What in the world, you might be asking, is up with Canada? How did a country famed for its sensible, moderate attitudes and customs transform itself into the front rank of the woke phalanx?
We are an immense country – one infinitely rich, blessed by nature (with the possible exception of winter) and mostly pristine. Yet on almost every front, we are becoming an embarrassment – to ourselves and, increasingly, to the world.
We have fallen, for instance, one-quarter behind our American counterparts in terms of incomes – the wealth that offers security, opportunity and educational resources to our children. We’ve done so while creating an economy that will lag behind most of our peers in the developing world for the next four decades.
And, for what? Ostensibly, so that our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the political elite – including the opposition – can claim to be saving the planet.
Trudeau, and his deputy Chrystia Freeland, make it express policy to continually forgo stellar opportunities for national economic development. Our allies Germany and Japan recently came cap-in-hand to Ottawa in some desperation to offer us multi-decade deals amounting to tens of billions of dollars, with no strings attached. Our PM’s response? Let us paraphrase:
“You are free nations, and admirable and reliable friends, and your people clearly need energy and resources, but we here in Canada feel that such endeavours are now immoral. So we can’t make a 'business case' for that. Alas, therefore, I must send you packing, ignoring entirely our history of mutual cooperation throughout the post-WWII period, and ensuring that you spend all that money supporting dictatorships (Qatar, in the specific case of Germany) or maintaining your dependence on Russia (even though that country is at war with our ally, Ukraine). And now let me laud my moral virtue over you.”
All such deals since then have fallen like the ripest of plums into the comparatively deserving hands of our American allies.
An ideology of no ideology
It is a singularly appalling feature of an age burdened with deep nonsense and flat-out idiocies – the intellectual dust bowl of transgender ideology, the unnecessarily punitive burden of carbon taxes, the incessant narcissistic laments of Meghan Markle – that declarations on the part of political leaders that would have produced a tsunami in the not so distant days when reason still had a purchase on public discourse now cause scarcely a ripple.
One cardinal stage-act in this carnival of jester-thought? Let us return to 2015, when the soon-to-be prime minister of a once balanced and confident country emitted the following apercu, his distilled ‘insight’ into the true nature of the Canada he was about to rule: “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada…” This is what makes us, Trudeau continued, the world’s “first postnational state."
The epithet, “post-national,” is one with profound implications. It nonetheless barely pricked up the ears of those operating in once-vigilant newsrooms. The few who did hear, in those infant days of the Trudeau Enlightenment, fell all over themselves, in a veritable rhapsody of appreciative commentary. Seldom had we heard a slogan so creative, so progressive, so humane, so compassionate.
Where were the thoughtful, asking questions about just exactly what a “post-national” state might be; the doubt that such an entity was possible, even by definition? Can states, as states, exist without a national identity? Can mere aggregations of convenience, with fealty, no central purpose or point, no shared, deep history, really be called states at all?
What then serves to unify, to guide, and to inspire hope, on both the psychological and collective fronts? Because, in the absence of such unity, we are in conflict, lost and hopeless.
This statement of core belief (and, most truly, belief in nothing) indicated more than indifference to the country itself: it provided proof positive of Trudeau's utterly juvenile understanding of the deep and wide history of the country he was offering so graciously to rule. Trudeau glossed over the deep and centuries-old rootedness of Newfoundlanders and other East Coast denizens – to whom place, connection and belonging are part of their DNA, as well as denying the clearly defined allegiance of the Francophones inhabiting his own native province of Quebec, who have fought desperately and successfully to maintain their truly unique culture.
Every Canadian province, and the northern territories, are characterised by this same deep sense of ‘home,’ and, as oil-rich Alberta’s stalwart former leader Peter Lougheed insisted: connection to the province – the local place of being – is a precondition for, a spur to, an accelerant of, the love for and broader sense of belonging, to the greater generality of Canada itself.
Trudeau conflated the endless void expanse of his own ignorance with the hypothetical identitylessness of the land he now and so ineptly and catastrophically leads.
All of this was passed over – and by those who should have known better.
It has been made increasingly clear to Canadians, desperate though they may be to believe otherwise, that our vast and mostly empty country – with its backward ways, its quaint and provincial (in the sense of isolated and parochial) parliament, and its tiny population – doesn't merit any real consideration on the part of the oh-so-impressive global citizens who now masquerade as its leaders. Too many important decisions are made elsewhere, on an international scale – on the faux-aristocratic stages where the truly important players strut and posture.
What do those who parade in such forums often believe? Here's a start: the planet is a hapless, virginal princess; society, a malevolent and cruel patriarch, motivated by power, raping and pillaging; the individual, another mouth of many devouring mouths to feed, hell-bent on riding the giant of patriarchy to the brink of impending apocalypse.
What other ideas congregate with these devilishly one-sided notions? How about the appalling claim that “the planet has too many people on it.” It would, after all, take five planets to sustain the world population at the current standard of living the West enjoys – or so the story goes.
And what should become of those obviously excess people? They should cease clamouring to enjoy the material benefits and opportunities for our children enjoyed by those in the West for the last eighty years.
The new maxim: it's impossible to make everyone rich, so the moral thing is to reduce their cost to the planet, and whether by accident or design, make them poor.
Nature abhors a vacuum
Canada, according to Trudeau, is a vacancy, bereft of civil history; a nothing place, waiting to be filled in. But nature abhors a vacuum, and that emptiness cries out to be filled. And who shall guide the "infilling?" Well obviously, Trudeau himself, along with his mentors and minions.
With what? Not from ideas emerging from the country itself, and its deep culture. Instead, with the glib, shallow, self-aggrandising platitudes of a metropolitan elite, guilty (and perhaps with good reason) about their undeserved wealth and "privilege," looking for the easiest road to consequently necessary atonement.
Looking for the wisdom of some high collegium, composed of the richest and most powerful this sad planet has currently to offer. Let us all go to Davos, the luxury campus of the self-interested; that largely unelected, autocratic and self-congratulatory forum.
Canada, after all (and the West, more broadly), has no centre, no being, no foundation, no destiny. It is the neo-colonial remnant of a fundamentally deplorable history: one characterised by naught but oppression, prejudice, exploitation and ethnocentrism, if not outright racism. No angels hover ahead; instead, we are left with Bill Gates.
Trudeau is a carbon tax advocate. He has announced plans to scuttle the oil and gas industry in Alberta, impose mandatory and severe fertiliser restrictions on Canadian farmers, and effectively handicap the forest industry.
In case it needs to be said: we, in this country, are not suffering from a shortage of forests. Canada has, by some accounts, over 400 million trees. It has been argued there a more trees in the Northern Hemisphere than there were a century ago. Yet none of that seems to matter: not while our erstwhile leader continually parades his environmental concerns.
It’s important to note here the counter-evidence to this zero-sum dystopian nightmare insisted upon by the anti-industrial moralists: insofar as the "planet" has interests at all (and it doesn't, being both entirely unconscious and uncaring) those would be best served by making everyone poor rich as rapidly as possible, instead of the reverse.
Why? Because as people drag themselves out of poverty (or as governments get out of their way so they can possibly do so) their sense of time expands, and they start to naturally concern themselves not so much with “what do I eat and feed my family with today?” but with “what kind of world, local and global, do I want to see for my children and grandchildren?”
The great Danish political scientist Bjørn Lomborg, among others, has argued in painstaking and painful detail that all the trillions of dollars spent on so-called renewables has had an negligible impact, and may even have made things worse. Consider, once again, the sad case of Germany since its "green revolution" – a country paying many times more for more unreliable power and dangerously beholden to the Russians.
Despite all this, we continue to insist upon the destruction of the very agricultural and industrial infrastructure that raised the common man out of destitution, driven by an ignorance so profound that the darkness of night is a thousand suns by contrast; driven by an envy of success so deep that Lucifer himself would weep to see it.
And if our politicians in the West fail? Off to Brussels or Davos with them, to take up the international jobs truly most meet for those for whom leadership of a mere party of even country is simply nowhere near enough.
In the case of Canada, those now-elevated but departed leaders will leave behind a country whose economy will have been for many decades crippled by the laws designed precisely to bring about that crippling; a people who will be rendered cynical for a very long time when they finally awaken to the magnitude of the crime committed in the name of the planet; a parliament gutted of its authority – a nation divided.
And a planet not only not improved but clearly worsened, even by the standards of its so-called saviors.
We in Canada are in fact much better, not much worse, than our leaders. We are steeped in history – and one most fundamentally pro-human, pro-freedom and pro-responsibility. We are united by a set of fundamentally valid core values. We are a nation. We have our traditions, and loyalties, and a muted admiration for the many who sacrificed what was necessary to build this country. These were men and women who voyaged so dangerously on the turbulent seas, and broke and ploughed the oft-intransigent earth; who sent their sons to combat; who did their silent duty in the name of the family. These were the people whose names we most often do not know, who built a strong and enduring country, a beacon to people around the world (for all its faults), deeply loyal to neighbourhood, town, province and country; possessed of unostentatious regard for their fellow Canadians and allegiance to the principles of divine intrinsic individual worth and responsibility for brotherhood.
Those are core values, and they're more real than anything else. Those are the principles that define us.
And to let all that slip all away under the shallow, pathetic, shameless, self-aggrandising the leadership of the moment – that is farce, with tragedy as its aim.
Oh, Canada indeed.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, and the author of three books: "Maps of Meaning: the Architecture of Belief", "12 Rules for Life: an Antidote to Chaos" and "Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life".
Rex Murphy is a Canadian commentator and author.
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