Will We Accept Collectivism as the New Normal?

Will We Accept Collectivism as the New Normal?
A woman walks past a COVID-19 mural in Toronto on April 12, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)
Marnie Cathcart

We have entered a brave new world, the kind that Aldous Huxley warned about, where critical policy and new laws are announced without warning by press release.

Our federal Parliament and our provincial legislatures have abdicated their responsibility for making laws and shaping government policies to unelected, unaccountable, appointed “experts.” In just one year, Canada has been transformed from a country that at least purported to value things like democracy, individual freedom, human rights, entrepreneurship, employment, and prosperity, to a society where giving up personal freedom and well-being is simply “the right thing to do.” Supporting government lockdowns has become a matter of morality, as though your worth as a human being depends on how willing you are to give up your own needs and rights for claimed benefits to others.

Freedom, personal responsibility, social connection, ambition and entrepreneurship have been sacrificed in the cry for the government to keep us all safe from a virus.

Canada has become a polarized society. Some are terrified of dying of COVID, while others believe the danger is exaggerated and the risk low. The idea of acting out of an abundance of caution is applied in one direction only, toward an attempt to “save lives” from COVID, but no caution is exercised when it comes to saving people from lockdown harms.

In the United States, political party affiliation reflects how willing individuals are to social distance and wear a mask. One survey found that 63 percent of Democrats (on the left of the political spectrum) said masks should be always worn, while only 29 percent of Republicans (on the right) agreed. Further, 23 percent of Republicans did not feel masks should be worn at all, or rarely.

We are called to be “in this together,” but we live in a new “normal” where human beings are encouraged and even required to be isolated and disconnected, forced to cover their faces and hide their facial expressions with masks. Those who are unable or unwilling to wear a mask are viewed as selfish, or assumed to be making political statement, even if they have a genuine medical condition. Whether it is because of their conscience or religious beliefs, or discomfort from having restricted breathing, PTSD, claustrophobia, or skin reactions, those not wearing a mask have become visible targets of the new COVID morality. Many people wear masks to avoid confrontation or social disapproval, and some seem to regard their mask as a symbol of their superior virtue as complying with whatever the collective demands.

Masks were previously reserved for criminals, robbers, rapists, the Ku Klux Klan, cults, and Halloween. In our new normal, it matters little that not everyone wants to participate actively in a novel political experiment—one never tried before in human history—of imposing permanent or at least indefinite restrictions on the entire population. We have gone from a society that would see a grocery store call the police if a masked individual entered their store, to a society where stores discriminate and refuse services to a maskless shopper, even one with a legally valid medical exemption. Every human being is assumed to be a walking disease vector, despite the medical and scientific evidence telling us that healthy asymptomatic people are not significant spreaders of the virus.

Some Canadians are very much in favour of sacrificing personal liberties for the greater good, even as lockdown measures and restrictions drag on over a year, decimating business, destroying jobs, increasing youth suicide and eating disorders, and spiking opioid deaths to new catastrophic levels. Despite the fact that COVID is survivable by more than 97.6 percent of people, and despite the fact that it poses no serious threat to the 90 percent of Canadians who are under 70 and without certain health conditions, we are still governed by the fear that was promoted in March of 2020.

In spite of government data and statistics which now prove that the March 2020 fearmongering was without a factual basis, it seems that the moral panic over masks has only increased. With public policy based on fear rather than fact, some are promoting mandatory vaccines as the next frontier of a never-ending war against a virus that has little impact on population life expectancy. There is already talk of Covid vaccines being a necessity for people to work, shop, travel, and enjoy socializing with others in person rather than via a two-dimensional computer screen. It’s already being sold as the new magic bullet to reopening society and ending lockdowns.

If Canadian politicians continue moving our laws toward COVID vaccine passports, we will have two clearly-defined classes of citizens. Those who get the jab will have privileges, while all the rest will be restricted and marginalized. And a sizeable number of Canadians think this two-tiered system is perfectly fine.

Laura Ingraham of Fox News commented that “social control over large populations is achieved through fear and intimidation and suppression of free thought,” and “conditioning the public through propaganda is also key.” Questioning the government’s COVID narrative now results in swift removal from every major social media platform, including Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

In this new lockdown normal, authentic human connection is disdained if not outright prohibited, as though people can survive and thrive without hugs and without in-person gatherings. We are assured that eliminating the virus with more sacrifice of our human needs is critical to rebooting the economy. But what happens for those individuals who believe that the foundation of democracy is freedom and liberty, and who believe a democratic country should be made up of a variety of people whose individual needs and rights are protected from a heavy-handed state by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

The politicians tell us “we are all in this together.” Except we are not. In Manitoba, city employees could go to the gym while the ordinary citizen could not. With few exceptions, every politician, policeman, university professor, teacher, social worker, and government employee is earning the same salary that she or he was earning 13 months ago. Across Canada, citizens were told not to travel, while politicians got caught returning from overseas travel vacations and trips. In Brampton, Ont., the mayor outlawed team sports apart from practice, while visiting a privately rented rink to play ice hockey with his buddies.

Canadians have been called to make extreme sacrifices for the last 13 months to help and protect our fellow citizens, but are these hardships actually producing real benefits? Sadly, apart from assertions and speculation, politicians have not put forward clear or persuasive evidence that locking down all of society and the economy has prevented deaths among sick and elderly people in nursing homes. While benefits remain unproven, lockdown harms include bankruptcies, declining mental health, postponing critical health treatments, cancelling surgeries, increasing depression, soaring unemployment, mass poverty, and robbing families of precious time with loved ones.

Encouragingly, a growing number of Canadians are concerned that with each increasing measure of state control, a return to previously enjoyed freedom and liberty becomes unlikely or even impossible. May more of us need to come to this realization—and soon.

Marnie Cathcart is the director of communications at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a non-profit, non-partisan public interest law firm that defends the Charter freedoms of Canadians. She was formerly a reporter and journalist for more than 15 years.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.