Jim Miles: Canada: Serving the Empire

By Jim miles
Special to PalestineChronicle.com

There has been recent commentary in Canada about its role in the world as a neutral and independent arbiter in international affairs.  That role has been seriously compromised if not outright abolished by the alignment of Canadian foreign and domestic policy that fully supports the directives of the United States government and its illegal hegemonic actions around the world.  These issues occasionally erupt domestically, as convenient for one political party or the other, but are mainly concealed in the back rooms of the political and economic elites.

The current Canadian minority government, the Conservatives led by Stephen Harper, has just requited itself of wrong-doing in Afghanistan.  The issue was the transfer of detained Afghanis to the Afghani security forces without proper supervision.  As the Afghani prisons are described as some of the worst in regards to their human rights record this amounted effectively to Canadians supporting “renditions”.  This is a wonderful media-neutral word that evades its Oxford dictionary definition unless just the root is used, the verb “rend” which signifies to “tear or wrench away” – or perhaps more accurately further into the definition “abuse  (person) unexpectedly” – or further in a literal sense “split or divide into two or in pieces.”  

These renditions parallel of course the American kind, and refer to the transfer of “enemy combatants” to other forces and other countries in order to use torture to obtain confessions of guilt that any rational person acknowledges as being worthless. All of this leads directly to charges of war crimes as “International conventions prohibit a country from handing over prisoners if there is reason to suspect possible abuse.”[1] [emphasis added].  Canada has retroactively avoided these charges by quickly arranging a new deal that permits Canadians “unfettered” access to the detainees, but as indicated by Amnesty International, "You don’t prevent torture in a country where it is rampant and systematic, as it is in Afghanistan, by sending in monitors on an occasional basis. It simply doesn’t work,"[2] 
Of course I blame the Conservatives for this, but it was the Liberal government under Paul Martin that signed the original agreement in 2005 and it was the Liberal government that sent troops to Afghanistan in the first place, troops that have transgressed the rights of an occupied country under the Geneva Conventions.  While not quite as militaristic as the Conservatives, the Liberals play the same role in Canada as the Democrats do in the United States, using a softer rhetoric but still lining themselves up with the military powers that operate within government and business.  The fault with the current government debate is that they denied, refuted, concealed, then had to deny and refute their denials and refutals about who had said what about the whole affair.  Perhaps it is fair justice that both parties remain mired in the muck of voter opinion, with the Conservatives dropping to second place with 30 per cent support and the Liberals with 31 per cent.  Too bad that couldn’t happen with their American partners.

Canada of course is the junior partner in the new North American security arrangements, labelled the “Security and Prosperity Partnership”.  It has basically committed its oil and gas resources to the Americans while retaining no control or rights to its own resources.   Gordon Laxer, a political economist and the director of Parkland Institute, a research policy network at the University of Alberta and Board Member at The Council of Canadians says, “The real goal is more about integrating Canada and Mexico into the American way of doing things. It’s also about getting our energy and water and Canadian participation in U.S.-led, pre-emptive wars.” [3] 

There is no public debate about these issues, no parliamentary discussions, and the initiative is being carried by elitist think tank groups.  Canada’s “no energy policy”, as Glaxer indicates sarcastically, is its New Energy Program, a defunct earlier attempt to gain some national control of Canadian oil.  As it currently stands, Canada has no current energy reserves and is importing about a million barrels of oil daily, charging 25 cents for a barrel of Alberta Tar Sands oil in a market that supports oil at $60 dollars per barrel. 

Part of the reason there is no public debate is the undiversified media in Canada, with its largest national paper, the Globe and Mail, owned by Bell Canada Enterprise, which sits on an advisory body to counsel governments on the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The CanWest Global conglomerate, which controls newspaper and broadcast media across the country, has “been pushing for the relaxation of foreign ownership rules in order to attract U.S. investors and gain access to U.S. markets. The harmonization of broadcast and telecommunications regulation across North America would help serve this goal.”[4] Anything today that uses the word security is spun as a motherhood and apple pie issue that cannot patriotically be debated.

These domestic issues of energy control, media control, and the international issues of military renditions and military occupation in Afghanistan present a picture of Canadian political capitulation to the will of the American government and military.  Canada is fully involved with the American empire (remember too, Canada’s parallel support of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and its actions in Gaza, as well as its alignment against Iran), brought there mainly by a minority of elites from both of the main political parties who design to prosper themselves, while eliminating any national control of resources and fully aligning foreign affairs with the illegal policies of the American government.

Canadians and others should be aware that while the average Canadian – as with the average American, and the average Mexican, and the average global citizen – looks mainly for peace and harmony in a relatively well socialised world (medical support for all, good working conditions, universal education, some form of retirement benefits, women’s rights, et al), their government has aligned itself with the current global hegemon and its militaristic drive to control global strategic resources.  No need to invade Canada, we have already capitulated, handing our resources and military over on a silver platter. 


[1] “Canada and Afghanistan work out deal on detainees”, Thursday, May 3, 2007.  http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSN0322060120070503?pageNumber=2
[2] Alex Neve, Amnesty International, ibid. 
[3] “Canada’s energy insecurity,” Toronto Star, April 26, 2007.
[4] Meera Karunananthan.  “See No Evil, Report No Evil: Why the media isn’t telling you about deep integration”, Canadian Perspectives, Spring 2007. http://www.canadians.org/publications/CP/2007/spring/DI_media.html

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out