Monday, November 29, 2021
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No more Mr Nice Canadian

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BY ANY standard, Canadians are nice people. We are tolerant. We are polite and soft-spoken. We obey rules. We wait patiently in line. And we are guilt-ridden – as evidenced by our Prime Minister’s many tearful expressions of remorse for the errors of long-dead figures.

Even so, no one can stay nice for ever, can they? It’s hardly surprising that sometimes Canadians let their smiley-face masks slip a bit and a not-so-nice version of Johnny Canuck makes his appearance. When that happens, all bets are off.

Certainly, that’s what has happened during the current pandemic, which has seen the transformation of large numbers of sane people into vengeful zealots determined to force compliance on their fellow citizens.

Of course, this transformation did not happen all at once. The initial response by our government and public health officials to Covid was akin to a deer caught in the headlights of an 18-wheeler. After a couple of months, the powers-that-be got their nerve back and came up with a strategy which relied heavily on wishful thinking and political correctness.

This meant that they often failed to do what had to be done. Such as protecting the elderly and disabled whose death rate was appalling. Nor did they close our borders to arrivals from China and elsewhere, fearing that this would be seen as racist or xenophobic. They did it eventually, but the time lost worrying how it might look to others cost a golden opportunity to halt the spread of the disease.

Since that time, a new strategy has been put in place which includes a co-ordinated effort by government, public health officials and the media to scare people silly, the use of the full power of the State to force compliance, and the creation of scapegoats to deflect public criticism from those responsible for the many mis-steps along the way.

Many of these elements will be familiar to readers: hectoring by politicians and public health officials, interminable lockdowns, masks, social distancing, closing down the economy, cancelling medical procedures not connected to Covid, and placing off limits most of the places and activities likely to make people happy. 

That said, some of these restrictions have a particularly Canadian flavour to them, such as banning participation in or attendance at hockey games (a very low blow!) The exceptions are equally Canadian, such as continued easy access to abortions (supposedly an essential service), pot-shops (cannabis is legal in Canada) and government-run beer, wine and liquor outlets (which make a significant contribution to government finances).

Being of a compliant nature, Canadians have acquiesced to every demand made of them, as seen by the fact that some 86.5 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12 have received at least one jab and 81 per cent have had both. Now authorities are determined to get tough on the rest. The result is a well-orchestrated campaign to scapegoat the unvaccinated segment of the population, individuals who are often accused of being poorly educated, reactionary, anti-science and selfish. 

Sadly, this is just the latest phase in a campaign aimed at forcing compliance, which has seen hefty fines and a willingness to make use of the police to break up gatherings and demonstrations. One group which has received special attention are those churches and pastors who refuse to knuckle under. Church members and pastors have been fined, church buildings padlocked, and pastors thrown into jail. Equally troubling has been the censorship, disciplining and firing of doctors and medical researchers who have expressed reservations concerning the Covid narrative.

Worst of all has been the willingness of many Canadians to aid this flight from freedom by acting as snitches and ‘mask Nazis’, silencing critics and ostracising those whose only crime is wanting to decide what medical procedure they will undergo. It is clear that many Canadians are taking a break from their traditional role of ‘Mr Nice Guy’. How long this will last is anyone’s guess. Over their history Canadians have sought to avoid extreme measures they would later regret. This suggests that the current hysteria may be just an outlier in an otherwise sane historical trend line. Even so, Canada’s emotional binge is a bad one, and like most binges it is likely to result in a gigantic hangover. 

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Paul Malvern
Paul Malvern is a Canadian communications consultant and author of Persuaders: Lobbying, Influence Peddling and Political Corruption in Canada.

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