The traditional post-holiday slow news period caught up to the Poilievre party this week with the revelation that the Conservative shadow minister for Infrastructure, Leslyn Lewis, is pushing a petition to have Canada withdraw from the United Nations.
As the Globe and Mail reported, the Ontario MP who has twice run for the Conservative leadership, sponsored the petition to bring it before parliament and is looking to add more names to the 64,000-plus that already appear. The petition (see below) seems mostly concerned with the UN’s subsidiary agency, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Agenda 2030 program for sustainable development. The petitioners claim it would diminish “the health rights and freedom of Canadians” while serving “the interests of UN/WHO and unelected private entities (e.g. World Economic Forum, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, International Planned Parenthood Federation, etc.)”
The Globe story is not the first reporting on the petition. In a post in November Press Progress revealed that the document, which at the time had some 46,000 names, was being “aggressively shared on social media by far-right influencers and conspiracy groups.” There is also nothing new about Leslyn Lewis’s rhetorical feud with the WHO. Her second leadership campaign featured claims that a proposed pandemic response treaty would give the WHO sweeping powers over Canadians and lay the groundwork for global government.
What makes the story relevant – aside from the sobering possibility that Lewis may find herself in the cabinet someday soon – is the light it sheds on the Poilievre party’s constant harping about “freedom.” Paeans to freedom are as ubiquitous in the party’s communications as references to “the middle class and those working hard to join it” were during the early years of the Trudeau government.
This freedom focus seems rather odd, given that the cost of living, housing and health care are, with good reason, the issues on people’s minds. Climate change, which should be more prominent, has been eclipsed by bread and butter concerns. But freedom? People don’t seem to be much concerned about that issue, perhaps for a good reason. Canada ranks near the top in the international freedom rankings.
Washington-based Freedom House – founded in 1941 to oppose Nazi Germany and the rise of facism – gives Canada a Global Freedom Score of 98 out of 100. Only Finland, Norway and Sweden, each with 100, and New Zealand at 99, rank higher. The U.S., from whence today’s Conservatives get so much of their inspiration, comes in at 83 and dropping – “a decade-long decline driven by partisan polarization, election denialism and mistrust in public institutions.”
Nevertheless, for the Conservatives, it’s mostly freedom, most of the time. The party’s fundraising pitches rely heavily on the freedom theme. On New Year’s Eve people were urged to cough up so the party could “stop government censorship and bring home freedom.” The previous day there was a promise to “bring home freedom for all Canadians,” a repeat of the pre-Christmas ask – donate “to put an end to Trudeau’s destructive and harmful policies and bring home freedom to all Canadians.” Occasionally Conservative propaganda links freedom with getting rid of the carbon tax or, bizarrely, freedom of the press (more on that some other time). But mostly, the message seems to be about freedom for freedom’s sake – “Canadians want change. They want freedom. They want common sense.”
But not only does this generalized cry for freedom address a non-issue, it is inconsistent with some of the other Conservative preoccupations. For example, the Conservatives have made clear they would not extend to addicts the freedom to access safe supply of drugs or give those with incurable mental illness the freedom to chose medical assistance in dying. The Conservatives have shown they do not respect the freedom of CBC reporters to set their own journalistic standards, nor the freedom of municipalities – the dreaded gatekeepers – to control housing development in their communities.
Aside from the freedom to buy cheaper gas, the Conservatives commitment to freedom seems to be a dog whistle signalling the party’s commitment to fending off the WHO, the World Economic Forum, the Gates Foundation etc., an impression left not only by Leslyn Lewis but also by scanning the party’s website.
A review of recent news releases finds the announcement of the Conservative candidate in Kitchener South-Hespeler, a critical care doctor named Matt Strauss. According to the release, the nominated candidate “believes in uniting for freedom and common sense.” And according to Press Progress, he has no time for pandemic lockdowns and tweeted “live free or die” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Strauss, plagiarizing the New Hampshire licence plate, showed his “freedom” commitment during the pandemic and was criticized for it. But other recently nominated Conservatives in places like Trois Rivieres and Malpeque, P.E.I are also promising to “put Canadians back in control of their lives.” And in announcing his private member’s bill seeking to amend new rules for “natural health products,” an Alberta MP promised to “push back against this government overreach and protect the fundamental rights of Canadians to make their own health choices, free from undue interference from Ottawa.”
That kind of phrasing harkens back to the party’s policy convention last summer when grassroots Conservatives voted for “the freedom and right to refuse vaccines,”and goes back even further to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” in 2022 and a private member’s bill introduced that same year by Poilievre. Then in the midst of his successful leadership run, Poilievre introduced his bill by saying it would “give Canadians back control of their lives.”
Returning to where we started, the Globe and Mail story quotes a flack from the Prime minister’s Office who focusses on the nutty conspiracy theory angle emerging from Leslyn Lewis’s support of the petition. But the more important question is how would a Poilievre government deal with any future global pandemic? The Conservatives have invested a lot of effort extracting donations from freedom-of-a-sort-loving anti-vaxxers. Would a Poilievre government listen with an open mind to the experts? Or, to please the well-milked base, would it take the advice of people like Lewis, Danielle Smith, Preston Manning or, heaven forbid, the freshly-minted candidate in Kitchener, Dr. Strauss, who thinks we would rather be dead than locked down?
Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled
- Canada’s membership in the United Nations (UN) and its subsidiary organizations, (e.g. World Health Organization (WHO)), imposes negative consequences on the people of Canada, far outweighing any benefits;
- Canada’s agreement to participate in the UN/WHO comprehensive “Agenda 2030” undermines national sovereignty and personal autonomy;
- Agenda 2030 and its operational “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDG), Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), UN Judicial Review, International Health Regulations (IHR), One Health and similar programs are being rapidly implemented, absent the awareness and consent of the People or their elected representatives;
- SDGs have negative impacts on potentially every aspect of life, including religious and cultural values, familial relations, education, nutrition, child development, property rights, economic and agricultural productivity, transportation, travel, health, informed consent, privacy and physical autonomy;
- Under the CSE, publicly funded educational institutions are damaging children while concealing information from parents. Normalization of sexual values and activities with regard to children are endorsed and enforced, beginning at birth;
- Agenda 2030 and secretly negotiated amendments to the IHR could likely impose unacceptable, intrusive universal surveillance, violating the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and
- These sweeping impacts on public and private life serve the interests of UN/WHO and unelected private entities (e.g. World Economic Forum, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, International Planned Parenthood Federation, etc.), while diminishing the health rights and freedom of Canadians.
We, the undersigned, Citizens and Residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to urgently implement Canada’s expeditious withdrawal from the UN and all of its subsidiary organizations, including WHO.