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: firstname.lastname@example.org OR jamescloughley.com