The international reputation of Canada as the politically laid-back, unpretentious neighbor state to the polarized United States has become laughably anachronistic over the past few years. From passing bills to regulate the internet, freezing bank accounts of those who donated to the trucker convoy, to barring unvaccinated citizens from boarding an airplane (or otherwise leaving the country) — Canada has descended into a spiraling authoritarian state that has caught many by surprise.
In 2023, this shift took a sharp turn towards even more free speech attacks and legislative disasters.
Just before the end of the year, Canada hit a new low for freedom of political expression as an Ottawa judge ruled that the conservative commentator Ezra Levant’s anti-Trudeau book promotion during a previous federal election was illegal. “I am the only person in history they are targeting for writing an election book during an election,” Levant writes. Levant is now fined $13,000 and threatened with potential criminal prosecution should he write and promote another political book in the next election.
Yes, this is Canada — not Cambodia (where the police arrest reporters for quoting politicians).
From prosecuting lockdown-violating pastors to rejecting employment to unvaccinated nurses, this is the new norm in Canada’s social justice kangaroo courts.
The most dramatic shift in Canadians’ lives in 2023 as a result of government failure comes from Bill C-18, which mandated social media companies compensate Canadian media outlets for distributing their content. Twitter and Facebook warned beforehand they would not be able to comply with a 4% link fee for a number of technical, pragmatic reasons — also stating that their platforms helped generate traffic to these sites — but the Trudeau government pushed it anyway. The unsettling result: Canadians can no longer access any news articles, videos, or event accounts of media outlets and newspapers on Meta.
This has been a complete disaster leading to independent media outlets losing significant traffic and millions of dollars in revenue. On the consumer side, many users, especially my peer Zoomers, stay at least minimally informed with local and international affairs by scrolling through their Instagram feed, but that is now all gone.
What implications will this have for future voting outcomes and the political climate, more broadly?
All of this could have been averted if the government hadn’t spread its tentacles far and wide across online sectors, attempting to regulate and engineer a more “equitable” online world (though one where CBC profits the most).
Worst yet, the government announced a new mandate requiring podcast platforms to officially register with the federal government. The motivation of “promoting Canadian content” for the expansion of online regulation may fool the naive, but the guidelines of the anointed government agency (the CRTC) include the preferential boosting of “racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds.” It’s easy to imagine what that may look like. Minorities who abide by the regime may be government-boosted but what about black, vaccine-hesitant Covid dissidents? Or Muslim parents vocally opposed to the imposition of gender ideology in kindergarten class?
This year has also revealed the biggest media scandal in recent Canadian history. After two years of fear-mongering about mass graves of Indigenous children at a number of residential schools, nothing has been found in a recent formalized excavation. The claim originated from a First Nations group’s discovery of “anomalies” in the soil at residential schools using “ground-penetrating radar.” Some independent voices at the time expressed caution, but leading media channels rushed to judgment and wrongly asserted dispositive evidence of human remains. The New York Times published multiple pieces with outright falsehoods, such as an article by veteran reporter Ian Austen stating, “the remains of more than 1,000 people, mostly children, have been discovered on the grounds of three former residential schools in two Canadian provinces since May.” This was false then and it is embarrassingly false now. The Times has yet to correct its many factual errors in its coverage of this issue.
Liberal media outlets have a way in which to completely detract from real issues such as the generational poverty, mental health crisis, and neglect in Canadian Aboriginal communities. Instead, we are now focusing on the non-existence of media-hyped Indigenous children’s human remains. Really?
On the culture-war front, this past month we saw a few disorienting clashes on Canadian grounds between “minority” groups who — surprise, surprise — often have diametrically opposing views on fundamental ethical issues. One incident in particular is enough to make an intersectional, blue-haired resistance liberal faint from cognitive paralysis. At a Muslim-led 1 Million March 4 Children protest — aimed at pushing back against radical gender ideology being taught in schools — one Muslim boy gets up on stage and says, gay people are “disgusting” and “psychopaths.”
This video contains multitudes. On one level, this clip exposes everything wrong with social media soundbites used to advance political narratives. The full video segment includes the boy’s father correcting him, saying gay people are human too and deserve our love and respect, but the viral clip used by leading progressive journalists conveniently didn’t include that portion. Much more interestingly, you saw the Muslim Association of Canada supporting the national anti-2SLGBTQ+ protests and calling out the prime minister’s attacks against the movement as hateful. This is amusingly ironic as Trudeau’s messaging a few years ago — before the school indoctrination tensions kicked into full gear — was clearly catered to win the sympathies of Muslim migrants. Now, many of those people are calling out his bulls***. As it turns out, appeasing all identity groups — many of whom have nothing in common except for how elite white people perceive them — is practically impossible and Canada is learning that the hard way.
Lastly, is another hot culture-war story — now pertaining to race — of controversial posters found in Metro Vancouver advertising a mom-and-toddler group for “whites-only.” “It seeks to provide “proud parents of European children” a place to “escape forced ‘diversity’” where their “kids can feel like they belong. The controversy prompted a national outcry and law enforcement has now launched an investigation to see if there is any “criminality involved.” Needless to say, there is no defense for congregating white children and their mothers as an escape from ethnic minorities. Anyone who publicly says otherwise will have their career and livelihood destroyed in the blink of an eye. Yes, it’s 2023 — not 1985. But, here’s a revealing question: replace the “whites-only” label in the poster to “people-of-color-only” and ask yourself, would that generate even one crumble of controversy?
I’m sorry, but the city mayor Brad West would not condemn it as “vile garbage” which ‘“isn’t welcome in our community, or anywhere else.” Ethnic-exclusive spaces exist in every liberal, metropolitan city, from black graduation ceremonies, “people of color” meditation retreats, “women of color” clubs on campus, and — wait for it — yes, mom and child groups for black Canadians only.
If you search “people of color” followed by the first activity or event that (cooking, sports, education, music) enters your mind, there’s a good chance it exists — and nakedly thrives at a powerful liberal institution near you. This is where our society is: racial segregation for all minority groups is loudly celebrated, but the same action by European “white” groups is a monstrous evil. Hopefully, this all goes into extinction when “people of color” turn into the majority in a couple of decades, thereby shattering any progressive justifications for “oppressed” ethnic groups needing their own sheltered islands in notoriously alt-right havens such as downtown Toronto or North Vancouver.
The social fabric of Canada has deteriorated as much as its constitutional commitment to freedom. COVID lockdowns and vaccine mandates were the most striking infringements on civil liberties, but the media-supported normalization and political justifications of such measures paved the way for further censorious attacks in 2023. As the culture war embroiled, Canadians’ access to online information radically changed with much uncertainty about the future of the last remaining pillars of our “free” media: podcasts.
In its sustained paradoxical outlook, the more chill, less politically polarized caricature of Canadian life continues to shatter to the point of absurdity. Immigrants from Canada like myself (Indian-born) now seriously begin to wonder whether the unparalleled freedom we were once promised was just an imminently combustible illusion we fell victim to.
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Rav Arora is a 22-year-old journalist based in Vancouver covering free speech, Big Pharma, Covid mandates, and totalitarianism. His work has appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience, The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast, and The Ben Shapiro Show, among other major platforms. Follow his Substack newsletter with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya: The Illusion Of Consensus.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.