Early in the corona era the historian David Starkey gave some thoughts on Covid. ‘We’ve got a Chinese virus,’ he said, ‘and we’ll finish up with a Chinese society.’ I remember at the time thinking the phrase neat, but doubtful. Fast forward a couple of years and the doubts have eroded. Although Britain seems to have avoided becoming a permanent Covid state (and is indeed one of the first societies to try leaping out of the Covid age), other parts of the West certainly do seem to be trying to meet the CCP more than halfway. Foremost among them is Justin Trudeau’s Canada.
There is no shortage of things going on in the world at the moment. But you know that the world is in an especially perilous place when even Canada has become interesting. The country that launched a thousand gags has never been known for its political earthquakes. But in recent weeks something has happened that deserves attention, however distracted we might otherwise be.
Over the past few months Trudeau has tried to bring in vaccine mandates for Canadian citizens. In a country where people have been deprived of free movement for the best part of two years, Trudeau did not see the arrival of the mildest variant to date as a way out of this misery. Rather, he thought it a moment to double-down and make all Canadians do 100 per cent of what he wanted.
Among those who did not take this well were thousands of Canadian truckers. Many of these people have spent the past two years working away to keep Canada’s supply chains running. For a good while they were among the nation’s heroes. But then Justin insisted that even people in this most isolated of professions had to get double-jabbed, and if they didn’t they would be out of a job. Many of the nation’s truckers took umbrage. They descended on Ottawa in their thousands, protesting that the Prime Minister did not have the right to take away their livelihoods.
A grown-up leader could have used the opportunity to negotiate or ameliorate the public concerns. But Justin is not a grown-up leader. He is an obscenely over-promoted princeling man-child who decided he would deploy the weapon he has always used on his political enemies.
As far back as September he was dismissing anyone opposed to vaccine mandates as not merely anti-science but also racist and misogynist. He mulled in an interview: ‘They are a small group that occupy a loud space and a decision needs to be made — do we tolerate these people?’ It’s an interesting question to pose. Ordinarily in a democracy, you have to tolerate your fellow citizens. What are the alternatives? In recent weeks Justin has tried to show us.
As the convoy descended on Ottawa, the dauphin first fled the city, pretending that he had recently met somebody who had Covid and therefore must isolate. He then pretended that the peaceful protestors constituted a threat to his life. He made Richard II look like Hyperion. When a Jewish Conservative MP questioned his slander of the protestors, he retaliated that while the honourable lady and her party might be happy to stand with swastikas and confederate flags, he was not. The fact that this came from a man who spent most of his recent youth wearing blackface is a detail that should not detain us.
Unable to make any compromises with people he had decided were all Nazis, Justin decided to punish these ‘fascists’ by demonstrating the awesome force of the state. Despite having plenty of laws on the books to deal with peaceful protests, Trudeau brought in the nation’s emergency laws, intended only for use in wartime.
So it was that this past week he has turned Ottawa into a battleground, with military police and others batoning the citizenry, attacking journalists and at one point trampling an elderly woman on a mobility scooter.
The pictures should have shocked the world. They should at least have shocked Canada’s pathetic parliament into action. But the parliament appeared to have accepted the circular logic of the Prime Minister, which was that parliament could not convene to debate the Emergency Act because of the ‘emergency’ that necessitated Justin’s use of the Emergency Act.
Eventually it did come back, and Justin explained that any MP who did not back the emergency decree was not just anti--Canadian but also not supportive of ‘the public safety’. Furthermore it became clear that anyone who does not agree with Justin’s ideas for the greater good will not just be batoned, but will be expelled from Canadian society. Trudeau and his deputy have spent the past week introducing measures that mean that anyone who was involved in the protests and anybody who in any way supported the protests will be forced out of the economy. They ordered Canadian banks to close or freeze the accounts of protestors and their supporters. Businesses that supported them have been visited by the police. Even crypto wallets can be frozen or seized for wrong-think.
Helpfully, Justin Trudeau himself gave some hint of his thinking nine years ago when he already headed the Liberal party and was hoping to charm Canadians into voting him into office. Before an all-female audience, the dauphin was especially glossy-haired and eyelash-batting. ‘Which nation’s administration do you most admire?’ he was asked by one attendee at the fundraiser dubbed ‘ladies’ night’.
‘There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China,’ he replied, flirtily. ‘Because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say we need to go greenest fastest, we need to start, y’know, investing in solar.’
You must be a proper airhead, like Justin, to believe that the CCP is not using its dictatorship to build coal-fired power stations and nuclear plants. But Justin turned out not to be the only airhead in the room. He went on: ‘I mean there is a flexibility that I know [the then Conservative leader] Stephen Harper must dream about — of having a dictatorship that he could do everything he wanted.’
How he charmed the ladies, who laughed and applauded. Perhaps they are laughing still. Perhaps they are still charmed. But I doubt it. Chinese virus. Chinese Canada.