On his inauguration as governor in 1967, Ronald Reagan told the people of California that “Freedom is a fragile thing, and never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be maintained and defended constantly by each generation.”
We have made compromises with freedom. I’m not talking about us as individuals. Free countries around the world have made some temporary decisions to protect the lives of our neighbours, seniors and most vulnerable through this crisis. Sometimes freedom demands a measure of sacrifice. This is something that all veterans, first responders and their families know instinctively, but it is something our entire society now understands.
But under Justin Trudeau, Canada has made our defence of freedom conditional. Conditional upon currying favour with Beijing. Conditional on votes for his security council campaign at the United Nations. The Liberal government continually puts their political interests before our national interests.
The prime minister’s famous “Welcome to Canada” tweet from January of 2017 was a perfect example. The tweet was a stunt meant to earn him positive media coverage from the usual suspects but it eroded our relationships and eventually public confidence in our immigration and refugee systems. The tweet also underscored Trudeau’s hollow approach because it should have included some fine print. Right now, there are 46 refugees from Hong Kong that will be persecuted if they are not welcomed by our country. The prime minister knows this but is silent.
Many Chinese Canadians know this because it has tragically happened to some of their family members. They know that if these people are sent back to Hong Kong, they will be thrown in prison.
The fine print for these refugees is that despite the virtue-signalling language about freedom, human rights and help for the persecuted from the Trudeau government, actual action on these principles is subject to Beijing’s approval.
Communist party leadership in China knows that Canada’s political and media elite values feeling superior to the United States more than they value standing on principle on the international stage.
Canada has been conspicuously silent as other countries criticize the actions of Beijing and the World Health Organization in the response to COVID-19. In return for remaining silent, China calls us a “fine partner” and reminds Canada that we are in line for medical supplies provided we have our cash ready when the planes arrive.
When we dared express even mild concern over arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, Beijing condemned such talk as irresponsible.
Millions of masks, swabs and tests have been rejected as defective or contaminated. Two planes left China completely empty amid the worst days of the crisis, but we are encouraged by media pundits and even the Liberal health minister not to question the Chinese regime because doing so endangers our supply of these items.
To borrow a phrase from another conservative, moderation in the face of blackmail is no virtue.
We must acknowledge that we are being blackmailed. Even if we manufactured all of our own medical supplies, we would next be told that we could not stand up to Beijing because of the Canadians being held as political prisoners.
Every time we refuse to stand up for liberty and our core beliefs as a nation in the face of aggression from the Chinese regime, we legitimize their behaviour and encourage more bully tactics.
We also let ourselves down because we are showing our allies around the world that our commitment to freedom has narrow limits and political considerations. We show that Canada can be counted on as long as it is easy for us to do so.
We tell them that we are a generation away.
Erin O’Toole is the MP for Durham and a candidate for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.-------------------------------------------------
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