A Remedy to the Cultural Obsession of Identity Politics: True Canadian Citizenship

Jan 23, 2023 | Blog

As seen in The Epoch Times

In a letter published recently in The Epoch Times, I wrote with dismay about the imposition of critical race theory (CRT) in our Canadian military. Of course, this bigoted ideology of identity politics is not limited to just this element of our culture. CRT has entered the schools of Canada as well—such as Ontario (Bill 67)—and this bodes poorly for our next generation. Students must focus on the basics of education, not political indoctrination. The remedy to this is to have Canadians remember a basic sense of citizenship as sovereign individuals.

I’m originally from Squamish, B.C., where locals are known to say, “I am straight out of Squampton.” I spent years in academia as a teacher, research scientist, and physician in both British Columbia and Ontario. Yet, wherever I go there is now a pervasive culture of identity politics. I would have preferred to be left alone. But this leftist authoritarian ideology not only denies reality, but also interferes with basic medical science and the education of my and your children.

I work as a community internist and am trained to look for correct diagnoses and treatments. When it comes to reviving a healthy Canadian citizen, it is the same approach as treating a patient in that we can all be unique individuals. I do not see people primarily as groups. To me, rights are not designated as women’s rights, gay rights, minority rights, and so on. There are simply individual citizen rights and responsibilities. Every citizen must be treated in the same way under democratic rule of law. Because we are supposed to be adults and take responsibility for ourselves, we can handle such freedom.

Where is the courage to have individual freedom of inquiry that can lead to advancement of our civilization? From the ancient Greeks, with the first democracy, through to the Enlightenment, advances were only possible by such freedom of the individual. Citizenship of ancient times was based on obligations of citizens towards the community rather than rights given to its members by some sort of court or government.

Spare a thought for the neglected Canadian citizenship. Where is the view to be adults and to be left alone from government? Where is the view of self-reliance—not a reliance on a nanny state from cradle to grave? For Canada to mature, citizens must be just as concerned about their duties. Are we to be wards of the state? In a democracy, Canadians are supposed to tell the government what to do—not the other way around.

Plato said, “In politics, we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or state. When we are ill … we do not ask for the handsomest physician or the most eloquent one.”

Thus, physicians are not common in Canadian political discourse, because they offer medicine instead of candy. Yet, there are many universal duties as a Canadian citizen: We obey democratic rule of law, such as paying taxes. We help in the community. We vote and perform jury duty. We give military service when necessary. But let me propose six prescriptions for the Canadian citizenship that could serve to strengthen our Ship of State, to take our individual Canadian citizenship back:

  1. Canadian citizens must have a common ethos of responsibility, expertise, and identity. This is similar to the ethos that Canadian soldiers develop. Insist on Canadian military service being done by our own citizens, not permanent residents.
  2. Canadian citizenship must respect other citizens’ freedoms of life, liberty, property, religion, speech, and assembly. Individual citizens should be able to act freely while respecting the rights of others. In this way, Canadian citizenship must be based upon civil nationalism and not ethnic nationalism.
  3. Phase out dual nationality—focus on being a Canadian citizen first. It is neither healthy nor wise to be a Canadian citizen, yet to have one’s heart elsewhere. It is in the interest of Canada—especially for senior government officials—that they be solely Canadian nationals. To be a Canadian of convenience is to not take one’s duties seriously.
  4. Phase in dual citizenship to be Canadian and global. Only after we get our own act together might we think clearly as global citizens. Even then, democratic accountability must be as local as possible to each citizen of Canada.
  5. Canada must have one citizenship and one democratic rule of law that applies to every citizen. A true Canadian citizenship of rights and duties does not depend on race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or any other such divisive identity politics. Merit, character, and work ethic must be the values to uphold.
  6. Functional democracy requires informed and knowledgeable citizens. Thus, Canadians need to learn more about their own country and world to be effective citizens. This includes learning basic literacy, numeracy, Canadian history, heritage, language, and civics in our schools.

In my view, such a tough prescription to strengthen and unite Canadian citizens is the antidote to the divisive politics that pits one identity group against another. Let us stay real. Not everything can be a social construct. We must all confront the basic realities of life. There is no such thing as a “safe space” from truth.  We must strive for a truly sustainable Canadian citizenship of freedom. Otherwise, we will be trapped in the groupthink of the authoritarian leftist and forsake the unique, creative individual.