Most people have at some time experienced adversity in their lives, and have responded in their own way. Some make self-judgments with self-talk that says in effect, “I’m no good at _____” or “I’ll never be able to _____.” They may believe such statements to the point of becoming incapacitated. In his landmark treatise entitled Man’s Search for Meaning, renowned psychoanalyst and concentration camp survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl wrote that during times of adversity, people often retain the freedom to choose their attitude as to how they will respond to the adversity.
When someone’s fear-driven self-talk asserts control over his or her life, a friend or a cleric may be able to guide that person toward a more positive outlook. Most scripture advises devotees to “ask for spiritual gifts—and it shall be given,” guiding a pastor or cleric to influence a change in another’s thinking by perhaps giving them a written meditation such as, “I want the courage and inner strength of humility” to someone who is overly concerned about others’ opinion of him or her.
Many citizens who face life challenges also participate in self-help and/or support groups based on peers sharing their life stories and helping each other rebuild their lives. They ask participants to uphold the confidentiality of fellow participants with a guideline such as, “Whom you see in this place, what your hear in this place—remains in this place,” perhaps due to people’s lives having been ruined as a result of indiscrete or malicious gossip.
Ontario vs. Basic Human Rights
Peer support groups, religious mentors, and even help from friends all depend on the constitutional right to freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of speech. These rights are spelled out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada’s supreme law, the Constitution. But these rights may end in Ontario and require the closure of self-help and peer support groups, or place them under the control of a government agency. Interactions for purposes of guidance could net a cleric, pastor or helpful friend a fine of up to $25,000 for a first offence. Clerics who are unable to pay the $25,000 fine for having provided spiritual guidance to individuals who experience emotional or spiritual distress may find themselves delivering their sermons from jail cells or seeing their congregations disbanded.
Many successful businesspeople have often credited the spiritual support of their marriage partners as underlying their success. When they faced what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles, their negative self-talk had taken control of their minds, and they were on the verge of giving up, their partners spoke words of encouragement to them, telling them that they were more than the difficulty, even spiritually empowering them to either persevere through the difficulty or to change strategy in the pursuit of success. In Ontario, such helpful marriage partners could soon face $25,000 fines.
Some people struggle academically during their school years, even quitting formal schooling as a result. Other struggling students are on the verge of giving up when a concerned teacher reaches out to them and encourages them to keep up the struggle because they’re worth the effort. Many former students acknowledge that the encouragement of a teacher in the role of mentor and/or life coach inspired them to successfully complete their studies and opened for door for them to enter a responsible profession. In Ontario, such teachers could soon face $25,000 fines.
In recent years, the state has intruded into people’s families by forcibly medicating children without parental consent, on the assumption that the nanny state knows better. A recent documentary on depression included the stories of several teenagers and adolescents who felt depressed and admitted to extremely negative self-talk to the point of self-rejection, a mindset that often leads to suicide. In a few cases, an insightful relative was able to help the afflicted person to adopt more positive self-talk to affirm self-acceptance. In Ontario, such a family member may be subject to a $25,000 fine.
In his treatise, Dr. Frankl described his experiences as a prisoner in a concentration camp, where many inmates ended their own lives. He wrote of encouraging some fellow prisoners to keep up their struggle because of the possibility of something worth living for in the future, upon possible release from the camps. His approach forms the basis of training for suicide prevention counseling and crisis centre volunteers, people who are usually first on the scene when a person in crisis requires emotional help. In Ontario, crisis centre volunteers could face $25,000 fines for providing such emotional help.
Ontario’s Psychotherapy Monopoly
What could possibly lead to these absurd-sounding results? The government of Ontario is in the process of granting a monopoly to a politically selected group of people, the Ontario College of Psychotherapy, whose members will have a province-wide monopoly to treat “an individual’s serious disorder of thought, cognition, mood, emotional regulation, perception or memory [that] may seriously impair the individual’s judgment, insight, behaviour, communication or social functioning.” Membership in the college will be restricted to persons holding master’s degrees. Ontario plans to proclaim the College of Psychotherapy into law sometime this fall.
The officials at Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care who are forming Ontario’s College of Psychotherapy may invoke the notwithstanding clause to bypass statutes in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that assure citizens the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. Totalitarian and police states intimidate citizens into restraining their verbal communication under threat of possible prosecution, allegedly for the greater good of the society. Ontario appears to be getting ready to enforce the standards of a totalitarian state by retraining citizens’ freedom of speech in helping fellow citizens emotionally and spiritually.
Regional health units connected to the Ontario Ministry of Health have already set the precedent of engaging in sting operations to entrap innocent citizens in matters pertaining to tobacco. A few years ago, this author was about to enter a supermarket in Eastern Ontario when approached by a teenage girl who said that she had forgotten her identity card at home and asked if I would buy some cigarettes for her. Anyone falling for such a ploy would then be arrested by a tobacco officer and charged with providing tobacco products to a minor.
Officials connected to the Ontario Ministry of Health may use that precedent to employ actors pretending to be people experiencing emotional distress, who may visit a pastor or a self-help group. Subsequent to such a visit, said pastor could be arrested for providing spiritual help because he or she is not accredited by the Ontario College of Psychotherapy to provide such help. Likewise, participants in self-help groups who share information and strategy from their life-rebuilding journeys with peers could face arrest under the Ontario Psychology Act for offering help to someone they thought was a peer.
Under Order in Council, regulations become law without any discussion or vote by a democratically elected body. The Ontario College of Psychotherapy will come into existence without any discussion before the provincial legislature and will operate on very fluid statutes. Fluid law is the legal standard in totalitarian states where the breadth of interpretation allows people to be jailed for seemingly innocent behaviour, such as extending a polite greeting. Ontario appears poised to venture into very questionable legal territory with a very unsavoury pedigree.
Links of interest
Stop Psychotherapy Takeover: www.stoppsychotherapytakeover.ca
Transitional Council College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario: www.crpo.ca
Psychotherapy Act 2007: www.e-laws.gov.on.ca
* Harry Valentine is a free-marketeer living in Eastern Ontario.