How Has It Happened That Politicians Deny Universal Human Rights in Canada?

Canada’s association with human rights is long and proud
September 14, 2021 Updated: September 20, 2021


“The father of the modern human rights system is John Humphrey.” — Nelson Mandela

New Brunswick’s own John Humphrey was the author of the first draft of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mandela’s statement should not mislead us to conclude that the idea of human rights is a recent invention. It is not. The international system is.

The UN’s declaration arises from its historical circumstances, a world war in which Hitler’s genocidal scientism was its most salient new feature. Anti-humanistic national ideology couched in the language of ‘science’ was the scalpel wielded against genetic identity groups.

The declaration arose because the long-established ‘law of nations’—shorn of Christianity—had been insufficient to halt the transgressions of Nazi Germany. Genetics had trumped ethics and had denied obligations to humanity within its own borders. The international community would do what nations would not.

The declaration was to my mind insufficient. It was humanism still in the thrall of scientism, seeking to recover a religious sense of the sanctity of life, yet without an appeal to the motive of obedience to God. It certainly recovered, in the Nuremberg Code, the important methodology of informed consent for the scientific community, yet without establishing its secure ground in God-given human nature.

It is important to note that the commitment to human rights in Canada did not originate in 1948. Canada’s commitment to universal human rights goes back to its Confederation documents. As Canadian historian John Robson reminds us, the right to due process, to the legal presumption of innocence until proof of guilt, to accountable government, to property rights, to free speech and free association, are all explicit in the Magna Carta (1215). It is also encapsulated in Canada’s official motto, A mari usque ad mare, an excerpt from Psalm 72:8 of the Bible, reflecting the Christian convictions of the Fathers of Confederation.

But since 1968, the political left has seized human rights as its own exclusive project. It is its credo, a sort of humanitarian civil religion, in Europe and in North America, and it repudiates the historic (especially the Christian) understanding of ‘liberty under law.’ In keeping with its origins in the sexual revolution, it rewrites history to defame its historical antecedents as oppressors. The evidence against it continues to mount.

Most salient is the way it couches human rights in terms of ‘groups’ rights’ rather than the freedoms born of moral action. While it trumpets its defence of minority groups, it discounts the legitimacy of the ultimate minority, namely the individual. See my discussion here.

And instead of liberty under law, the political left appeals to what Hobbes, Rousseau, and Locke called “the state of nature,” an autonomy of human choice without any obligations. This idea of human nature is no longer rooted in marriage or the traditional family, and is devoid of any grammar of moral and political action. It serves the system, which is internationalist. It is not only no longer bound by the law of nations, it acts as if nations were an obstacle to “progress.”

Fuelled by technology, our elites are now governed by what Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has called post-nationalism. The aim is to appoint bureaucrats to check nationalism with a paralyzing global regulatory framework, such as the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s Agenda 2030.

Post-nationalism cuts from both ends. It strengthens individual and social rights (through a proliferation of “identities”), while it minimizes the “national form.” It is most conspicuous in planned low birth rates and mass immigration. It enacts cultural Marxism by a “long, slow march of the left.” As globalism waxes within Canada’s political and civic bodies (including its educational, scientific, and medical establishment), it also weakens the very institutions that made liberty and self-government possible.

Crossing the Rubicon

The extreme response to COVID-19 has only brought this all to public attention. The government’s rejection of Charter rights and freedoms through lockdowns and recent trashing of the Nuremberg Code in the application of vaccine mandates and passports has happened by order of the heads of government. But what is most striking is the eager compliance by an ideologically-motivated public sector and by large corporations whose ties are more globalist than local.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the recent televised federal election debates, in which no party leader opposed mandatory vaccinations or the idea of vaccine passports. Although they will manifestly contradict “inclusion” and “diversity,” and divide Canadians into those with universal human rights and those without them, no political leader said it was un-Canadian.

That is because these leaders, particularly Justin Trudeau, paint those who “resist” vaccines as “far-right.” It is gaslighting, for the groups most anxious are the black and indigenous communities, and the typical vaccine-hesitant individual in Canada, as Maclean’s magazine noted, is a 42-year-old Ontario woman who votes Liberal.

The groups and people who protest do so in the name of freedom. Freedom does not fit within the internationalist system.

The danger is real and present. With no free press in Canada, and with rights and freedoms illegally suspended, the effect of conducting health policy by absurd computer R0 scores has led the majority to favour ghettoizing the unvaccinated on “health” grounds. It seems likely to be a rubicon moment in which citizens legitimize in their minds the government’s ability to deny ALL its citizens’ privacy and autonomy, its freedom of movement and association, its assurance of equity and against discrimination, particularly when it comes to accessing everyday goods and services.

As Naomi Wolf has rightly noted, the QR codes vaccine passports use are also a slippery slope for introducing a social credit system like that in Communist China. God help us.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Scott Masson
Scott Masson
Scott Masson is a public intellectual and an associate professor of English literature. For more information on Masson, visit and