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  • Writer's picturekenrdrysdale

Let's Talk About Umbrellas

Let's talk about umbrellas, shall we? Those nifty little contraptions designed to shield us from the rain. We've all seen them, often elaborately decorated with intricate designs, flashy colors, and even a hint of designer flair. People carry them around with pride, a symbol of preparedness, a status symbol that says, "I'm ready for anything."

What is an Umbrella For

You see, an umbrella is more than just an accessory; it's a statement. It's the thing you keep tucked away for that 'someday' moment when the heavens decide to open up and shower you with their blessings. Every time you carry it, you're saying to the world, "I'm ready for whatever life throws my way."

Imagine this: you've got your trusty umbrella at your side. It's sleek, it's shiny, and it makes you feel invincible. You've walked around with it for decades, showing it off to friends and strangers alike. You've marvelled at its craftsmanship, the way it opens with a satisfying swoosh, and how it stands tall against the elements.

But here's the kicker. You've never actually had to use it because, well, the weather's been pretty good. So, you strut around, umbrella in tow, proud of this symbol of preparedness. After all, you've heard stories of how it's saved others from getting drenched. You've seen those commercials where people remain perfectly dry, even in the most torrential downpours, thanks to their trusty umbrellas.

What Happens When it Rains

And then, one fateful day, the clouds roll in, the rain begins to fall, and you decide it's finally time to put that cherished umbrella to use. You pop it open, and... nothing.

Instead of providing the shelter you so desperately need, you find yourself getting soaked. Turns out, that fancy umbrella was nothing more than a façade.

Sound familiar?

That's precisely what's happened to Canadians over the past three years. We've been walking around, carrying our metaphorical umbrella of rights and freedoms. We've admired its intricate details and proudly shown it off to the world. But when the storm of uncertainty hit, we realized that this cherished symbol of protection was riddled with holes.

Carrying a Closed Umbrella for 42 Years

For 42 years, Canadians have carried an unfurled umbrella with them. This umbrella, known as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has been a symbol of our nation's commitment to protecting our rights and freedoms. It has stood proudly as a shield, ready to be opened in times of need, in times of rain. However, for much of these four decades, the weather has been sunny, and this umbrella remained furled, untested.

Even a broken umbrella can protect you when it is not raining!

But when the rains finally came, and Canadians unfurled their umbrella of rights, they were in for a shock. It turned out that the umbrella had more holes and rot than protection. This umbrella, which we had trusted to shield us from the storm, had failed us when we needed it the most.

Why did this happen, and what can we learn from this experience?

The Umbrella of Rights

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, enacted in 1982, was meant to be a robust shield, guarding our sovereignty and protecting our basic human rights. Canadians proudly carried it, confident that it would shield us from the downpour of injustice. We believed that our rights were secure, that our freedoms were protected.

The Calm Before the Storm

For many years, our nation enjoyed mostly sunny weather. We reveled in our rights and freedoms, living under the assumption that they were invincible. But the sunshine had made us complacent. We never bothered to inspect our umbrella, to see if it was still sturdy and intact.

The Unpleasant Discovery

Then came a storm—a metaphorical deluge of events that tested the integrity of our rights. The pandemic exposed unprecedented failures in our legal framework, the holes in our umbrella. We discovered that our rights, including medical ethics, informed consent, and laws like the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, were not as solid as we had thought.

A Pile of Toothless Words

Our umbrella was, in reality, a pile of toothless words. As we opened it, we found holes where there should have been protection. The very rights and freedoms that we thought would shield us turned out to be fragile, unable to withstand the storm.

What we found out is that the very people from whom our charter of rights and freedoms was supposed to protect us from, had the ultimate veto of all of our rights.

We had layers and layer of protects... all useless.

We also had / have international human rights protections, undeniable human rights, that were going to be enforced by the UN...all of these were also violated.

Medical ethics, informed consent all collapsed, and hardly a whisper from the very people who have told us for more than a hundred years that they live and die by these ethics, all blown away in a moment.

Dunce Cap

How is it possible that the very people and organizations entrusted with safeguarding our rights and freedoms failed to recognize the weaknesses in the "Charter of Rights and Freedoms," which we collectively relied on for decades? How did this symbolic protection, instead of being a shield, become a mere dunce's cap, a paper tiger easily swept away when the storm arrived?

The answer to this troubling question lies in the complex web of influence and power dynamics that have been at play within our society. To understand this, we must recognize that many organizations and institutions that were supposed to be the guardians of our rights have, over time, become entangled in a web of government funding and dependencies.

Biting the Hand That Feeds You

Imagine biting the hand that feeds you—often, it's simply not an option. Organizations, including those tasked with overseeing the protection of our rights, can find themselves in a precarious position. They become reluctant to challenge the very entities that fund their existence, creating an inherent conflict of interest.

One prime example of this conundrum is the CBC. With a budget of over $1.5 billion annually, funded by the very taxpayers it's meant to serve, it occupies a unique and influential role in Canadian media.

However, its capacity to act as an independent watchdog, exposing government shortcomings or infringements on our rights, is arguably compromised by its dependency on government funding. The conflict between journalistic integrity and financial reliance is a delicate balance, and the consequences of tilting in favor of the latter can be grave.

Yet, despite the pervasive influence of government over many aspects of society, the failure of these organizations to act as vigilant watchdogs isn't merely due to financial dependencies. It's a complex interplay of factors, including political pressures, shifting societal norms, and an evolving media landscape.

The very organizations that should be championing our rights have, in some cases, become complicit in their erosion. It's a grim reality, one that casts a shadow on the institutions we've relied on to protect our freedoms.

As we move forward in this exploration, we must grapple with these challenging truths. The road to understanding why and how our rights and freedoms were left vulnerable is a winding one, fraught with complex layers of influence and power. We must continue to seek answers and to uncover the solutions needed to strengthen the foundations of our democracy.

Moving Forward Together

This revelation should serve as a wake-up call. It's time to reevaluate our legal framework, to reinforce and repair our umbrella of rights. We must ensure that the laws and protections we put in place are not just symbolic but substantial.

It is only through a political power shift that these heinous inadequacies in our rights protections will be addressed.

As Manitobans, we must actively engage in conversations, advocate for change, and work towards a legal system that truly safeguards our rights and freedoms, come rain or shine.

At Manitoba Stronger Together, we are committed to fostering this dialogue, pushing for accountability, and championing a stronger, more resilient legal framework that upholds our sovereign human rights.

Let this moment of truth inspire us to take action. Together, we can rebuild and strengthen the umbrella of rights, ensuring that it provides the protection we all deserve, no matter the weather.

Stay engaged, stay informed, and let's work together for a brighter, more equitable future.

Warm regards,

The Manitoba Stronger Together Team

Stay tuned from future instalments on this discussion

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