As Canadians Are We Really As Free As We Think We Are?

Soon But Not Yet . . .

Photographer Unknown To Me

Just recently I was involved in a conversation with 7-8 others about a topic that many of us seldom speak about: the extent to which we feel “free”. I must confess that I am or was one of those people who was born into freedom. As many of us did, I had family relations go to war in it’s name and am reminded of the value of those freedoms fought for and won every November 11th.

So my thoughts/questions to you are: How free do you feel considering how you live your life each day? Fine isn’t an answer. You need to be able to share, at least with someone close to you, what it means specifically.

I love this country. There is no greater country to live in than Canada. And yes we are free to do most things. We can travel anywhere we want at any time we want and with anyone we want. We can vote for the candidate(s) of our choice in free elections. We are free to practice the religion of our choice. We are allowed to speak our minds in public and protest, in a peaceful manner, our government without penalty–I think? I am free to write about things that displease me or that I find contentious and I can be critical of others if I want to be. I can buy what I want from whomever I want and I can sell whatever I want to whomever I please. I am free to smoke, drink and be merry anytime I want. I am free to love anyone I choose and to marry the love of my life regardless of their gender, race or religion. We are free to assemble and we have a free press and language rights. On the surface I agree that this sounds like a really good deal and for the most part it is. However, I’m very concerned that many have begun to forget how important it is not to take our freedoms for granted. And yet, those precious gifts of freedom are being eroded by folks who have other agendas and those agendas are not all that honourable.

Basically what I outlined above is true but not accurate. The Charter Of Rights And Freedoms provide for the entrenchment of our rights but there are now laws either passed or soon to be passed that would compromise those very rights. There are exceptions, consequences and penalties attached to some of these ‘freedoms’now. The untouchables have been touched. Just because we believe these freedoms can’t be taken away from us does not make them forever.

We maintain that we are free to do whatever we want. But freedom of speech does not allow one person to defame or lie about another in order to slander them or implicate them unjustly in a crime. There are penalties for that and so there should be. So there are limits as to what freedom of speech allows and means. When considering voting it’s true we can vote for anyone on the ballot without coercion or threat. Any of us can seek office if we meet the criteria to run. We are free to smoke, to drink and be disruptive and obnoxious in public but only in certain places. Again I agree that this is for the greater good. Free press and media is ruled more by political correctness now than at any other time so they aren’t quite ‘free’ to write or do what they want if staying in business is a priority. This is where it starts to get a bit contentious for me however. We are said to be free to practice the religion of our choice, for instance, and yet that is not true. While others are free to openly pray in public, Christians are not. If we do then we are sanctioned. That is not freedom. While major pieces of legislation are being run through parliament we don’t have much of a say, really, in whether that legislation passes or not. When was the last time your federal member stopped by your house to ask you what you thought about capital punishment, going to war or raising taxes-again. Mine either. How then is this true democracy and yet democracy is outlined as a must in the charter. The proposed anti-terrorist legislation will give the government many many opportunities to spy on us and to monitor phone calls, emails, web site surfing all in the name of our national security. I don’t trust them with that sort of power. They have proven themselves untrustworthy. I’m all for stopping terrorism and terrorists from gaining a foot hold in this country but at what cost to us as citizens? How much liberty do we sacrifice? What’s the old saying: “Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best”–Edward Abbey. Legislation, once passed, is nigh on impossible to undo.

And then there is freedom of speech. How free is it–really? If the following is true Mr. Harper needs to answer for his statement in a public forum. He seems to have forgotten that he works for us and not the other way around. If this statement is true then he is nothing but a bully. Bullies don’t lead they threaten. If the quote is accurate then perhaps Mr. Harper doesn’t concern himself with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after all. So much for free speech. The following contains a quote from a memo that, apparently, was attributed to Mr. Harper: “You’ll never believe what a leaked RCMP memo from last week says about you (as a citizen). If you oppose the furious rush to build pipelines and expand the tar sands like I do(says the writer of the article), then you’re considered to be a “violent anti-petroleum extremist.”

**The memo literally says that those of us who oppose pipelines should be seen and treated as potential criminal and security threats. I honestly could not believe what I was reading.’

So with a Prime Minister who feels that way about freedom to speak your mind the question is: Are we really as FREE as we think we are?

Anyways, that’s how I see it–all the best–Jim

Comments are always welcomed: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR jamescloughley.com

10 thoughts on “As Canadians Are We Really As Free As We Think We Are?”

  1. You are absolutely correct in your thinking as far as I’m concerned. You can ask so many people that have had things LEGALLY taken from them by the government or justice system, or even by “squatters” or minorities.

    Years ago, while fighting for fathers’ rights and a more JUST justice-less system, I assumed Canadians had no backbone for not banding together to stand up to government or anything else that is unjust in this world. I strongly believed Canadians had given up on everything. Then it dawned on me.

    If one stands up for what they believe in they will be censored; have everything that is worth anything taken from them; run the risk of being jailed, or worse, going to their own funeral. Where I live, a certain family monopolizes a huge part of this province, including the media. they are given a lot of money and allowed to do what they please because they have money. If one wrote to the paper arguing about decisions made by the government regarding this family, you can be guaranteed your “letter to the editor” won’t look like the one you sent in to be published.

    Laws are created in order to attract votes. PERIOD. They are simply in place for the law-abiding citizens only. Everybody knows the criminals in their communities, but for some strange reason, the criminals still live there, untouched, unscathed, and allowed to carry on in the manner in which they live. Meanwhile, the newspapers are reporting numerous cases of petty idiocy in the court news that are forcing our courts into backlog, and the police knowingly pass by the true criminals while dealing with them.

    Politicians are inaccessible with “guard dogs” at their gates to field/screen all phone calls, emails, and office visits. I have been trying to get in to see a couple of politicians and have been tossed aside without even being allowed to knock. I offered to throw a raw steak in order to slip past the secretary just to be able to speak to one.

    Canada a free country? It all depends on how you look at it.

    It is a beautiful country for certain. But like I said when I lived in Niagara Falls, Ontario: If you go out and look around when nobody is around or when it is “off-season” you begin to see the truth. The dirt and garbage that has been left behind smothers the streets when no money is to be made from the tourists and the city shuts down.

    The governments, politicians, and yes, even the police… give and take at will, doing what they must in order to keep the votes, money and positive comments coming in.

    Since 9/11 there have been a lot of changes. Here for one, you will see the changes at the border, but not what you would expect. When you approach the small U.S. Customs building, a friendly, yet professional officer comes out of a small cubicle, takes your documents, asks a few usual questions, and then sends you on your way. When you return to Canada a large brick building looms ahead where the Canada Customs officers slide back a window and speak to you from a protected cubicle within “Fort Knox”, and most female guards refuse to even smile and question the meaning of everything you say. Which country was attacked? The U.S. or Canada?

    Free? Canadians? I really have to do some positive self-talk before I answer that one.

    Reply
  2. Hi Darla–I know–I somehow suspected that you felt the same way. We really need to be careful what we settle for or get taken in by. Not everyone out there is looking out for us. It’s the classic approach: keep reducing the pile one tablespoon at a time and no one notices–until the last spoonful is gone and then we wonder ‘when did that happen’? Well it’s happening right now and has been for quite a while–thanks for your time as always and I hope that you are well.

    By the way–Don’t stop writing and contributing to your artwork portfolio. It is really good stuff and if you don’t have time or energy to market it-I get that but don’t deprive yourseslf of the joy of creating it. Some day someone will recognize it for the beauty it represents–Jim

    Reply
    • Jim… Jim… Jim….

      Always encouraging others 🙂

      I have been trying to continue to write, but have been caught up in a head-to-head battle with government and the medical profession for a solid year now.

      I could add so much more to my above comment, But I know everybody in this country realizes what it happening, and are at a complete loss as to how to change things.

      Alfred and I always discuss what we think is wrong with society these days. I sincerely believe that everybody desperately needs a trustworthy leader of some kind. Be it a higher power or God, or even in government. But as everybody knows, there appears to be no leadership left. Even religions are at odds with threats coming in from outsiders that believe they should kill those that do not believe in what they do. No one in government is the least bit interested in the people. And where I live, there is a small community that has a small group of doctors available. Maybe 8 or ten. Of that small group are 4 (maybe 5 – I think i am forgetting one LOL) that are brothers with one of them a son. The doctors in this small community will NOT go against another.

      And out of those brothers, at least one is very well known to facilitate “drug use” shall we say? I told him specifically that I am a recovering addict with over 24 years clean and I do NOT want narcotics. I ended up in hospital a short while ago and he ordered a shot of gravol and dilaudin. I didn’t have the energy to argue, but you can be rest assured i will not go back.

      Anyways… LOL That is an entirely other story!!!

      Great country this Canada! I love the country but have no use for those that are greedy and have their own agendas.

      Reply
      • HI there–one way to start is to become more aware of what your candidates, who stand for election-especailly federal politics, believe n. That means getting a few folks together to attend a candidates night or any kind of get together that puts the candidate in from t of a group of voters and ask direct pointed questions about specific issues and don’t settle for anything but a direct answer. If you don’t get a direct answer then ask why not. Do not let them get away with a bullshit answer. The only way is to make them accountable for what they are or are not saying about a topic. Too many folks who run for office practice how to bullshit people with double talk about nothing and too many people just give up trying to get answers. That’s what will allow them to continue to abuse us and that’s exactly what they are doing–they are abusing us. Stuff needs to happen at the most basic levels and there has to be a group of folks who agree on how they feel. Put an ad in the paper and ask for like minded people to gather to talk about going to a candidate meeting.If you only get 5 people to show up that’s five more than you had and if others see that five people care perhaps they will come out the next time–thanks for getting back to me and I was quite serious when I said you need t keep doing your thing. It’s good for the soul–love to you–JIm

        Reply
  3. You have some really excellent thoughts (which others have already pointed out). We love Canada (although we’re not residents). A few years ago, a non-resident friend hurt himself while we were doing a project and we were all amazed at how quickly (and at no cost, even as a non-resident) he was taken care of. One of the residents cautioned us, “Free healthcare sounds great, and it’s great for the flu, but not for people who are actually sick, like with cancer.” Would you agree?

    Reply
    • Greetings casey–first of all I thank you for your time and your interest in my article. I appreciate it. As for your question “would I agree” (I have worked in the health care system for 20+ years now)–I would agree to this extent. Canada has a great health care system even to this day but it is not the same generous system that it used to be. Too many people cheating the system for one thing–working it to make huge sums of money.

      I know that anyone who requires medical assistance will get it no matter what the circumstances and they will get it in as timely a fashion as a tax payer would as well. Is it the same system as it used to be–covering the same wide range of services? Not as a right for being a citizen. Where certain medications were covered under the banner of universal health care that is not happening as much these days. More meds are being excluded from the free-be list each year. We are becoming more like the US system–twin levels of care. Those who have the $$ and those who don’t. The US system has some of the finest treatment programs in the world with world class physicians and hospital specialities but usually for those who can pay or have insurance coverage. Our system was built on the belief that health care should be universal because we are all equally important in the eyes of the world. We are of equal human value and therefore our health needs should not be determined by the size of our bank accounts. That is still the underlying principle but the implementation and support for that belief is struggling to remain in tact. Regarding cancer the treatments are still, for the most part, covered and care (chemo, radiation etc) are still covered by the system. But the more exotic treatments need to pass more definitive and more strict scrutiny in order for them to be considered and implemented.

      I hope that answers your question and thanks again for dropping by–James

      Reply

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