Judging by Canadians’ overwhelming compliance with lockdowns, vaccine passports, and travel restrictions since March of 2020, it unfortunately seems that most Canadians meet authoritarianism with unquestioning obedience. University of Manitoba psychology professor Robert Altemeyer argues that those with an authoritarian personality are submissive even to authority figures who are dishonest, corrupt, and inept. They persist in their belief that their leaders are honest, caring, and competent, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Authoritarians can behave very aggressively towards minorities whom leaders have marked as enemies, like socially unconventional people who fail to abide by rigid rules. The anti-intellectualism of authoritarianism is manifest in hostility to dissent. Authoritarians mistrust the scientific process with its ongoing and perpetual inquiry and debate.
All of this brings us to Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam, who recently said that it’s time for Canadians to start wearing face-masks again, and to receive even more injections with substances for which no long-term safety data exists.
Health Canada’s regulatory branch recently approved Moderna’s new Spikevax vaccine, designed to target a more recent, mild Omicron variant. Moderna began submitting data on clinical trials for its new vaccine at the end of June, with the first doses arriving in Canada in September.
“There is strong evidence showing that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risks,” asserted chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma at a news conference in Ottawa. Really? Without any long-term safety data, the evidence is “strong” that benefits outweigh harms? Only someone with an authoritarian personality could accept this kind of claim.
It gets worse. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) advises that children as young as five should get one dose of the new vaccine this fall. But why? Children are as likely to die from Covid as they are to die from lightning strikes. Yet NACI goes further still, recommending that children between six months and four years of age should also get injected. Have we gone completely mad? But authoritarians will cheerfully inject their children with a substance for which no long-term safety data exists, against a virus that does not threaten children, confident that health authority ought to be obeyed.
People get wrapped up in details about Omicron’s XBB strain while losing sight of the simple and important fact that Covid (in all its forms) never actually turned out to be the threat that health authorities made it out to be.
In March of 2020, Dr. Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, London England put the whole world into a state of fear by claiming that Covid would be like the Spanish Flu of 1918, which killed tens of millions of people when the world population was only one fourth of what it is today. This false claim, along with similar false claims that Covid would seriously endanger all people of all ages, terrorized people into obedience. Government-funded media were all too happy to push their panic-porn 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
In a crisis, or in what appears to be a crisis, people can be forgiven for accepting false claims initially. But when the falsehoods were exposed as untrue, and when fear was no longer supported by facts, authoritarian Canadians still obeyed blindly.
Today we know that lockdowns, mask-wearing, mandatory vaccination policies and travel restrictions did not stop Covid from spreading virtually everywhere and to everyone. In particular, none of these restrictions on our freedoms stopped Covid from getting into nursing homes, where about 80% of Covid deaths occurred. In court cases across Canada, not a single government has presented persuasive evidence to show that lockdowns actually saved lives. Instead, the “saving lives” slogan is repeated endlessly, both inside the courtroom and outside of it, to fool those who cannot distinguish between evidence and propaganda.
Authoritarians are oblivious to facts, science, and evidence. If Theresa Tam and her provincial counterparts insist that we try the same unscientific policies, which failed utterly and completely to stop Covid from spreading, the authoritarians will quickly put their masks back on, and line up for the next injection. As Theresa Tam and her ilk embark upon the next wave of fearmongering, one can only hope that the number of authoritarians in Canada today is smaller than in 2020. But if their numbers have not decreased, then truth-loving people will need to speak up all the more, and simply refuse to abide by policies that have no basis in science.
John Carpay is the president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca).