Should we be able to travel internationally as we wish? Can the police turn us back at provincial borders? Are we free to move, as the spirit takes us, within our cities? Can the government order us to stay at home? Can the government limit the right of assembly? Can businesses be closed by fiat? Can the government control prices and requisition goods? Do we need a larger military with a bigger role? Do we have to tell a policeman on demand who we are, where we are going and why? (As I walked through a familiar, now deserted, public plaza in downtown Toronto a few days ago I came across a new sign that said, “Have personal identification ready.”) Should the whereabouts of citizens be tracked by dramatically enhanced and mandatory surveillance technology? Should the government have the power to decide who lives and who dies through the allocation of limited medical resources?
Canada tends to think it is relatively immune from authoritarianism because it has no Trump or Viktor Orban, says Slayton, who finds that confidence misplaced. What we lack in strongmen we make up for by behaving like sheep:
The punch of executive power in Canada is magnified by the deference to authority of the Canadian people. Canadians, unlike many Americans and Europeans, have not lost trust in experts, technocrats and bureaucrats. The Canadian core identity includes allegiance and submissiveness to institutions. Politeness and courtesy are considered important Canadian attributes. There is a deep-seated reluctance to challenge authority and a desire to avoid conflict. These are qualities that can promote social and political stability and they have earned the gratifying respect and even admiration of some around the world. But in our current circumstances, excessive deference is dangerous. It makes us too pliant and quiescent about what is done in our name. It encourages us to look the other way as we are systematically deprived of our liberty.
Sutherland House is pleased to be publishing Slayton’s next book, Nothing Left to Lose: An Impolite Report on the State of Freedom in Canada, in which these arguments are fully developed. It will be released officially in early June but here’s a tip for SHuSH readers: it is available in limited supplies here and here, and signed copies will be available at Ben McNally’s later this week.
The original release date of Nothing Left to Lose was at the beginning of April. Not wanting to push the book out when all the stores were closed, we decided to delay the launch until June. Unfortunately, Chapters/Indigo furloughed its staff and Amazon declared books to be “deprioritized” before our requested change could be made. The initial stock held by those companies went on sale at the beginning of April.
We thought about insisting that the retailers respect the new publication date but our sales agents, who know better about these things, advised that if we took the book out of the stores we might not get it back in when we wanted. So here we are. It’s a great and timely book. Put your order in now.