How Ideology Is Becoming Ever More Entrenched in Canadian Government Lingo

by EditorT

A Canadian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in March 2017 in a file photo. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

By Omid Ghoreishi

News Analysis

Soon after repressive regimes seized power in countries like China and Iran, language began to appear across state communications that reflects those regimes’ ideology and propaganda. Some observers say they are seeing similar trends today in Canada, with ideological terms increasingly becoming standardized throughout government communications.

In China and other communist countries, terms reflecting Marxism’s class struggle are entrenched in all aspects of society, with keywords like “people’s” and “revolutionary” added to wording used by many government bodies and entities. The same is seen in leftist theocracies like that of Iran, which, besides religious terms, espouse the notion of “protecting the disadvantaged” and “preserving the revolution.”

Such is the observation of Marco Navarro-Génie, president of the Haultain Research Institute, who grew up in Nicaragua when the socialist regime was consolidating its grasp on power.

Navarro-Génie, whose parents sent him to live in Canada in the late 20th century, says he’s been seeing the same trend of government increasingly injecting ideology into its communications since the Trudeau Liberals first got elected in 2015.

“It’s an ideological exercise. Ideologies are grids of interpretation of the world. They’re trying to seep all this language into the functions of the state and embed them in there to change the perception of the public,” he said in an interview.

‘When You Shape Language, You Shape Reality’

Navarro-Génie says the aim of injecting these ideological keywords is to direct perceptions, the reason being “when you shape language, you shape reality.”

“It’s not something that people have claimed and want—these are things that get imposed very much from the top down.”

The words “equity, diversity, and inclusion” are prevalent in many of the Liberal government’s documents, even if the subject at hand doesn’t directly relate to that issue.

“As you staff your office and implement outreach and recruitment strategies for federally appointed leadership positions and boards, I ask that you uphold the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion,” reads Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, which repeatedly uses those words.

The same words are repeated in mandate letters to all of the other cabinet ministers.

The Liberals’ newly released Indo-Pacific Strategy, which is mainly meant as a response to an increasingly belligerent Beijing, is also rife with these keywords.

“The benefits of inclusive social, economic and environmental efforts will have a multiplier effect throughout the region and in Canada,” reads the document.

The government routinely commissions various initiatives on how to further drive these principles, such as the 2017 report by the Treasury Board titled “Building a Diverse and Inclusive Public Service: Final Report of the Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion.”

Soon after forming government in 2015, Trudeau renamed several key departments to reflect his government’s priorities. For example, Environment Canada became Environment and Climate Change Canada. Since then, the Minister of Employment and Social Development, under Employment and Social Development Canada, has become the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion; Status of Women Canada has become Women and Gender Equality Canada; and a new cabinet position named Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth was created in 2019 under the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Navarro-Génie says that while changing government entity  names isn’t particularly unique to any one government, what is new is the conformity to a particular ideology in implementing the change.

“The language of ‘inclusion’ is a symbol, similar to how communist countries use the word ‘people.’ It is said to be ‘inclusive,’ but it’s at the same time ‘exclusive’ because if you do something they don’t like, then you’re not one of the ‘people,’” he says. “Who gets to determine who is part of the people and who is not, or who betrays the people or who doesn’t? It’s very much the same thing.”

Best-selling author William Gairdner says the value of equity being promoted today isn’t meant as “equality before the law or in the eyes of God,” but rather “a forced equality.”

“The only way you can have forced equality in society is by discriminating in favour of the people you assume are being oppressed by various classes of oppressors. So this is a shadow of Marxism, but it’s very powerful,” he told The Epoch Times.

This goes against how things are in free societies, Gairdner says, “which is our heritage.”

Value System

Philip Carl Salzman, professor emeritus of anthropology at McGill University, says the aim of this type of messaging is to frame people’s value system, to define “what’s good and what’s bad.”

“It bolsters the moral authority of the government, and gives the government more power,” he said in an interview.

Salzman says there has historically been other examples of governments trying to hammer home a set of priorities in the nation’s psyche. This includes promoting the values of nationalism during the early days of the Confederation when Canada was struggling to create a sense of unity. Later examples include the idea of multiculturalism as pushed by former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and others.

But it has never been as pronounced as it is under the current government, Salzman says.

Eric Kaufmann, a Canadian professor of politics at Birkbeck, University of London, in the UK, also says a particular type of leftist ideology has been promoted by various governments in recent decades, but he says the current government has ramped it up considerably.

“It’s a turning of the dial from maybe a 7 or an 8 out of 10, to a 10 out of 10,” Kaufmann said in an interview.

Kaufmann says the ideology being driven by the federal government today is derived from the New Left movement of the 1960s.

“It’s kind of a cultural version of socialism. So taking the oppressor-oppressed framework, instead of applying it to the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, you now swing it around to apply to the advantaged race, gender, sexuality groups, and the disadvantaged become the fallen, if you like,” he says.

The prevalence of the ideology isn’t limited to the government, however, but is also seen in the media, school systems, and even the judiciary system, Kaufmann says, adding that it has taken the shape of a “religion.”

“This is the making sacred of historically marginalized race, gender, and sexual identity groups. That’s the definition, really, of woke religion,” he says.

This new religion, he adds, even has its own rituals, as observed when officials or schools do indigenous land acknowledgements before commencing their sessions, announcements, or classes.

“It’s like saying the Lord’s prayer, or grace before sitting down to a meal,” Kaufmann says. “It’s simply something you must do to be a member in good standing in the religious community. It has the same quality to it.”


Gairdner says the root of the issue goes back to the “hardwiring” that remained in Western countries even as the belief in God was abandoned, leading to the situation that people now believe they have to “create the Kingdom on earth” themselves.

“It has to do with what I call exceptionalism, the idea that perfection was possible. And since belief in God is a goner, then we’re going to have to do it ourselves,” he said.

“The strength of this belief empowers the believers to destroy everything in their path which does not conduce to their vision of perfection.”

The question, Gairdner says, is why has it come out so strongly to the surface now?

“I don’t think there’s a conductor of the orchestra out there. But I think the Western flirtation with the dangers of Marxism over the last 100 years or more, and the post-Christian secularization of Western societies, have been joining hands,” he says.

“So now we have the exceptionalism of Marxism, combined with the secularization of Christian exceptionalism, and it takes the form of slogans like ‘equity, diversity, and inclusion.’”

Top-Down Push

Navarro-Génie says a top-down focus on injecting ideology and shaping language will have serious consequences.

“It reduces the horizon of knowledge. It reduces the horizon of the way in which we understand ourselves because they’re trying to reshape history,” he says.

“It reduces the beauty of language. One of the things that you will notice, in Soviet propaganda and other such formulations, is that there’s no beauty there, just a set of nearly lifeless strings of words that half the time don’t mean anything but to the people who wrote them.”

He says this also reduces humour and diminishes people’s capacity to relate to one another.

“When you have language that simply offers formulaic recitations, you don’t have to come up with words of your own to describe anything or to understand anything,” he says.

“We become automatic in our thinking about these things, and our thinking about these things reflects the official way, because those are the only language symbols that are presented to us.”


Omid Ghoreishi
Omid Ghoreishi is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.

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