A report this week that an elementary school in Toronto cancelled Valentine’s Day because “it didn’t promote equality”, was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Enough already of this era of cancel culture and misinformation not only about our history but also about current challenges that we face today.
As for Valentine’s Day, it is universal, at least in North America, kids love it and it is an opportunity to have a little fun in the middle of a cold winter. What kind of whacky thinking goes into cancelling such an enjoyable and positive experience for young people? I shake my head that this might catch on.
What’s next on the cancel culture agenda? Christmas? Hanukkah? Already, in many circles, it is politically incorrect to say Merry Christmas. How long before it is cancelled altogether?
I was at a luncheon in Toronto in December of last year, (and yes, it was a Christmas luncheon) when the person beside me talked to me about a biography he was reading about Sir John A. Macdonald. He talked about the enormous achievements of Macdonald in creating the fabric of Canada, uniting all parts by building the first railroad across the country, and laying the framework for one of the most envied countries in the Western World.
My friend lamented the woke attempts of some, to tear down statues of Sir John A. and erase his legacy and enduring accomplishments for future generations, in order to lay at his doorstep responsibility for the tragic evolution of Indigenous residential schools.
For those still interested in facts, residential schools were in place well before Macdonald became Prime Minister, and throughout his tenure attendance at residential schools in Canada was voluntary. It was not made obligatory until 1920. As well, in 1885, Macdonald, a Conservative, passed legislation allowing Indigenous people to vote. It was a Liberal Prime Minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier, in 1898, who took away their right to vote and it was a Conservative Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, who gave it back to them in 1960. Where in the media have you read that?
I wonder in this day and age of misinformation, alternate facts, and cancel culture if our children and their children’s progeny will be taught about that. I doubt it and so did my friend, who believes it is time that Canadians stood up and said “NO” to cancel culture and misinformation.
In my view, cancel culture and misinformation are close relatives, if not synonymous. Both are vindictive, manipulative, and misleading in nature.
As regular readers of Listen Up will be aware, I am no fan of the Toronto Star but recently they hit it bang on with an editorial headed, “Misinformation enacts a heavy price on society”.
The Toronto Star said this: “Falsehoods, lies, misinformation take a toll on our civic debate, our ability to make informed decisions, erode trust in institutions, exacerbate social divides and even put our health at risk”.
Quoting on a report issued by the Council of Canadian Academies, the Star editorial also contained this: “On an individual level, it [misinformation]can leave us vulnerable to baseless fears, harm from preventable diseases, and exploitation by those who promote misinformation for profit or power. On a collective level it erodes trust, fosters hate, undermines social cohesion and diminishes our capacity for collective action.”
Another important quote in that same editorial, says this: “Misinformation has been increasingly weaponized to refute the very idea of objective truth, erode the distinction between truth and falsehood, and leave us questioning what, if anything, we may share as a society.”
To all of that, I say AMEN.
So, what does that mean to us in this day and age? To me, it means we have another type of pandemic here. Certainly, we can blame the media, we can blame politicians and we can blame the Internet. But first and foremost, we have to blame ourselves. We are the ones that put up with cancel culture and misinformation.
As far as the Internet goes, Huntsville Doppler’s News Editor, Tamara de La Vega, in a personal post online, put it better than I could. She said, “Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook and see on YouTube. Always, always, consider the source and remember the world is NOT flat, no matter who tries to convince you otherwise. If something seems highly implausible, it probably is. It’s good to be open-minded but not so open-minded that your brains fall out.”
The same goes for the mainstream media and politicians. Common sense and verification should always trump false news and misinformation.
Donald Trump did not win the last national election in the United States. That is a verifiable fact. Those who misrepresent that fact are agents of mistruth and false news. And when convicted Trump acolyte and well-known American radio host Steve Bannon said on a broadcast to Kori Lake, “You are the frickin’ Governor of Arizona.” He too is spreading false truth and he should know it. Recount after a recount showed that she lost that election.
In Canada too, misinformation flows freely. I can think of a number of them but the one that comes top of mind is that of the reform of the delivery of health care.
It is important to know that The Canada Health Act defines universality as “ requiring all residents of a province or territory to be entitled on uniform conditions, to the publicly FUNDED (my emphasis) health services covered by provincial/territorial plans.” The Act does not require governments to exclusively run or provide the services, only to fund them.
The principle then is that no Canadian resident should have to pay for medical procedures or health care approved by government. But what we are hearing from critics like NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and yes, notwithstanding their recent editorial, the Toronto Star, is that Ontario Premier Doug Ford aided and abetted by Prime Minister Trudeau is moving toward privatizing health care in Ontario. That is simply not true.
Governments in Canada have never personally provided all health care services. Many services including private laboratories for blood tests, eye examinations, some radiology procedures, and some mental health services to name just a few, are carried out by private professionals and paid by the government to provide them.
Extending some surgeries to qualified professionals in the private sector is merely adding to this long-established process. These people will be regulated by the government and paid by the government. This will not contravene the Canada Health Act or universal health care.
Canada has, over many years, had a competent and highly skilled healthcare system. It may not be broken, but it is definitely overloaded with unacceptable waiting times for people who need medical or mental health attention. Times have changed and our population has increased.
It is high time to reform and modernize health care in Canada without requiring Canadians to pay for it out of pocket. It is time to think outside the box as to how the actual services can be improved and provided in a timely, professional, and efficient manner.
To the folks who argue that this process will cost taxpayers more, of course it will. But this is largely because of an increase in population in a system that has not been properly addressed for decades, as well as the current tension and anxiety in much of our society that requires attention.
The basic principle of people not having to directly pay for health care is untouched. Yet, critics like NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh are fearmongering, saying incorrectly (to put it as politely as possible) that Health Care is going to be privatized as it is in the United States, resulting in people having to pay out of pocket, that universal health care is at risk, that patients will “get a bill “and that you will wait longer for treatment.”
That is simply not true. It is misinformation at its worse and it will cause millions of Canadians to be hesitant to accept necessary and innovative reforms to health care that in reality will ease tension in the entire system and make things better for most Canadians when seeking these services. The status quo is simply not the answer.
Years ago, there was a movie, I think it was called Network, but it did star Peter Finch who uttered the famous words: “I am mad as hell, and I am not going to take it anymore.” I would caution about being overly angry, but I do think it is time for the vast majority in this country, of all stripes and of all political persuasions to stand up and say a loud NO to fake news, misinformation, and cancel culture.
Facts and truth are still in vogue. Nothing else should matter but that.
Hugh Mackenzie has held elected office as a trustee on the Muskoka Board of Education, a Huntsville councillor, a District councillor, and mayor of Huntsville. He has also served as chairman of the District of Muskoka and as chief of staff to former premier of Ontario, Frank Miller.
Hugh has also served on a number of provincial, federal and local boards, including chair of the Ontario Health Disciplines Board, vice-chair of the Ontario Family Health Network, vice-chair of the Ontario Election Finance Commission, and board member of Roy Thomson Hall, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Locally, he has served as president of the Huntsville Rotary Club, chair of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, chair of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, president of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and board member of Community Living Huntsville.
In business, Hugh Mackenzie has a background in radio and newspaper publishing. He was also a founding partner and CEO of Enterprise Canada, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm established in 1986.
Currently, Hugh is president of C3 Digital Media Inc., the parent company of Doppler Online, and he enjoys writing commentary for Huntsville Doppler.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!