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TORONTO SUN COLUMN: ‘Freedom’ Is Good, Don’t Forget It

Canada freedom secondstreet.org
A protester waves a Canadian flag in Ottawa (photo: Justin Tang/Canadian Press)


After the “freedom convoy” picked up steam in Canada, the CBC ran two articles critiquing the word “freedom.”

One article suggested the word has become common among “far-right groups.” In another, they included comments from an academic suggesting it’s used to “defend the interests of privileged elites.”

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the CBC would condemn “freedom” – the government’s news agency faces an obvious conflict with any movement pushing for less government in our lives.

Readers should note the word “freedom” is actually quite positive and is much bigger than any single event or protest. Thousands of Canadians who have emigrated here – in many cases at tremendous personal risk and sacrifice – have a pretty clear and consistent understanding of what freedom means.

SecondStreet.org recently conducted a survey of Canadians who came from socialist and communist countries. Again and again, respondents told us they came to our country for freedom.

Prime Minister Trudeau expressed “deep sorrow” when Fidel Castro (Cuba’s former president) passed away, yet thousands of Cubans have been trying to escape his socialist regime for years. Cubans have risked their lives by boarding makeshift rafts to float to the U.S. and one even climbed into the landing gear area of an airplane headed to Canada. A respondent to the survey from Cuba told SecondStreet.org that she came to Canada with her sister at a young age to become “free independent women.”

In nearby socialist Venezuela, things are just as bad. The resource rich nation has fallen apart since Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro implemented their “socialist paradise.” Violence, corruption and food shortages plague the country.

According to the Human Rights Foundation, the average Venezuelan has lost 20 pounds due to food shortages. Not surprisingly, more than six million residents have fled the country.

A survey respondent who came to Canada from China indicated she was glad to come to a country that recognized same sex marriage and provided “equality of rights and freedoms.” Another respondent from China simply said they came to Canada “for freedom.”

China’s economy may be better off today than it was decades ago (thanks to abandoning central planning), but its authoritarian regime still withholds many basic human rights from its citizens.

Another respondent told SecondStreet.org that when they arrived from Czechoslovakia in 1988, they felt “free” and pleased to be “able to advance our careers, businesses and family without any political interference.” Over the years, Canada has welcomed countless immigrants and refugees from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Just like in other socialist and communist countries, citizens often put their lives at risk to escape.

Between 1961 and 1989 the communist government of East Germany maintained a wall to keep its citizens in East Berlin and prevent them from leaving. The CBC articles makes one ask: why would people voluntarily choose to live with the “far right” and “privileged elite” in West Berlin? In fact, the idea of freedom was so great that more than 600 people are recorded to have lost their lives trying to get past that wall and the German border.

Canada is an imperfect nation. But on the whole, our country has been a relatively free nation for the past century: a beacon for millions who have chosen to call Canada home instead of living under oppression. No one can sully the word “freedom.” It has a profound meaning that runs far deeper than any single protest or event.

Article originally published in the Toronto Sun.

Colin Craig is the President of SecondStreet.org, a Canadian think tank. You can reach him at colin@secondstreet.org or follow him on Twitter (@colincraig1)

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