If you didn’t see the somewhat extraordinary press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his leadership colleagues yesterday, it’s worth your time to have a watch. Pay especial attention to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who goes in depth on the somewhat shocking financial measures the Canadian state will now undertake for the suppression of its own populist movement.
It’s quite strange, as an American, to watch this sort of Canada-specific political theater unfold: the politics of bilingualism are really quite something. The abrupt switching of languages, the repetition of points, the necessity of two sign-language translators — one for English, one for French — has the effect of communicating to the outsider something less than a unified nation. But of course Canada was never meant to be that: it is by design a confederation with considerable power reposed in the provinces. This structural concession to a heterogenous social reality, which has tremendous prudential wisdom undergirding it, runs headlong into a project of putative Canadian values — and comes to an abrupt stop when the national government decides to abandon democratic persuasion and resort to iron.
This is exactly what the Trudeau regime has elected to do, even in its own version of a non-militarized invocation of the 1988 Emergencies Act. The state does not necessarily require weapons or uniformed personnel to deprive a citizen of liberty and the pursuit of happiness — admittedly not a phrase from Canadian political history — and the government in Ottawa will now pursue those alternatives. It is a strange spectacle to see: the Emergencies Act and its predecessor, the 1914 War Measures Act, were drafted and passed to give the Canadian state extraordinary powers in times of existential crisis. In its first three invocations, the natures of the precipitating crises were manifest. One was the First World War. The next was the Second World War. The third was the 1970 FLQ crisis, when a group of murderous leftist terrorists briefly menaced the integrity of the Canadian state.
The fourth invocation is against a nonviolent group of mostly truckers who are mostly asking to be left alone.