Those who worry about hyperbolic accusations of an authoritarian government in Canada because of recent events need not worry. Wouldn’t an authoritarian government have been better able to direct police to prepare for the truckers’ convoy and related protests? They did, after all, have a month’s notice.
Ottawa’s ineffectiveness proves we don’t have totalitarian tendencies here in Canada. Even if we do, they’re incompetent. The Emergencies Act has oversight, expiration and other limitations.
How about the Russian invasion of Ukraine? Sure, there was only six months’ notice of Russian intentions and only eight years of general notice since the annexation of Crimea. How did NATO and the West prepare?
What if there’d been totalitarianism in Europe? One or more countries might have amassed and hidden divisions of troops as the Soviet Union did to repel Nazis in the suburbs of Moscow during the Second World War.
The Nazis scoffed at treaties and international law, trained troops in secret, and manufactured reasons to invade and occupy their neighbours. That’s totalitarianism.
Mao Zedong starved and worked millions to their deaths in China to obtain the funding to build nuclear technology and weapons. While totalitarian, he didn’t have extraterritorial designs.
We’ve seen brutal actions and murderous behaviour from totalitarian regimes. We hear talk, though not tough enough talk, from the Western democracies.
In the arsenal of democracy, the current weapon is pedantic over articulation from U.S. President Joe Biden. There’s an extra pause between most words. Canada’s deterrence features heavy breathing from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Canada’s secret weapon is Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland harrumphing and nodding in the background. She’s signalling that she’s flummoxed, chagrinned and appalled.
Conspiracy theorists are worried about the Great Reset proposed by Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum. With little evidence, some worry the Great Reset involves more state control. Don’t you sometimes wish the state controlled a few more things?
What do we have in place of state control – alleged by the worrying class but not seen in actual manifestations? We have corporate control.
What ended the truckers’ protest in Ottawa was the threat and use of banks and other financial institutions. The alleged authoritarian state couldn’t get police to act, assemble, or get some of them to stop voicing support for and partying with truckers. The Canadian government had several weeks’ notice that the truckers were coming and couldn’t even block the Trans-Canada Hwy. They couldn’t set up traffic-calming measures to keep big trucks off residential streets in Ottawa.
Insurance companies can raise rates and deny insurance to people and institutions. Financial institutions can freeze accounts, deny credit, demand repayment, and report credit risks to the credit rating agencies. We’re actually in a free country where financial institutions aren’t required to provide all services to all people all the time.
Our ineffectual governments are now using economic measures in response to Russia murdering Ukrainians and violating their sovereign territory. Economic sanctions take time.
What’s the other weapon being used against Russia? Corporations. Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Elon Musk and others are doing their bit to stymie Russian activities and facilitate communication in Ukraine. They’ve acted quicker than some economic sanctions can be put in place.
Domestically, the move to use corporations as an instrument of state control could have considerable blow-back. There’s already somewhat justifiable distrust in government and corporations, compounded by conspiracy theories and augmented by Russian and other dastardly manipulation of social media. Distrust has driven some people to try to opt out of traditional economic systems, by using cryptocurrencies, for example.
There may be more opting out in the future.
Our abdicating and ineffectual governments are facilitating their own vulnerability to foreign bad actors and their own disgruntled citizens.
We are lulling citizens and providers into a computerized coma in which nothing can happen without being plugged in.
But the phone system and web can be disabled, as Russian operatives have done in the past and are doing now.
Technology has become a barrier to commerce and human interaction. It’s not free trade, the Mexicans, low-wage countries, or the Chinese who are wrecking our economy. It’s us. We may soon wreck our democracy, too.
Allan Bonner was the first North American to be awarded an MSc in Risk, Crisis, and Disaster Management. He trained in England and has worked in the field on five continents for 35 years. His latest book is Emergency! – a monograph with 13 other authors on the many crises that occurred during the pandemic.
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