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Emperors of woke have no clothes and conservatives should say so


16 minute read

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Brian Giesbrecht

The major finding is that in Great Britain, Canada and the United States roughly one third of the population accept “woke” (progressive) views, while roughly two thirds reject those views.

However — and this is alarming — in all three countries that woke one-third controls all of the major institutions. The mainstream media, universities and civil service, for instance, are firmly controlled by the one-third woke.

Why do Conservatives go along with woke ideas, woke norms and above all woke people?

One of these days we’re going to be really sorry we didn’t stand up to this nonsense, when the proverbial little boy calls out that the emperor has no clothes. Men can be women? C’mon! You didn’t call that out at the time? Why not?

This is the question posed by Professor Eric Kaufman of England’s University of Buckingham. Kaufman, also an associate at the Ottawa-based Macdonald Laurier Institute, is a Canadian who has been living and teaching in England for the past 25 years. He has recently completed a survey on “wokeness.” (As reported here.) He was also interviewed by National Post’s rising star, Jamie Sarkonak.

Kaufman’s survey has important findings, particularly for Canada. The major finding is that in Great Britain, Canada and the United States roughly one third of the population accept “woke” (progressive) views, while roughly two thirds reject those views.

However — and this is alarming — in all three countries that woke one-third controls all of the major institutions. The mainstream media, universities and civil service, for instance, are firmly controlled by the one-third woke.

Rudi Dutschke’s long march through the institutions has arrived.

But even more concerning for Canadians should be Kaufman’s findings that pertain specifically to Canada.

That’s because he finds that while Great Britain’s Conservatives and America’s Republicans are ferociously pushing back against the extreme wokeness that is now so evident in all three countries, that is really not happening in Canada. Instead, Conservatives here have tended to knuckle under to the wokeness the Liberals so aggressively push. Any pushback has been extremely timid.

Why? How can that be? If Kaufman is right that at least two thirds of Canadians reject wokeism why is it that they have no one to represent their views?

Does the timidity of the Conservatives on woke policies explain why the Canada we knew during the Harper and Chretien years seems to be slipping away from us?

If  Kaufman’s findings are accurate, and our Conservatives are indeed submitting to woke policies — instead of representing the two thirds of Canadians who don’t want those policies — we should ask why.

Part of the reason would certainly be that the Liberals and the NDP have at every national election dishonestly attempted to use ‘socially conservative’ issues against all conservative parties — Reform, Alliance or today’s Conservative Party of Canada.

These progressive attacks were entirely spurious: conservatives have consistently stayed away from any discussion of limiting abortion access, or reversing gay marriage rights. Yet, the suggestion of a secret agenda of radical reforms is trotted out at every election, and in some eastern swing ridings appears to have been effective in keeping seats out of conservative hands.

Perhaps not surprisingly then, conservatives have consistently preferred to concentrate on bread and butter issues, and avoid the culture wars now raging.

However, with an increasingly assertive left insistent on imposing a woke agenda — even to the extent of approving a 50-year-old man sharing a locker room with teenage age girls, this preference to stay out of the fray is no longer available to them.

The example of Scott Moe’s introduction of his parents’ rights legislation is a clear sign that provincial conservatives realize that they must enter the fray. So is Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s statement that in Alberta, sex-change operations on children under 18 years of age will not be allowed. (A decision that surprised many, given the premier’s known libertarian predilections.)

In Ontario, education minister Stephen Lecce said last year that “parents must be fully involved and fully aware of what’s happening in the life of their children.” And let’s not forget that all this started in New Brunswick, when Premier Blaine Higgs made what looks now to be a modest proposal, that children under 16 would need parental permission to change their gender at school by switching names and pronouns.

In other words, provincial politicians get it. (At last.) Federal Conservatives should go do likewise.

So what should they say?

Here are three possible responses to woke policies — on the trans issue, indigenous issues and immigration.

There is no official list of woke beliefs, but probably the most extreme is the trans issue. Woke politicians state as a fact that a man who identifies as a woman is in fact a woman. Although this claim is quite astounding to the non-woke — who know it to be untrue — the woke accept it as gospel. Prime Minister Trudeau himself famously tweeted, “A trans woman is a woman.”

If tweets were just words in the blogosphere this wouldn’t matter. However, when the nation’s leader says the words they have consequences. So, Canada now has men in women’s prisons, men in women’s sports and most alarmingly — children having body parts removed and being administered life-altering drugs — all based on this single nonsensical woke belief that men can become women by saying so.

The Conservatives should directly confront this dangerous nonsense. Obviously, they should craft their message in measured tones. But this can be easily accomplished, when the woke belief they are correcting is so obviously wrong.

Here is an example of a completely factual, scientifically accurate and measured statement that would probably win the approval of — if Kaufman is right — two thirds of Canadians: “A trans woman is not a woman. Conservatives respect trans people and respect their right to live their lives as they choose. However, that does not include their admission into women’s only places, such as crisis centres and jails or entry into women’s sports.”

The indigenous issue is Canada’s version of wokeism’s central belief — namely critical race theory — we see playing out to the south of us.

This is the woke belief that race is all important; that any differences and disparities between races is the result of systemic racism; and that governments must aggressively erase all such differences by the use of affirmative action type policies.

For the one third it has completely displaced the Martin Luther King “content of character” philosophy that has been gospel with the two thirds for more than half a century.

Canada’s woke version regards all indigenous Canadians as being completely different from other Canadians. According to this eugenics-like view anyone born to indigenous parents, or even partly indigenous parents, has some innate ecological awareness and abilities that non-indigenous people lack. They also — uniquely among every other racial or ethnic group on the planet — always tell the truth. Their claims must be taken as the truth.

Professor Hymie Rubenstein coins the term “indigenous exceptionalism” in From Truth Comes Reconciliation to  describe this unusual woke belief. The most extreme example of this woke indigenous belief can be seen in the now three-year-old claim that 215 indigenous children were killed under sinister circumstances at the Kamloops Indian Residential School and then secretly buried by the priests and nuns who had supposedly killed them.

To make this claim even more bizarre it was claimed that children “as young as six” were forced to dig the graves.

Apart from a radar report showing soil disturbances that could just as easily be tree roots as graves, this baseless claim was not only taken seriously by our woke government, but actively promoted. Not only did the federal government lower flags for six months, they promised $320 million to any other indigenous communities who wanted to make similar baseless claims. Of course, many quickly did.

These “murder and secret burial” stories followed years of steadily escalating exaggeration of the harm done at residential schools. While there is no doubt that many children had bad experiences at residential schools, there had previously been a recognition that many children had received educations there that would otherwise have been denied to them. However, the stories of horror were ramped up, bit by bit, until many Canadians were ready to accept the preposterous Kamloops claim and the others that followed like clockwork after the Liberals incentivised them with the $320,000,000.

By now, most of the two thirds probably realize that they haven’t been told the truth by the Trudeau government or the mainstream media. The Conservatives need not be so afraid of being called “anti-indigenous” or “anti-reconciliation” when addressing this topic. Conservative opposition leader Pierre Pollievre made a good start when he said, “Canadians deserve to know the truth,“ and stressed the need for historical accuracy.

However, he then went on to pander embarrassingly to the woke view, using their language about the “horror” of residential school. That is not historical accuracy at all. 

Here is the kind of thing Conservatives should say about residential schools:

“There is no doubt that many indigenous children were harmed at residential schools. They have been compensated and they deserve every penny of that compensation. There is also no doubt that there were some bad apples who taught and worked at the institutions. However, many indigenous children received educations that would otherwise have been denied to them. And the great majority of the priests, nuns, ministers and employees at the school were decent people who did their jobs honestly and well. That too should be recognized.”

Finally, and probably the most important issue of all — immigration. The woke view, as articulated by the PM in the earliest days of his new administration is that Canada is a post-national nation. No one seemed to understand the implications of what he was saying — possibly including the PM.

But when he tweeted out that Canada was open to anyone who wanted to come the implications started to become clear: a “post national” state doesn’t have borders… Anyone is welcome to simply walk in.

This is a fundamental belief of the woke. It is also an absolutely ruinous idea for any nation that wants to continue functioning. We see today how this woke no-borders idea is playing out in America. Our cold winters save us from the huge influxes seen there, but the millions coming to Canada are making houses unaffordable anyway and putting enormous pressure on services for Canadians and new immigrants alike.

Conservatives should not be afraid to call the woke “no borders, unrestricted immigration policy” crazy, because that is what it is.

Here’s a possible talking point they could use:

“Canada is a nation of immigrants. We have always needed immigrants, and we always will. We welcome new immigrants from all parts of the world. However, in the past few years too many have come too fast. The pressure on housing affordability and services are hurting both resident Canadians and new immigrants alike. For that reason in the first year after we take power there will be a one-year moratorium on new immigration. During that time we will both implement policies to make houses more affordable and determine what immigration numbers should be in the next decade. Canada is not a post-national state with no core identity. It is a nation with a distinct culture, an honourable history and it needs borders and a policy of controlled immigration to preserve that culture and identity.”

I think that the two thirds would welcome such an approach. And vote for it.

We don’t have to live with ignorance enthroned.

Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. First published here.

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Ottawa should abandon unfeasible and damaging ‘net-zero’ plan

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From the Fraser Institute

By Kenneth P. Green

A high-power AI chip uses as much electricity per year as three electric vehicles (and by the way, one EV per household would double residential electricity demand)

According to the Trudeau government’s plan, Canada will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net-zero” by 2050, largely by “phasing out unabated fossil fuels.” But given current technologies, virtually all fossil fuels are “unabated”—that is, they generate greenhouse gases when burned. So basically, the plan is to phase-out fossil fuel use, use wind and solar power to power our lives, and transition to electric vehicles.

But this plan is simply not feasible.

In a recent study, Vaclav Smil, professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba, spotlights some uncomfortable realities. Since the Kyoto Protocol was enacted in 1997, essentially setting the world on the path to net-zero, global fossil fuel consumption has surged by 55 per cent. And the share of fossil fuels in global energy consumption has barely decreased from 86 per cent to 82 per cent. In other words, writes Smil, “by 2023, after a quarter century of targeted energy transition, there has been no absolute global decarbonization of energy supply. Just the opposite. In that quarter century, the world has substantially increased its dependence on fossil carbon.” It’s worth noting that Smil is not some “climate denier”—he’s a strong believer in manmade climate change, and sees it as a serious danger to humanity.

In another recent article, Mark Mills, renowned energy policy analyst, boldly declares, “The Energy Transition Won’t Happen,” in part because developments in computing technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) will require more energy than ever before, “shattering any illusion that we will restrict supplies.” Mills provides some eye-popping examples of how cloud and AI will suck up vast amounts of energy. A high-power AI chip uses as much electricity per year as three electric vehicles (and by the way, one EV per household would double residential electricity demand).

And chip-maker Nvidia, Mills observes, produced some five million such chips in the last three years, and market demand for them is soaring. The appetite for AI chips is “explosive and essentially unlimited.” The data centres that power cloud computing are also mind-boggling in their energy use, each with an energy appetite often greater than skyscrapers the size of the Empire State Building. The largest data centres consume more energy than a steel mill. And the energy used to enable one hour of video (courtesy of all that cloud computing) is more than the share of fuel consumed by a single person on a 10-mile bus ride.

And yet, on the march towards the unreachable goal of net-zero, government policies have forced out coal-power generation in favour of more costly natural-gas power generation, significantly increasing Canadian’s energy costs. Shifting to lower-GHG energy generation has raised the cost of power, particularly in provinces dependent on fossil-fuel power, while the federal carbon tax drives up costs of energy production. And all at a time when significant numbers of Canadians are mired in energy poverty (when households must devote a significant share of their after-tax income to cover the cost of energy used for transportation, home heating and cooking).

No government should base public policy on wishful thinking or make arbitrary commitments to impossible outcomes. This type of policymaking leads to failure. The Trudeau government should abandon the net-zero by 2050 plan and the never-gonna-happen fossil fuel phase-out, and cease its economically damaging energy, tax and industrial policies it has deployed to further that agenda.

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Capital gains tax hike will cause widespread damage in Canadian economy

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From the Fraser Institute

By Jake Fuss and Grady Munro

According to an analysis by economist Jack Mintz, 50 per cent of taxpayers who claim more than $250,000 of capital gains in a year earned less than $117,592 in normal annual income from 2011 to 2021. These include individuals with modest annual incomes who own businesses, second homes or stocks, and who may choose to sell those assets once or infrequently in their lifetimes (such as at retirement)

On Monday, two months after tabling the federal budget, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced a motion in Parliament to increase taxes on capital gains. On Tuesday, the motion passed as the NDP, Bloc Québécois and Green Party voted with the Liberals. Unfortunately for Canadians, the tax hike will likely hurt Canada’s economy. And the finance minister continues to make misleading claims to defend it.

Currently, investors who sell capital assets pay taxes on 50 per cent of the gain (based on their highest marginal tax rate). On June 25, thanks to Freeland’s motion, that share will increase to 66.7 per cent for capital gains above $250,000. (Critically, the gain includes inflationary and real increases in the value of the asset.)

According to Minister Freeland, the hike is necessary because it will bring in more than $19 billion of revenue over five years to pay for new spending on housing, national defence and other programs. This claim is disingenuous for two reasons.

First, investors do not pay capital gains taxes until they sell assets and realize gains. A higher capital gains tax rate gives them an incentive to hold onto their investments, perhaps anticipating that a future government may reduce the rate. Individuals and businesses may not sell their assets as quickly as the government anticipates so the tax hike ends up generating less revenue than expected.

Second, the government does not have a revenue problem. Annual federal revenue is increasing and has grown (nominally) more than $185 billion (or 66.2 per cent) from 2014-15 to 2023-24. Before tabling the budget in April, the government was already anticipating annual revenue to increase by more than $27 billion this year. But the government has chosen to spend every dime it takes in (and then some) instead of being disciplined.

Years of unrestrained spending and borrowing have led to a precarious fiscal situation in Ottawa. If the government wanted to pay for new programs, it could’ve reduced spending in other areas. But Minister Freeland largely chose not to do this and sought new revenue tools after realizing this year’s deficit was on track to surpass her fiscal targets. Clearly, raising taxes to generate revenue was unnecessary and could’ve been avoided with more disciplined spending.

Further misleading Canadians, the Trudeau government claims this tax hike will only increase taxes for “0.13 per cent of Canadians.” But in reality, many Canadians earning modest incomes will pay capital gains taxes.

According to an analysis by economist Jack Mintz, 50 per cent of taxpayers who claim more than $250,000 of capital gains in a year earned less than $117,592 in normal annual income from 2011 to 2021. These include individuals with modest annual incomes who own businesses, second homes or stocks, and who may choose to sell those assets once or infrequently in their lifetimes (such as at retirement). Contrary to the government’s claims, the capital gains tax hike will affect 4.74 million investors in Canadian companies (or 15.8 per cent of all tax filers).

In sum, many Canadians who you wouldn’t consider among “the wealthiest” will earn capital gains exceeding $250,000 following the sale of their assets, and be impacted by Freeland’s hike.

Finally, the capital gains tax hike will also inhibit economic growth during a time when Canadians are seeing a historic decline in living standards. Capital gains taxes discourage entrepreneurship and business investment. By raising capital gains taxes the Trudeau government is reducing the return that entrepreneurs and investors can expect from starting a business or investing in the Canadian economy. This means that potential entrepreneurs or investors are more likely to take their ideas and money elsewhere, and Canadians will continue to suffer the consequences of a stagnating economy.

If Minister Freeland and the Trudeau government want to pave a path to widespread prosperity for Canadians, they should reverse their tax hike on capital gains.

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