Two decades ago, when I was 4 years old, my parents immigrated to Canada from India in search of greater freedoms, autonomy and economic opportunity. These are fundamental Canadian values, enshrined in our national anthem, which gloriously heralds “The True, Strong and Free North”.
However, the past two years have seen an almost complete erosion of the core liberal values that have drawn millions of immigrants like me to this country.
Under the once fair guise of COVID safety and online protections, the Canadian government has taken its power to extreme levels once imaginable – let alone allowed – in an authoritarian state stifling dissent.
Control has extended to almost every element of Canadian society, but nowhere more so than in our daily personal lives. Take my own case dealing with Canada’s COVID bureaucracy a few months ago.
I was returning from the United States to Canada when several Air Canada employees refused to let me board the plane. Although I had a negative COVID test, the government suddenly demanded that even returning citizens be vaccinated (non-vaccinated foreigners were already banned from entering).
Since the most documented adverse effect associated with COVID vaccination – cardiac inflammation – is concentrated in young men between the ages of 15 and 25, I chose not to get vaccinated. I’m 21, have already recovered from COVID and have no comorbidities. I am at low risk of contracting serious COVID disease, which is why I am not vaccinated. But it can make air travel difficult, especially in Canada.
Minutes before my gate closed, a friendly Air Canada staff member “begged” his manager to let me board the plane. “I just did you a huge favor. Nobody else would do that,” he said as I finally descended the catwalk.
In Justin Trudeau’s Canada, you now have to take extreme measures just to be allowed to return to your own country. And why?
COVID is just the beginning of the Canadian madness. The internationally recognized trucker protests earlier this year were the most egregious display of political control ever seen within the ranks of the Canadian government. After attempting to dismiss truckers as a “marginal minority” of “swastika hesitants,” Trudeau has fabricated a national emergency in order to justify some truly outrageous tactics. Not only did he suspend insurance for truckers’ vehicles, but he regulated cryptocurrency transfers and froze the bank accounts of people who simply donated to the truckers’ cause.
In my small town in British Columbia, Chilliwack (about an hour and a half from Vancouver), a single mother earning minimum wage who donated $50 to the trucking convoy reportedly had his bank account frozen.
But the crackdown on truckers was just the tip of the iceberg.
I know of a bank clerk in my town who was fired for not getting vaccinated, while working remotely. A food truck delivery driver in my town suffered the same fate. If this was all about “science,” prior infection or regular COVID testing would have been a factor here, but they weren’t. Get the jab or get out.
Trudeau, who once claimed to be cognitively incapable of doing basic math, has plunged the country into a national debt of more than $1 trillion for the first time in history. Every day, that number grows by another 400 million. Canada is now at risk of stagflation: both economic stagnation and high inflation, as families are unable to pay their bills.
Meanwhile, the government has spent $600,000 paying “online influencers” to promote vaccines (as if the most vulnerable geriatric populations are hanging out on TikTok).
As if the current measures weren’t heavy-handed enough, the Trudeau government has proposed Bill C-36 on “online harm,” designed to crack down on hate speech against ethnic and sexual minorities. If passed, the bill would allow citizens to report others they fear may be posting something hateful, leading to possible fines, online monitoring and electronic surveillance.
Unsurprisingly, the bill has drawn criticism – and not just from right-wing activists. Twitter spoke out, saying the bill could be used to silence political opposition; Meanwhile, in a private letter to the Canadian government, the National Council of Canadian Muslims warned that these measures could “inadvertently result in one of the most significant assaults on marginalized and racialized communities in years.” They believe that requiring social media companies to report “terrorist content” on their platforms to law enforcement could disproportionately target Canadian Muslims.
More than 15 years after arriving in Canada to ensure a more open and rewarding life, I must now consider the possibility that my civil rights might have been more secure in India. Once a vibrant liberal democracy, Canada is becoming an authoritarian state.
Rabbi Arora specializes in topics of race, civil liberties, and spirituality. Follow him on Twitter @Ravarora1 and on Substack at ravarora.substack.com