Resisting "soft-totalitarianism" in Canada? (Part Four)
By Mark Wegierski
(This essay is based on the draft of a presentation read at the First Sir Thomas More Colloquium: Diplomacy, Literature, Politics, at the Akademia Polonijna (Polonia University) in Czestochowa, Poland, held on March 11-12, 2010.)
The third main pillar of the regime is the mass education system. Under the Canadian Constitution education is solely under the jurisdiction of the provinces. Also, the original Canadian constitution of 1867 made explicit provision for religious schooling – and especially separate Catholic education. Thus Canada has public schools, as well as "Catholic public" schools. The tendency in public schools has been towards ever more relentless secularization. The "Catholic public" schools have also moved in the direction of increasing conformity with the secular culture. In the public schools, Christianity has been almost totally expunged. Thus, the public schools fail to offer any kind of "counter-ethic" to the mass media.
Much of public schooling has been directed into anti-Christian trajectories by such aspects as the frequently all-pervasive "sex education" which is being pushed into lower and lower grades, and so-called "anti-homophobic" instruction. Canadian society today is said to be festering with "homophobia" – which the public schools have to counteract with their inculcation of "anti-homophobic" attitudes. These twin aspects of the official curriculum of study doubtless make it difficult for children of sincerely-believing Christian parents to attend public schools. And now there are attempts to bring the "Catholic public" system into total conformity with the public system in the areas of sex education and anti-homophobic instruction. Christian private schools are often expensive and there are comparatively few of them, and home schooling is far less frequently seen in Canada than in the United States. The latter are fairly difficult options, as parents have to pay the education portion of their property taxes regardless of whether their children are attending public schools or not.
Quebec was traditionally a distinctly Roman Catholic part of Canada. Now, however, it has become one of the most secular provinces. The residues of the "Catholic public" system have been abolished in Quebec. Indeed, the provincial government has attempted to introduce a mandatory program into the curriculum of all schools (public and private) called ERC (Ethics and Religious Culture). The program is to teach students "that all religions are equal", and "that no religion can claim to be truer than any other religion". Obviously, not only Christians but other religious groups are enraged by this mandatory program.
At the level of colleges and universities there is clearly the presence of highly secular curricula in the humanities and social sciences which tend to undermine or minimize the role of Christianity in human endeavour. Also, one notices attempts to deny recognition to pro-life (anti-abortion) campus clubs, or to restrict the activities of pro-life campus clubs. There have also been attempts to prevent some pro-life and traditionalist Christian representatives from speaking at campus events.
Unlike in the United States with its hundreds of private, frequently religiously-affiliated colleges, there are very few private colleges and universities in Canada. The hundreds of private religious colleges in the United States can exercise a certain counter-weight to the pop-culture and mass media there.
Among the most prominent private Christian universities in Canada is Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. TWU ran into difficulties when the British Columbia Teachers' Federation refused to offer teachers' accreditation to graduates of TWU's degree in education. The basis for the refusal was that TWU was claimed to be "inculcating homophobia". TWU has a very extensive Code of Conduct. One of its provisions (among many, many others) is the prohibition of homosexual activity. It was insinuated that because of this provision, teachers who had been trained at TWU would tend to discriminate against homosexual students. TWU appealed the matter to the courts. Eventually reaching the Supreme Court of Canada, the decision was that TWU graduates should be accredited, but also that the TWU graduates should be monitored very closely in subsequent years for possible signs of homophobia.
The situation for sincerely-believing Christians is especially difficult in Canada because – unlike in the United States – there is no effective "counter-culture" of Christianity – which in the United States includes both fundamentalist Protestants and tradition-minded Catholics. Obviously, it is also much different than in Poland where – regardless of some secular legal aspects – the country is permeated by a very deep Catholic and Christian culture and history.
Sincerely-believing Christians in Canada tend to be highly isolated, and to lack a comforting and reassuring sense of community. In the former East Bloc, there was a dynamic of attraction to the Christian churches as profound critics of the system. In Canada today, however, the general population is set in a direction by the mass media and mass education structures, where they would tend to typically perceive fervent Christians as "bigots" or "haters". Indeed, the current-day system in Canada appears to move in the direction of a startling unidirectional intensity, to which there can be seen very few possible countervailing tendencies. Thus the lineaments of an emerging "soft-totalitarianism" can be perceived here, despite Canada's cherished claims to be "the most free" and "the most democratic" society on the planet.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.