stocks on the basis of whatever non-stolen information is in your head
* Talking publicly about certain topics, including those that fall under the mandate of “human rights” commissions
* Drive on public roads – which is now defined as a privilege graciously granted by the state
* Driving a motor boat without a permit
* Using your own resources to support political candidates or to promote your own opinions during a referendum or election
* Listening to whatever radio or TV station you want
* Smoking in your own shop, or welcoming smokers there
* Owning and a fortiori carrying guns without permission, even on your own property
* Exercising efficiently your right of self-defence
* Crossing the border without declaring negotiable instruments of $10,000 or more; same for many cash transactions
* Going about your daily business and partaking in domestic travel without official ID papers
* Opening a bank account without the state knowing it
* Owning personal assets in foreign countries without declaring them to the Canadian government.
These are only examples of whole classes of liberticidal measures. We have lost traditional liberties in property rights and freedom of contract, certain areas of free speech, certain lifestyle choices, personal security, privacy and, despite the charters, legal protections (think about the often reversed burden of proof or the arbitrary enforcement of laws by bureaucrats). This assault on our liberties has been financed by making us pay twice in taxes what we paid a hundred years ago (as a proportion of our incomes).
The slope is getting more and more slippery. “I swear,” said a friend and former RCMP officer who was working in the federal government, “we’re getting more like the Soviet Union every year.”
This site is dedicated to documenting the demise of Canadian liberty, but with the intention to reversing the trend.
(February 15, 2008)
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