Canada's governors general keep learning the new liberal catechism the hard way. The commentariat has this week roundly scolded GG Julie Payette for mocking climate-change deniers, horoscope readers, quack-cure promoters and divine-intervention believers. Tradition and protocol demand that she be "uncontroversial and apolitical," most agree, making her the only Canadian for whom the right to speak freely is tacitly restricted by the Constitution.
Justin Trudeau and Catherine McKenna have defended Payette for her "support of science and truth," exacerbating complaints that her views are partisan but also, more to the point, undermining their own diversity doctrine. That's because we live today in a Canada in which credulous respect for the beliefs of Muslims, Sikhs and other minority faiths is the essence of liberal tolerance, and in which—to cite a timely example—the Supreme Court must adjudicate Charter challenges based on such criteria as the sacredness of the Grizzly Bear Spirit to the Ktunaxa Nation. It was Payette's predecessor as GG, David Johnston, who just last spring was forced to apologize for saying that indigenous peoples were Canada's first "immigrants," in part because what is known of prehistoric human migration patterns conflicts with indigenous creation myths.
Like all Canadians, our governors general are discovering that the relationship between "science and truth" is not what we though it was in the secular, post-Christian era that is now rapidly receding from view.