Has Trudeau reduced Freedom?

Many people on right have argued Trudeau has reduced our freedom and even many going as far as saying he is a dictator and/or authoritarian. Trudeau has undoubtedly made government larger and more activist, but I do not believe that means Canada is no longer a free country or authoritarian. Yes perhaps further away from being a libertarian one, but its not like we were ever remotely close to being a libertarian one in first place and those claiming Canada was show ignorance of our history. All laws in sense reduce our freedom to some degree but without laws our society would be anarchy. Likewise freedom is multi-faceted as laws can restrict freedom in some sense, but also enhance in another. Take DUI laws, that takes away one’s freedom to drink too much and get behind wheel, but it enhances freedom by allowing many people to live or avoid disability than would otherwise. So overall in that case I would argue it does far more to enhance than take away freedom. And indeed most laws we realize there is cost vs. benefits and try to find best balance.

I would argue Canada is still a fairly free country. We have free and fair elections which is probably the most important freedom. Likewise one can criticize government without being punished. Fact people can drive around with Fuck Trudeau flags and not face punishment more or less shows this. If you drove around with a Fuck Putin flag in Russia or Fuck Xi Jinping in China, you would almost certainly be jailed. Likewise while we all have to follow some regulations, its not like government controls every or even most aspects of our daily lives. In fact most pushing this idea Trudeau is authoritarian are bringing a radical libertarian idea of minimalist government which no country has ever tried, but is popular amongst certain elements in US. Essentially the freedom convoy and others in so called freedom movement are really just copy cats of tea party a decade ago who to most looked ridiculous. Now I am no fan of Trudeau, but lets go after what he is if we want to have credibility, not what he is not. And on rules, attack them as being bad and give reasons, not silly idea they are authoritarian unless they are (which none are). Below I will give a few examples of rules many claim are authoritarian and show why it is bunk.

Many are calling C-11 internet censorship bill and a draconian one for government to control internet. I think bill is unnecessary but I do not believe it is authoritarian or violates any charter rights. For starters it only applies to platforms like Youtube, Spotify, Netflix etc. It does not apply to individual accounts. In addition it does not tell them what can and cannot be shown, just says must do more to ensure greater availability of Canadian content. I believe due to nature of internet this is unnecessary as unlike radio or television historically, internet has unlimited number of outlets so they aren’t scarce and risk of Canadian content being drowned out not an issue. But in reality, bill more or less simply applies to internet platforms what is already applied to radio and television. With radio and television, if foreign content banned, that would be a violation, but asking a certain percentage be reserved for Canadians is not. One can argue it is unnecessary or bad idea, but it is not a charter violation. C-11 would only be that if it blocked certain content (beyond what is already illegal) but there is nothing in the bill that does that. Sure having algorithms giving higher priority to Canadian artists some may find annoying but if searching for a specific movie, song etc, it is not going to block them because not Canadian. I do support repealing this ban if Conservatives form government, but mainly because I think it is a waste of CRTC time and money trying to solve an issue that is not a problem, not because I believe it is an infringement on our freedoms. At same time I understand in Quebec, there may be legitimate reasons for it due French having 8 million people in a sea of 360 million English speakers. But this probably is better done by provincial than federal government.

Another is free speech is being silenced on campuses and thus why some conservative governments pushing free speech codes on universities. Universities and colleges are semi-autonomous so I believe if concerns here, they should be dealt with internally not heavy hand of government. Also hate speech is not harmless, it can be very damaging so finding right balance is no easy task. Yes I do think some universities have gone overboard in cancelling controversial speakers, but that does not mean there should not be limits. Racialized, aboriginal, LGBT, and religious minorities have right to a safe and welcoming campus and if allowing some speaker undermines that, I believe it is appropriate to restrict them. At same time some definitely go too far, but I believe that is best dealt with internally even if imperfect. Fact is a speaker being cancelled at a university doesn’t mean cannot speak elsewhere off campus. Private venues have right to deny a controversial speaker so in many ways no different than that. It would be an infringement if government by force of law made it illegal, but for most part they do not. Hate speech laws generally only used in most extreme cases and ours when compared to other industrialized countries are not that strict. Yes it is not absolute like in US, but we have fewer restrictions on hate speech than most European countries. Germany for example which is a liberal democracy has far more restrictions than we do so idea we are unfree here is simply false.

Many claim covid restrictions were a gross violation of one’s rights. I will do a separate paragraph on vaccine mandates so this is on lockdowns and other public health restrictions, not vaccine mandates. There is no question covid restrictions were a limit on freedom. But also right to live and right to ensure health care system doesn’t collapse exist too. So it was a tough balancing act. Undoubtedly mistakes were made and whether restrictions went too far or not far enough reasonable people will disagree on. But claiming a fundamental violation of rights is false. Due to the speed covid arrived at and fact we in past had less knowledge than do now meant getting it right was always going to be a challenge. Main thing is restrictions were proportional and temporary, not permanent or disproportionate. If restrictions stayed in place too long or they were not saving lives, then yes would be a violation of rights. But as long as temporary and as long as evidence they are saving lives, then it is legitimate. Fact virtually all are gone now shows this. Yes Canada may have been slower than most in lifting them, but I believe that was more a case of being cautious. Also gave us a chance to observe what happened elsewhere and if all went well could drop them while if not, at least we avoid unnecessary deaths.

Many claim Trudeau’s gun ban is a violation of rights. Here is reality, in Canada there are no gun rights; we do not have a 2nd amendment in our constitution so government could if it wanted to ban all guns. Some claim gun ownership is a natural right or only away to avoid tyranny is to allow an armed citizenry. Others claim all dictatorships start by taking away guns. Those are completely false and mostly NRA talking points that have no basis in reality. Guns are lethal weapons designed to kill and even with strong vetting, it is never perfect. Not being able to target shoot is far less of a right’s violation than losing one’s life. Fact is there is no correlation between gun laws and freedom. Some countries like UK, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have very strict gun laws and ban many guns yet are free liberal democracies. Others like Yemen or Somalia have relatively few yet are not exactly examples of freedom. In reality, because guns are dangerous products, it makes logical sense to limit their use and yes ban some guns where risks outweigh benefits. Most agree machine guns are not appropriate for civilian use. So recent gun bans are just taking that further. Whether handguns or semi-automatics should be banned or not is a matter of debate. But it is not a right’s violation to ban either.

Final one is vaccine mandates. Many claimed that was a gross violation and some even compared it to Nazis. Such over the top rhetoric is disgusting and really shows how out of touch people. Vast majority of vaccine mandates were provincial and every province or territory including those with conservative governments had them at some point. Likewise they were common abroad. Reality is having a full lockdown or health system collapse is an even bigger loss of freedom and earlier it was simply not feasible to have everything open for everyone without risking health system collapsing. So vaccine mandates were a reasonable restriction. They were not permanent and only remained in place so long as necessary. Like in others, all rights are subject to reasonable limits and one has to look at cost vs. benefits.

There is lots to criticize Trudeau over but calling him authoritarian is over the top and just weakens one’s argument. Likewise Canada is still on balance a fairly free country. There has not been a major loss of rights under Trudeau. The libertarian idea some are pushing is something that only exists in fiction not in reality elsewhere. Yes its true in many areas including some above, there are jurisdictions that lack those restrictions. But most of those have some restrictions we lack so its more looking at big picture as well as deciding if such limits are rationale. We have charter of rights and freedoms and for a government to impose restrictions, they must prove under Oakes test it is a reasonable one. Likewise some things like gun ownership are not rights as this is Canada not US and being in US constitution doesn’t make it a right here.

One thought on “Has Trudeau reduced Freedom?

  1. “government could if it wanted to ban all guns.”
    This I think is false actually as it would violate treaty agreements with the indigenous. I get your overall point but I thought I should point this out regardless.


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