At Least We Are Not Supposed To Be!
We have all watched with astonished amazement the heavy-handed and quick response of the Canadian federal government as it squashed the "Freedom Convoy" protest in Ottawa and across Canada this month.
I offer this perspective to alert Americans about how WE should make OUR arguments against our government as they issue their edicts against freedom and our Constitutional rights.
We Are NOT Canada
Most Americans believe that America's protected individual rights are common around the world - "well, most certainly in other Western countries, Right?!" And of course, our closest neighbor, ally and trading partner is Canada, a nation of similar cultures that peacefully shares the longest international border on Earth. American and Canadian citizens also share in the same basic, God-given rights - Right??!
Not necessarily. For one thing, the Canadian Constitution does not lay as its foundational premise that "all men (and women) are created by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, ...", as the U.S. Declaration of Independence does. The term "unalienable" simply means that no one - not even the government - may separate an individual from these basic God-given rights - at least not without legal Due Process.
Although Canadians do have a "Charter of Rights" that the government first created in 1960, and replaced in 1982, it is most likely true there that What the Government giveth, the Government may taketh away. In Canada, the base concept is that all rights are grants from the Government, not from God Almighty.
That is basically the case in every other nation on Earth, other than in the United States. Americans need to be aware of that.
One thing that seems to be missing, among a number of others, in Canada's Charter of Rights is an acknowledgement that individuals are inherently entitled to be safe and secure in their possessions and papers - a concept that is carved out as an assignment that the U.S. government is charged with protecting in our Fourth (4th) Amendment.
The U.S. has the 4th Amendment
So, in Canada, it is not an unconstitutional stretch for the Prime Minister to unilaterally declare an emergency and then order the bank accounts of many thousands of Canadian citizens to be frozen. The Prime Minister there is also allowed to interfere in private Insurance policies and CANCEL insurance policies on the vehicles that were seen at the Freedom Convoy protest in their nation's capitol this month!
Those are actions that an American government may not legitimately take. Not without due process.
The 4th Amendment is part of the American 'Bill of Rights', the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, adopted at almost the same moment as the Constitution itself was. It reads:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon a probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
- U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment
"That's Not a Good Idea" vs. "That's Not ALLOWED!"
Watching the debates in Parliament in Ottawa via TV this past week, the Conservative Party Members of the House of Commons have been making very eloquent and correct arguments against Prime Minister Trudeau's draconian actions. But I noticed that they are required to argue that, "What the Prime Minister is doing is not justified and is a bad idea!" They are not arguing that he is barred from taking these actions.
Their American counterparts in the U.S. Congress, had that been happening here in the States, would and SHOULD be shouting, "What the President is doing IS NOT ALLOWED!!" The United States Constitution exists to establish a federal government with enough authority to do its job in the limited list of areas that it is charged with governing, but the bulk of the Constitution actually forms a cage around that same federal government to prevent it from taking a number of other actions.
What the U.S. government is charged with doing as its most fundamental task is protecting individual liberties.
We are not Canada.
Our Founders Were Geniuses
What the American Founders did, in the design of these United States, is far more profound in my view - they built in substantial Checks and Balances throughout the Federal Government with listed areas that it may govern in. And they created a Constitution that the States must also adhere to, but otherwise allowing the States to govern as the people of the State deem correct.
"In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the Governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself."
- James Madison, March 1788
Canada's Founders were Loyalists
WHY DO I WRITE THIS? Because millions of Americans and probably half of the people elected to our U.S. Federal government today believe that we ARE just like Canada, that we should WANT to be just like Canada and that the U.S. Constitution is a bunch of 18th Century suggestions. As citizens, WE MUST BE AWARE and must be prepared to challenge our own government whenever orders like these come out of DC.
The Founders in the U.S. were quite successful in creating that type of government that protects individual liberties. And it has taken 200 to 240 years to finally begin to erode a bunch of the built-in self-control. Canada was not so designed - it is a nation that was founded by North American Loyalists who preferred living under the control of the Crown of England. Many Loyalists in the U.S. moved north to Canada after the Revolutionary War to find a stronger 'cradle-to-grave' type of government.
By studying history, we can predict fairly well how current events will unfold in our own day. Without that, the People who care will be constantly shocked, surprised and disappointed at what their government does. We need to also realize that the United States of America really is a rather unique place to live.
John Crawford has been a lifelong Constitutional Conservative. He graduated from Michigan State University in Business Administration and worked on his MBA at Western Michigan University. He has been very active in grassroots politics and in volunteer community service organizations his entire career.