Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is an avowed, self-proclaimed feminist. That makes him part of an ideological group dedicated to the destruction of traditional marriage and the nuclear family in service of the leftist revolutionary goal of ‘liberating’ women. Consequently, for him, parental rights have become a “far right” political issue. It may be that he did not mean to disparage millions of parents by lumping them in with other far-right radicals like white supremacists, but that he did so speaks to his tendency to shoot from the lip.
It is hardly surprising then that the man who has often denounced partisanship while urging conciliation, once again used inflammatory rhetorical language to alienate a large segment of the Canadian polity. His divisive language first arose after New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higg’s May 2023 decision to make controversial changes to gender rules for provincial schools.
One major change is that parental consent would be needed for trans and nonbinary students under the age of 16, to change their names or pronouns in school. Higgs, who weathered a revolt in his own caucus over the policy, defended it as “taking a strong position for families.”
Higgs is at least open and transparent (pardon the pun) about making parental rights a political issue, and he is even willing to fight an election over it: “I believe strongly in the case of finding a solution here where we do not exclude parents in their child’s life.”
But in most of Canada, it is official policy to keep parents in the dark if their own children come out as trans to teachers. The guidelines undermining parental authority have been brought in by stealth, without discussion with parents, and in some cases, at a tremendous human cost. One anecdotal story about a 9-year-old girl in Manitoba is particularly heart wrenching. The poor girl found it impossible to fit in at her school because she could not embrace the transgender ideology being fed to her. She was what we once called a “tomboy,” but her teachers kept trying to convince her that she was really a boy, and this claim contradicted what she had learned at home. She was afraid to tell her mother about what was happening at school. Consequently, she was an outcast at school, and became a misfit at home. Ultimately, she took her own life after leaving her mother a note explaining why she had done it: “God made a mistake on me,” she said, and so she needed to go and ask him “why?”
So, into this highly charged and emotional debate, where one hopes that balance, sense, and respect would reign, steps our vaunted PM. Speaking before a friendly crowd at the Rainbow Railroad Freedom Party in Toronto, a not-for-profit pro-LGBTQ+ organization, Trudeau got carried away:
Far-right political actors are trying to outdo themselves with the types of cruelty and isolation they can inflict on these already vulnerable people…. Right now, trans kids are being told they don’t have the right to be their true selves, that they need to ask permission. Well trans kids need to feel safe, not targeted by politicians…. We have to stand against this. We have to stand up for the freedoms we believe in and continue our work of letting love be louder than hate.”
To be clear, what the PM stands against is a policy giving parents the right to be told by teachers when their children are transitioning to a different gender. Those who disagree are branded as being “far-right.” Families are, however, still the bedrock of society and any far-reaching changes need to be the subject of full and frank discussion involving parents. Leaders like Higgs are prepared to risk an election over an issue that has already been decided for far too many parents across the country, and not always in their favour.
In the discussion, parental rights and the rights of children are at odds. But it is possible that standing up for the child means standing up for the parents. An intelligent discussion about this issue is not helped by a PM throwing out political smears at parents. Unfortunately, such language has become characteristic of a man who labelled peaceful protestors and anyone who refused Covid injections racists, misogynists, and science deniers.
Perhaps the only good that came from the pandemic lockdowns engineered by the Trudeau government is that parents in great numbers finally began to learn what was going on in the public school system as the problematic curriculum was inadvertently beamed into their homes. This knowledge birthed an ever-growing backlash in many school divisions across Canada.
Although protests and demonstrations have never been my calling, when I learned about the September 20, 2023, “A Million March 4 Children,” I could not resist participating. I expected a sizable protest of diverse concerned parents and their supporters, along with a loud counter protest from the transgender lobby. I was not disappointed.
In her book, “Totalitarianism,” Hannah Arendt wrote that the first order of business for aspiring totalitarian regimes is to get their hands on the nation’s youngsters. Hence the Hitler Youth and the Soviet “Young Pioneers.” During Mao’s Cultural Revolution, children were urged to turn against their parents. Similarly, in the early days of the mainly leftist kibbutz movement in Israel, children were raised in “children’s homes,” apart from their parents. Lenin is credited with saying “give me a child till the age of 7, and I’ll have him for life.” Lenin, in fact, sought to own Russian children through indoctrination—it never occurred to him to do so through drugs and genital mutilation. But now we know that mutilated children are disabled for life.
The leftist, utopian idea was always to use children to break with the past to create a brave new world. It is a powerful and seductive dream. Cultural trends, unlike genes, are quite malleable. They are far simpler to change in a deliberate way than physical genetics. Thus, in his acclaimed book, Pluto’s Republic, Nobel prize winning microbiologist Peter Medawar said that an entire culture can be transformed in a single generation. Published in 1982, Medawar’s book now reads like a time capsule, a snapshot seen by one of his generation’s great scientists, before DNA fingerprinting, the Human Genome Project, HIV/AIDS, before the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer, global warming, the World Wide Web, before Voyageur flew past Saturn, Chernobyl, the launches of the Mir, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Covid-19 pandemic, and long before any political handwringing about public understanding or engagement with science.
One of the nation’s largest Million March 4 Kids protests took place at Queen’s Park in Toronto. There was, as expected, a counter-protest group marching around the Ontario parliament building. It was large, noisy, and angry, designed specifically to frighten parental demonstrators away. A helicopter hovered overhead, and there was a strong police presence, both on foot and on bicycles, ostensibly to keep demonstrators on both sides from interacting with each other. The counter-protestors from Ontario teachers’ unions had bull horns and banners. Their placards were all about being anti-hate, pro-love, pro-care, and respecting the rights of children. On the edge of the park, there were some women carrying flyers proclaiming, “Hands Off Our Children.”
The demonstration was calm, peaceful, and large. Toronto is one of the most multicultural, multi-ethnic cities on earth, and the diversity of dress and race was apparent. Predictably, the legacy media had risibly alerted the public that this demonstration would be by white supremacists! What else could we expect from media that is bought and paid for by federal subsidies?
In Canada, the trans lobby is incredibly well funded, and the source is far from obvious. The erstwhile Soviet Union once funded the North American and European “Ban the Bomb” movement; it is also said that even today, Russia is funding climate alarmists in the West and the Chinese may be funding various protest movements.
The organizer of the Toronto protest rally was a woman in a burka. One of the speakers declared that Canada is a country of immigrants, they came here looking for freedom and they did not expect to find an ideology inimical to freedom playing out in schools. This speaker said that the trans moment does not stand for real Canada. Many other speakers expressed their religious beliefs, noting that that the trans movement is not only anti-religious, but has become a perverse religion itself.
The crowd looked like everyday Canadians. One of the most obvious themes was that our relationship with the government is a fiduciary one. When we send our children to public schools — which are government institutions — we entrust them to their care because we expect them to look after our children as we would. By foisting the trans and woke ideology upon children, the government betrays that fiduciary trust. As a result, parents and their supporters have been urged to become involved in school-board elections.
Meanwhile, Fred Hahn, who is the gay President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees of Ontario, joined the counter-protesters who pledged solidarity with Antifa. Consider that for a moment. The head of the largest public union in Canada’s largest province is aligned with a leftist terrorist organization that has caused a number of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage. Voters need to remember that he chose to stand with Antifa against parents marching in support of protecting children.
What is going on, you ask?
Every year, millions of parents entrust their children’s educational well-being to teachers and administrators in a system that should prioritize their input and concerns. Instead, they find themselves belittled and voiceless in the face of union bosses, school trustees, and politicians who claim to care about parents and students but consistently work to destroy local control of education. The differences are not just about policy, they are about the very essence of democracy and the role of parents in raising and educating their children.
But the trust that parents have in the educational system is eroding due to existing political leadership:
What parents want is an educational system that prepares their children for the challenges of the future. They want a system that values their input and partnerships with teachers and administrators. Instead, they are being used as pawns in current political and ideological battles, with their children’s futures hanging in the balance. Parents are not looking to disrupt the educational system.
It is high time that promotors of the trans narrative and woke ideology be held accountable for their divisive words and actions. Parents and supporters of school choice and parental rights initiatives deserve better than to be unfairly targeted and accused of promoting bigoted rhetoric. They are advocates for a more welcoming and responsive educational system, one that empowers parents and respects their vital role in the education of their children. The battle for parental rights and a more responsive educational system is a call for greater cooperation between teachers, school trustees, and parents; a demand for a system that values the input of those who know their children best. It is now time to put aside this outrageous rhetoric and cooperate to create a better educational future for all our children — one that truly respects the rights and voices of parents.
So, what then can we expect to come next?
If history is our teacher, then the answer is obvious: conflict comes next after protests and counterprotests.
No matter how sophisticated the state becomes, more people will begin to resist. They will march, protest, and eventually they will fight. No matter how coercive governments become, more people will choose to fight for their freedoms.
There is a quotation from Mel Gibson’s famous portrayal of William Wallace in the iconic film “Braveheart” which applies today: “There is a difference between us. You think the people of this land exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom.”
No matter how much this government tries to censor, abuse, and oppress Canadians, the people will eventually have their say. The Freedom Convoy and the Million March for Kids both proved that the spirit of freedom has been awakened in Canada, and now that force is unstoppable.
Leighton B. U. Grey, K.C. is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and Creator & Host of the Grey Matter Podcast.