Far too many Canadians today accept the myth that freedom is a demarcation point between our country and that of our neighbours to the south. Americans, we are told, believe in and place a high value upon freedom, whereas Canadians don’t. Liberals, who prove themselves most unworthy of their name by only believing in the kind of freedoms available in the society depicted in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and socialists, regard this as a point in our country’s favour. Neoconservatives, who believe strongly in individual liberty and the principle of democracy, regard this as our country’s shame. The premise which both the liberal/socialist left and the neoconservative right accept, however, is that freedom is an idea that is somehow inherently American and therefore foreign to Canada.
I don’t accept that premise. When the American Revolution divided the rebellious American colonies from the United Empire Loyalists it was not, no matter how much American propaganda tried to make it out to be, over freedom itself. King George III was no tyrant, nor was Parliament oppressing the thirteen colonies. Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great eighteenth century lexicographer, poet, essayist, and conversationalist, and a true blue Tory, ridiculed the talk about liberty coming from men who were themselves “drivers of slaves”. What divided the Americans from the Canadians, was not that the former believed in freedom and the latter did not, but different concepts of what freedom was and where it was to be found. The Americans were enamoured of the ideas that freedom is vested, first and foremost, in the individual, that only democratic, republican forms of government can safeguard individual liberty, and that such forms of government should be obtained through revolution if necessary. The Canadians believed that the conditions in which liberty can thrive and grow, are generated by the stability and order of a rooted society, whose civil and social institutions are grounded in prescription and tradition. Americans believed in rebellion, Canadians in loyalty, but both believed in freedom.
The United States of America, in other words, was founded upon liberal republicanism, the Dominion of Canada upon conservative Toryism. What is called neoconservatism today is a version of the former rather than the latter. Canadian neoconsevatives like to think that they introduced the concept of freedom or liberty into Canada, that it was foreign to the older Tory tradition, but this is not the case. As the greatest living proponent of conservative Toryism, Dr. Roger Scruton explained in his The Meaning of Conservatism three and a half decades ago, while traditional Tory conservatism is not about freedom per se, those things which Toryism does stand for – tradition, established authority, lasting institutions – provide the necessary context for a healthy form of freedom to develop and flourish.
Canada’s traditional Tories, while opposed to liberal republicanism, were not hostile to freedom. George Grant, Canada’s greatest conservative philosopher, in his brilliant treatise exposing the failure of modern liberalism to provide the justice it promises, English Speaking Justice, said that “liberalism in its generic form” is accepted by all decent men including conservatives, defining this generic form of liberalism as “the belief that political liberty is a central human good”. John Farthing, in his classic Tory defence of traditional Canada, Freedom Wears a Crown, treated freedom as being just that – a central human good – and argued that the foundation of freedom in Canada is her traditional order under the Crown-in-Parliament, and that attempts to replace that order with republicanism or majoritarian democracy were therefore as great of threats to the freedoms of Canadians as Soviet-style revolutionary dictatorship. Similarly, the Rt. Hon. John G. Diefenbaker, the last Prime Minister who was unmistakably a true, blue, classical Canadian Tory, in his 1972 collection of speeches, Those Things We Treasure, warned of how Canadian freedom was being endangered by the Trudeau government’s actions which undermined both Parliament and the monarchy.
“The Trudeau Government clearly does not believe in freedom”, Diefenbaker said in a speech entitled “A Time to Speak Out”, found in the second chapter “The Twilight of Liberty”. To support this claim, he points to a number of examples of authoritarian legislation, such as “an Act to establish a National Farm Products Marketing Council which will make farmers across Canada the pawns of bureaucrats.” There is one particular example I wish to focus on, however, and so will quote the former Premier at length:
The Trudeau Government seems to be dedicated to controlling the thinking of Canadians. Through the power being exerted by Pierre Juneau, as Chairman of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, private radio and T. V. station proprietors in Canada are frightened to speak, fearful of being subject to the cancellation of their licences. One such station was CKPM in Ottawa, which dared to have an open line program critical of the Government. Pierre Juneau did come before a Committee of the House and he uttered lachrymose words in reply to the criticism levelled at him that he wishes to determine what Canadians shall hear, and to deny them the right to listen to what they will. His attitude was different when he spoke to the Association of Private Broadcasting Companies and in effect stated: “When I ope my lips, let no dog bark.” Under him the broadcasting network owned by the people of Canada is allowed to broadcast what he permits.
The CRTC was a new agency at the time Diefenbaker spoke these words. It had been created by the Broadcasting Act passed by the Liberal government in 1968. Previous Canadian broadcasting legislation was moderate, pertaining primarily to the establishment of a public broadcaster (the CBC) in the 1930s and an agency to oversee that broadcaster. The CRTC, however, was created as a body that would have regulatory oversight over all radio and television broadcasting in Canada, private and public. The creation of the CRTC was very much part of a major twentieth century trend of creating large bureaucratic agencies with vast regulatory powers, overseen by Cabinet Ministers who answer to the Prime Minister, whose own accountability to the Crown-in-Parliament has been greatly diminished, thus in effect, transferring most of the powers of government away from the Parliamentary assembly that passes legislation with the authority of the Queen and into the hands of both the Prime Minister and his Cabinet and the bureaucratic agencies that extend their tentacles into every aspect of the everyday lives of Canadians. Men like Farthing and Diefenbaker were right in warning against the threat to Canada’s heritage of freedom posed by this trend.
As dangerous to traditional Canadian liberties as the growth of bureaucratic agencies, the government’s increasing reliance upon the multiplication of regulations rather than legislation, and the shift in power from the Crown and Parliament to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet at the head of the expansive bureaucracy, all are, the CRTC in particular poses a special threat due to the nature of the area over which it has been given regulatory powers. A fundamental principle of the Canadian political tradition and the British tradition in which the Canadian has its roots is that while behaviour conducted in public is appropriately subject to restriction by the Queen’s laws passed in Parliament, private thoughts and feelings are not. It is not the place of government to tell people what to think and feel. When the Parliament of Queen Elizabeth I passed laws requiring attendance at the services of the Church of England, they did not also require subscription to the tenets of the Anglican faith upon the part of anyone other than the clergy, and these were given considerable latitude in their interpretation of the 39 Articles. This is because church attendance was a matter of religion, and hence a public matter, subject to legislation, but questions of personal belief were matters of conscience, and hence private, outside of the jurisdiction of government.
Through the CRTC, Diefenbaker maintained, the Liberal government was violating this tradition by trying to control what Canadians thought. It was not the kind of overt thought control that takes place in totalitarian societies where you are in danger of being captured by the secret police and put in prison or worse if you dare express contraband opinions. It was a more subtle kind of thought control in which the agency would control the thoughts of Canadians by controlling the channels through which they gain access to the information necessary to form their thoughts. It was given power to regulate the new radio and television media, which were rapidly replacing the print media as the primary and often sole sources to which Canadians turned for information. That the new electronic media were replacing the traditional print media is itself cause for lamentation but that is a subject for another time. In 1976 the Telecommunications Act extended their jurisdiction over other telecommunications, such as telephone services, and changed the agency’s name to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, keeping the old initials.
The CRTC answers to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and its mandate is to oversee and regulate radio and television broadcasting in Canada (including satellite and cable) to ensure that the policy defined in Section 3(1) of the Broadcasting Act is followed. Most of this policy can be summed up in the concept of cultural protectionism. The first subsection calls for Canadian ownership and control of the Canadian broadcasting system, the sixth for maximum use of Canadian creative talent and resources. While cultural protectionism is not a concept I find objectionable – indeed, I would argue that it is necessary up to the point where it starts to generate provincialism and that it is particularly necessary for a country like ours whose only neighbour shares the same language – I would also argue that the CRTC has failed to achieve any of the legitimate goals of cultural protectionism and has failed to protect any Canadian culture worth protecting. If you read the novels of L. M. Montgomery, set in rural P.E.I. and telling the story of Anne Shirley of Green Gables from just before Confederation until the end of the First World War, the Chronicles of the Whiteoaks of Jalna by Mazo de la Roche, a saga set in rural Ontario from the 1850s to the 1950s, the humorous short stories of Stephen Leacock and Robertson Davies’ three trilogies of novels (especially the first two) you will find, whether the communities depicted be Presbyterian, Anglican, or a mixture of the two, a distinct, North American adaptation of British culture, that was at one time recognizable as the culture of English Canada. Today, apart from remnant traces in rural Canada, this culture has largely disappeared. It disappeared in the period in which the CRTC has had jurisdiction over the airwaves. Nor can the CRTC be viewed as a success if we consider the matter from the angle of what we most needed protection from, i.e., the flood of cultural sewage flowing from the film and music studios of Los Angeles, California that has swept away most of what was good and decent in the cultures of both the United States and Canada.
This is because the CRTC has been engaged in a completely different kind of cultural protectionism. If you look at the Broadcasting Policy set forth in the Broadcasting Act you will see that declares that private, community, and public broadcasting (the CBC) are all to be part of an integrated, unified, “Canadian broadcasting system” that will offer “information and analysis concerning Canada and other countries from a Canadian point of view”. Since it also talks in more than one place about promoting such things as “equal rights”, “linguistic duality”, and “multiculturalism” it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to say that when the Broadcasting Act speaks of “a Canadian point of view” what it really means is “the left-wing point of view of the Pearson and Trudeau Liberals”. What the CRTC, charged with the task of enforcing this policy, in which private and community broadcasters are to be in sync with the CBC in an integrated system, is really protecting, then, is not the culture of Canada, or even Canada’s traditional cultural plurality, but the left-wing cultural policies introduced by the Trudeau government. It protects these policies, by interfering with the spread of information that might cast those policies in an unfavourable light, and by discouraging and hindering dissent from those policies, by treating them as a fundamental, not-to-be questioned, element of the “Canadian point of view”, although they would have been unrecognizable to Canadians only a few years before they were introduced.
Almost forty years ago, the Trudeau government passed the Canadian Human Rights Act, and while the event made the news, for four decades the radio and television media maintained silence about the bill truly meant and what its consequences were. The bill forbade discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion, and a slew of other things, which, translated into the language of ancient and traditional rights and liberties, meant that it told Canadians they were no longer free to associate with or refuse to associate with whoever they wanted, do business or refuse to do business with whoever they wanted, and worst of all, thanks to the notorious Section 13, express their thoughts if those thoughts happened to reflect negatively on people protected by their race, religion, sex, etc. This was a major abridgement of basic Canadian prescriptive liberties done in the name of the Trudeau doctrine of multiculturalism. The bill established an agency to investigate complaints, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and a tribunal to hear complains, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The former conducted its investigations at the taxpayers’ expense, those brought before the latter were subject to stiff penalties yet had none of the basic protections available to defendants in ordinary courts. Provincial governments followed the Trudeau government’s example and established their own equivalents. These Stalinist kangaroo courts were and are a grotesque mockery of our country’s tradition of justice and freedom. Yet one would never have known that any of this was going on if one turned only to the CBC or its various privately owned clones, for one’s information. The traditional print media, not subject to CRTC oversight, would sometimes report these things, particularly the Alberta Report magazine. The average Canadian, however, was clueless about what was going on.
In many cases the information that was blacked out by the radio and television news media would have greatly altered the way a story that was prominent in the news was received and perceived. I will give one example of this. In the late 1990s, when Jean Chretien was promoting proposed legislation that would change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and a private member’s bill introduced by Svend Robinson that would add “sexual orientation” to the list of categories over which the Canadian Human Rights Act forbids discrimination, he promised out of the side of his mouth, that the rights of those whose faith teaches that sexual relations between members of the same sex is a sin would not be infringed upon, because religious rights are guaranteed in the Charter and religion is already a protected category in the CHRA. These promises received airtime all over the radio and television media. What was not covered was the fact that even as Chretien was speaking those words, Christians were being hauled before Human Rights Tribunals all over Canada and charged with discrimination for such things as refusing to help promote a cause contrary to their faith (Scott Brockie, Ontario), refusing to rent a single room to two men in the bed and breakfast they ran out of their own home (Dagmar and Arnost Cepica, PEI) or even purchasing ad space in a newspaper and filling it with references to Bible verses that condemned homosexuality (Hugh Owen, Saskatchewan).
For most of the last four years, an alternative to the CBC and its doppelgangers was available to cable and satellite subscribers in the Sun News Network. Affiliated with the Sun Media newspaper chain, Sun News offered a neoconservative perspective which, while perhaps not entirely to my Old Tory tastes, was a refreshing breathe of fresh air compared to stale views and stories available on the other networks. At least they believed in other freedoms than the freedom to screw and smoke whoever and whatever you wanted. Any number of stories, from the RCMP gun grab at High River to the attempts of activists in the Law Societies to force Trinity Western University to abandon her faith-based community covenant if she wished to open her new law school, received better coverage because Sun News was there both to investigate and report the facts about these stories herself and to keep the other stations accountable. It was also nice to have one station that did not bow down and worship everytime Justin Trudeau opens his mouth to say something vapid.
Sun News ceased broadcasting earlier this month because it had been losing money and its parent company, Quebecor Media, was unable to find a purchaser for it. Many believe that this is due to the CRTC’s decision not to grant them Category-1, mandatory carry, status when they applied for it in 2013, and that that decision was made by the CRTC to deliberately kill the station. Whether or not that is the case, I will leave it to others to say, although it would not surprise me as Sun News certainly did not fit in to the unified and uniform “Canadian broadcasting system”, that the CRTC seeks to protect. What I will say about it is that Sun News showed, in its four years of broadcasting, why it is important that points of view other than those offered by the CBC and approved by the CRTC be available. Now that Sun News is gone it is imperative that the CRTC’s stranglehold over the channels of information available to Canadians be broken.
The present Prime Minister has claimed all his political life to be a believer in freedom. Since becoming Prime Minister he has restored some of the symbols of the older Canadian tradition, the foundation upon which traditional Canadian freedoms rested. His current efforts to meet the threat of terrorism by expanding the powers of CSIS rather than deal with the Trudeau-era immigration and multiculturalism policies that render us vulnerable provide us with good reason to question his commitment to Canadian tradition and freedom. If he truly believes in freedom he must prove it by doing something substantial towards restoring the freedom we have lost. The CRTC, far from being a protective barrier preserving Canadian culture from being swamped by foreign and especially American culture, has failed to preserve the best of Canadian culture while allowing the worst filth from Hollywood in. It has instead become a wall between Canadians and the information they need about what has been done to their culture, traditions, and freedoms, in order to protect what is left and restore what is lost. To borrow and adapt some famous words from the last decent man to hold the office of American President, Mr. Harper, tear down this wall!
It has long been recognized that there are two ways in which civilization can break down into barbaric conditions. The rule of law can collapse altogether leaving ordinary citizens powerless against the criminal elements that now call the shots. This is called anarchy. Or the state can become intrusive and controlling, curtailing its people’s freedoms, dictating their everyday decisions, and ruling by sheer force in an atmosphere of fear. This is called tyranny. It has also long been recognized that there is a cyclical pattern to the rise and fall of civilizations in which after civilization breaks down into one of these conditions for a period, the other emerges in response, and eventually a new civilization is born out of the rubble.
What if, however, civilization were to break down in both ways simultaneously and the same state was to fail in providing the basic protection of the law on the one hand, while tyrannically harassing and abusing its people on the other? Twenty years ago one of the greatest American political thinkers of the last half of the twentieth century saw this happening in the United States and all around the Western world and coined a term to describe it – anarchotyranny, the synthesis of anarchy and tyranny. On February 15th, ten years ago, he passed away due to complications following heart surgery at the age of 57. His name was Sam Francis.
Sam Francis was far more than just the man who thought up a clever name for this phenomenon – he was also its chief chronicler, analyst, and critic. In his twice-weekly column, syndicated by Creators but carried by far fewer newspapers than it ought to have been for reasons we will shortly get into, he provided a bold, uncompromising, commentary, expressed in a dry, sardonic wit that was perfectly complemented by the way he seemed to look out at you with amused disdain through his heavy glasses in the publicity photo attached to his column, on the news and issues of the day and the narrative beneath the news and issues – the ongoing war being waged by those presently in power in the West and particularly in the United States on the traditions, cultures, symbols, and ways of life of Western peoples. Nor did he shy away from addressing the taboo aspect of this subject, the racial element.
Dr. Samuel Todd Francis was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 29, 1947, and it was in Chattanooga that he was raised and where as a young prodigy his literary talents and brilliant mind first gained attention. It was also in the Scenic City, under the Appalachian mountains, that he was finally laid to rest in 2005. He studied English literature at John Hopkins University in Baltimore before taking his Ph.D in history from the University of North Carolina.
It was at Chapel Hill that he became acquainted with two of his fellow students, the classicist Thomas Fleming and the historian Clyde Wilson. These men would become his lifelong colleagues. They worked together on the Southern Partisan, a conservative quarterly that was started up in the late 1970s in the spirit of the Vanderbilt Agrarians. Each contributed to The New Right Papers, a 1982 anthology put together by Robert W. Whitaker. Their most significant collaboration however was in Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, founded by Leopold Tyrmand in 1976 and published by the Rockford Institute of Rockford, Illinois. Thomas Fleming became the editor of Chronicles following Tyrmand’s death in 1985. Clyde Wilson is an associate editor, and until his passing Sam Francis was the magazine’s Washington or political editor. Under the direction of these men Chronicles became the flagship publication of paleoconservatism which, in opposition to the neoconservatives who were calling for a Pax Americana, a new world order in which the United States would use its military might to export liberal, capitalist, democracy to the farthest parts of the globe, called American conservatism back to its roots in the Burkean traditionalism of Russell Kirk and the small-r republicanism of the American Old Right that had opposed the New Deal, American entanglement in foreign conflicts, and the development of the “welfare-warfare state”. This was very much bucking the trend in the larger American conservative movement. As the neoconservative viewpoint came to increasingly dominate the movement, conservative writers who having opposed mass, demographics-altering, immigration, both legal and illegal, criticized Israel and objected to America’s being drawn into wars in the Middle East on her behalf, called for a rollback of the American federal government to its constitutional limits, refused to concede the victories of liberalism in the culture wars, and otherwise offended the neoconservatives, found themselves exiled from the pages of National Review and other mainstream conservative publications. Chronicles became a place of sanctuary for these writers. By the middle of the 1990s it was a sanctuary Dr. Francis was himself in need of.
Up to that point his career as a thinker within the American conservative movement had been quite successful. It had three basic stages. In 1977 he joined the Heritage Foundation, a Washington D. C. think tank that had been founded four years earlier by New Right activist Paul Weyrich and Edwin Feulner with money put up by beer baron Joseph Coors. Dr. Francis was hired as a policy analyst in the fields of intelligence and security, particularly with regards to the threat of terrorism as a strategy employed by the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
In 1981, following the publication of his The Soviet Strategy of Terror, he left the Heritage Foundation to take a position as legislative assistant to Senator John P. East, R-North Carolina. It was as an expert on national security matters that he was hired to this position but, interestingly, in the course of his work for East he was called upon to write a document that both required this expertise yet also had to do with the cultural and racial concerns on which his later, and lasting, fame rests. In 1983, US President Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill that made the third Monday in January into an American national holiday in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. The bill had been hotly debated, and leading the opposition to the holiday was the other Republican Senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms. Senator East worked closely with his colleague and mentor in the campaign against this ridiculous holiday and on October 3, 1983, Helms read out in Congress a paper written by Dr. Francis that documented King’s collaboration with Soviet agents and Communist fronts.
Dr. Francis worked for Senator East until the latter’s death in 1986 at which point he joined the staff of the Washington Times. He served the newspaper as an editorial writer, opinion columnist, and editor and it was here that his career started to really take off. His column was nationally syndicated, and his articles won him the Distinguished Writing Award in 1989 and 1990. He was runner up for another award both those years as well. Then, in 1995 all of that came to an end.
It started with his column for June 27, 1995, entitled “All Those Things to Apologize For”. Written one week after the Southern Baptist Convention issued a grovelling apology for the stance they had taken 150 years previously in the controversy over slavery that divided them from the Northern Baptists, this column pointed out that the Baptists were making a big deal about repenting for something never condemned as a sin by the Bible. “Neither Jesus nor the apostles nor the early church condemned slavery,” he wrote, “despite countless opportunities to do so, and there is no indication that slavery is contrary to Christian ethics or that any serious theologian before modern times ever thought it was”. All of this is true. Unfortunately, it is the kind of truth that people in this era cannot bear to hear.
Dr. Francis was not arguing for slavery. He was arguing against what he called a “bastardized version of Christian ethics”, that had appeared in the 18th Century and had so permeated the churches that they “now spend more time preaching against apartheid and colonialism than they do against real sins such as pinching secretaries and pilfering from the office coffee-pool.” He observed, correctly, that to read the abolitionist message into the New Testament and dismiss the passages that tell bond-servants to obey their masters as irrelevant is to undermine the authority of passages that “enjoin other social responsibilities.” These truths were especially embarrassing to the kind of Christians who, on the one hand pride themselves on the Christian roots of abolitionism, while on the other hand trying to defend what remains of traditional authority and order against the modernizing influences of those who see the abolitionist movement as the first stage in their perpetual revolution against the “slavery” of marriage, family, and traditional morality.
This embarrassment proved too much for Wesley Pruden, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief. He rebuked and demoted Dr. Francis, cut his salary, and began censoring his columns. In September of that same year, he fired Dr. Francis outright. This time it was not over something he had written in a column but something he had said in a speech the year previously.
In May of 1994, American Renaissance, a monthly periodical devoted to matters of race, intelligence, and immigration hosted its first conference and Dr. Francis was invited to speak. He gave a message entitled “Why Race Matters”, the text of which was later published as an article in the September 1994 issue of American Renaissance. In this speech, he talked about how the culture of Western countries, especially the United States and in particular the South had come under attack, with traditional symbols being attacked, demonized, and replaced, how anti-racism was an effective strategy in a campaign being waged against the white race, how whites themselves were digging “their own racial and civilization grave” through liberalism and leftism, and that a merely cultural strategy in defence of Western civilization would not be sufficient – there needs to be conscious racial element to Western identity as well. He said:
The civilization that we as whites created in Europe and America could not have developed apart from the genetic endowments of the creating people, nor is there any reason to believe that the civilization can be successfully transmitted to a different people.
This is so obviously true that one wonders that it needs to be stated. Nevertheless, it was the last straw for Wesley Pruden. The way in which Pruden learned of the remark did not help matters. Dinesh D’Souza, who had attended the conference, wrote a book, The End of Racism, which was published in 1995. D’Souza’s book discussed many of the same issues American Renaissance specializes in, and often took positions similar to theirs. D’Souza was, however, a firm believer in propositional nationalism and the ideal of the United States as a “universal nation”, who objected very much to the idea of defending Western civilization in explicitly racial terms. The chapter in which he talked about the conference contained many distortions – even after D’Souza was force to rewrite the chapter when Jared Taylor and Lawrence Auster, along with Dr. Francis, wrote to the publisher to complain of the many ways in which D’Souza had twisted their words. In September of 1995, at the time the book finally saw print and reviews were beginning to appear, an article by D’Souza about the American Renaissance conference appeared in the Washington Post. D’Souza selectively quoted from Dr. Francis’ speech and presented the quotes in a very unfavourable light. And so, Dr. Francis lost his job at the Washington Times.
He remained on the editorial staff of Chronicles, of course, to which he contributed each month, either his “Principalities and Powers” column or a book review or feature article. The Creators Syndicate continued to distribute his column. In the latter he offered his commentary on the news of the day and, while immigration was the issue that he most frequently addressed, he covered a broad gamut of topics, including free trade and globalization, gun control, and the erosion of civil liberties. He supported the presidential candidacies of his friend Patrick Buchanan and kept a watchful eye on the doings of those who actually made it to the White House. Scathing as his criticism of the Clinton administration was, he was no less severe in his assessment of George W. Bush. He contrasted the way in which the Bush administration had expanded its policing powers, undermining the civil liberties of Americans in the process, by means of antiterrorist legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act, with the way in which it refused to use its existing, lawful, powers to control immigration, this contrast being a classic example of anarchotyranny. In 2002 he wrote several columns against the Bush administration’s plans to invade Iraq and when that invasion took place saw his arguments more than justified. His arguments against the war were far more sane, sensible, and interesting than either the neocon arguments for the war or the blithering banalities uttered against it by the left-wing peaceniks. His final column was about George W. Bush’s second inaugural speech and it concluded by saying that Bush had “confirmed once and for all that the neo-conservatism to which he has delivered his administration and the country is fundamentally indistinguishable from the liberalism many conservatives imagine he has renounced and defeated.”
In his Chronicles column, where he had more space to work with, he discussed the same topics at a deeper level. From James Burnham, about whose ideas he had written a book, he had learned much about the nature of power and the elites who inevitably hold it, including the present elite of technocratic managers who preside over the dismantling of the traditions, culture, and civilization of Western societies and rationalize their actions with the universalistic ideology of liberalism. From liberal sociologist Donald Warren he had gleaned insights into how the alliance of the uppermost and lowermost classes in the welfare state was putting the squeeze on the middle class, radicalizing what is ordinarily the most stable of classes, and thus generating a support base that a populist movement could use against the elites. From these insights, Dr. Francis framed his argument for such a populist “revolt from the middle”, bending the cold, hard, theory of Machiavellian power politics to serve ends that were anything but cold and hard – those of the cause of white, middle class Americans, who were seeing everything they held dear, their culture and religion, traditions and way of life, on every level from the regional to the national, including the constitution of their republic and their habits and institutions of freedom, being mercilessly swept away by elites they seemed powerless to stop. First in the New Right that brought Ronald Reagan into power, and later in the movement that failed to deliver the presidency to Pat Buchanan, he had found movements that could potentially achieve his ends. The dilemma for which he was seeking a solution to the very end of his life, as can be seen in his last “Principalities and Powers” article entitled “Towards a Hard Right”, was how such a movement could gain success without being sidetracked from its goals by corporate globalists dangling the carrot of the free market before its eyes.
“A date which will live in infamy” is what United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously declared of December 7, 1941. That, as I am sure you are all aware, was the day that Imperial Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. What you may not be aware is that even while FDR was expressing his outrage in the only words he ever spoke in which his rhetoric approached the eloquence of that of Sir Winston Churchill – the creepy, grinning, invalid never came remotely close to approaching the class of the scion of Marlborough – inwardly, he was rejoicing. He had spent the good part of a year trying to manoeuvre Japan into attacking the United States so that he could use war with Japan as a backdoor to enter the war with Germany. He believed it was his destiny to lead his country into a war that sweep away not only the fascist regimes in Germany and Italy, but the reactionary empires of Britain and France as well, paving the way for a new world that would be led by the progressive, young, forward-looking countries, namely his own and the Soviet Union. Knowing that his own people objected to the idea of becoming involved in yet another European war he settled upon this devious method to attain his ambitions. In doing so he achieved a whole new level of chicanery, albeit one that he would shortly surpass when he promised the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, having secured his agreement not to make this known before the next Presidential election (he did not want to alienate Polish voters), that the USSR could keep the country, for whose freedom Britain and France had gone to war with Germany, after the war was over. (1)
Today there is much celebration going on in Canada over the fiftieth anniversary of a date which truly deserves to live in infamy. February 15, 1965 was the day that the present Maple Leaf flag replaced the Canadian Red Ensign as the official flag of Canada through the actions of a politician who was no less of a scoundrel than FDR, our Prime Minister at the time, Lester Bowles (“Mike”) Pearson.
This change was completely unnecessary. As a true Canadian patriot, the man who led the opposition to the change in Parliament when it occurred, former Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader John G. Diefenbaker explained:
Canada had a flag. It flew over the Headquarters of the Canadian Corps in France in 1918. A meeting of the Mackenzie King Cabinet on 27 October 1943 decided that our army should fly the Canadian red ensign wherever Canadian forces were serving with the forces of other nations. It was officially recognized as Canada’s flag by Order-in-Council in 1945. On 12 November 1951 Mr. St. Laurent in reply to the question: “What steps are being taken by the government with respect to the adopting of a distinctive national flag?” answered: “See Order-in-Council P.C. 5888 of September 5, 1945.” Canada had a flag, a flag ennobled by heroes’ blood. (2)
The flag Diefenbaker was talking about was a solid red flag that contained a Union Jack in the canton and the Canadian Shield of Arms in the fly. The Shield is divided into five parts, the top left containing the three golden lions of England, the top right containing the red lion of Scotland, beneath these are the harp of Ireland on the left and the fleur-de-lis on the right, with the fifth section at the bottom containing three maple leaves branching off from a single stem. The leaves were initially green with black veins but this was later changed to red with gold veins. The province of Ontario and my own province of Manitoba have similar flags with the provincial shields substituted for the national one. When talk of changing the flag began proposals included variations on the Red Ensign theme in which the shield would be replaced by a large gold maple leaf or a large fleur-de-lis. The latter was put forward by Diefenbaker. None of these proposals was acceptable to Pearson, however, who wanted the Union Jack eliminated from the flag altogether.
Pearson, you see, although he claimed to be motivated by patriotism and nationalism – we are our own country and should have our own flag that does not borrow from those of other countries – showed that he had no real respect for the country he was governing, its traditions, heritage, and institutions. The rebellion of the thirteen American colonies in the eighteenth century eventually produced two countries because it divided English speaking North America between those who wished to cut off ties to the mother country through violent revolution and to build an entirely new country on a model they would draw up for themselves based upon liberal, republican, principles and those who wished to remain loyal to the mother country, not to participate in this revolution, and to build their own country in North America within the old tradition, adapting the British model to suit their own needs. The former built the federal republic of the United States of America. The latter built the Dominion of Canada. It too is a federation, albeit of provinces rather than states, with its own parliament under the monarch it shares with Britain. As Prime Minister Diefenbaker wonderfully put it in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 1960:
We were the first country which evolved, over a hundred years ago, by constitutional processes from colonial status to independence without severing the family connection. (3)
Pearson never really understood or respected this. He believed that for Canada to truly be its own nation it would have to throw off its Britishness and remake itself entirely on its own. This, of course, was very similar to the attitude of the Americans which had originally divided them from the Canadians. Ever since the Pearson Liberals – and the Trudeau Liberals after them – set out on this course of reshaping the country, Canadians have been trying to define what makes us different from Americans and many have opted for stupid and unworthy things. In the Cold War, which pitted the United States as the avatar of capitalism against the Soviet Union as the avatar of socialism, many latched on to socialism as the distinguishing characteristic, despite the fact that the Conservative and Liberal parties, the only two parties ever to have formed the federal government in Canada, were both firmly opposed to socialism until well into the 20th Century, that such socialist measures as progressive income taxation and the “New Deal” were both introduced in the United States before their equivalent was introduced in Canada, and that the Canadian government of R. B. Bennett was actively engaged in combating the Red Menace in the 1930s at a time when the American President was recognizing the Bolshevik government in Moscow and recalling ambassadors that did not portray Stalin and his show trials in a positive light in their reports. Before Pearson changed the flag, Canadians understood what made them Canadian rather than American and it was something positive – loyalty, being true to heritage, tradition, roots, and “the family connection” rather than engaging in ideological revolution, and an adapted version of common law and parliamentary monarchy – rather than something vile like socialism.
Pearson’s supposed patriotism and nationalism was, therefore, nothing of the sort. It was rather what John Farthing called “the pure Canada cult”. Farthing, writing a decade before Pearson changed the flag, described the emergence of this cult which sought to define Canada purely by geography rather than history and tradition, and to exclude from the new Canada traditions which had been imported from elsewhere. Inconsistently, however:
[A]ccording to the peculiar logic of the new pure Canada cult it is only British traditions which are in any sense un-Canadian, whereas a tradition coming to us from another part or parts of Europe is a tradition affirmed to be not only 100 per cent Canadian, but even to be the only tradition not distinctively un-Canadian. The one tradition that must be jettisoned, as something quite distinct from the country that gives us our existence, turns out to be the British tradition. (4)
Freedom, Farthing had pointed out, does not come from geography, it does not grow on trees, it arise out of traditions. In Canada’s case, our freedom is grounded in the tradition we received from Britain, and both Farthing and Diefenbaker foresaw that the consequence of the attack on British traditions and institutions in Canada that the Liberal Party waged in the name of the pure Canada cult in the premierships of Pearson and Trudeau would undermine our freedom. This was prescient for it is out of that era that the stifling atmosphere of bureaucratic arrogance, over-regulation, and above all political correctness that has been poisoning the Canadian spirit for decades has its origin.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Canadian Red Ensign. It was Canada’s flag. Note the date of the Order-in-Council that made that official. September 5, 1945. That was three days after the Second World War ended. This was the first war Canada had entered by her own Declaration of War. Since the Statute of Westminster of 1931, we were no longer automatically at war whenever Britain was. Unlike the United States, however, we entered the war from the beginning and did not have to be deceived by our leaders into doing so. Our parliament declared war on Germany on the tenth of September, one week after Great Britain did. The week’s delay was to show our independence, the declaration to show our loyalty. It was a war in which forty-five and a half thousand Canadians had died, fighting bravely under the Red Ensign. Diefenbaker had been right to say it had been ennobled by the blood of heroes. Nothing could have been more appropriate than the Order-in-Council making the Red Ensign’s status as our national flag official. Nothing could have been more disrespectful to the Canadian heroes who fought in the war, both the thousands who died and the thousands who came home as veterans, then Pearson’s deceitful and self-aggrandizing campaign to replace that flag.
For Canada, therefore, today is the day that ought to live in infamy forever.
(1) For evidence of these claims see Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, (New York: Touchstone, 2001) and Thomas Fleming, The New Dealers’ War: FDR and the War Within World War II, (New York: Basic Books, 2001).
(2) John G. Diefenbaker, One Canada, Memoirs of the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, Volume III, The Tumultuous Years 1962-1967 (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1977), p. 223
(3) John G. Diefenbaker, Those Things We Treasure, (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1972), p. 124.
(4) John Farthing, Freedom Wears a Crown (Toronto: Kingswood House, 1957), p. 32.
“Superman”, according to the Canadian folk-rock group the Crash Test Dummies, “never made any money saving the world from Solomon Grundy”. Morris Dees Jr., whatever he might think himself to be in his heart of hearts, is no Superman. For while he has not saved the world, or even part of the world, from either Solomon Grundy or his own arch-nemesis the Ku Klux Klan, he has certainly made a lot of money. Part of this money he made by winning large judgements against the various Klan and neo-Nazi groups that he has taken to court over the years. Part of this money he has made by convincing American liberals with a lot of money and very few brains that only by regularly sending big fat cheques to his organization can an imminent takeover of the United States by Aryan supremacist groups and establishment of the Fourth Reich in North America be prevented.
The Social Justice League of America which this Not-So-Superman co-founded with his law partner Joseph Levin forty-two years ago is called the Southern Poverty Law Center. It more commonly called by its initials the SPLC or, as Peter Brimelow and company over at Vdare aptly and amusingly spell it, the $PLC. Few if any would question their expertise in the fields of suing people and raising money. They claim, however, to be experts on extremists and “hate groups” and this claim, although you will occasionally still find television stations and newspapers who accept it and cite them as authorities, has been seriously called into question in recent years.
Most recently it was called into question when, last October, this band of hero wannabees added a new name to their ever growing list of extremists and haters to watch out for. Was it the name of a heavily tattooed skinhead thug? Was it somebody who in his over ample supply of spare time throws a bedsheet over himself and goes around intimidating and lynching black people (or more likely goes to a rally of others like himself, has some barbecue, gets drunk and then goes home)? Was it some terrible insensitive villain who has caused untold anguish and emotional suffering to the remaining survivors of Auschwitz by having the nerve, the gall, the chutzpah to actually suggest that only 5 million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine and a half Jews died in the Holocaust rather than six million?
No, it was far worse than that. The man in question, outed as the new Napoleon of hate crime, is Dr. Ben Carson, the sixty-four year old neurosurgeon who achieved worldwide fame in the late 1980s for conducting the first successful operation separating Siamese twins who had been joined at the head, one of many accomplishments in his long and successful career at John Hopkins Hospital. You may recall that he was played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 2009 movie based upon his 1992 autobiography Gifted Hands. Clearly this is a dangerous figure of whom we all ought to be very wary indeed and we should be thanking whatever supernatural entity lurks behind the $PLC that they were there to foil his nefarious schemes and save us all.
So what exactly did Dr. Carson do to get on the $PLC’s naughty list?
Well, the fact that he is a successful, black American professional who is conservative politically, has spoken out against Obamacare, and is a potential Republican candidate for the 2016 American Presidential election has probably not endeared him to these leftwing, professional antiracists. Left-of-centre, progressive thinking, forward minded types in general, and antiracists especially, tend to assume that all black Americans will automatically support their causes and vote Democrat out of gratitude to white liberals for rescuing them from slavery and segregation and are shocked and offended when they find that this is not the case. “How dare he think for himself and support conservative causes! After all we did for him!”
The $PLC’s specific complaint against Dr. Carson, however, is that he is a supporter of traditional marriage and therefore, by their left-of-centre reasoning, a promoter of hatred against gays and lesbians. Dr. Carson is a faithful, practicing, Seventh Day Adventist, who credits God for the talents and abilities that made him a successful neurosurgeon (hence the title of his autobiography) and he believes in accordance with the teachings of his faith – and, it might be added, common sense – that marriage is something that exists between a man and a woman and that nobody has the right to change its basic meaning. To the kind of people who are looking for a frothing-at-the-mouth, hateful, extremist under every rock and behind every bush, this is a clear indication of an irrational, dangerous, prejudice and hatred against people who are attracted to their own sex.
It shows just how seriously the $PLC is taken these days that their “extremist file” on Dr. Carson was published in October but it took until last week for it to really spark controversy. It took that long for anybody to either notice or care about it. When somebody finally did get around to noticing the organization received so much bad publicity and other flack over it that on Wednesday they actually removed the profile from their website and issued an apology to Dr. Carson. Well, an apology of sorts. In the apology they said that he “has in fact, made a number of statements that express views that we believe most people would conclude are extreme.” The first three examples they give are of statements to the effect that marriage has traditionally been between a man and a woman and that this should not be changed. This is an extreme viewpoint? One often gets the impression that for the Southern Poverty Law Center an “extreme” viewpoint simply means any viewpoint that the $PLC doesn’t like and disagrees with.
Backhanded as this apology was, it at least was an apology, which is more than most people who are smeared by the $PLC ever get. Indeed, off the top of my head I don’t remember a time when this has ever happened before.
I am wondering, though, whether or not it would not have been better for Dr. Carson had they left his profile up. Their extremist file is so full of Christians, patriots, conservatives, family activists, and libertarians that to be labelled an extremist by the $PLC is almost like winning a badge of honour. It would probably have enhanced his reputation and, if he does run for President next year, improved his results at the polls.
A little over twenty years ago, Dr. Samuel T. Francis, the American paleoconservative columnist who departed from this world far too soon ten years ago this month, saw a collection of several of his best essays and articles published by the University of Missouri Press under a title borrowed from Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers. The subtitle of the book was “Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism.” This was an interesting choice that raised many an eyebrow considering that the book saw print in the early 1990s, immediately after the period that mainstream American conservatism regarded as its moment of triumph, the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Dr. Francis looked beyond the superficiality of American conservatism’s seeming triumph and made the uncomfortable observation that the movement had failed to achieve a single one of its objectives – the restoration of their old republic, the rollback of the welfare state that was eroding America’s middle class, or victory in the war against the ongoing social, moral, and cultural revolution.
A recent conflux of occurrences could not help but bring to my mind certain parallels between this and the present state of Canadian conservatism. The February edition of the curiously titled monthly evangelical publication Christian Week features a cover story by Craig Macartney about a bill that had gone before the Senate for debate that would legalize assisted suicide. The focus of the article is upon how legalization has been gathering support among Christians. Steven Fletcher, the Winnipeg MP who authored the bill, is interviewed and pretty much the first thing he is cited as saying is that polls indicate “strong support for assisted suicide, even among professed Christians”. Perhaps Mr. Fletcher thinks that questions of what is true and right are matters to be settled by opinion polls.
Later in the article Fletcher comes off somewhat better as he predicts last Friday’s decision by the dotty old dolts, dingbats, and dipsticks on the Supreme Court to strike the laws against assisted suicide from the Criminal Code and indicates that it was in partial anticipation of this decision that he had authored the bill so that the question would not become a “free-for-all, with no restrictions”. Perhaps that is the best we can expect in this day and age in which case Mr. Fletcher doesn’t really deserve to be made the butt of a joke, inspired by the quadriplegic politician’s sharing a last name with the character played by Dame Angela Lansbury in her most celebrated role, and to have his bill dubbed “Murder He Wrote”. Whether Fletcher’s motives are noble or base, however, is not really the question or the point here. He is a member, not only of Parliament, but of the present Conservative Party which currently forms the majority government in Parliament, and a professing Christian to boot. That he would initiate a bill for the legalization of assisted suicide shows just how far that party has come from its roots.
The present Conservative Party claims two sets of roots for itself – those of the old Conservative Party, which had been around since before Confederation having been formed in Canada as a local version of the same party in Britain, and those of the Reform Party of Canada. In the late 1990s the “Unite the Right” movement led most of the old Conservative Party to join the Reform Party in what then became the Canadian Alliance. The full merger between the two parties into the present party was completed in the fall of 2003.
This merger has been alternately interpreted as both the triumph and the defeat of the Reform Party, the movement that gave birth to it, and the principles of that movement which we shall call the Canadian “New Right” for reasons that we will look at momentarily. These interpretations would seem to be mutually exclusive and the polar opposite of each other yet, paradoxically, they are both true. If success for a political movement is understood strictly in terms of the attainment of power then the New Right has succeeded, for the party it founded managed, first of all, to take over the old Conservative Party’s place as the main alternative to the Liberals, then to absorb that party into itself and take over its name, next to form a minority government in Parliament, and finally to win a majority in a federal election.
Yet, if we consider what the principles and objectives of the New Right movement actually were, the merger that led to the present government of Stephen Harper can hardly be viewed as a smashing success.
I have called this movement the Canadian “New Right” for two reasons. The first is its contrast with the Old Right. The Canadian Old Right, of which the original Conservative Party was the organized political expression, was a Canadian adaptation of British classical conservatism or Toryism. The essence of Canadian Toryism was loyalty to and defence of the traditions, and political, social, and cultural institutions, of Canada, especially her British heritage. It was fundamentally patriotic. The New Right, by contrast, had taken up the cause of Western regional dissatisfaction with Ottawa which it frequently expressed in anti-patriotic and anti-Canadian tones, with some of its leaders openly expressing or at least doing little to conceal their preference for American history, heritage, tradition and institutions over that of Canada. This antipatriotism was the ugliest aspect of the New Right and it was this that initially hindered the New Right from gaining strength outside of the West and becoming a national movement. Unfortunately, as we shall see, the leaders of the party the movement produced, chose to listen to their liberal and progressive critics who told them that it was the movement’s positions on social, moral, and cultural issues that was holding it back.
The second reason for calling the movement the Canadian New Right is the fact that it arose at the same time and in response to similar phenomena as parallel movements in the United States and Europe which were also known as the “New Right”.
The New Right, in Canada as in the United States and Europe, was born in the 1970s in response to the tidal wave of changes that had swept Western Civilization since the end of the Second World War. These included social and moral changes as Christian countries became more secular, Christianity, the Bible, and prayer were driven from public schools, as was much discipline due to new-fangled psychological and educational theories, the development of effective contraceptive technology led to the relaxing of both legal and cultural restraints on sexual behaviour, divorce became easily obtainable, abortion was legalized, a revolution against distinct roles for the sexes took place, and in which a kind of Western self-loathing took over the hearts and minds of the youth and their teachers in institutions of higher learning who came to see everything Western and Christian as oppressive and to venerate everything that was neither Western nor Christian. The Canadian New Right, just like the American New Right and the European New Right, was born out of righteous anger at this wave of changes and the desire to regain what had been swept away by it.
In Canada, the New Right grew and gained its greatest strength in the Western provinces. It was in the West that the remarkable periodical that became the movement’s primary organ was published for thirty years. It started out as the St. John’s Edmonton Report in 1973 when it was founded by Ted Byfield, a seasoned journalist turned Christian educator, but by the end of the decade had become the Alberta Report, the title under which it is still remembered today, despite undergoing a couple more name changes before ceasing publication in 2003, a few months before the merger that produced the present Conservative Party. For the largest part of its three decades of publication, its editor-publisher was Ted Byfield’s son Link who was also a Sun Media columnist, the founder of foundation/lobby the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy (1) as well as the co-founder of and a candidate for Alberta’s Wildrose Party. Link Byfield’s untimely death from cancer last month is the other in the conflux of occurrences that has brought about this reflection on the success and failure of the New Right which he and his father did so much to shape and form.
The Byfields were devout Christians. When my maternal grandmother introduced me to their magazine in the early 1990s she told me it was published by a family of “Christian fundamentalists”. More precisely, they were a family of conservative Anglicans who, having gotten fed up with liberal domination of the Anglican Church of Canada, had joined the Eastern Orthodox Church in the case of the father and the Roman Catholic Church in the case of the son. To each issue of their magazine, the elder Byfield contributed, in addition to his last page editorial, a column called “Orthodoxy” which he co-wrote with his wife Virginia, devoted to religious issues. In 2001 the magazine ran advertisements a two-week tour of Israel and Greece, “Where Christian civilization was born”, that was to be hosted by Link Byfield and his wife Joanne. After the Report, Ted Byfield’s next project was a multi-volume history of Christianity from the days of Christ to the present. Opposition, rooted in Christianity, to the rapid social, moral, and cultural decay that has been rotting Canada and the rest of the civilization that used to be Christendom, was the basis of their editorial perspective and since their magazine paved the way for the creation of the Reform Party of Canada in 1988, this social conservatism was clearly the foundation of the New Right movement.
This is why the present Conservative government is more truthfully to be regarded as the failure of the New Right rather than its success. As the Reform Party grew from a Western regional party to a party that could potentially form the government in Ottawa it was constantly being told that its social conservatism was the baggage holding it back, preventing it from gaining the support it would need to oust the Liberals from government. As leader of the united Conservative party, Stephen Harper has refused to re-open the debates on abortion and same-sex marriage, even after that vapid twit Justin Trudeau and that creep Thomas Mulcair provided him with the perfect window of opportunity to do so last year, by declaring that anyone who did not toe the progressive party line on these issues was no longer welcome in their parties. Now, one of his own members has initiated a bill that would open the door to euthanasia in this country.
The idea that its social conservatism would have perpetually kept the New Right localized in the West as a regional protest movement is nonsense. Are the majority of Canadians outside the Western provinces – or at least in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec – really happy with unlimited abortion-on-demand, the ensuing low birth and fertility rates, dependence upon large scale immigration with no effort to assimilate the newcomers to keep up the population, high rates of illegitimacy among those children who are born, high divorce rates, and all the other rot that social conservatism objected to? That seems extremely difficult to believe. Even if that turns out to be the case, the leaders of what used to be the New Right and the Reform Party need to ask themselves whether attaining a majority government in Ottawa was worth the price of sacrificing all of the goals they hoped to accomplish in order to do so. Which is another way of asking what Jesus Christ asked two thousand years ago:
What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
(1) The Byfields transferred ownership of the magazine from their United Western Communications company to this organization for the last few months of its run. Unfortunately, when they did so they changed the name of the magazine to Citizens Centre Report, by far the least attractive sounding of the many variations on “Report” under which it had been published.
The Whiteoak Brothers is, in order of publication, the thirteenth in Mazo de la Roche’s series of novels chronicling the lives of the Whiteoak family of Jalna manor in rural Ontario. Set in the year 1923 it is the sixth in the series by order of internal chronology. In the sixteenth chapter of the novel, Wakefield Whiteoak, the youngest of the family’s third generation, is placed under the tutorage of the Reverend Mr. Fennell, the rector of the Anglican parish church that had been built by his grandfather Captain Whiteoak. He was unable to attend regular classes due to a diagnosis of a weak heart and had previously been taught by his older sister Meg, who now found him too much of a handful. In their first session with the vicar they discuss Wakefield’s grandmother, who is approaching her centennial, causing the rector to speculate:
“If you live to her age, I wonder what sort of world this will be. The year 2013—hm.”
We, of course, do not need to engage in such speculation as we are now living in the second year beyond the annum specified. I suspect that if a vision of the present day had been given to a clergyman ninety years ago he would have been horrified at what he saw. A great many changes have occurred since 1923 and, indeed, since 1953, the year the words quoted above saw print for the first time. They have almost all been for the worse, but that goes without saying as the vast majority of all change – a good 99.99% at least – is always for the worse.
Some of these changes have been specific to Canada, rendering our country virtually unrecognizable as the same Dominion in which the Jalna saga is set, and in which de la Roche, who died in 1961, lived all her life. We are coming up close, for example, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Pearson Liberals’ changing of our national flag from the Canadian Red Ensign to the Maple Leaf, which, despite Allan Levine’s recent remarks to the contrary in the opinion pages of the Winnipeg Free Press, was an attack on our country’s British heritage, and a slap in the face of all the Canadian veterans who fought under the Red Ensign in our country’s finest moment when we stood with Britain against the Axis powers from the beginning of the Second World War.
Other changes, however, have been part of a wave of change that has swept Western civilization as a whole. There are many factors that contributed to bringing about this wave of change. One of these was the drawing to an end of the Modern Age, itself brought about by the triumph of liberalism, the moving and energizing spirit of the Modern Age, which had more or less completed all of its original goals by the middle of the twentieth century (and had also seen its claims to be able to provide a better and brighter future for man aptly refuted and debunked by the two World Wars, the rise of a whole new scale of tyranny made possible by modernity in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and the invention of the atomic bomb). Another factor was cultural Marxism, i.e., the infiltration and takeover of the political, social, academic, cultural, and other institutions of Western civilization by those who were intent upon redirecting these institutions towards the subversion of the civilization and ordered societies they comprise.
This wave of change has not yet ebbed out or shown any indication that it will do so within the foreseeable future. Instead, it has swept away yet another remnant of what used to be our civilization, as the Supreme Court of Canada, yesterday, in a unanimous decision, struck down the law against assisted suicide. Their ruling, in a case brought before them by the BC Civil Liberties Association, was that the law violated the worthless appendage to our constitution that Pierre Trudeau tacked on when he had it repatriated in 1982. Last year, Steven Fletcher, the MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia here in Winnipeg had introduced bills that would have legalized assisted suicide in certain circumstances. It is expected that Parliament will pass new laws to replace the ones struck down. If the present government’s track record is anything to go by I would not anticipate any improvement. In December of 2013 the Supreme Court struck down our laws against prostitution and the present government replaced them with a horrible new unjust law based on a bill passed by the rabidly egalitarian, socialist, and feminist government of Sweden in 1999.
There is a great deal of muddled thinking about assisted suicide today. Suicide means the deliberate taking of positive action towards ending one’s life. The person who knowingly ingests cyanide is committing suicide, the person who refuses treatment that will prolong his life, is not. It needs to be clear that to prohibit assisted suicide does not mean that people should be forced to go on life support, to take chemotherapy, or undergo any other potentially life-extending treatment. The question of assisted suicide is not even a question of whether a person has the right to take his own life or not, although the assertion that he does ought be challenged because it is itself a manifestation of an idea that is far too uncritically accepted today, namely the autonomy of the individual and his absolute right to do whatever he wills provided that others are not adversely affected It is a question of whether he has the right to involve other people in the deliberate termination of his life. This is a question to which the answer ought to be a resounding no. Of course nobody should have the right to place the burden of terminating his life on another person’s shoulders.
Allowing assisted suicide is the first step down a slippery slope. The next step is allowing doctors to decide to terminate the lives of people who cannot make the decision to terminate their lives for themselves. Make no mistake – this next step will follow the first one. For decades now, the kind of people who have been making radical changes have been pooh-poohing everyone who has warned about a slippery slope, and each time we ended up sliding down that slope. The justices of the Supreme Court of Canada must be frothing-at-the-mouth mad to think it wise or right to start the ball rolling on giving physicians, a notoriously arrogant class of people who have great difficulty with differentiating or distinguishing between themselves and God, the power of life and death. Apart from the matter of their inflated egos, physicians are required to swear a solemn oath that includes a pledge to do no harm. Terminating someone’s life is the ultimate in harmdoing. The physician willing to assist in suicide, therefore, is an oathbreaker, and hence somebody who should not be trusted, and certainly not trusted with power over whether people live or die.
Years ago, the television cartoon The Simpsons ran an episode in which Homer Simpson was put in a coma by an exploding beer can in an April Fool’s joke gone wrong. Mr. Burns, complaining of the hospital bills his company’s insurance was having to cover, brought in Dr. Nick Riviera who looked at Homer and concluded “Oh dear, I can find no signs of life. Just to be safe, we’d better pull the plug”. At the time this was brilliant satire. Now, thanks to our satire-killing Supreme Court, it seems more like a dark foreshadowing of things to come.
It would be nice to think that those who we send to Parliament to write Her Majesty’s laws for us will find away of rescuing us from the goofy decision by the clowns on the bench to allow the medical profession to decide whether we live or die. I wouldn’t wager a plugged nickel on that happening, though. I’m afraid things are only going to progress from here in the more honest meaning of the word progress, i.e., get worse.
A Protestant Christian, patriotic Canadian, and a reactionary High Tory with a libertarian streak, at the same time a monarchist, indeed a royal absolutist, and a minarchist.
You can e-mail me at gerrytneal(at)hotmail(dot)ca