Topics covered include the divide between conservatives and liberals, Justin Trudeau, the ideological decay of Canada, human universals, cultural relativism, the battle of ideas, and the importance of public engagement.
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hey guys another fantastic face-to-face interview this is I think the fourth face-to-face first one imam tau e d then michael sag nur mo fossil islam and today we have dr. bill Gairdner who is joining us from the outskirts of Toronto Hydro mil very well thank yourself great thank you thank you so much we've communicated in the past even there was such a desire for us to speak to one another that Bill's son recommended that we speak to each other so bill son if you're watching it is finally happening thanks to you so I have a list here because I could remember all the books that you've written so I brought with me some of the books that you've written the latest one being the Great Divide why liberals and conservatives will never ever agree the book of absolutes a critique of relativism and the defense of universals the trouble with Canada the trouble with Canada still or Canada a voice from the conservative resistance the trouble with democracy and the war against family and there were several other books I thought we'd sort of do it a tool of all of these different books but the first thing I want to talk about is your incredible bio Canadian Olympian at the 1964 Olympics there was another very important event that happened in 1964 it's when someone truly important to world peace was born do you know who that person was oh maybe 64 you're gonna stop me it's a guy who's got olive skin and green eyes and who's staring at you yeah so not only 1964 were year in the Olympics but I was born in 1964 you your failure it was a great year it was a great year older God 1964 you went on to obtain your PhD in literature or in English at Stanford University undoubtedly because you're gonna get into Cornell University my alma mater a good try you taught at York and then left academia went into business you cheered the Gairdner foundation and founded Civitas which is the conference that will both be at tomorrow where do you want to start let's start with your Olympian Pass tell us that story incredible story well the Olympics okay that was in Tokyo 1964 and of course I had spent well at least five years preparing for that one of them was here in Montreal I went to McGill and that was a bit of an unfortunate experience because when I walked into the gym and asked for the track coach he came out I forget his name – how hot sir is he's gone to meet his maker but he comes out how are you and I said I'm fine he says so what do you want to do I said I want to I want to go to the Olympics I want to be at the Catholic man he sneers and he looks at me said Haley says you're too small test mommy it's a short it was like we're not big enough strong enough whatever and I so I basically said well the hell with this and I trained on my own the whole year begin I never went to the track practice once except once they needed a an athlete for a meet against I don't know McMaster or something so I went with them other than that I trained myself the whole year and it was no fun they had no indoor track and you know I would run up the stairs on the way to the University I lived on the street I would run up the stairs to the University I would put the shot underneath the overhang of the stadium because there was no snow there but there was snow everywhere so I had to run maybe a 10 o'clock at night when the traffic died down on the streets well that kind of stuff you know and lifted weights in my room and that you know all that kind of stuff saw a real rocky story that was a rocky story and yeah I never forget some fraternity was trying to recruit me I thought I was running down by the by the what do you call it the where they keep all the water up there you know there's au reservoir big reservoir of it and they're running down from McGill from the stadium area down around to get down to the lower level and as I come around the corner there's this enormous snowdrift and I go plowing into it headfirst couldn't stop myself I know and this car pulls up who's these fraternity guys who wanted to recruit me far far James and I climb out of the snowbank all covered with snow and they're looking at me and I'm going no work though I did I did join the fraternity but but you only lasted here University of Colorado and suddenly with sunshine and warm weather and big track team lots of conversation so that was grand how'd it go at the you told me a story off camera well it goes away yeah I went to the Olympic Games they know these are big dreams you have when you're a kid right and my mom and dad were there and we thought well we better go somewhere to eat the night before the games weren't safe it's gonna be safe you know maybe better food than the Olympic Village so we went to the Tokyo Hilton and my dad and I got terribly sick terrible dysentery the next day you was that's a whole night I lost about 12 pounds that night and it was horrible and we couldn't find the team doctor he was in town with the Gators or something I know finally he gets back at 4:00 in the morning he gave me something you couldn't have today he gave me some kind of opium pill to settle the cramps in my stomach and I did compete and I said a Commonwealth record in the decathlon despite it all what could have been had you not been sigh don't know maybe I came 11th Auto about 30 at 3:30 countries you know maybe I could have come 8 through nights or something like that ok lost a bit disappointed but anyway that's the brakes for those of you who don't know we have an Olympian in my own family like one of my brothers David competed for represented Lebanon at the 1976 Olympics and then you were telling me that while you were in Japan he then became a judoka yourself yeah I was so disappointed with track and field because of my sickness that I was I stayed in Japan for six months to try to find myself you know a young man too sure and I decided to take up judo and one of my friends was Doug Rogers he was Canada's silver medalist and you know and he was six five 260 pounds and I'm one day through me and he didn't want me to hurt myself so he pulled on my arm and he pulled it right out of the socket oh boy and so I lost I couldn't throw the jab on her pole vault anymore so so I basically said it back with this and I'm gonna lose 20 pounds of muscle and I'll just run hurdles so I ran the 40 meter hurdles sound the high hurdles for about nine more years I was Canadian champion for most of it and you're still in very good shape so you still train a lot yeah I'm a fan not fanatical anymore but I do a lot of cycling in the summer and a lot of cross-country skiing in the winter but may still feel good you know very nice so then then you after Colorado you went to do your PhD in English at Stanford and so that would have been around the time when the great French charlatans were starting to come up that's all the scammers were you exposed to all those guys they were just kind of rearing their heads on the horizon you know I mean they weren't really settled in yet but I would say no it wasn't mainstream yet the critic I was supposed to work with over there was a man they roll on Bart he was truly bright not like those other guys he was trying to despite the fact that he was French that's right the fact that he was French yeah he was right the French always go for the stuff I'm just kidding I learned French before English so don't send me hate mail ed and I speak France and I read a lot of girls too in fact you'd be interested I forty years ago a little book called the Voyager false eight to end it up in my hands it was a book about Canada about three or four other pages about Canada back in the day with Indian life and the voyagers and all that and I had never read it but uh but a year and a half ago I thought I'm gonna read this just to keep my friendship you know so I started reading this book and it was just fascinating and so I said I wonder if it's ever been translated in English and I thought it had never had so I translated it myself and it's within the Gil Queens press now they're just trying to decide whether to publish that or not oh nice looking for reviewers but when it comes out you'll love it oh very nice so so eat I mean what's post-modernism independently at least these guys was post-modernism sort of already part of the tool of literary analysis but I would say that you know this was 1968 69 it was just coming in just coming in people started to talk that way relativism was coming on stream everywhere especially in moral matters and of course also and you know that was the kind of post structuralist age and I want to go too deeply into it here but language games and the whole relativism of language language creates reality and the prison-house of land all that sort of track you know so well it's that meets me actually to say something to mention something which is interesting because at the time I've been doing some reading and Jean Paul Sartre you know an existential I was teaching some existentialism at the University at York at the time well afterwards and I was in the elevator one day and a senior professor was there and and I happened to mention sart's phrase that he'll those other people and he taught me a lot when he looked at me he said yes young man you said what's always happened but you didn't decide did you not want to go into academia what I did I went I taught at York for three years in the English department and then my dad my dad had a family business which was failing and he kind of went like this you gotta come home you're gonna help okay you're gonna help where the family's gonna go broke said oh my god I said you help me for 10 years trying to get smart and now you want me to make money oh my gosh you know so I took over this business and I guess I didn't know much about business for sure and to learn you know was like the father who throws the kid in the water you wanna learn how to swim here pushing mother one no trigger warnings and if you're still here 15 minutes later I figure you can swim you know not gonna think so that's what I did it took me 15 years to turn the business around and after I turned it around I thought my real passion is I want to write books like the trouble with Canada or against the family and this is a great divide which is my list so let's start chronologically going sort of backwards so trouble with Canada what was the trouble then and then 20 years later your own trouble Canada still tell us tell us the okay well I was at the breakfast table my wife was raising her three kids and five kids actually and she and I had three together and she took on my first year like she was their own mother and which was wonderful and I would open the Globe and Mail in the morning and be reading it and she see me fussing and she said why don't you stop complaining and do something about this elite late 80s this is this would have been late mid-80s May Day okay why don't you stop complaining and do something about it and I said nobody can do anything until we know what the trouble with Canada is and people don't know and there's the title of the book right there trouble with Canada so I said she said she said you're never gonna do it if you wait she said just take your cup of in the morning you're waking up early in the morning anyway with business anxieties go down to the study and start best advice I ever had so it was happy times I went and wrote my book and it got rejected by five publishers finally it got accepted by one of them through a kind of serendipity and before I knew it it was number one in Canada two months later sold about 80,000 copies and my name was all over the place I was on the air like crazy must have done 300 shows surrounding that book and the next one and all I can say is just by the way a great thing about Canada and those are the days when people wrote letters I actually got a pen out took the trouble of getting a piece of paper and an envelope and addressing it I got some wonderful letters you wouldn't believe it here's a typical one I'll never forget it from a truck driver and Sue st. Marie he writes me a letter and opened this letter and I almost start to cry I read this thing it said dear mr. guarantees I'm just a truck driver from the zoo and I only had gradient education and I got this here trouble with Canada booked in front of me and I got a dictionary and I got a Yeller marker why this whole darn book is Yeller he said you know I was so moving was thousands of letters like that I've never had an angry letter from a Canadian before we get into the content of what was ailing Canada I want to look through the audience and many of you write to me asking how can I get engaged what should I do I'm not a fancy professor I don't have a big platform I'm not a famous politician well bill wasn't at that point through the you know egging on of his wife he was able to start this and then he gets a best-seller so we all have a voice we can all get engaged sometimes we don't reach the heights of Bill but we all have a stake we can all get engaged and that's the lesson to take from that story yeah thank you I think it is – and I always tell people that when I'm giving talks you know it's like billiard balls in this table everybody's like kind of a billiard ball on the table of life there's four corners you know call them what do you want I call them freedom family free enterprise and faith those are the four corners you just got to hit a ball it's going to hit another ball I'm asking another ball the object is to get them all into pockets in the corners right right eventually right so what was what was the trouble of Canada then what's the trouble with Canada trouble with then was that Pierre Trudeau was coming on stream he was a bright guy I don't think it was a brilliant guy but he was a bright guy well educated at some of the wrong places like the London School of Economics which is very leftist organization and I began to see that he was basically almost not single-handedly but almost single-handedly through the power of personality he was changing Canada from a very traditional common law based parliamentary democracy into a very French style top-down dere resist you know like directed from the top type of country and the French style and with his Charter of Rights and Freedoms which came into 1982 he basically threw the ball into the lap of the judges we have a situation now where I mean I can't remember the last time our parliamentarians actually had a serious debate on saying a serious moral matter you know the instead what they say is well it's not going to pass the Charter scrutiny the judges are gonna throw this out why even debate it we'll kick it upstairs right so we now have we've been infantilized as a democracy the people are infantilized because they're not being called upon to really discuss these things with heart mind and soul they're not and and the infantilizing starts actually at the university like this where now you can't see anything that might offend anybody and so so that process really starts well ahead before somebody reaches the national politics yeah it didn't when I wrote that book and you know I say in the great divider the first couple of pages I say what it was like when I was a kid you stood around a dinner table with family and friends serious people and discussions would come up they always did in our family anyway about politics morality who knows what you know whatever topic came up with somebody especially someone older than you asked you what you thought about something and you were like over 16 you better have some thoughts right you know and if you raised them and there was really stupid thoughts you might hear but it wouldn't be anger it wouldn't be how dare you say such a thing it would be here's what's wrong with what you say right and here's why the argument doesn't hold up or if they were good thoughts you would get praise for it but you were expected to have opinions now what's one of the reasons I wrote for example in my book of absolutes this critique of relative well I got tired of going to cocktail parties where I didn't know too many people I'd see some fellow over in the corner I walked over with my glass of wine and tried to strike up a conversation and I would try to say something that I thought was in a dubitable truth right and here's what I would hear almost without fail well it's felt true for you but it's not true for me something I love this moment because I look him in the eyes and I say well it can't be true and false at the same time one of us must be wrong why don't we talk a little bit and find out which one it is you know what what happened he go drink with someone else right you know casual lazy intellectually stuporous people and I thought someone has it so I wrote the whole book of absolutes as a critique of relative well that book which I think in the title has defense of universals is really in my Playhouse of midlife because what I do in my work I think many of our viewers know this already I study human universals as a manifestation of our shared biological heritage so there are many things that might differentiate the consumers from Peru and Bolivia and Japan but they are there's a the economy there's common aliens is a bed bedrock of human universals and I think you and I offline spoke about Donald Brown the anthropologist who put together a great book titled you and universities where he sort of offers a very very exhaustive list of things that are exactly the same across otherwise very disparate cultures yeah well you know I communicated over the book of absolutes yeah this was in 2007 it was published in 2008 with your McGill University here and one of the chapters in that book is called human universals in his honor right you know discusses a lot of his work and other work to it which came on after after that book well as you may know and much of the social sciences the idea that there might be some things that are common across cultures is so against the Orthodox you know so there were all sorts of anthropologists and sociologists and other types who would argue that even the most basic instinctual responses let's say facial grimaces that after the six basal emotions are different right so so so for example this frown they would argue there is some tribe somewhere which has complete BS where the frown means I'm happy because they're so desperate to not hang anything on the mantle of human university everything is relative how do you explain that someone could be so detached from these basic realities that the average three year old knows to be false well you probably know all about the work of Boaz and half horse he started the whole culture of meat and people like that well they all come into this world he was that yours man was very concerned about anti-semitism in Europe and what went on in Europe was terrible horrifying and when he came to Columbia and all the rest of it I mean one of the big deals was he wanted to preach cultural relativism and moral relativism I don't think it was a relativist himself morally but he wanted to preach this so that people would stop discriminating against certain groups and ganging up on them so he had a motive which was a decent motive you know but I've actually argued exactly this that that they're there they had noble reasons for actually building these edifices of house of cards so it was all BS but it came from a noble place yes and he and a lot of the others like like cloak own and people like that other anthropologists they came around at the end yeah and decided they were they had been wrong right to put to sing that song you know but after their main work was published I of course leave and and it had infected generations our students mr. University first book I got was cultural relativism culture anthropology but should have been called cultural relativism because that's what the professor's were teaching did you ever read the book the faithful hoaxing of Margaret Mead you know what I don't think I did you need to read that so Margaret Mead was a student of Franz Boaz if I'm expecting so she was sort of the one who really went out into the world trying to demonstrate that they are no universal so much so that she had supposedly found some Samoan tribe where all of the sex-role were reversed it was complete nonsense and so there's a gentleman who wrote a book demonstrating how it was completely a hoax so for those of you are interested in this issue I would highly recommend another book of that same written behind Australia and historian named Naima come to me no more he wrote a book called the killing of history right and in the killing of history has a chapter on Margaret Mead and the other anthropologists and how they were so off-base you know like drawing conclusions and assumptions from there and the South Pacific you know these Islanders when in fact Christianity had already been there for 300 years you know that kind of thing well I've already massively changed speaking of sort of departures from reality last year I appeared in front of the Canadian Senate and then later I gave a talk on Parliament Hill where I was trying to argue about some of the inherent dangers of Bill c16 the transgender bill not of course suggesting in any way that all people should not be treated equally and that all people should not be protected that's a given but rather I was arguing that some of the fundamental premises in that activism were so flawed as somebody who studies evolutionary psychology we start with the premise that there are two if you like phenotypes there's a male and female phenotype that doesn't mean that the transgender should not be treated with all of the things that they deserve or they're in charge of respect right but then I said look anything that I teach could ultimately be considered transphobic because quote I'm assuming binary thinking male/female and the response of one of the senators senator Joanne was that I was promulgating I was being a pro genocide activist that's terrifying this kind of language I know for a good argument they trot out that kind of scare scare language you know which is which is which was really too bad so now let's talk about your latest book where you're basically saying that there is in the Venn diagram there is no intersection between the conservatives and liberals is it as dire as that all I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna explain why I wrote the book and the metaphor I use metaphors are helpful as you know sure is the guy standing on the street and it's a beautiful day beautiful buildings around he's enjoying himself suddenly there's a big gash on the road building start to crumble and he says it's an earth girl my god it's an earthquake but of course it's not the earthquake it's the rubble it's the consequences of the earthquake the real earthquake is in the grinding geological forces that he can't see but a seismologist can see them measure them interpret them tell you what they are you know my book is trying to do a kind of ideological seismology so for example what I'm trying to get at is the is the grinding of the ideological forces which people can't see what they're seeing is the Robo at the surface political rubble moral rubble confusion just just like the guy with the earthquake so what this book is trying to show is that there is in fact a real conflict in the Western world that has been for a long time and maybe forever but certainly since the 18th century enlightenment and the counter enlightenment would follow that as between the liberal and the conservative I call it the true conservative because the liberal has become a so-called what I call a modern member all the conservatives if he's a true conservative I'm in this starts with Aristotle and comes up into our tradition through you know human Burke and all sorts of other writers like you and me maybe into our tradition but the difference is between these two sides is considerable for example take the question of human nature you know is human nature malleable or is it not malleable that modern liberal would tend to say and believe very strongly that human nature is malleable more than malleable it's infinitely yeah yeah and so the laws must be created to wreak reconstruct human nature to meet certain political and ideological objectives of the liberal the conservative says no the laws should be created to conferences consistent with human nature not to change human nature because you can't change it never the French to have an expression they say chassé Lynette you and Rehoboam that got so bad right so you chased nature out the door shit comes back on all fours like hard yeah you know and always will there's a great quote by EO Wilson the Harvard evolutionary biologist I hope I get the quote but bug docked Asia but exactly studies social ants and actually his quote is in reference to stir-fries he says communism / socialism great system wrong species no no right yeah and then go to the air that's exactly right social ants communism is great you've got what you've got two hierarchies you've got the the queen and everybody else is equal in the human context we have hierarchies communism doesn't fit with our human nature yeah well it's funny you say that because when it comes to hierarchy and it says I write about of the Great Divide where I talk about Authority people confuse power and authority you know I always say look there's three basic levels you have to be concerned out there there's government which has power what's power well it has power over you they can kill you they can force force you into jail punish you you know the middle level is civil society that's where we have families churches social organizations charity groups sports teams call it what you want but their form their form of control these are three different types of control I'm talking about power at the top with the state at the social level that's authority the authority of your mother and father the authority of your priests authority of the coach on your track team authority of your boss at work but that's not power because you can walk out any of those social organization you can walk away you pay a price maybe but you're free to walk away you know and then at the bottom of it we have the individual and the individual form of control is self control those are three different forms of control of which people confuse all the time in fact John Stuart Mill famous libertarian he always called public opinion a form of power which is not but book opinion is a form of authority will shame you with public opinion they praise you a Republican sure but they can't jail you right now tax you one of the one of the things that I'm often asked by you know my followers is you know we we get the sense that you're a classical liberal guy but what are you exactly and the reason why I typically don't answer them it's not because I'm trying to be coy and and that's not you're asking me no no no I'm gonna answer it for me and I'm gonna ask you to sort the comment about this is is that I really don't like to be boxed into a label not that I'm doing a deconstructionist you know I don't buy labels it's because I really take ideas in a piece feet in a piecemeal manner so that on some issues you might consider me someone who is very socially liberal and on other issues you might consider me very much as in the conservative camp so for example when it comes to death penalty yeah I'm actually a supporter of the death penalty I think that if we find your DNA and the rectum of ten children who've been killed then I really have absolutely no moral trepidation about killing you and I think it's good right I think that's that's a totally natural position to have and and it's it's fine to instantiate that reality I agree with you now that would make me a super conservative guy when it comes to open border immigration with folks who don't share the the values that we hold dear in Canada then I would be considered quote super conservative although I think it's very much of a true classical liberal position on other issues I'm very much socially liberal so for example you and I might agree on I really don't care about gay marriage do whatever you want I don't care I don't want to comment on it live and let live so I don't like to be pigeonholed into a position because I'm an ideas guy what's your position on this are you similarly okay I'm uh I would say that fiscally financially economically I'm libertarian I believe in free trade I believe in we need laws against force and fraud but otherwise I think the government should get the hell out of our business lives right and stop pushing us around like they do and over regulating everything in sight in moral matters I'm a kind of Berkey and conservative the last three chapters in this book are the really tough ones at least people who read it tell me because they talk about the divide between liberals and conservatives on the issues of abortion euthanasia and homosexuality and gay marriage there's nothing about God in those chapters there's nothing about tough statistics you know there's arguments on both sides and you get to read them and think through which are the best arguments I think people find them tough and the Liberals don't come out winning right and it's not me I'm all right you trying to argue both side to give the liberal argument as fairly as the conservative argument but I think any rational person at the end would say these conservative arguments here are way better than the liberal arguments because the liberal arguments are all about the triumph of the will over nature I can change my gender through my will you know right I can kill my baby because I choose to kill my baby if the father decides he wants to keep it and I don't the hell with him right my will rules you know I have a friend who said to me recently when the euthanasia came along is a wonderful professor of British history at York University Oh Billy said it's a culture of death this Houston a euthanasia thing what's abortion but pediatric euthanasia and now we're talking about seniors and disabled people and you know where it's going to go it's a really slippery slope and I City and it's not a culture of death it's a culture of will and the last thing people have control over these days is their own death and they want it right now it's the will triumph of the will over nature now this has been going on a long time in the West you can find it in the Renaissance and you can find it in the Enlightenment period a very strong insistence that the wheel controls everything I mean the French thinkers Diderot and all the during the French Revolution they restructured all of marriage they said well what is marriage it should be a freely chosen institution by both parties if there's no meaning meeting of the minds in this marriage then there is no marriage so the husband or the wife can walk in and say I divorced thee right it's not like there's no contract anymore in Islam there's a law it's called Tullock right Pellatt means divorce and as long as the husband simply pronounces publicly fella three times we're done yes well in the West we haven't released I didn't grow up that way most people didn't merit the idea of marriage was to to make it 2-2 breakin right right now it's to to break it to make it one to break it even if the other spouse is completely observant spouse he or she can be punished by the unobservant spouse simply could because Eric Eric and soluble difference you want just because of their will though right and people say you're working sign of differences when they haven't even tried what do you think of the open immigration policy of cannabis well I tried to start an organization a few years ago with my son-in-law called immigrants for Canada and we have seven principles and the first principle was Canada first country of origin origin second if you're going to come to Canada this is the way you have to behave we're not gonna play the game that all cultures are equal because they're not whether it comes to language whether it comes to political theater you mean cutting off woman's clitoris as is not as good as not cutting them off I'm not for cutting off horses that's that's very racist if you know anything like that you know what I'm saying is okay I made a distinction in my book the trouble with Canada still between what I call deep culture and skin deep coach writes scandi culture is sushi Italian cars you know linguistic the very large astronomical diversity French movies yeah all that lovely stuff that we all enjoy you know certain amount of it is wonderful you know until it maybe buries your own deep culture you know but deep culture is different it's about language it's about literature it's about politics it's about religion it's about philosophical and historical background to the formation of your people right and when you bring people in and you don't ask them to learn those things and assimilate to those things okay country of origin language of origin habits of origin practice them in your own home with their own social groups but when it comes to Canada as a whole we expect you to come on board with our deep culture and if you go to war for Canada even against your own country of origin we expected a fight for Canada right that's a big deal yeah I was saying that said you remember remember when our current prime minister who I might argue might be even worse than his father when he was a part of interion and he was very very ignorant at the use of the term barbaric to describe barbaric practices so he wasn't concerned about the barbaric practices of child brides and honor killings and female genital mutilation he was he was concerned that people would call these barbaric I mean how how how broken must your moral compass be for you to take that position it's very broken and yet and yet isn't it interesting we live in a time when people have gone from God from connotation to denotation I used to be language used to be denotative you know how connotative you know in many meanings complex meanings you know which we could talk about but then we went to literalism right and for example in our human rights tribunals it's all about you know what you said and when I was a kid we would sing the song sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me now we talked about like words can hurt you you know words are violence are literally violence yeah that's right and so the whole of the Human Rights Tribunal structure is based on this idea and that's why your speech is shutting down it's got recant tell jokes which really kill anybody what's a joke that doesn't really kill somebody it's not really well how about how about if you engage in self deprecation then you are being violent against yourself yeah but speaking of words as violence in my Canadian Senate testimony I pulled out a pamphlet or at least I quoted from a pamphlet from Harvard University's LGBTQ you know office where they were arguing that to promulgate quote fix binaries and biological essentialism close cause fix binaries means male-female biological essential image to argue that you know humans are biological beings that to to to to promulgate these ideas as a form of transphobic systemic violence literally not metaphorically and so I said that basically every single word that I utter after I walk into class and say good morning class my name is Professor san would be considered transphobic systemic violence yes and that's when the guy who's no being pro genocide listen I hate to say it but the country shutting down I wrote an article on my blog I encourage your viewers to look at it it's just my name William Gairdner does CA there's an article they are called Canada's soft totalitarianism I never thought in my life I would have to say that my country has gone soft totalitarian when I was a young boy my mother handed me a copy of Life magazine it was big magazine in those days there was a huge centerfold picture of Tiananmen Square after the massacre there was a million Chinese students they're all dressed in black uniforms same black tunic same black pillbox hats and there was a sea of red over their heads they were all waving Chairman Mao's little red book right I have read a little Chairman Mao's little red book very few Canadians have ever read it but but I have but I can tell you it's a it's a crazy book it's it's it's communist religion you know and they're all waving in the air and I turned to my mom and I said wow I said these kids are my age I feel sorry for them they're all brainwashed look at this you know shoulder that shoulder the picture and now in Canada we have this kind of enforced uniformity from the top you know my own son-in-law wonderful son-in-law as a lawyer is a brilliant lawyer and he's been asked by the Upper Canada Law Society which to adhere to certain progressive principles they're asking him to sign that he agrees and and not only that he agrees with but that he should promote yes women's reproductive rights well he doesn't believe in abortion he doesn't believe it's a reproductive right it's actually it's actually blocking reproduction it's killing babies in the womb why should you be forced to sign this you see how a la society starts to lose that has to lose in a legal challenge now they're saying it no because our own Prime Minister is walking around the country like a peacock telling everybody that it's in the Charter it's not in the Charter you know it's read into the Turner by courts that's what I met earlier when I said we've been infantilized as a nation right judges are now reading you know what's a charter charters are not self interpreting they're just not what does the quality mean in the Charter nobody knows a judge has to tell you before that the common law told you what equality meant and there were practices that were followed and acts that were struck down in the name of equal rights of citizens now it's an abstract term which means anybody who gets on the court can read their meaning into it and then that becomes part of the structure of constitutional law in Canada and that's why there's such a fight there always has been in America because they had their own kind of charter over the years and centuries Canada didn't and since 82 we do and now who's on the court really matters because we have a Duroc recei Parliament has been unfair alized – so how come you never got into politics you've got the that you look like is it Terence Stamp there is a there's an actor he played in I do he played in that he wasn't Priscilla Queen of the desert I don't know if you know that maybe you thought that said Billy but he played in the Billy Budd movie he's probably around you're I think Maui you're right yeah yeah you look haunting Lee similar to anymore you look toxically similar to you so you got the go and actually she's off-camera but my wife might be even more beautiful he was married to Elizabeth Taylor right was that him there you go but I beat him because I got a prettier wife but Bill is looking at her right now so so so so how come you never got into bother I'll tell you why and I've been asked this I don't mean to boast but I've been asked this a lot in my writing life if somebody gave me the keys and said look you've got two terms eight years ten years whatever it is to turn Canada round it would be fun to try but the reason I never wanted to try I'll tell you is because i profoundly believe that if I had the keys and could do whatever I wanted to get this country turn around and back on its feet again and off its damn head you know I don't believe for a moment that the day I left office it wouldn't come snapping back to her is today because politics is downstream from culture its culture stupid not yeah but yeah yeah it's it's culture and so that's why I wrote books I decided to write books to try to change but you know it's so funny that you say this because if I may say some people have asked whether I I can and some pretty influential people that I should get into politics here and then other people have written to me and said you know you probably will have more influence being a professor and an atomic intellectual than you ever will as a politician because ultimately the system will shackle you and doesn't matter how a reverence you are to the process you're going to be shackled so that's exactly what you're saying yeah I'll tell you two things about that that's why we have Civitas I was the founder occipital it's the owner or only organization in Canada which once a year draws together the most important libertarian classical liberal and conservative thinkers in this country they're broadcasters like you their authors their teachers of their students people who want to discuss and debate these issues and you've seen the program you're one of the speakers it's going to be after a program you know so I did that because I wanted to change the country culturally you know and I wrote my 12 books for the very same reason you know do you do let's hopefully as we move towards the end of the interview we started with some sort of dire you know ominous clouds do you see any clearing of the clouds there any optimism or are we screwed I'm really sorry to say I don't think I've wasted my time because even one of those billiard balls matters to me because he's going to hit another one and so on and those letters those people write to me matter to me but when people today I'm gonna be 78 in the fall when people write to me or talk to me and say how have you felt all these three decades trying to change the cultural tone of this country here's what I say I say I feel like a man who's been standing on our rock and a left word drifting see in the distance their ships and they're drifting to the left in the fog but I can hear the voices on deck and you know what they're saying look look there's the man out there drifting to the right and that's what they're saying look I have drifted to the right that's not a very optimistic oh it's not yeah and as much as I can about it and all I can say is we have a duty to be optimist I am very much an optimist when I coached kids set them off on University track scholarship to the US or whatever done things I love to do I was always optimistic and people accuse me of being infectious when it comes to optimism but if want the truth on where Canada has been going in the last 30 or 40 years strictly a leftward rift with a remnant in which you and I are members and many others who will be a Civitas tomorrow and there's millions of them across the country okay but they're not the you know they're not the silent majority of their silenced but you're right Wow I was actually going to ask do you think that there's a way to compel the silent majority to be more active participants in the battle of ideas so that the ship could be very quickly redressed here's what I say to people I had a speech in Atlanta last week I was in Atlanta giving a talk to a group and afterwards is there what can we do these liberals they're terrible people I said no they're not bad people they're good people with bad ideas and your job is to learn the good ideas here they are in my book at the end of all 14 chapters at the table showing you what the Liberals are thinking if the deep subterranean level and what the conservators are thinking by the fork learn these things and go argue with these people because it is because they're good people that they will rise to better ideas but until you give them a better idea they're gonna reject what you say right you have to persuade them it's a better idea and I think most of these are better ideas like any projects that you're currently working on that are not yet public that you'd like to use this forum it's public or that are not yet I've got two books in their works the French traveler which I'm looking forward to seeing getting published with Miguel and I've got my book disruptive essays it's with encounter books in New York waiting for their decision you know that kind of thing and I'm going to start on an autobiography soon because I'd like to tell the story of my life that will there be a whole chapter to you having met me more than will continue this conversation on camera thanks guys make sure to share Cheers