Canada and the tyranny of emergencies
Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a "state of emergency" against his own citizens in what has become the latest fashionable trend to crush dissent and demand obedience to the state. The BBC reports:
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken the unprecedented step of invoking the Emergencies Act to crack down on anti-vaccine mandate protests.
Mr Trudeau said the scope of the measures would be "time-limited", "reasonable and proportionate" and would not see the military deployed. (snip)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at Monday's news conference that banks would be able freeze personal accounts of anyone linked with the protests without any need for a court order.
Vehicle insurance of anyone involved with the demonstrations can also be suspended, she added.
Ms Freeland said they were broadening Canada's "Terrorist Financing" rules to cover cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding platforms, as part of the effort.
Rumble video screen grab.
Such a declaration sets a dangerous precedent, whereby Charter Rights, the Canadian version of the U.S.'s Bill of Rights, can now be sidestepped at the whim of a single individual.
Is there any historical proposition more dangerous than a powerful apparatchik revoking your rights under the pretense of necessity? Have we learned nothing since the conception of the Twelve Tables and the Magna Carta?
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
Many of our Supreme Court justices have recognized that liberty is not absolute and that there are times when the exercise of one's liberty may infringe upon the liberty of another — for example, in the case of a truly deadly disease with an extraordinarily high fatality rate (Jacobson v. Massachusetts), or in the case of conscription, whereby a citizen is expected to defend and preserve the inalienable for all (Kneedler v. Lane). However, these prudent restrictions were invariably designed in good faith — that is, to protect the substructure of rights, not to violate them.
When courts state that "emergency powers" can be invoked to stop a tangible and "grave threat" to our way of life, or to what threatens the glue that binds our democracy, then it should be clear that the words "grave" and "threat" represent a significantly high threshold. None of the virtuous justices who thought long and hard about these exceptionally complicated cases ever imagined that a group of thugs — calling themselves representatives of the people — would seek to exploit legal opinions for personal machinations at the expense of liberty.
In many U.S. states, and now in Canada, politicians are invoking these powers to avoid negotiation with the people they serve. Should a democratic government violate the inviolable whenever a group of citizens protests draconian mandates? Should one individual have the power to freeze personal bank accounts or imprison you indefinitely because you ask, politely, not to be jabbed with an experimental vaccine? Are dancing, flag-waving truckers a grave danger to society? Are viruses with fatality rates lower than 2% a threat to our Constitution? If so, it would follow that our government has the right to declare an emergency over the common flu, heart disease, cancer, or a number of other ailments that cause more deaths than COVID-19. Grounded on this folly, the mayor would have the power to imprison New York taxi drivers for their incessant honking, or garnish wages from those who decide to forgo new heart medications. Is such a revocation in keeping with the spirit of the law?
"A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference."
The Libertarian and Republican view of government has always rested on the precept that individuals are rational beings, capable of self-expression and self-determination, best able to calculate their risk, and best able to choose how to exercise their liberty, provided that they don't destroy or diminish the rights of others. In other words, the sole purpose of government is to protect the inviolable, which exists outside the scope of influence and is rooted in the state of nature (Locke) or dignity (Kant).
The left likes to talk a great deal about obligations. But on the issue of societal rights and obligations, there is a significant difference between the two. A right is what the government owes me, whereas an obligation is based on what you think I owe the government. To force me to comply with your conception of "ought," and to bind me into an obligation to you, requires a great deal of coercion and force. And that abstractness should be left to the rational will of the people and their representatives, not dictated to them by the whims of an individual.
Justin Trudeau has no moral right to coerce millions of people to take a potentially fatal vaccine in lieu of taking their chances with a potentially fatal virus. Only arrogant fools, suffering from hubris, believe they are in a position to make that decision for someone else. A democratic government should not be in the business of using its citizenry as a means to an end.
"The individual is a repository of all value, and exists as an end in himself. If we value anything, we must value the existence and endeavors of rational beings."