But if what Chesterton says is true, then Canada fails the test, because the Canadian family is no longer free.
In the past week we have witnessed the Supreme Court of Canada dismiss the appeal of a Quebec family for permission to exempt their child from that province’s controversial ethics and religious culture course, which critics say is “relativistic,” and teaches that all religious are equally valid. And we have heard a spokesperson for the Alberta education minister state that under the province’s new Education Act even homeschooling parents will no longer be allowed to teach their children traditional Christian sexual ethics.
These two developments come amidst the ongoing efforts of the Ontario government to impose their “equity” program, “diversity” curriculum, and transparently ideological “anti-bullying” bill on all schools – whether Catholic or public. Already the largest school board in the province has said that parents will not be permitted to exempt their children from parts of the curriculum they deem unacceptable.
It is perhaps ironic that this has happened at the same time that the Canadian Parliament voted a second time to repeal the country’s much-ballyhooed Section 13 “Hate Crimes” provision, which has been used to drag conservatives and Christians through lengthy and expensive “human rights” proceedings for nothing more than publicly speaking opinions that someone else deemed “offensive.”
But while the Canadian Human Rights Commission may soon no longer be able to use Section 13 as the club to beat politically incorrect Christians into submission, or at the very least into silence, the Canadian provinces are doing their very best simply to make sure there won’t be any more such Christians in the first place. Mandatory “diversity” education imposed on all schools, including home schools, without parental right to opt out is the chosen method to achieve this goal.
But those who care about freedom and democracy must call out and oppose this effort for what it is – tyranny.
While even conservative commentators are urging caution in the interpretation of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, which was narrow in scope and not the final word on the Quebec course, what is certain is that the decision, whether intentionally or not, has already sent a booming message across Canada: namely, that the authority to educate children comes from the state, and not from parents. The decision leaves the distinct impression that the state is no longer in loco (in the place of) parentis, but is the parent, and holds the final say in matters of education.
While the justices demurred from deciding with finality whether the Quebec course violates the parents’ ability to transmit their faith to their child, because there was insufficient information about the course and its content entered into evidence to make that decision, this reasoning ignores the central point: namely, that it doesn’t matter whether the court thinks the course really harms the parents’ ability to raise their child in the faith. The important thing is that the parents think it does.
In saying that it needs more proof that the course harms the parents’ rights in this way, the court is implicitly saying that it doesn’t believe the parents, and might very well know better than them. But it should be obvious that the parents, and not the court, are in a far better position to say whether the course is hampering their ability to educate their child according to their values: because it is their child, and their values.
Given that Quebec has also imposed the course on private and home schools – thereby leaving the parents without even the option of escaping the course by withdrawing their child from the public system – it is difficult to see how the Supreme Court arrived at any other conclusion than that the course obviously violates the parents’ rights, regardless of its content.
Let’s be perfectly clear: parents are the first and primary educators of their children, not the state. Period. This principle is the basis of a free and democratic society. Wrest this authority from parents for any reason less grave than serious abuse or neglect, and you have not simply paved the way for tyranny, but you already have a tyranny. For without the right to educate our children as we choose according to the values we choose, what do we have left? State-imposed orthodoxy. Totalitarianism.
The only difference between the totalitarianism of other regimes and the totalitarianism being imposed by the Canadian provinces is that the Canadian breed of totalitarianism is couched in the Orwellian doublespeak of “tolerance,” “multiculturalism,” and “diversity.” But simply because the language is new and more soothing does not make the reality any less frightening.
We who have witnessed the slow but steady drumbeat of Canada’s soft tyranny know by now that “tolerance” increasingly applies only to those who hold to the official state-sanctioned opinions, or who remain silent; “multiculturalism” is only deemed a virtue insofar as the cultures in question jettison any part of their heritage that might be deemed “offensive”; while “diversity” is mainly a celebration of superficial differences whilst demanding a deeper ideological similitude.
If, as Chesterton says, the family is the ultimate test of freedom, then homeschooling is the ultimate expression of that freedom. For homeschooling is founded on the radical notion that when it comes to the most important things in life – most especially the raising and educating of children – it is the common man who is to be trusted, and not the “expert” or the state. It is not coincidental that this is the same principle that stands at the very root of democracy.
By explicitly targeting homeschoolers, and/or by explicitly forbidding the right of parental opt-out, the Quebec, Ontario and Alberta governments have played their hand. They have made it clear that they will tolerate no dissent, and that, as the source and symbol of freedom, they fear the family. Perhaps this all sounds eerily familiar. It should, if you have studied any history. Every attempt to create a totalitarian regime begins with this attempt to eradicate, or at the very least mitigate the influence of the family: to tear the roof off the family home and to reach the fingers of the state inside.
Don’t let them do it.