Canada’s Speech Shine Gets A Little Duller

By Josh Lieblein

Canadians who like to look down their noses at the Yank barbarians and their primitive and uncivilized notion of “free speech” are having a bit of an awkward week.

Convinced as they are that control by a select few is preferable to the messy democracy to the south, where–in their minds–the failure to control speech and shield the public from intemperate outbursts paved the way for the rise of Trump, they were nevertheless sent scrambling to defend the Canadian model after the discourse in three seemingly separate arenas weakened their position.

First we have the holding forth of multiple survivors of sexual harassment and assault. All over America, once powerful men are being brought down and censured for violence against women. Like dominoes, one after another they fall as the country struggles to reconcile itself to the epidemic of abuse against women.

Canadian women are, unfortunately, subject to the same daily harassment and violence. No one could convincingly argue otherwise without making it sound as though Canadians have evolved past the tendency to abuse.

And while defenders of the Liberal aristocracy and Trudeau’s post-nationalist vision of a Canada that has decisively defeated the social ills plaguing the rest of the world no doubt believe that they ARE in fact more highly evolved life forms, they say nothing for fear of looking arrogant and provoking those within our borders whom they see as less enlightened.

Which is, of course, the problem. The fear of consequence, and of Embarrassing Canada On The World Stage perpetuates the cycle of violence and harm against women. But of course our cultural overlords have made their choice, and have done so for the rest of us. Better to suffer in silence than admit the Americans, with their culture that permits discussion of difficult subjects, might have a point.

Then we have the situation at Wilfrid Laurier University involving a TA who was censured behind closed doors for exposing her students to the ramblings of Jordan Peterson.

Leave aside for a moment whether Peterson’s arguments have merit or should have been shown, and focus on the university’s fearful and shadowy response–to discipline the TA privately in the hope they could hush up the controversy which, despite their efforts, exploded into the public realm.

Once again, concern for reputation and the Canadian impulse to treat a potentially explosive situation with kid gloves rather than–the horror–provide teachers with guidelines, or discuss the issue with the class beforehand and come to a collective understanding beforehand–won out.

Unlike the foolish Americans, who impudently refuse to be governed by elites, the Laurier professors who administered this impromptu hearing believed themselves suitably qualified to take the decision out of the hands of those below them. If the profs botched it massively and came off as bullies, well, that’s just the exception that proves the rule of Canadian social supremacy.

Finally, we have the latest revelations involving the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. As reported by the CBC, the inquiry has “become about self-image and protecting the commissioners”. The top priority of all staff is to “protect the commissioners from criticism or surprises.”

Ah, but I must be careful with my words. This is not an undignified American reckoning over slavery and racism, over which they fought a Civil War, and against which marchers marched a century later, and which continues to crop up in protests by NFL players against the anthem. This is a PROPER Canadian Inquiry, a model of restraint and dignity. The individuals conducting the process are thus beyond reproach, and to ask questions about whether the thing is progressing at all and might fall off the rails entirely is opening the door to Trumpism, and Leitchism, Fordism and lurking Harperism.

And so let us not bring up for discussion the notion that these three news items reveal that we Canadians may not be the master progressive race that we imagine ourselves to be. That isn’t the Canadian way.