Bill C-13, now at third reading in the Senate, imitates what the U.S federal government did a few decades ago: it criminalizes insider trading. It also mimics the most recent Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which is cited in the Web explanation of the bill. It is not the first time that Canadian governments import the worst of the U.S., while avoiding the best.
There is actually a little secret that most of us in Canada have not been conscious of: In most fields, we have been historically freer in Canada than they in the land of the free. The dirty part of the little secret is that the federal government, and sometimes the provincial governments, have been trying hard to create an equal playing field of tyranny.
Virtually all slippery slopes started the U.S. many years, sometimes decades, before being imported into Canada. The U.S. federal income tax was tried during the Civil War, re-adopted in 1894, and reestablished in 1913 after a constitutional amendment; in Canada, the income tax was only imposed in 1917. The U.S. government introduced unemployment insurance in 1935; the Canadian government, in 1940.
The Federal Reserve System, the American central bank, was created in 1913; the Bank of Canada, only in 1935. In fact, free banking (private banks issuing private moneys) thrived in Canada during a large part of our history. Hard to imagine now, says the feds propaganda on the Web, but not too long ago paper money in Canada was issued by commercial banks. That was before 1934, when the Bank of Canada Act established a central bank with the sole right to issue paper money. How could we survive?
As William Watson notes in his 1998 book, Globalization and the Meaning of Canadian Life, the American New Deal was imitated by the R.B. Bennetts Conservative government after a lag of a few years, and with much resistance. Liberal Mackenzie King couldnt decide whether it was Hitlerism, Fascism or communism. Alexandre Taschereau, Québecs Liberal premier, thought it was a Socialistic venture bordering on communism.
More recently, the same story is told by money laundering legislation, introduced in U.S. federal law in 1970, and plagiarized here after a 20-year lag, with the 1991 Money Laundering Act. In the meantime, new American laws adopted in the 1980s had criminalized the stuff. More severe legislation was adopted by the U.S. government in 1994. This spate of new laws was aped again in 2000 by another Money Laundering Act, which forced Canadian banks, financial institutions and other businesses and professionals to snitch on suspicious customers and file STRs (Suspicious Transaction Reports), the equivalent of the American SARs (Suspicious Activity Reports). The 2000 Canadian legislation also created a new bureaucracy, FINTRAC, the little brother of the American FinCEN. They even tried to hide the plagiary.
The creeping up of government ID papers, mainly the drivers licence with photograph, started in the U.S. a few decades ago, before being imitated in Canada in the 1990s. The ubiquitous use of the social security number in the U.S. (where one would not be surprised to learn that it is now required to order a pizza) predated by 10 years or so the proliferation of the social insurance number in Canada. We are, on this front, being Americanized very quickly.
The war on drugs, the snitching on parents who take nude pictures of their children, the catch-all crime of domestic violence, the feminist legislative agenda, the environmental craze (with the only exception of Kyoto), the corporate governance witch-hunt, the prosecution of sexual harassment writ large, the antismoking jihad, the fat huntall these crusades started in the U.S. and were embraced by our own tyrants.
There are glorious exceptions where Americans remain freer, but it is seldom completely black and white. Taxes are lower in the U.S. than in Canada, but this is only since the 1960s. Self-defence and free speech have resisted better in the U.S., but these traditional liberties have also been under attack. Private health insurance is not prohibited in the U.S., but 40% of health expenditures come from the taxpayer (compared to 70% in Canada), and the industry is tightly regulated.
A few Canadian intellectuals have recently started uncovering the facts about traditional Canadian liberties: In addition to William Watson, we have Martin Masse, publisher of Le Québécois Libre, Chris Leithner, a Canadian living in Australia and Québécois Libre contributor, and Michel-Kelly Gagnon, president of the Montreal Economic Institute. Janet Ajzenstat, a political science professor at McMaster, has devoted an important part of her work on the topic of Canadian liberty.
Perhaps we should reclaim Canadian nationalism, turn it into a tool of liberation instead of the weapon of leftist enslavement it has become, and develop a Canadian model based on our heritage of liberty.