Ohhhhh, Canada: Free Country, Free Speech?? Not…

As mentioned in the blog post ‘Canada: Corrupt Petro State?’, we Canadians have often seemed more than a little smug about how great our country is.

We’ve taken free speech for granted.

It may be time to stop doing so.

You can no longer wear a Greenpeace T-shirt if you want to go & watch our so-called “leaders” in Parliament (they can carry on like unruly children in a sandbox – or worse – but we can’t wear the T-shirt of our choice? Hmmm….).

I just read a news article (Dec. 12th Globe & Mail) about Marla Renn of the Olympic Resistance Network, who was refused entry to the U.S., where she was slated to speak in Portland, Oregon at an anti-Olympic event. Once back to the Canadian side of the border, she was questioned by Canadian border officials about her “anti-Olympic activities.” During her 2-hour detention, border officials recorded numbers from her cell phone.

This followed on U.S. activist Amy Goodman’s lengthy questioning (by Canadian border guards) in November when she went to speak in Vancouver.

We think we live in “democratic” countries, & we take our freedom of movement & speech for granted.

It has certainly begun to seem that we might need to re-think this reflexive over-confidence in our own rights.

I’m reminded of Tommy Douglas, who said, “Once more let me remind you what fascism is. It need not wear a brown shirt or a green shirt – it may even wear a dress shirt. Fascism begins the moment a ruling class, fearing the people may use their political democracy to gain economic democracy, begins to destroy political democracy in order to retain its power of exploitation and special privilege.”

I’m not saying Canada has become a fascist state. I am saying we need to put the Stephen Harper government under a pretty powerful microscope. I don’t think he’s quite the kind of “leader” most of us really had in mind.

When we can’t wear the T-shirt of our choice into Parliament, or we come under suspicion for expressing certain views, it all begins to sound like a pretty slippery slope, don’t you think?