Americans tend to think of Canadians, when we think of them at all, as mild-mannered, agreeable, and nicer versions of ourselves.
But over the last several years we have seen Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, crack down harshly on his fellow citizens. In January 2022, Trudeau froze bank accounts of people who had donated money to protesting truckers, who he compared to Nazis. A Canadian military-funded think tank accused critics of the war in Ukraine of spreading “Russian disinformation.” And now Trudeau’s Liberal Party is pushing legislation that would give the government greater power over social media companies.
Because Canada has fewer people than California, and is hardly a player on the world stage, it’s tempting to ignore what is happening there. But we should pay attention because what’s happening in Canada is part of a broader crackdown in the West against free speech, and it may be a testing ground for policies likely to be implemented in the U.S. Indeed, just last week we saw California embrace the creation of blacklists of people accused of “hate incidents.”
Nobody has done a better job of covering Canada’s descent into Woke totalitarianism than Rupa Subramanya, a correspondent for Bari Weiss’s The Free Press, who we interviewed for this week’s podcast. Subramanya was the first reporter to debunk at length Trudeau’s unconscionable smear of Canadian truckers as Nazis. She wrote about Trudeau’s attack on freedom of expression online. And last week The Free Press published a shocking report by Subramanya on how Canada is reducing sentences for convicted criminals simply because of the color of their skin, even when the criminals themselves say racism had nothing to do with their crimes.
Canada thus raises the question of how kindness, agreeableness, and liberalism become their opposite.