|Montreal, March 15, 2003 / No 121|
by Randy Hillier
I recently returned to Canada from a journey through the New England States, from Canada's Maritime Provinces. Although the journey through America was brief, the experience was refreshing, and awakening. It reminded me that often in life, you don't miss what has been forgotten, until it's too late. Seldom do people think of the car's spare tire, or jack, until they have a flat tire. It's not until the need arises that your misplaced and forgotten tools become important.
The same is true of the freedoms, rights, and liberties our ancestors fought and died for, which many now take for granted. Until people feel the pain and experience the hurt of their loss of freedom directly, they believe freedom remains safely stowed away. Possibly still safely locked in the trunk, to be found in a moment's notice.
In Canada, freedoms and liberties have been misplaced; although many are unaware they are lost. Some people have yet to feel the pain of their unknown loss; others are accepting and apathetic of the pain and loss. Quietly their rights were traded or loaned away for something thought to be more important at the time. However, making our way through New Hampshire and Maine my heart began to feel the loss and experience the pain and hurt, as faded memories and emotions of earlier freer times in Canada filled the journey.
The last few decades have seen Canadians warmly embrace an uncaring government, and a Liberal party that coddles people with the expectation of a collective security blanket. Government policies disguised as safety concerns or the need for bureaucratic consistency, tolerance, and fairness is the patchwork of Canada's new quilt. People are hardly aware they're under the soft security blanket that is coddling them, ever tighter, in small increments. However, the blanket is now pulled over their face, breathing is difficult from the suffocating effects of big government, and the Liberal State of security.
The route through the New England States showed the subtle signs of difference between our countries and clearly marked the fork in our roads. New Hampshire law allows adults the choice to wear seat belts, compared to Canadian law, which seeks out people to charge and fine. You have the freedom of choice to wear a helmet while driving a motorcycle in Maine, while in Canada you must wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle and even a bicycle. Lobstermen in Maine stop fishing of their own accord when the lobsters begin to moult, compared to Canada's rigid bureaucracy that regulate and dictate seasons to fishermen, and often spell disaster and destruction to the fishery.
People have the choice to smoke in small pubs or restaurants; in Canada the heavy hand of municipal lawmen remove this choice with the threat of another fine. Stores and trading posts sell firearms, ammo, liquor, and smokes without the government's hand in the till. In Canada, it's become criminal to own a firearm, to hunt, or to sell cigarettes if you're not licensed or registered. As these little subtle signs were tallied, the differences added up: Canada's road is now totally different. These differences are indeed significant, and Canada has become lost on the "road to freedom" we once proudly shared with our neighbours.
Fewer rules and regulations
Although there are fewer rules and regulations in the New England States, we felt safe, unafraid, and rested from the burden of correctness we must endure and tolerate in Canada. It was an unexpected holiday from Canada's quest to have the perfect rules of bureaucracy, collective security, and unequalled tolerance
As we crested the last hill towards Canada, the land of the Thistle, Shamrock and Rose, was entwined with the new Customs of Canada. The view was saddening; the difference dramatic, as the new national ID card and travel registration programs gain acceptance, and looms on the horizon. Greeting us were the dark storm clouds of more new laws that further limit freedom of speech, new regulations on property owners, along with the long gun registry.
Was it really worth the trade: privacy for correctness, liberty for bureaucracy, freedom for safety? Just as the original natives traded away their heritage of lands for colourful wampum and trinkets, we are now trading our heritage of freedom for more colourful plastic cards and regulations. Will the results be any different for us? Has our reservation been made?
Although police need judicial warrants to enter private homes in Canada, every year more government inspectors are allowed to enter homes and seize private property, without judicial restraint. The list goes on and on: firearms, zoning and environmental inspectors, tax assessors, property standards officers, and Revenue Canada to name a few. Police, not teachers now routinely patrol the halls of our children's schools; and breathalyser tests are commonplace at school dances.
How do we reconcile individual freedom and privacy when we must justify our actions to the police or government inspector? Is it too late to unlock those most dear and precious rights we believe are in the trunk? Are they still there to be found? The time to find them is upon us.
Looking back to where we had been, a licence to "Live free or die" was clearly in focus. In front of me was home, the land of the Maple Leaf where we now need a licence to live. These New England States breathed new life and awareness into a northern neighbour; the freshness of freedom as clear, and breathtaking, as the mountains and seacoast in the background. "Live free or die" are not only catchy words on a license plate; they now define our differences, and my hope.
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