Who Posted the Guards over our Freedom?

For our nation of Canada to remain strong and free Canadians must take their duty to “stand on guard” seriously. That is the responsibility of young and old alike, professional and blue collar worker, single mom and family man, student and member of parliament, minister and immigrant. If all of us do our job, there will be enough ears to hear, eyes to see, and minds to protect and guard over our Canada.

What bothers me is this: it appears that we all think someone else is doing the job of standing guard. What was supposed to be everyone’s responsibility in general has slowly evolved into becoming no one’s responsibility in particular. As a result, the doors have been left open to the Canadian house, and for many Canadians, there is this sense of vulnerability.

Is it possible that some who have been guarding our nation’s life and future have sounded the alarm over the years, and we have apathetically turned over in our beds and hit the snooze button? If so, our slumber in the time of danger is going to cost us plenty. Drifting, when we should be swimming, can result in being taken where we may not want to go.

Have those who have been commissioned to “stand on guard” for our nation been sleeping on the job? Or, is it a possibility that the wrong guards have been appointed to their post? Something’s wrong – too many things are slipping by our sentries. Who is guarding the guards? Who holds them accountable?

A lawyer recently commented on CBC Radio that free speech in Canada was not an absolute right. That’s funny. Doesn’t Section 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms state that “Everyone has the following freedoms:…freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including the freedom of the press and other media of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.”

The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court has attempted to provide guidelines for the Canadian community as to what values are worthy of protection, and what defines the scope of the expression of those values. Much has been written about the judiciary’s role in Canadian society. Some are feeling that their “guarding” of our rights has been detrimental, that a judocracy – rule by the Supreme Court, is replacing a democracy – rule by the people – in our land.

When Parliament passed what the religious right called a ‘chill bill,’ effectively preventing churches from using the Bible to preach against homosexuality, the Catholic Civil Rights League wrote: “With the passage of Bill C-250, Canada has now embarked upon a course of criminalization of dissent.” Many are feeling that members of Parliament had left their posts and were not “standing on guard” either!

Do we have to be reminded that unless free speech is guarded, someone or some group of people, may come in and remove it from our nation? And, if they were successful in gaining entry in one situation to take precious rights, is it possible that they may return again for some other precious right?

In 2001, the Newspaper Guild in Canada had to fight a gag order imposed upon its journalists. Journalists gave a warning of what they saw as a real potentiality in our great country: “If we as journalists don’t fight every attempt at censorship and thought control, this country will gradually lose its democratic freedoms.”

I guess the real question is, ‘Do we really care?’ We tend not to care until not caring hurts us personally. We need to care ahead of time. It is very possible that we have entered the battlefield of what may become the costliest battle in Canadian history, and it will have to do with our personal right to freedom of speech.

We as Canadians need to wake up and get up. It is a time to watch, pray and be willing to fight for freedoms that were purchased in the blood of fathers and sons. Freedom of speech is the inherent human right to voice one’s opinion without fear of censorship or punishment. That right is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In Article 19, it is stated that “everyone has the right to opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” International law protects that same liberty through the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Our Charter has limited free speech under certain situations, subjecting it to “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” (Section 1). I guess a reasonable question would be this: who determines what is justified?

Who’s on guard for Canada? Are you willing to take your post? Do you know what to look for as regards illegal entry? What are you willing to do to protect this nation’s destiny? The doorways into our nation’s heart and conscience need to be guarded: will you be trained for this vital assignment?

 

Castanet Article
Thursday May 9th, 2007
Oh! Canada! Column

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