Written by Robin Mathews
The Military Nature of Canadian Colonialism Hardens
Across the Western World a huge conflict is in process. Seen from many vantages, it looks the same. Parliaments are being subverted. Political parties are being bought off or successfully indoctrinated with neo-liberal ideas. The rule of law is being actively and intentionally undermined by governments, police forces, mainstream media, and the courts. The defenses of ordinary people against exploiting power are being erased even while the defenses are being (hypocritically) praised as definitive of democracy by those in power who are undermining the liberties of ordinary people. The War on Terrorism was declared by U.S. president George W. Bush in 2001 in preparation for the war against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and any other sovereign state the U.S. wishes to destroy or occupy. Canada fell in behind the U.S. instead of calling into question the whole bizarre piece of theatre.
The Canadian dilemma in what might well be called an international class war has resulted from the neo-liberal convictions of private corporations in Canada, from the work of educators – especially in economics and business, and from parliamentarians, especially those who have, like Donald Macdonald of the Macdonald Royal Commission, spent time in and became a part of the corporate class. It has come, too, overwhelmingly from a world of newspapers, periodicals, radio, television and all the other communications media in which ownership has integrated and concentrated to the extent that media operations are now huge and a part of the private corporate class which they serve. The service they provide is the fabrication of news, the misreporting of events, the production of whatever disinformation is necessary to misinform, to mislead, and to entrap the population in a frame of mind that is open to the destruction of democracy and the support of despotism as government.
The Canadian dilemma pits those forces against the wisdom and power of the larger population. Will Canada assist the neo-liberal forces to take control of the wealth of nations (including the Canadian nation) and pauperize whole populations. Or will Canadians carefully build shields against that movement, securing its own population and standing as an example of wise administration for others? The Canadian government in the twenty-first century, so far, has given itself totally to the neo-liberal movement, supporting the destruction of democratic freedoms and the rule of law at every level of its operation. The shift away from truly democratic government has been inexorable. But the population is becoming more and more aware of the false world they are asked to accept. The realization of that awareness has yet to be given a face in the country.
In 1993, a Liberal government took power in Canada, led by a long-time parliamentarian and widely experienced member of cabinet Jean Chrétien. He came to power as a result of the disgrace and disapproval that had fallen upon Brian Mulroney and his government. Jean Chrétien had the chance to pull Canada back from the swamp into which it was sinking. He even said he would do it, declaring that if the Free Trade Agreement was not opened and renegotiated, Canada would withdraw from it. But he was plainly a part of the corporate power structure. When he left office between 1986 and 1990, he sat on the boards of powerful corporations like Power Corporation of Canada and The Toronto Dominion Bank, for instance. He did not renegotiate the Free Trade Agreement but accepted it with its gigantic unfairnesses to Canada and to its working population. He took Canada into the Afghanistan War in 2002 – a war which was never sanctioned by the United Nations, but which was, in effect, a U.S. Imperial War. At the time, the president of the U.N. General Assembly was clear. He said: “The fight against terrorism should not be directed against any religion or ethnic group, nor against the Afghan people … ” The U.S. ignored the United Nations.
And when the U.S. undertook as well its “oil war” against Iraq, in 2003, Jean Chretien refused to take Canada (officially) into it – though Canadians were, as Canadians, assisting U.S. forces with intelligence and other kinds of support. As with the earlier Vietnam War, Canada was not formally in it, but the Canadian government allowed many kinds of “assistance” to the U.S. operation. Many Canadians believe that Chrétien made a bold and determinedly independent step in refusing to take Canada (officially) into the Iraq War. Not so. John Warnock tells the real story:
John McCallum was appointed the new minister of national defence in May 2002. He flew to Washington in January 2003 to meet Donald Rumsfeld. The U.S. secretary of defence made it clear he wanted Canada to be in charge of the ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force) mission in Afghanistan and he wanted Canada to take on the responsibility of leading the mission. McCallum told Rumsfeld that if Canada took on this role, they would have no forces available for the invasion of Iraq. Rumsfeld replied: “Yeah, I know that.” Other official exchanges confirmed that the Bush administration was not asking Canada to be part of the U.S. invasion force.
In 1997 Jean Chretien’s government signed the Kyoto Accord, intended to be the launch of a global effort to contain and lessen greenhouse gases and to protect the planet’s environment. Then the Chrétien government did absolutely nothing on the matter. That policy suited the U.S. which signed the Accord in 1997 and then withdrew from it in 2001. Incidentally, the U.S. action confirmed the me-too attitude of Canada in relation to the U.S. Canada signed the Accord. The U.S. did not like the Accord – and so Canada let it lapse completely, violating Canada’s international undertaking, publicly assumed. Since the Stephen Harper neo-liberals have gained power in Canada they have rejected the whole international environmental program, joining the U.S. as a siamese twin on the matter. As Stephen Harper said on December 7, 2011, at a U.S./Canada agreement on perimeter trade access and policing: “Canada has no friends among America’s enemies.” He might have gone on to say that Canada has no policies – even to save life on the planet – if they conflict with U.S. policies.
Jean Chrétien took Canada into the U.S. war against Afghanistan. He broke his promise to re-negotiate the first Free Trade Agreement and, in fact, accepted the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992. He signed and then betrayed the Kyoto Protocol to begin working on greenhouse emissions destructive to the environment of the planet. And then he passed the mantle of power to Paul Martin, prime minister for a short time – December, 2003 to the election in January of 2006. Martin’s government fell on a non-confidence motion in which the neo-liberal Stephen Harper Conservatives were supported by the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois.
Paul Martin’s government refused to take part in the U.S. Star Wars program, its National Missile Defence Program of 2005. Martin pushed for – and had much to do with the expansion of the G8 countries (the most “developed” countries) to become the G20. That expansion took account of the obvious movement of other countries from the category of developing countries. Though a member of the corporate elite of Canada – Chairman and CEO of the Canada Steamship Lines – Martin was seen by some as attempting to forge independent paths for Canada. Quite apart from the difficulty of convincing others, however, he seemed to have trouble convincing himself. It was not a surprise, then, when in 2005, Paul Martin joined with U.S. president George W. Bush and the president of Mexico, Vincente Fox at Waco, Texas, to sign the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (the SPP).
As we have come to see in relation to other formations of the kind, the incentive for the SPP didn’t come from grass roots political constituencies or from MPs working together in their caucuses in Parliament. It came from, in Canada, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives – an organization of the most powerful corporations and banks in the country, many of them branch-plants with head offices in the U.S.A. They urged an SPP as early as 2003. Paul Martin was following their lead. Nine days after the CCCE transformed itself into a Task Force recommending, along with a Mexican and a U.S. organization, that North America have a Security and Prosperity Partnership by 2010, the three leaders signed the SPP. On HYPERLINK "http://www.globalresearch.ca"
globalresearch.ca , (March 17, 2008), Andrew Gavin Marshall lists the intentions of the SPP. It would implement common border security and bioprotection [enhanced surveillance] strategies, enhance critical infrastructure protection, implement a common approach to emergency response, implement improvements in aviation and maritime security, combat transnational threats, enhance intelligence partnerships, promote sectoral collaboration in energy, transportation, financial services, technology, and other areas to facilitate business [and] reduce the costs of trade.
The SPP created working groups in each country, never identified publicly but working to advance the ends of the SPP. They were groups working to help make changes to the political, cultural, and economic structures of the countries – and they were not identified for the larger population. The organization thickened, calling for a “North American Competitiveness Council” to further the goal of what it called “deep integration.” In 2006 Stephen Harper was elected and declared his government’s intention to build a closer relation with the U.S. In a secret meeting of the SPP partners held in Banff (Sept. 12-14, 2006) it was suggested the growth of the organization might be an “evolution by stealth.”
Reaction and resistance to the idea was strong and openly expressed, and it was articulated clearly by the Council of Canadians which, among other forces, lifted much of the secrecy that surrounded the idea. The resistance may have, in fact, pushed the movement underground. Though the SPP and firm announcements of integration (meaning the of absorption of Canada into the U.S.A.) have fallen off, the December 2011 meeting of Barack Obama and Stephen Harper to initiate the Beyond the Border Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan is, in fact, a declaration of further Canadian absorption into the United States. That is a movement whereby unique and superior Canadian regulations are flattened to U.S. standards, in which U.S. police officers are given the right to operate in Canada, and in which U.S. intelligence may track Canadians anywhere in the two countries. At the inauguration of the Plan, Stephen Harper said “These agreements create … the most significant steps forward in Canada-U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement”.
The idea of a perimeter being drawn around North America must focus the attention of Canadians. It is not a perimeter drawn around Canada; it is a perimeter which absorbs Canada into the U.S.A. It is (intentionally) suggestive of “For tress North America” which – in itself – suggests North America against the world. And, in effect, that is what power in the U.S. and in private Canadian corporations and financial institutions wants to see. “Fortress North America” would not be quite alone, for hegemonic partners would be made up of the countries of Europe in close collaboration (for use in wars and trade associations). What the U.S.A. – the contemporary super-power – is facing, or believes it is facing, is real replacement by Asian countries, perhaps in league with a Russia newly armed and happy to see the U.S.A. rendered powerless.
One of the reasons absorption of Canada into the U.S.A. has not been faster is the manic fear the U.S. presently has of foreign threats to its world domination. It sews up its border believing Canada may feed terrorists into the U.S.A. It wants Canadian wealth on U.S. terms – and so far it is getting it. Canadians probably don’t understand the desperation felt in the U.S.A. People in the U.S.A believe themselves really chosen by God to dominate the world – Manifest Destiny and U.S. exceptionalism. Those people are willing to go to extreme lengths to maintain the dominant position of the U.S.A.
It may not be accident that the U.S. has thrown everything into the development of weapons of mass destruction rather than using its wealth and power to form genuine relations of sharing and trust. That fact demonstrates that the Canada-U.S. partnership is a sham. None of the so-called sharing agreements of the last fifty years give average Canadians any reason to believe the U.S. respects Canada or wishes to see it live in a fair and just relation on the continent. And so another proposal has been made for partnership – this time by the use of a common currency. It was put forward first in an article called “The Case for the Amero”, published by the secretly endowed Fraser Institute. (The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute refuses to publish a list of its financial supporters, leading many to suspect that the largest proportion of its money is contributed from the U.S.A.) A common currency was discussed in 1999 by the C.D. Howe Institute as well, also a politically Right think-tank. Discussion increased in 2007 and 2008 in the atmosphere created by the neo-liberal Stephen Harper government – and it was joined by the proposal for a North American Union.
That idea takes us back to the election of 1891 when Goldwin Smith and Erastus Wiman were campaigning for Commercial Union which they intended as a first step to the annexation of Canada by the U.S.A. The recent idea of North American Union has been fought in both Canada and the United States, with the effect that it (like Commercial Union after 1891) has gone underground. As the U.S.A. weakens in the world theatre, its people are not now as confident as they were that they can swallow Canada without suffering indigestion. Better simply to loot it of all the wealth that can be carried off to the U.S.A.
A significant reason for the dampening effect upon U.S. North American expansion has been the financial meltdown of 2008, the increased unemployment there, the massive foreclosures, the huge dip in house prices and house ownership, and the escalating national debt. The U.S., which has trumpeted for years the need for open borders and for unimpeded trade, is growing protectionist. The recent Buy America legislation, 2009 and after, not only is a violation of NAFTA terms, but the U.S. has waved aside World Trade Organization terms to favour its own producers. The U.S. ignores international agreements whenever doing so is convenient for its large corporations. Because Stephen Harper – selectively - doesn’t believe government should involve itself in the development of national enterprise, Canada has cooperated with U.S. attacks upon Canadian economic activity in the Buy American program!
The U.S. wants everything it can squeeze from Canada, but only if it can also protect its own economy. That is not too difficult for the U.S. to do – as far as Canada is concerned. In almost every trade, defence, mobility, and security agreement since 1945 Canada has accepted an unequal place. None moreso than in Canada’s equal membership in NATO, which, from its beginning in 1949, has been dominated by the U.S.A. and devoted to U.S. expansionist policies. Many Canadians will be surprised to be reminded that for some decades the New Democratic Party resisted Canada’s membership in NATO and had a policy to take Canada out of the Organization. The New Democratic Party argument was (correctly) that membership undermines an independent foreign policy for Canada. New Democrats were also highly critical of NATO activities and the Organization’s willingness to close its eyes to dictatorships and rampant abuses of Human Rights. In 1969 Ed Broadbent argued that a complete withdrawal was necessary if Canada was going to make its own foreign policy. In 1970 the NDP rejected the Liberal White Paper because of its acceptance of NATO. In 1975 T.C. Douglas urged a phasing out of Canada’s membership. The NDP’s own White Paper in 1987 confirmed the Party’s long-standing policy to take Canada out of NATO. In 2004, however, Jack Layton, NDP leader, changed course for the NDP, and in June, 2011 the NDP voted to support Canadian forces in Libya and the NATO bombing of Libya.
The NATO bombing of Libya – stretching military actions far beyond U.N. intentions – is, perhaps, symbolic of what NATO really stands for. It is a U.S. policy instrument, primarily. It is a Cold War creation, developed after the end of the Russian Empire and the Cold War to serve U.S. dominance anywhere in the world. After the Second World War the two super powers – the U.S. and the USSR – competed for influence and power in the world. NATO was a back-up, a cooperator in moves by the U.S., always identified as The West or The Free World, almost never as the U.S.A. and its allies. In 1989 (see below) Robert T. Osterthaler described NATO as a military alliance. That made Canadians nervous very early on, and Lester B. Pearson pushed to have the Organization take part in educational and cultural projects and exchanges.
As a result, one of the programs set up was an academic exchange program among scholars of the then eleven NATO countries in order to familiarize them with each other, and to share ideas. As an incentive, academics could take positions in universities in other countries for twenty-three months without paying income tax in the guest country.The twenty-three month limit was intended to assure the guests were not intending permanent residence in Canada or other NATO country. Canadianization investigations were being pursued in the late 1960s and early 1970s to expose discrimination in Canada against Canadians and the preference by administrators for foreign scholars – especially U.S. and British scholars. Research revealed that – on a very large scale – U.S. and British academics were hired in Canada, listed as temporary NATO guests, and absolved of taxes for the first two years though both they and their employers intended them to be permanent.
As a result millions of dollars were lost to the Canadian treasury because of the unpaid taxes of the new, foreign university employees. When the matter was pointed out to the Canadian tax department and a way outlined by which a very simple check could be made in order to retrieve the, in fact, consciously stolen money, the Canadian tax authorities refused to lift a finger.
The Warsaw Pact countries, more tightly dominated by Soviet Russia, more or less balanced NATO and were equally subservient to Soviet policy. The Warsaw Pact was put into place in 1955 after Germany was accepted into NATO in 1954, only nine years after the end of the Second World War. The two blocs were almost formally announced as in full-scale competition in 1946 when Winston Churchill made his famous speech in Fulton, Missouri announcing that an iron curtain now separated the two global factions. The rift intensified propaganda on both sides. History written by Western historians calls to mind the attempt by the Hungarians in 1956 to resist Soviet policies, giving rise to the Hungarian Revolution in which a hard fought resistance ended in the snuffing of Hungarian hopes for greater freedom in their own country. That history also calls to mind the “ Prague Spring” in 1968 when President Alexander Dubcek attempted to introduce reforms allowing greater freedom of speech, travel, and media. The Warsaw Pact countries invaded brutally and ended the idea of reform in Czechoslovakia. Western historians are less willing to outline the moves made by the U.S.A., often fronted by NATO, against desires for freedom and democracy among countries in its “sphere of influence.” NATO, in fact, did not go to war as the Warsaw Pack countries did – until the end of the Russian empire. U.S. covert operations made the use of NATO in open war unnecessary.
In 1953, the U.S. backed a coup d’état against the Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh who nationalized Iranian oil. The famous Shah of Iran then ruled by terror and torture for nearly twenty-five years with full U.S. support. In 1954 Jacabo Arbenz, Guatemalan leader, began land distribution to provide some justice for his people. Huge tracts of land owned by U.S. interests were lying unused while Guatemalans were starving. In 1953-54 the CIA trained and armed a Liberation Army that overthrew Arbenz and set up a government that spent decades murdering, imprisoning, and torturing Guatemalan dissidents. In 1967 Greece, a NATO member, underwent a military right-wing coup, followed by years of terror and torture. NATO did nothing, and the CIA actively supported the Greek junta. In 1973 the U.S. prepared and financed the military coup in Chile, resulting in seventeen years of terror.
In Nicaragua the Somoza family ruled for two generations with the full support of the U.S.A. Resistance to the regime ended the dictatorship in 1979 with a government which launched land reform, a literacy campaign, and improved social services for Nicaraguans. Financing, training, and equipping an army to fight against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua in 1981, the U.S. spent huge sums to overthrow the leaders who cemented their position by democratic election. Finally, in 1985 the U.S. Congress refused to pump more money into the illicit war. And so the government of Ronald Reagan secretly sold arms to Iran (under arms embargo), and engaged in drug trafficking to get around Congress and continue to finance the war against the legitimate government of Nicaragua.
Those are only a few of the operations the U.S. conducted under the guise of the Fight Against Communism, precursor to The War on Terror. In every case, the local populations were seeking greater justice, greater freedom, and alleviation of economic repression. The U.S. chose to call the drive for reform a desire for Communism.
During the years after 1989 – until today – a major development was and is underway in military and foreign policy which has shaped Canada in a new and ugly way, few Canadians having the faintest idea of the change and its huge implications. The development is the new role, structure, and power of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO. In the book, NATO Expansion, written mostly by people who believe expansion is a good thing and who certainly believe the existence of NATO is good, a phrase appears. It is NATO’s ability “to operate out of area” – meaning anywhere in the world besides the North Atlantic and Europe. That is the key to the reason NATO continued after the break-up of the Soviet Empire – and went into an expansionary phase. If the U.S. was to secure itself as the only super power, it had to have the military capability to move unimpeded by the United Nations against any threats to U.S. hegemony. To disguise its imperial wars, the U.S. needed an umbrella organization that would pull in allied and satellite countries.
NATO was not only perfectly constructed to do that. But it was there on the day the Soviet Empire collapsed. U.S. Brigadier General Osterthaler describes it in the 1998 publication.
The fundamental strength of NATO is that it is more than a security institution. It actually is a military alliance, and it has some capabilities that do not exist in any other alliance in which the Untied States plays a role, European or otherwise. NATO has a standing command structure and military decision-making tradition, a fixed set of processes, and military headquarters for planning. It has political military committees, decision-making institutions, and a standing body called the North Atlantic Council in which all member states are represented with an ambassador.
Building upon that solid base constructed over nearly forty years, NATO set out to expand into Eastern Europe and to change its mandate. The change increases overt U.S. imperial activity in the world, ties Canada more closely to dangerous U.S. policy, and further erodes Canadian sovereignty and independence. We shall see how.
Media and Film in Canada: Blinding the Population
The U.S. film industry has always made huge profits in Canada. It was, therefore, from the beginning, a sitting duck. Canadian government (with Canadian film enterprise) could have used taxation of U.S. film in Canada as a major source of revenue to build an independent Canadian film industry speaking the Canadian languge to Canadians and – increasingly – being of interest outside Canada. Moreover, the sitting duck position of U.S. film could have bred another advantage. As Canadian film structures became solid and productive, the Canadian government could have demanded a measure of reciprocity in film viewing. If Canada is to take x percentage of U.S. films for prime-time viewing in Canada, then the U.S. will have to take y percentage of Canadian films for prime-time viewing in the U.S.
The rewards to Canada would have been abundant. Instead of Canadians being brain-washed into believing Canada cannot operate in a major modern entertainment arena , the real talent and creative genius of Canadians would have been evident. Canadians would have gained confidence in their own culture and its legitimacy. They would, moreover, have been able – without propaganda or rhetoric – to absorb and celebrate the Canadian sensibility and world-view. And – perhaps incidentally – a major, culturally sophisticated enterprise could have been built employing large numbers of Canadians and bringing financial profit into the country.
Materials on the history of Canadian film are plentiful. They all tell the same story. It is a story of collusion by Canadian government with U.S. interests and the sell-out of creative talent and energy in Canada. But more than that. It is the story of willing cooperation of the Canadian government with an indoctrination system geared to assure the alienation of the Canadian people from their own country, culture, thought-processes, and loyalties. A result in film-making of media concentration. Film production and its theatre exhibition are relatively easy to regulate. Canada has not sought in any serious way to begin that task. The almost equal failure to regulate television (and now more complex forms of electronic communication) points to unstated policy. It points as well to a failure of national will in the production and dissemination of materials. What is called globalization in culture and ideas should be called Americanization but – for reasons of policy again – it is not. No one doubts the complexity of the cultural problems created by the elaborated forms of global electronic communication. But failure to undertake serious defence of resident cultures is made to seem too complex to undertake simply because the political will is not there to undertake it. For imperial reasons the cry goes up immediately that to regulate what is in fact the flow of imperial propaganda is to inhibit the free flow of ideas.
The early story of the Canadian film market is of enterprising Canadian capitalists allying with U.S. film-makers and distributors to corner the market in Canada. Before long the vertical integration being pursued in the U.S.A. – production, distribution, and exhibition – was introduced (actually simply extended) into Canada. That is what capitalism does. But that is not always what governments permit. The British government, for instance, saw what was happening and intervened to prevent film made by British creators and the film houses showing those films from being absorbed and destroyed by U.S. interests. The war that was fought to get complete control of the Canadian film market was not a gentle one – though financial backers in both Canada and the U.S. made heart-warming statements. Manjunath Pendakur, in his book Canadian Dreams and American Control writes:
Famous Players expanded rapidly. The new company pursued independent [Canadian] exhibitors with a vengeance unsurpassed in Canadian motion picture history. Famous Players had its own “wrecking crew” and a “dynamite gang” to help achieve its end of monopolizing the Canadian theater business …
Pendakur’s detailed account of the manipulated and apparently highly dubious takeover of the Canadian film market deserves close study. There was a strong basis for the New York Times editorializing in 1928 that “the sun never sets on the U.S. film” , playing with the well-known British claim earlier that “the sun never sets on the British empire.”
Canadian film-makers – through all the battles and sell-outs – have petitioned the Canadian government to act on the behalf of Canadians, and they have always been betrayed. In 1947 Canada was in financial difficulties. All kinds of import restrictions were introduced as well as measures to limit Canadian holidaying in the U.S.A. Money was flowing one way in the film market – south to the U.S. Nothing like reciprocity existed, as the Commissioner of the National Film Board pointed out at the time. Seeing a possible move against U.S. film by the Canadians, U.S. lobbyists moved in. They came to Canada and met chief figures including the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada and Lester B. Pearson, Secretary of State for External Affairs. The Canadians had been well briefed, and they used their knowledge, in fact, to betray Canadian film-makers and the larger population. With the U.S. representatives they set up what was called The Canadian Cooperation Project. Its stated intention was to get more U.S. production into Canada, to get more Canadian films into the U.S. market, to get greater openness in the U.S. to Canadian capital in the overall film industry. As well, it was intended to promote Canada to U.S. viewers. In his book Hollywood’s Canada, The Americanization of Our National Image, Pierre Berton sums up what happened, in fact.
From start to finish, the Canadian Co-operation Project was a public relation man’s boondoggle. But from the point of view of the American film industry, it was remarkably effective. It prevented a quota system and thwarted any wistful hopes there might have been for a home-grown motion picture industry. The money taken out of the country by the Hollywood movie companies continued to increase year by year.
Berton records the U.S. continuing insistence upon twisting Canadian history and event into what can fairly be called U.S. patterns – for Canadian consumption and “education.” If U.S. films about the U.S. indoctrinated Canadians with U.S. ideas and values, U.S. films about Canada were even worse.
As might be expected, the surge of concern about Canadian independence, especially after 1967, was present among the makers of film in Canada. Their representations to government continued – and took advantage of the general awakening in the population. The film-makers had been able over decades to see the points of key importance that crippled their efforts. They could explain them simply and in layman’s language to Canadian legislators. Though argument at the time was strong, Liberal governments did little but promise. Then governments changed, and the Mulroney government appointed Flora MacDonald minister of communications.
MacDonald listened to the Canadian film-makers in 1987 who told her they needed to get their films before the Canadian public, that the distribution of films in Canada was foreign-dominated, and no matter how good a Canadian film is – it simply isn’t seen, even when it is covered with awards. She saw the evidence – that Canadian films get only about four percent of the time on Canadian screens. MacDonald, at last, determined to go where effect would really be seen. She prepared legislation to boost the statistic from about four percent to fifteen percent of screen time. The simple argument was that Canadian films had to be given fair access to Canadian theatres so Canadians could see them. Brian Mulroney, prime minister, appeared to back her work.
Many pointed out that she was simply doing what Pierre Juneau did with the music quotas in 1970, with the result that Canadian music thrives as never before, producing internationally successful names … as never before. The trajectory of the ensuing Canadian film battle can be told in the headlines. It didn’t take long: “Film law to go ahead despite U.S. protests to Ottawa.” (Toronto Star, Feb. 18, 1988). “MacDonald denies film bill stalled.” (Toronto Star, Feb. 27, 1988.) “U.S. Senators talking tough on film policy.” (Globe and Mail, Mar.5, 1988). “U.S. cranks up the pressure over film distribution policy.” (Vancouver Sun, April 27, 1988). “Ottawa weakening film bill to suit U.S. secret memo.” (Toronto Star, May 3, 1988). “We haven’t weakened on film bill, says MacDonald.” (Vancouver Sun, May 4, 1988). “MacDonald to introduce weakened film bill.” (Globe and Mail, May 6, 1988). “How Flora Macdonald lost one to the gipper on films.” (Financial Times, May 16, 1988). “Flora gracious in defeat.” (Cinema Canada, Dec. 1988).
The story behind the headlines is as punishingly humiliating as it can be. MacDonald really intended a sea-change in film policy in Canada for all the good reasons. Resistance was fronted by Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Export Association of America. He was supported by the Canadian executive director of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association – which was answerable to the U.S. Association. The apparently independent Canadian Association expressed serious doubts about the legislation.
Valenti travelled to Ottawa, met Flora MacDonald, and came as close to ordering her to change the legislation as was possible. As the headline suggests, MacDonald held her ground. But she hadn’t figured on Brian Mulroney. Jack Valenti went to see Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president who was a former movie actor – nicknamed “the gipper” in the U.S.A. from a movie role he had played in 1940. Ronald Reagan, of course, supported Valenti and personally telephoned Brian Mulroney. The two men must have agreed that the legislation had to be gutted and in the right way. For talk in Ottawa was that Jack Valenti went to Ottawa to advise on the form of the legislation and, in fact, drafted it himself – legislation that cut out anything of substance, leaving Canadian film-making crippled – as it remains to this day. The last major legislative reconsideration of film, film-making, and the film market in Canada was, in fact, written by a U.S. lobbyist for the U.S. film industry with the approval of the president of the United States and the prime minister of Canada.
It is a reconsideration that guarantees creative film people in Canada will not have the products of their work seen by Canadians. It guarantees that there will be no significant Canadian film industry – meaning hundreds, probably thousands of well-paying and interesting jobs will be denied to Canadians (jobs that naturally spill over into every other kind of electronic image making and communication). It guarantees that revenues which should flow into Canada (and into government coffers) will never appear. It guarantees that the entertainment brainwashing of Canadians will continue – and the overall colonial-mindedness of Canadians will be reinforced – without modification by a balance of Canadian voices powerfully present in the Canadian film world.
In this section we have been, in fact, talking about one of the main concerns of Harold Innis – empire and communications. We have been dealing, too, with the famous Marshall McLuhan phrase that “the medium is the message.” In this case since the medium is ninety-six percent U.S., the message cannot be clearer. And, as already made clear, the “medium” is as much a product of those who have power over it as it is a particular technological form of communication.
Media concentration in the newspaper industry is as sorry a story – with one difference, that newspapers in Canada must be owned in Canada. Manjunath Pendakur points out in his record of the U.S. takeover of the Canadian film industry and market that the corporate, banking and other financial interests on both sides of the border operated to assist the sell-out. That statement simply means – what the financial crash of 2008 showed the world – that financial interests have no country, no allegiance to society, no concern about people or governments. That is a dramatic way of saying that as time has passed in Canada the mainstream press and media have changed. They have been elevated into a position of power, wealth, and influence that makes them indistinguishable from other major private corporations. The purpose of those private corporations is to maximize profit before all else. The claim that corporations have first responsibility to their shareholders (before responsibility to the society, to law, to anything else) is only partly true. Shareholders become more and more like voters in democratic society – people who have to be hood-winked so that the real wealth generated by private corporations can be funnelled to a small elite.
Newspapers have never been the protectors of the little man, the guardians of democracy, the champions of free expression that their own propaganda has proclaimed. Greed, loyalty to power, and desire for profit have always been driving forces in their lives. But, in earlier years, their ownership and their political allegiances were different enough and separated widely enough to prevent them from presenting a single, almost monolithic face. As they do now. Now, newspaper owners also own television companies, and ramifications of digital, electronic communication. That is a natural development. As websites and bloggers and other such entities appeared in the computer world, newspapers had to match or be left behind. And so they not only have gone online, but their investment officers have moved capital into all of the new developments. They have many arms – but they are all attached to the one octopus head.
One of the very strong characteristics during the changeover in the last thirty years has been the degradation of newspaper conduct, reporting, and quality. With Conrad (Lord) Black – a convict in jail as I write – independence of reporting and editorial direction were attacked and limited, employment was made less secure, and hard Right political policy more and more put into place. Certainly, newspapers were feeling a financial pinch, but the attitudes of newspaper owners hardened during this time independently of the economic situation.
The Black empire fell mostly into the hands of the Asper family – and they continued – perhaps intensifying – the conduct and policy of Conrad Black. To review their actions one can do no better than read the account of the family “nation” by Marc Edge. CanWest Global, as the Asper octopus was known, then fell into the hands (mostly) of PostMedia Network Inc. in July, 2010. The sprawl of ownership and the interlocking of media operations that have become “normal” (and the writhing changes within the ownership ranks) fill books and magazine columns. They are not inhibited by government or legislation. The danger of media ownership concentration has been understood for the last sixty years – since the end of the Second World War. There have been four government commissions and studies of the problems with almost no ameliorative effect.
The first, the Royal Commission on Publications (1960-1961), concerned itself mostly with periodical publications and the effect of the foreign product (mostly U.S.) on “competition” and national identity. Called the O’Leary Report after its Chief Commissioner, the study was set up because of what was deemed the overabundance of U.S. periodicals that were said to be driving Canadian publications off the newsstands. The problem – though particularized and present before intense concentrations of ownership, television expansion, and digitalization – was fundamental. How were Canadians going to be able to speak to each other, to maintain a cultural community with a solid character in the face of the tidal-wave of U.S. publications in Canada?
The O’Leary commissioners recommended a revision of the tax structure for foreign publications so that there could no longer be deductions from income tax of advertising expenditures aimed at the Canadian market but present in foreign publications. In a way wholly characteristic of government conduct in Canada, the recommendation was not put into effect for sixteen years – and then with aggressive resistance by U.S. interests.
The Davey Committee of the Canadian Senate was struck in 1969. The Committee spent twenty-two months in investigation, in a country – it was said – which possessed the highest concentration of media ownership of any democratic nation. The Committee expressed alarm at cross-media ownership (what is now called “convergence”), and at chain ownership. Putting the matter sharply, the Committee’s Report (vol. 1, p. 67), asserted that Canada “should no longer tolerate a situation where the public interest, in so vital a field as information, is dependent upon the greed or goodwill of an extremely privileged group of businessmen.” Its recommendations were ignored or were responded to in such a weak way the responses made no difference to the prevailing situation.
Following the Davey Committee Report, concentration of ownership and power increased dramatically. And then on August 20, 1980 something strange occurred. The Southam newspaper organization closed the doors of the Winnipeg Tribune and the Thomson chain closed the doors of the Ottawa Journal. By the merest accident the seemingly coordinated actions of the two press giants on precisely the same day gave each a monopoly in the city where the other closed its newspaper. Concern was expressed so strongly that the Trudeau government created the Royal Commission on Newspapers in that year. Tom Kent was chosen to head the task. The Commission conducted hearings, did interviews, and received written briefs for a ten-month period. Its report (1981) was contained in nine volumes. It recorded that the predictions of the Davey Committee of increasing concentration had been born out while nothing was done to correct an increasingly dangerous situation.
The recommendations of the Kent Commission were so good that the whole fortress of media power was concentrated on destroying everything proposed. It recommended a Canadian Newspapers Act to put activities under legislation so that breaches of the law could be addressed. It recommended limitation of media power, major actors being forced to reduce holdings. And, especially, it recommended that no company should be permitted to own newspaper and television, or radio stations in the same market. It recommended more – about quality and coverage. But none of the recommendations were acted upon with continuing effect. In 1982 the Trudeau Government directed the CRTC to act in such a way as to prevent licensing of an owner with another media interest in the same market. Before the CRTC could act, Brian Mulroney became prime minister and erased the policy. The Kent Commission recommendations disappeared.
But in October 2002 in Policy Options/Options Politiques Tom Kent was heard from again. Having had twenty years to watch the rejection of his Commission’s recommendations and the developments since, he underscored the new situation. It can be summed up in the move from media concentration (the ownership of chains in newspapers, television broadcasting, etc.) to media convergence – a much more dangerous development. Media convergence is a baldly economic strategy involving ownership of all forms of media and information gathering and, in a sense, piling them one on top of the other. That process, in effect, may be used to debase news gathering, weaken editorial quality, destroy variety in the gathering and sourcing of information, and to work as an on-going policy to encourage government deregulation of all aspects of the industry. It bases itself, as stated, on ownership of all the kinds and all the levels of media. It is constructed, moreover, by accident or design, to prevent newcomers entering the field, newcomers who might have a foolish desire to serve the Canadian population with respect and integrity.
Media convergence means larger holdings and a smaller number of owners. It means the use of digitalization and repetitive use of materials to cut costs of personnel, administration, advertising-gathering … and to increase audience indoctrination.
In his 2002 article, Tom Kent gives objective reason why the media giants of Canada have so obviously become the servants of government in an elite club where both sides work for the power of the other. But the relation is slippery. Government and corporations are accused, across the Western World, of integrating to assure the power and wealth of a small elite. That may well be the fact in Canada, but – in relation to the media – as Tom Kent, reveals, the sliding together has been partly accident, partly design.
The new system, the new convergence, according to Tom Kent, places the converged giants at the mercy of government. The reason is simple. Anyone may gather capital and begin a newspaper to become a standing, forceful critic of government. But television licenses are granted by government and are renewable – or may be denied renewal by the CRTC, an apparently arms-length, independent Commission. Except the CRTC may receive instructions from cabinet about decisions it must make. According to Tom Kent, a media giant will massage its newspaper presentations to be satisfying to government so that the giant will not be denied the television license which allows it to make much more money than it can make from its newspaper operation. The media giant, as a result, is in the grip of government in all the expressions of its operation. As governments move in to license and regulate other forms of electronic communication, the same censorship power will be present.
But, of course, balances shift. At critical times – when government is seriously at fault and needs full investigation (or cover up) by media, or when government is in election campaign and needs various kinds of coverage – media giants can wring out concessions, can demand to govern on certain matters that relate to their wealth and power gathering. Governments may well have to satisfy media giants in order to stay in power. Convergence, then, means more than what most of the academics and theoreticians of media in Canada will grant. Not only is it a converging of media kinds or genres under one ownership roof. It is, also, much more than a pushing forward and outward of what was long recognized as the formation of chains and networks to gain economic advantage.
Convergence is now a matter of uniting with government to forge and present a seamless picture of the society in which all opposition to large, private corporate policy is declared dangerous, backward, undemocratic, and deserving of draconian action to erase it. What has appeared to be an economic development to increase the power and profitability of monster media organizations is fast becoming a means by which neo-liberal alliances are solidified among governments, police forces, the military, and the large information, entertainment, communication, and indoctrination giants.
Tom Kent advises that a solution to the present danger is to prohibit the issuance of broadcast licenses to owners of newspapers. That would no doubt be a beginning. But his recommendation in 1981 that Parliament pass a Newspaper Act under which “ the fourth estate” would be able to be judged as within or outside the law is equally important. Such an Act must be accompanied by legislation to cover all uses of electronic and digital devices for the purpose of carrying communication to the public. The important thing for Canadians to notice now is that the nine volumes produced by the Kent Commission in 1981 and the important recommendations accompanying the nine volumes were completely ignored – because they offended the growing media giants. If the recommendations had been followed, Canada’s democracy would not be – as it is now – in deep peril.
In June of 2006 the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications released a Report on the state of media and communications in Canada – a Report without force. It reported that concentration of ownership leads to limits on news diversity and quality. It observed the failure of the CRTC and the federal Competition Bureau to stop media concentration. It recorded the worsening conditions for journalists under the new conditions. It also remarked upon the serious underfunding of the CBC and upon the lack of training in Canada and of serious institutes of investigation and reporting.
In 2008 the CRTC (which can be overruled by cabinet at any time) ordered some limitation – laughable limitation – on ownership in a given market. No one, it ruled, can own broadcasting assets holding more than forty-five percent of the country’s total television viewership. That means that two corporations, vertically integrated, engaging in deep convergence (ownership of other kinds of media to the point of fabricating news and information) could own broadcasting assets which served ninety percent of Canadian viewers. Joined with government, the two corporations could supply an almost seamless propaganda machine for a police state.
Conclusion: The Harper Attempt at a Coup d’Etat and the Call to Freedom
In 1982 the Trudeau government instructed the CRTC to refuse television licences to media corporations with major newspaper operations in the same market area. The Mulroney government won office the next year and erased that order. It was critically important to Canadian democracy. Its erasure assured continuing concentration and convergence in Canadian media. Almost the only positive move made by the Trudeau government arising out of the Kent Commission was destroyed within months.
In the run-up to the 1993 election, Jean Chrétien promised that – in power – he would insist upon renegotiation of the Free Trade Agreement to make it a fair agreement to Canada, with equal rights accorded this country. Definitions of “dumping”, of “subsidy” had to be made clear, and dispute resolution mechanisms, for instance, had to be fixed. Much more needed sharp clarification, for the FTA and NAFTA are both packed with unclear statements about terms of agreement. Two years after gaining power Chrétien announced that no agreement could be reached with the U.S., and so he would do nothing. But he had already, shortly after taking office, ratified the North American Free Trade Agreement without a murmur.
The free trade agreements signed by Canada were not agreements on trade, fundamentally. The existing trade patterns with the U.S.A. were effective, and there was nothing impeding improvement where problems existed. The agreements were about giving the U.S. power over Canadian resources and giving U.S. unimpeded access to their exploitation. Whatever volume of fossil fuel Canada exports to the U.S.A. at any period, for instance, governs the volume Canada must export to the U.S.A. in future.
The Agreements were about removing capital/financial services from Canadian oversight and about erasing the border in any way that it impedes U.S. exploitation of Canadian wealth. They were about a steady and corrosive process of deregulation. Under the guise of standardizing regulation, Canada debases its regulation regime across the board to integrate with the U.S.A. For Canada, the free trade agreements have brought no benefit. Proponents will point to small areas where Canada seems to have gained. They will argue that the gains – which might have been there without free trade – are proof of benefit.
But Canada’s loss of control over export of resources, its loss of sovereignty in many, many areas, its ability to be sued by private corporations for loss of business because of Canadian government policy, its loss of weight in global affairs (because other nations see Canada, increasingly, as a docile satellite of the U.S.A.) renders this country a mirage as a self-respecting, independent nation. Free trade shackles Canada to its economic and cultural master. The essential point that has been made and must be reiterated here is that Canada does not have free trade. It has entered economic agreements with the U.S.A. that are unequal and unjust to Canada and Canadians. Canada’s ruling elites have betrayed the nation and the Canadian people. The ruling elites have blinded, hoodwinked, or bribed the elected representatives of the people. The misnamed free trade agreements have been used as platforms upon which to subjugate the interests of the Canadian people, to erase their fundamental freedoms, and to seize the wealth that is theirs.
Much could be written about the events from the time of the Paul Martin Liberal defeat, the years of minority government, and those which have occurred since the (possibly illegal) majority victory of the Stephen Harper Right on May 2, 2011. It is a tale of the growth of neo-liberalism ( and its real and quasi use of lawless actions), the destruction of Canadian democracy, the erosion of the rule of law in Canada, a visible move towards fascism, and the increasing colonial dependency of the Canadian nation. The story of what may fairly be called the lawlessness or – more extremely but not incorrectly – the criminality of the Harper regime might be told by beginning with the repetition of the story of the decades-long allegations of personal corruption of former Tory prime minister (from 1984 to 1993) Brian Mulroney. For some years Stephen Harper and Mulroney were in contact, Mulroney known to be consulted by Harper. That story is not usually considered with other allegations of Stephen Harper wrongdoing, a serious oversight.
For it is key in the wrongdoing of Stephen Harper and is reexamined here to underscore that fact. The key event for our purposes ends the long and distasteful history of allegations and stories concerning Brian Mulroney and his involvement with Karlheinz Schreiber. More importantly – as already explained – it reveals the manipulations of Stephen Harper to protect the system of corruption that is the backdrop for the growth of neo-liberalism in Canada. As already pointed out Schreiber was an international arms dealer, lobbyist for German airplane manufacturers, and fraudster (he is in German jail as I write, having been being finally extradited from Canada). Schreiber gave Mulroney three white envelopes (at different times) with, in each, something like $100,000.00. But allegedly connected to that payment for services (?) which was agreed to before Mulroney left office in 1993 or soon after – was the whole business of Air Canada buying 34 aircraft from European Airbus and Karlheinz Schreiber being paid $20 million to help facilitate the sale. The destination of the $20 million has never been determined. Allegations, however, were made that Schreiber had paid Mulroney commissions in relation to the acquisition of the planes. The allegations have never been proved, nor have they ever been thoroughly tested.
Suspicions are strong that the Oliphant Inquiry struck in June of 2009 as the result of pressure upon the Harper government was faked from the beginning. Remember that Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper had a long relation before the pressure on Harper forced him to agree to an independent inquiry. The spur to begin the inquiry may well be that during the week of November 5, 2007 Karlheinz Schreiber had filed an affidavit in the Ontario Supreme Court containing allegations about his relation with Brian Mulroney as prime minister. He claimed, as well, that he had written to Stephen Harper about the extradition applications filed against him and that he had asked Brian Mulroney to intercede on his behalf with Harper, the prime minister. The affidavit appeared to bring together in a way that might have serious political repercussions Brian Mulroney, Karlheinz Schreiber, and Stephen Harper. Harper moved quickly to announce a public inquiry about the relations between Mulroney and Schreiber.
Harper’s task was to spend a lot of money pretending a real inquiry was being conducted, get a generally recognized head of the inquiry believed to be honest and create a non-event in which justice and the rule of law would be defeated. Whether Harper did that must be left to the reader to decide. Appearances point that way.
The key to killing and/or containing the inquiry lay in the terms presented to inquiry head, Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant. What could he investigate? Mulroney had conducted a libel suit (1996) against the Canadian government because it sent a message to Switzerland saying that it suspected him in the Airbus purchase. In examination Mulroney declared that he hardly knew Karlheinz Schreiber – that he had “a cup of coffee … once or twice” with him. Mulroney won $2.1 million in the case. It later became clearly evident (from Karlheinz Scheiber and others) that Brian Mulroney knew Schreiber well, dined him at the Prime Minister’s residence, and much more. One of the key things, then, that the Oliphant Inquiry needed to look into was the full and complete role Brian Mulroney had in the purchase from Airbus of the thirty-four aircraft for Air Canada.
Stephen Harper wanted to have his hands free of any suspicions in the inquiry he knew he had to set up. And so he went to a faithful Conservative, a lawyer and the president of the University of Waterloo, David Johnston, and asked him to frame the terms of reference for the inquiry. David Johnston narrowed the possibilities of investigation and ruled out any investigation into the sale of Airbus planes to Air Canada. The hands of Mr. Justice Oliphant were manacled. The major matter needing full investigation and clarification was closed to Justice Oliphant by the terms of the inquiry as set out by David Johnston. The inquiry wiped out any reputation for honesty that was left to Brian Mulroney. Justice Oliphant’s 2011 Report recorded that he couldn’t accept Brian Mulroney’s testimony. As Andrew Coyne wrote in the June 4, 2009 Maclean’s Magazine in the midst of the Mulroney testimony: “if we conclude that Mulroney is telling a pack of lies, what do we do about it?”
In the outcome Stephen Harper was saved embarrassment because no criminal charges came out of the inquiry – charges that might have soiled a range of Conservatives in the country, not excepting Stephen Harper himself. In fact, Mr. Justice Oliphant was forbidden by the terms of the inquiry to recommend charges. But much more important, the inquiry wiped out any reputation for honesty that was left to Stephen Harper. Observers must admit the inquiry awakens suspicions of breach of trust by Stephen Harper at the highest level. The appointment of David Johnston to set the terms of the inquiry appears to have been a measure of the crassest dishonesty. The terms Johnston set Justice Jeffery Oliphant suggest collusion to defeat the fair administration of justice. And his subsequent appointment as Governor General of Canada must look to the well informed as an intended insult to the Canadian people and a planned debasement of the highest office in Canada. If the whole charade of an inquiry was as grossly manipulated as it appears to have been, Canadians cannot review the events often enough to understand the dangerous character of Stephen Harper. If appearances are correct, he has created a cover for two men famous for dragging democratic honesty and trust in the muck. And Stephen Harper has helped them – as fellow travellers in his own shady world – escape the accounting they owe to justice, to the rule of law, to decency, and to the Canadian people.
That highly dubious sequence of events under the direct supervision of Stephen Harper is visible for all to see. They cannot examine it often or closely enough . Other manipulations of democratic trust, of the electoral process, denials of accepted labour/management bargaining processes, subjugations of Canadian ownership rights in order to serve U.S. interests, the decimation of environmental review structures, the muzzling of government scientists, and restructurings of taxing protocols to enrich corporations and impoverish Canadians are being effected with the greater or lesser visibility of Stephen Harper – but almost certainly under his guiding hand.
We should not – in the midst of the increasingly neo-liberal, neo-fascist activity – lose our perspective on our history. The present activities are a culmination. They are the ripened fruit of a long, long season of betrayal. The “continental” military agreements, as well as Canada’s pious adherence to NATO, the cultural agreements (and oppressions), the savagely misnamed free trade agreements, the foreign ownership and takeover laws and protocols entered into – as well as the failures to legislate in education fields, and in relation to the press and media have prepared – over many decades – for the moves we now face to end the power of the Canadian people to shape their own country and its future.
Stephen Harper’s actions and the actions of his supporters in the Conservative Party, in the police forces in the country, in the mainstream press and media, in the private corporations, in the corporate-owned research centres and “Think Tanks” are leading Canada and Canadians into a “one-party state”, into the condition of a full-fledged Banana Republic, a neo-liberal police state – what may fairly be described as – though none like the phrase – fascist rule. Remember that fascist rule means the blending of private corporate and government power to serve the interests of a small, powerful elite and to assure “stability” and “longevity” against the wishes of the population by the repressive use of police forces and the military. In Canada’s case the small, powerful elite is made up of (mostly) continental corporations intending to erase real democracy in Canada in order to have unimpeded and unregulated right to plunder Canadian wealth.
A place where reasonable Canadians may believe Stephen Harper and his organization engaged in Criminal Breach of Trust occurred in the 2006 election. In that key election (which changed a minority Liberal government to a minority Conservative government) the Harper Conservatives planned and used a violation of Elections Canada regulations. Purposefully exceeding permitted expenditures, flowing money through sixty-eight candidate offices, they, in effect, violated trust and regulation in order to gain advantage in the election. And they fought hard to keep truth from being told. For five years the Conservative Party fought Elections Canada in the courts. And then on November 11, 2011 the Stephen Harper organization admitted guilt and paid a $52,000 fine. The whole story is ugly. The assault on democratic politics is enormous. The Canadian Press story (Nov. 11, 2011) reported that the “Conservatives are being accused of buying victory in the 2006 election that brought Stephen Harper to power … ” Any Canadian stating that the Stephen Harper Conservatives illegitimately took government in Canada cannot be dismissed.
Prosecutor Richard Roy permitted what is called a “plea bargain” to end the case. In a plea bargain the accused are forgiven (perhaps serious) charges on condition they admit guilt on others. In a matter of such national gravity using a plea bargain was astounding and reprehensible. The fine imposed was a joke. All charges were dropped against four top Conservative Party officials who, many believe, clearly planned the misuse of Election funds. As a comment on the willingness of the Conservative Party to violate trust, the spokesman for the Party issued a public statement that the outcome of the trial was a big victory for the Party.
The “in-and-out” election scandal and its ending under Prosecutor Richard Roy brings in for scrutiny the role of the law and the courts as absolutely necessary bastions of democratic life and health. In history, the accession to power of oppressive, despotic, and criminal regimes almost always has the cooperation of the courts – or those regimes quickly subjugate law and the courts. Partly, the cooperation of the courts and the judiciary is accident. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant should have accepted the appointment as head of the inquiry into the relations of Karlheinz Schreiber and Brian Mulroney. He should have sat for two or three weeks on the public process. Then he should have resigned, saying the terms of the inquiry set up by David Johnston were too narrow and prevented justice being done. Justice Oliphant would doubtless reply that he was hemmed in by the terms he was given. But in a democracy no judicial authority can be hemmed in by terms that defeat the fair administration of justice.
By the same token, Prosecutor Roy should have declared publicly that an ending to the “in-and-out” case concerning Stephen Harper Conservative Party organized misuse of election monies would not come about until all people involved were tried and accounted for. The Election Spending Scandal was a matter of misusing funds to gain fraudulent advantages in an election – what Canadians are used to reading about in quasi-dictatorships like Russia and U.S. Banana Republics in Central and South America. But the organization of fraudulent tactics in that election went – it appears – even farther.
Preceding the election, Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale had stated that the Liberal government would not tax Income Trusts. There was much debate about their tax status, and at the time of the election leaks about policy seem to have come from the finance department. An NDP MP, finance critic, wrote to the RCMP Commissioner, Guiliano Zaccardelli, asking him for an investigation. Under normal circumstances one could be announced. But during an election the RCMP would not normally name anyone … and might not announce investigation, though investigating – until after the election. Instead Zaccardelli had the investigation announced and asked in a press release that Ralph Goodale’s name be reported as being investigated.
That was scandalous behaviour on his part and is said to have contributed to the downfall of the Liberal minority government. Jane Taber reported on April 29, 2010, Globe and Mail, that the “RCMP later admitted that including Mr. Goodale’s name was not in keeping with past practices.” It is fair to believe that activated by Conservatives or on his own – the Commissioner of the RCMP engaged in electioneering for the Harper Conservatives.
Guiliano Zaccardelli was, later, forced to resign in disgrace over his handling of the Maher Arar scandal. He was then given a plum job with Interpol. His successor, William Elliott, was judged by at least some to be almost a complete failure. He was appointed RCMP Commissioner out of the office of the Minister of Public Safety, Stockwell Day. Elliott, too, was forced out – in Elliott’s case by an uprising of senior officers in the RCMP who claimed he was unsuitable. He, then, was given a plum job at the UN. His successor is Bob Paulson, long-time RCMP officer in British Columbia – perhaps one of the most corrupt provinces in Canada. Commissioner Paulson has done nothing, publicly visible, to reform and reconstruct the seriously failing RCMP.
In British Columbia RCMP women exploded into public attention in 2011 and 2012 over abuse suffered in the RCMP ranks. At the same time, a highly doubtful Public Inquiry has been conducted into RCMP and Vancouver Police Department behaviour during the more than ten years (1991-2002) when dozens of women and many others (some organized crime victims) were murdered and/or “disposed of” on the Pickton pig farm in Port Coquitlam. All RCMP Commissioners have kept a strangely arms-length relation to the serious and repeated charges. Commissioner Paulson declared an interest in the abuse charges by RCMP women. But as far as the Canadian public is concerned he has not lifted a finger in the matter, has not visited British Columbia in relation to the murdered women Inquiry, and has not – in addition – undertaken a single move to reform and reconstruct a police force increasingly in disgrace. His inaction, one may surmise, is perfectly acceptable to the Harper government, which may be making sure the RCMP is in a politically induced coma. The Harper government may very well not want a clean, strong, honest, and effective RCMP.
In 2008 and 2009, Stephen Harper showed his contempt for Parliamentary honour and practice by unilaterally closing down Parliament – first to save his skin when a vote of confidence was clearly about to end the Conservative government and then to escape criticism for serious military dishonour in Afghanistan. Built up over centuries, Parliamentary practice, usage, and convention are very often based on the honesty of parliamentarians. To violate, to dishonour, to shred conventions and trust is not difficult. It doesn’t take brilliance. It merely takes what lawyers call the “mens rea” – which is the decision and determination to do wrong.
In 2008 Stephen Harper faced a Parliament which understood his determination to destroy the integrity of Parliament. Parliamentarians were moving towards forming a coalition which – presenting a motion of non-confidence – would topple his government and force an election which he would have had little chance to win. Harper went on television and lied to the Canadian public, telling them that a coalition was illegal – a statement which is complete nonsense. Then he went to the Governor General, Michaelle Jean, in a cavalcade of several cars like a Mafia Boss and – many believe – dragooned her into granting what is called “prorogation”, the dissolving of Parliament for the time being. That was one of the darkest days in Canadian history and Madam Jean will live in Canadian history as having failed at the most important moment of her career – and perhaps of Canadian democracy. History plays itself out. The proposed coalition of anti-Harperites dissolved. The illegitimate Harper government was saved. Canadian democracy is deeply scarred. Fascism gained a stronger foothold in the country.
In 2009, Harper played the same card. That time, however, he didn’t bother consulting with the Governor General before announcing a prorogation. At the time, serious allegations were being surfaced that the Conservative government had approved and was practising what must be called a “war crimes process.” It was one in which Canadian forces in Afghanistan gave up prisoners to other forces, knowing that those forces engaged in torture and other kinds of gross mistreatment. An ardent and enthusiastic supporter of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Stephen Harper couldn’t pretend that his government was anything but fully engaged in the war. The allegations of organized behaviour on a war crimes magnitude could only wreak havoc on the Conservative position in the country. And so Harper closed down government on the pretext that it should not sit for the term of the (2010) Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. By doing so, he gained something like a three month reprieve in which to cover the tracks of Conservative government wrongdoing.
After the 2010 G20/G8 summits in Canada, the Conservative government was accused – and there was no doubt the allegations were true – of siphoning $50 million of money allocated to the border infrastructure fund and using it for pork-barrelling in the Tony Clement (Industry Minister) riding of Muskoka Parry Sound. There gazebos appeared, and parks, public toilets, roadway beautification projects, many of them so far from the summit locations as to be laughable. The fiddling with funds – unreported to Parliament – was ably assisted by John Baird, Infrastructure Minister. The Auditor General of Canada reported that no paper trail– fair evidence of record – was used in the expense, and that the government broke several policies on spending in the misuse of the $50 million.
Even more disturbing is the violence of police at the G8/G20 summit in June, 2010 , in Toronto. The NDP called for a public inquiry into the police violence, mass arrests, dubious “anarchism” … and more. Postmedia News reported on December 6, 2010 that “Conservative MP Dave MacKenzie, parliamentary secretary to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said issues surrounding police conduct have no place in politics and should be taken up with one of the independent bodies that handle such complaints”.
Suspicion of Canadian police forces received support in early September, 2012, when a Public Service Alliance of Canada aeroplane towing a banner critical of Stephen Harper was grounded [in flagrant violation of constitutionally protected freedom of expression] by the RCMP in Ottawa. The Force could not have given a sharper proof that it works for Stephen Harper, not for the law and for Canadians.
Election fraud. Gross infraction of Geneva Conventions on the conduct of War. Contemptuous violation of the rules and processes of Parliament. Pork Barrel constituency graft on a gigantic scale. And open refusal to admit the connection between police activity and government responsibility, In every case mentioned and in those to follow Stephen Harper and his cabinet and coterie have actively violated or undermined the rule of law in Canada – the primary basis of democratic society. And in every case Conservatives in Parliament have risen to obfuscate, mask, and deny wrongdoing.
The election fraud of 2006 has been exceeded by the Robocall Scandal of the election of 2011 in which the allegations of Conservative Party fraud burst in early 2012 and proceeded to grow. The simple fact is that the combination of the 2006 Conservative Party election fraud and the fraudulent behaviour of people working for that Party in the 2011 election to suppress votes and mislead voters may have provided Canadians in 2011 with an illegitimate government, a government in place as a result of continued fraud and deception. If that is the case, Canada’s democratic system has been assailed as never before in its history…and a fascist state stares Canadians in the eye.
All of the dubious and fraudulent and repressive activities written about above (and to follow) have been and are being engaged in to consolidate what is being called a growing despotism in Canada. Behind the theatre, the deception, and the greedy self-indulgence lies a neo-liberal determination to end democracy in Canada as Canadians have known it from the beginning and to replace it with a real or quasi-fascist state. A fascist state – as already stated – is one in which the activity of government is integrated with the powers of private corporations to oppress the larger population (with police force if necessary) and to concentrate wealth in the hands of a small elite. In our time a fascist state is prepared for by neo-liberal propaganda and neo-liberal government policies.
In a nation which is not a colonial dependency, that development is arranged (as it was in the Italy of Mussolini and the Germany of Adolf Hitler) almost exclusively within the bounds of the country (and its conquered vassal states). In a colonial dependency like Canada the integration of government with private corporations (as we have seen in the free trade agreements) is international. The Stephen Harper government makes its public and its backroom pacts with, mostly, foreign multi-national corporations. Many agreements of direct concern to Canadians are made in secret or with inadequate information being provided to the population. Just such an agreement is the Canada China Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (2012) which has been hailed as one of the most damaging Agreements in Canadian history – reached without a moment of debate on its contents in Parliament or any other legislative body in Canada.
The Stephen Harper behaviour in the Wheat Board battle, the Stelco sale to U.S. Steel of Pittsburgh, in the treatment of Canadian unions, and in the sale of publisher McClelland and Stewart to a foreign owner tells the story for Canadians. In 2007, after several rocky years of operation, Stelco was sold to U.S. Steel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. The sale was trumpeted by Canada’s neo-liberal flagship, the National Post (Aug. 29, 2007) as creating “an integrated North American company.” The so-called “rocky” years are highly suspected by people in Hamilton to have been at least partly “arranged” to make the Canadian steel company appear unprofitable and a sitting duck for takeover. It was valued at about $5.00 a share going into its takeover, and almost immediately after was valued at something like $35.00 a share. Something magical happened in a very short time – without any expenditures to increase Stelco’s value. The Stephen Harper government approved of the sale as a net benefit to Canada. Even if, after sale, Stelco had been operated to the best of its performance, few believe the sale benefitted Canada in any way.
U.S. Steel agreed – as terms of the purchase – that it would maintain agreed levels of steel production from the Canadian operation and that it would maintain an employee level of over 3000. U.S. Steel broke its commitments almost immediately and went to court to claim that the Investment Canada Act was unconstitutional and so could not demand the terms it did to allow for the sale. U.S. Steel lost. It had not just fudged a little on its agreement but had violated it in a major way producing almost no steel from the Canadian operation. Locking out workers, U.S. Steel is alleged to have transferred production from efficient Canadian operations to less efficient U.S. ones – a standard practice in takeover strategies conducted by the U.S. When the court case was entered into, the Canadian government was the principal actor, but other “interveners” were a part. One of the interveners was the union, local 1005 of the United Steel Workers. Another was Lakeside Steel, a Canadian corporation that had hopes of getting the former Stelco if the violations by U.S. Steel forced it to sell. The amounts that U.S. Steel could be asked to pay for deliberately violating the Canadian Investment Act, for locking out employees, for withdrawing wages and related costs, and for doing damage to the community of Hamilton could have been significant. Clearly Lakeside Steel thought U.S. Steel might even have to divest itself of the former Stelco.
But none of the interveners – who were part of the trial – “figured in” Stephen Harper. In a closed door, backroom deal, Harper made a coward’s deal with U.S. Steel, requesting it spend $50 million on the former Stelco properties, a sum that could soon be “accounted for” in maintenance costs to keep the assets workable. The Canadian government also asked that the Steel operation be continued until 2015 – with no other demand to keep it operating. The so-called “agreement” was made without reference to the interveners. They were informed of the outcome in a terse letter by their own government, as if they were not serious parts of the court action. It must be plain that the Harper government has no interest in the health of Canadian industrial enterprise. Neo-liberal conventional wisdom is that all meaningful enterprise in Canada should be – as the National Post wrote of Stelco at the time of sale – “integrated North American” operation.
The story of the Conservative government sell-out of the Wheat Board (2011) has a simple, anti-democratic shape. In a vote about the future of the Wheat Board, those who use it voted in a majority to retain it. The Conservatives not only ignored the vote but, it is suspected, lined up farmers to speak publicly for sell-out. The Wheat Board is not a government agency but an independent organization paid for by the farmers who use it. At the time of writing the Wheat Board/farmers are suing the Harper government for close to $14 billion because of interference in the sovereign affairs of the Board.
In addition, when in minority government after the fraudulent 2006 election, the Conservative government set out to harass the Wheat Board to weaken and, if possible, destroy it. It replaced government appointees with anti-Wheat Board members. It exerted a gag order on all Wheat Board staff in an attempt to prevent them from campaigning on behalf of the Organization. The Conservative government fired the pro-Board president, saying he served at the pleasure of the government and the government was getting rid of him. And it intervened in the election of farmer representatives. As one might expect in the consistently pro-U.S. stand of the Harper Conservatives, U.S. farmer organizations have consistently criticized and fought against the Canadian Wheat Board. The Canadian Federal Court ruled that the Conservative government broke the law in introducing legislation to end the Wheat Board. The Harper government ignored the ruling, and the law, and passed the demise of the Wheat Board into law in December, 2011. The legislation received Royal Assent. That means David Johnston, chosen by Stephen Harper to shape the rules for the Oliphant Inquiry into the corrupt activities of Brian Mulroney, and then made Governor General by the same Stephen Harper was willing to sign and give assent to a piece of legislation created outside the rule of law. Some might praise the Governor General for his unerring consistency.
A court ruling that the Conservatives did not use an acceptable process, and were obliged to consult the people directly involved in Wheat Board operation before changing its structure was ignored completely by the Governor General. In fact, Conservative spokespeople said they had the right to dispose of the Board – meaning they had no responsibility to honour previous contracts, conventions, modes of operation … or the law.
The Wheat Board has certain rights and is continuing operations even after the Conservative government has denied it the central place in marketing Canadian Wheat and Barley. The intention of the Harperites, some allege, is to assist the enormous monopolies (none, of course, Canadian) that control an increasingly large amount of the world’s food supply. They want to add Canada’s Wheat and Barley to their list. The implications are frightening. Behind the famous “Arab Spring” of 2011 lurks a managed shortage of food supplies, manipulated, it is alleged, by the food monopolists of the world to force up prices – and, therefore, profits.
A signature characteristic of neo-liberal corporations and governments is the desire to reduce working populations to starving supplicants who will abase themselves for the right to eat. The first steps in that process were taken by the Harper Conservative government in June of 2011. Postal workers were faced with a Crown Corporation which wanted to pay new workers less than present workers and introduce new terms for sick leave, wishing, in fact, to lower the whole payroll cost over time. Canada Post has not been losing money in the last years, and so there is no pressing budgetary need to cut labour costs. The attack on workers wages is ideological (the politics of neo-liberalism).
On June 23 the federal cabinet interfered in the collective bargaining process, preventing strike action. On June 26 it passed Bill C-6 which gutted the collective bargaining process, specified pay increases, and forced binding arbitration – and imposed a four-year contract with wage increases that are less than the last offer of Canada Post made at the bargaining table. The Canada Post workers had made clear that all critical mail would be delivered in the strike, and there would be no need to fear for risk recipients. The Conservative cabinet ignored the union and destroyed its democratic rights to fair labour processes, misleading Canadians by saying that the postal deliveries were an essential service.
Soon after – in an even more draconian move – the cabinet interfered with a proposed strike of flight attendants working for Air Canada. By October 2011 the attendants had refused two proposed offers from management that the union executive recommended be accepted. To prevent strike action, Lisa Raitt, labour minister, referred the dispute to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board. David Doorey, associate professor of labour law at York University, called Raitt’s move “a cynical play to stall the [collective bargaining] process long enough to pass back-to-work legislation.”
Once again, cabinet described the work of Air Canada as an essential service – saying that in these pressing economic times Air Canada’s services cannot be disrupted. These are the pressing economic times which just saw James Baird (now minister of foreign affairs) and Tony Clement (now president of the Treasury Board) secretly loot $50 million from the border services allocations to use for pork-barrelling in Clement’s riding. They are the pressing economic times when the Harper government is about to spend billions of dollars on prisons that every expert in the country says are not necessary. The proposed new prisons are, the experts say, a destructive initiative. These are the pressing economic times when minister of defence Peter MacKay uses military aircraft as air taxis, piling up astounding costs for free private flights. And when the costs of the proposed new C-35 aircraft for Canada’s air force are lied about to the population to cover up the inflated and wholly unnecessary expenditure.
The outcome of the Air Canada attendants struggle with management was the appointment of an “independent” arbitrater, in order to destroy the union’s right of collective bargaining. Elizabeth MacPherson - head of the very organization, the CIRB – to which the dispute was referred - was named abritrater. Ms. MacPherson forced the attendants to accept the last management offer – which they had refused. In support of her master, Stephen Harper, Ms. MacPherson chose to analyse the situation in a way that is completely insulting. She decided that since fewer than a hundred per cent of the attendants voted against the last offer, some of them must have been satisfied with it. In making that absurd statement, Ms. MacPherson probably made an historic breakthrough in union oppression that had not been thought of heretofore. That was in 2011. In October of 2009, speaking before an expert audience in Toronto, Ms. MacPherson reported that the Canada Industrial Relations Board has “consistently interpreted the [Canada Labour] Code so as to encourage the establishment of collective bargaining relationships.” In 2011, however, when Stephen Harper said “jump”, Ms. MacPherson, obviously, replied, “how high?”
Following her success in 2011, Lisa Raitt, labour minister, again, in March 2012, stopped a pending Air Canada (machinist and other employee) strike by referring the dispute to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board, Ms. Raitt did so in order to make sure March Break holidayers in Canada could fly out of the country. As the Harper government’s repression of democratic rights proves successful it becomes more brazen. In three strikes which even the Conservative government of Stephen Harper cannot say are essential services, it has involved itself and attacked fair bargaining processes even while declaring it has nothing to do with the enormous attacks on the employees of the large corporations.
Two operations – locomotive maker Electro-Motive at London, Ontario, and the aluminum smelting operation at Alma, Quebec – were recently bought by foreign multi-national corporations. Government approval that the sale was in the Canadian interest was required and was granted. Electro-Motive of London, Ontario was bought by Caterpillar, a hugely successful international corporation. In 2008, before the sale, the Conservative government gave Electro-Motive millions in tax breaks and subsidies. Then in 2010, it was sold to Caterpillar. And in most recent negotiations with the union, Caterpillar offered a contract with wage cuts of fifty percent, elimination of a defined pension plan, and the slashing of other benefits. The contract was rejected by the employees – and Caterpillar locked them out.
Business observers suggested Caterpillar was trying to destroy the operation in Ontario and ship it to Muncie, Indiana, so that it can take part in Washington’s ‘Buy America’ policy. On February 2, 2012, Caterpillar announced the closure of the Hamilton factory. The intention from the start, many insist, was to gain all the know-how, expertise, and “intellectual property” held by the Canadian operation, to loot it, and to close the factory. Stephen Harper and his government refuse to act to protect the operation and the Canadians thrown out of employment. The Canadian government refused – in this case – “to interfere.”
In Alma, Quebec, the Alcan operation, bought in 2007 by the Anglo Australian mining giant Rio Tinto faced negotiations at the end of 2011. The Australian newspaper, The Australian, reports more on the issue than do any of the Mainstream Press outlets in Canada. Matt Chambers of The Australian wrote on January 3, 2012, that the Quebec operation is one of the biggest and cheapest aluminum smelters that Rio Tinto possesses. Part of the reason for that is the price electrical power can be bought from Quebec Hydro. A Crown Corporation owned by the people of Quebec – it would seem – is enabling a foreign multinational corporation to gain enough profit globally to savage the lives and the community of working people in Quebec. That is usually called globalization.
Matt Chambers goes on to report that “Rio has a history of union-busting in the iron ore, coalmining and aluminum industries in Australia.” In the negotiation the union rejected the company’s desire to contract out jobs done by employees, though wages and seniority were also points of contention. It happens that at the present time the world market for aluminum is less strong and down a little in price, and so Rio Tinto has cut operations significantly, has locked out workers, and is maintaining – it says – meager operations with senior staff.
In both cases the Harper Conservative government judged the sale of the Canadian operations were in the best interest of Canada. Clearly they were not. And – at the time of writing – the Conservative government is silently taking the part of the multi-national corporations. In fact, the Harper government is giving more and more evidence that it is using the Investment Canada Act as an instrument to destroy Canadian enterprise of all kinds. Investment Canada is a product of the Brian Mulroney move to destroy steps taken under the government of Pierre Trudeau to secure some Canadian independence in the culture and economy.
The Trudeau government created the Foreign Investment Review Agency to retard or to stop important foreign takeovers of Canadian enterprise. Mulroney removed FIRA and replaced it with The Investment Canada Act designed to facilitate – with some limitations and regulations – takeovers. The Investment Canada Act rules out foreign takeover of Canadian publishers. Under the law, the sale of McClelland and Stewart to a German multinational, Bertelsmann AG, is outside the law – is in violation of Canadian law. The Harper government openly violated Canadian law … again, in permitting the takeover. The Globe and Mail, stepping ever so carefully in an attempt to avoid offending the Stephen Harper government, gave clear evidence that breaking the law is obvious Harper government policy. “The M&S decision follows earlier ministerial decisions that allowed companies such as Amazon and Apple to bypass Canadian distribution channels in [what the Globe and Mail calls] apparent contravention of the act, leaving publishers with the impression that the law has become a dead letter.”
The history of the Conservative government on the environment is known globally. Permitting Tar Sands development as presently conducted is lethal, its product named “dirty oil” around the world. The Canadian government spends heavily to propagandize while barely maintaining regulation, surveillance, and environmental standards. That is in keeping with neo-liberal ideology. Equally, Canada is now a “rogue state” in probably the most important issue in the world – global warming. Being opposed to any serious moves to cut down the human causes of global warming, the Conservatives pretend they were delivered an unworkable situation from previous Liberal governments. That is only partly true. The Liberals did almost nothing to adhere to the Kyoto Agreement to lower carbon emissions. But all through that period before assuming power the Conservatives fought against any action to arrest global warming. In power, as minority government, they fought against serious moves to prevent global warming and they refused to take any action … their devastating record on environmental control of the Tar Sands tells all. In December of 2011, in power with a majority government, the Conservatives announced Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
The Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012 committed major industrial economies to reduce their annual CO2 emissions to below 1990 levels, while providing financial support to developing nations to encourage them to follow suite eventually. Canada ratified the accord in 1997. Most nations in the world have criticized Canada’s move to withdraw completely. For instance, China, Japan, India, and France were early to show displeasure. The little country of Tuvalu, a small group of islands, called Canada’s move “an act of sabotage on our future … a reckless and totally irresponsible act.” The major theme of the countries criticising is that – however badly negotiations have gone in the past – work must be done and it must have all countries trying for solutions together. Leader of the Green Party in Canada, MP Elizabeth May pointed out that Canada is bound by its own legislation on the matter, and – unless it intends to reject the rule of law – it must continue to do work. Ms. May said
The Kyoto Implementation Act was passed by the House of Commons in 2007 and has royal assent. It requires Canada to continue reporting and doing its job, fulfilling its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. I wonder that the prime minister of this country thinks he [can] withdraw us from an international treaty which was ratified by the House of Commons with no discussion in the House, and violate a domestic law with no discussion in the House.
Ms. May was not alone. Commissioner of the Environment, Scott Vaughan remarked that he had a legal mandate to inform Parliament about the government’s progress in meeting the Kyoto targets. Mr. Vaughan said, “if the act of Parliament remains the act of Parliament, meaning the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, then we will abide by the law. So if the act remains, then we will inform Parliament … ”
Hardly noted for the public in Canada’s mainstream press and media, the current position of the Canadian government with the latest environmental move brings it exactly into line with the U.S.A. It is exactly the position of the U.S. government. Canada rejects the policy of the Kyoto Protocol and has resigned from membership. That is of primary importance to understanding the absorption of Canada into the United States. All the posturing and propaganda by the Harper government on the environment has led in a single direction – to the adoption of the U.S. position on climate change, a refusal to work with the rest of the world.
That cannot be separated from everything that has been written here so far. On December 7 of 2011, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and U.S. president Barack Obama announced what is called the Beyond the Border Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan. The implications of the agreement for increased loss of Canadian sovereignty are huge. The two men also issued a Plan to seek greater regulatory alignment in areas of agriculture and food, transportation, environment, health, and consumer products. Canada has had more stringent requirements in those matters than the U.S. generally and there is no hint that the U.S. will align with Canada’s higher standards. On the contrary. President Obama said the Plan will bring the “two economies even closer together.” The ways it will do so are dangerous to democracy in Canada, as we will see.
But before looking at those most recent steps, they have to be seen as a part of what is called the move to a North American Union. It is complicated, key to the life of every Canadian, and should be examined by readers in a way there is not space to examine it here. The timeline is produced and kept up at HYPERLINK "http://nauresistance.org/nau-timeline/ " nauresistance.org/nau-timeline/ The timeline, according to North American Union Resistance begins in 1921. It tells a long and painful story from then until now. This book shows the timeline is much, much longer.
In this century dramatic steps have been taken in the absorption of Canada into the U.S.A. The Declaration of Quebec signed in April of 2001 by Jean Chrétien (Liberal prime minister) and George W. Bush (Republican president), for instance, was a commitment to hemispheric integration In 2005, at Waco, Texas, Paul Martin (Liberal prime minister) and the leaders of Mexico and the U.S.A. signed the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The SPP was the major focus of continental integration until 2009. Secret, undemocratic, unregulated, and without oversight or approval in legislatures, the SPP process and machinery were attacked and criticized in both Canada and the United States. Finally, in 2009 the Security and Prosperity Partnership centre announced on its website that it was shutting down, that activity would cease.
The SPP may have been secret, undemocratic, unregulated and without oversight in legislatures, but in his 2008 budget, James Flaherty, Canadian Conservative minister of finance, announced $29 million dollars would be spent on aspects of the SPP. It was supported from the start by national budgets, but its activities, the deliberations of its participants, and the undertakings of its working groups were given minimal publicity, for they feared – as happened – ardent criticism. The way in which the SPP groups attempted to keep their work from the populations in the relevant countries reveals that they were serving an elite which wants to use the continent for its own purposes, knowing those purposes are not the same as the purposes of the larger populations.
On February 4, 2011, Conservative Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and Democratic U.S. president Barack Obama announced a new security and prosperity initiative. And on December 7 – as stated above – they announced the “Beyond the Border Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan”.
None of what is proposed is good for Canadian sovereignty. Agreement has been reached to share private, personal information without hindrance. The Beyond the Border initiative will, also, permit enforcement officers to operate on both sides of the border. In the description of the intention, cross-border crime is the target. But once police officers from another country are granted legitimacy in police action in Canada, the door is wide open for every kind of violation, including attacks in Canada upon critics of the U.S.A. by U.S. enforcement officers. The documents have been criticized for giving no evidence that at any time or in any regulated way Canadians will be provided with information about – or given any responsible accounting of – activities engaged in here. In fact, we may suppose that secrecy will be the characteristic of as much activity as possible – under the claim of national security.
The simple, on-going fact that Canadian leaders and the Canadian mainstream press and media persistently avoid is the fact of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. does not sit beside Canada as Norway sits beside Sweden or as Peru sits beside Bolivia. The U.S. sits beside Canada as the most powerful imperial country the world has ever known. An imperial country is one which seeks to make other countries subservient to it. Canada sits next to the country that has covetted Canadian wealth and Canadian geography for two hundred years at least. In their designs for “North America” the power brokers in the U.S. have argued, propagandized, coerced, bribed, and seduced Canadian leaders and corporation owners into managed levels of loyalty: loyalty to Canada openly, loyalty to the U.S.A. in secret; loyalty to democracy openly, loyalty to fascism in secret.
A simple activity of fascist states is recognized by all serious observers. It is the destruction of fact, of truth, of history, of real events, and their replacement by a pattern of falsehoods supporting fascist rule. In that regard, a former, major pollster for Conservative forces in Canada, Allan Gregg, is reported in the September 10, 2012 newspaper The Hill Times (pp.1 and 15),
as fingering the Harper government. Mr. Gregg pointed to the cuts rolled out in the “omnibus” 2012 budget which, in fact, erase real information Canadians need to make democratic choices. Mr. Gregg refers to half the staff at Statistics Canada receiving redundancy notices “along with 20 per cent of the workforce at Library and Archives Canada; and 70 per cent of the scientists at Parks Canada; the cancellation of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy; the Experimental Lakes Area project; the National Council on Welfare and the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science amongst others; plus the massive changes to the Fisheries Act and Environmental Assessment regulations ….” Mr. Gregg added that it “amounted to an attempt to eliminate anyone who might use science, facts, and evidence to challenge government policies”.
Whether fully aware of it or not, Mr. Gregg gives numerous examples of the Harper government fabricating fact, what he calls “the willful dissemination of misinformation”. Fascist states always – as part of their being – replace real information with false information. They have to in order to keep the population ignorant and misinformed. Erasure of fact, history, and real evidence is followed by “the willful dissemination of misinformation”. Mr. Gregg cited a number of titles of government bills which, in fact, truly misrepresent what is in the bills and what is intended in their passage.
The Harper government move to fascism has confused and even fooled many Canadians. But it has not fooled the majority of Canadians. As a result, when Canadians fully realize the direction in which they are being taken, the lies they are being told, the new processes of repression being put in place, and the way the wealth of their nation – in culture, in economics, in social affairs, in fundamental freedoms – is being exploited, wasted, and looted for the profit of a tiny North American and global elite, Canadians will change the direction of the nation.
Margaret Conrad, Alvin Finkel, Cornelius Jaenen, History of the Canadian Peoples, Toronto, Copp Clark, 1998, Vol. 1, p. 368
J.W. Bengough, “The Humourous Side of Canadian History”, in ed. G. M. Fairchild, Canadian Leaves, New York, Napoleon Thompson & Co., 1887, p. 5
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M. Guido Girardi, quoted in Herve Kempf, “Au Chili, le printemps des étudiants”, Le Monde Diplomatique, Oct. 2011, pp. 1, 12, 13. And for an overview of the overthrow of the Allende government, see Paul Jensen, The Garotte, the United States and Chile, 1970-1973, Aarhus Univ. Press, 1988.
Susannah Moodie, Roughing It in the Bush, (1852), Ottawa, Carleton University Press, 1995, p. 87
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Jason Kaufman, The Origins of Canadian and American Political Differences, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2009, p. 175
George F. Stanley, Louis Riel, Toronto, Ryerson Press, 1963, pp. 39, 40, 79, 80, 81 ff.
Peter B. Waite, The Life and Times of Confederation, (1962) Toronto, Robin Brass Studio, 2001, pp. 326-327.
Carman Cumming, Secret Craft, The Journalism of Edward Farrer, Toronto, UTP, 1992, pp. 52-56.
Henry George, Protection Or Free Trade, (1886) New York, Doubleday, Page, 1927, p. 330.
George Taylor Denison, The Struggle For Imperial Unity, Toronto, Macmillan, 1909, pp. 102-103.
G.M. Fairchild (ed), Canadian Leaves, New York, Napoleon Thompson and Co., 1887.
Goldwin Smith quoted in Sir John Willison, Reminiscences Political and Personal, Toronto, M&S, 1919, p. 73.
Walter LeFeber, The American Search for Opportunity, The Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations, Vol. 2, Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 78-79.
Carman Cumming, Secret Craft, The Journalism of Edward Farrer, Toronto, UTP, 1992, p. 7.
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George Taylor Denison, The Struggle For Imperial Unity, Toronto, MacMillan, 1909, p. 165.
Carman Cumming, Secret Craft, The Journalism of Edward Farrer, pp. 118-128, 148ff, 176-204.
Roger Graham, “Through the First World War”, in J.M.S. Careless, R. Craig Brown, eds., The Canadians 1867-1967, Toronto, Macmillan, 1967, p. 176.
Robert Kidelski, John Maynard Keynes Fighting For Britain, Macmillan, 2000.
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J.L. Granatstein, Norman Hilmer, For Better or Worse, Toronto, Copp Clark Pitman, 1991, p. 238.
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Norman Hillmer, J.L. Granatstein, Empire to Umpire, Toronto, Irwin Publishing, 1994, p. 176.
Donald Creighton, “Harold Adams Innis – An Appraisal”, in eds. Melody, Salter, Heyer, Culture, Communication, and Dependency, New Jersey, Ablex Publishing, 1981, p. 23.
Erastus Wiman, “The Advantages of Commercial Union to Canada and the United States”, in ed. G. M. Fairchild, Canadian Leaves, New York, Napoleon Thompson and Co., 1887, p. 278.
Norman Hillmer, J.L. Granatstein, Empire to Umpire, Toronto, Irwin Publishing, 1994, pp. 260-261.
J.L. Granatstein, Norman Hillmer, For Better or Worse, Toronto, Copp Clark, 1991, pp. 213-214
Paul Rutherford, When Television Was Young: Primetime Canada 1952-1967, Toronto, UTP, 1990.
Paul Litt, The Muses, the Masses, and the Massey Commission, Toronto, UTP, 1992.
Herschel Hardin, A Nation Unaware, Vancouver, J.J. Douglas, 1974.
Stephen Azzi, Walter Gordon and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism, McGill-Queens, 1999, pp. 40-41.
J.L. Granatstein, Yankee Go Home? Toronto, Harper Collins, 1996.
Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War, New York, The New Press, 1999, p. 245.
Janet B. Friskney, New Canadian Library: The Ross-McClelland Years, 1952 – 1978, Toronto, UTP, 2007.
Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, New York, Knopf, 1974, p. 268.
Walter Gordon, A Political Memoir, Toronto, M&S, 1977, p. 113.
Bothwell, Drummond, English, Canada since 1945: Power, Politics, and Provincialism, (1981) Toronto, UTP, 1989.
Bothwell, Drummond, English, Canada since 1945… p. 257.
Yves Engler, Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping – The Truth May Hurt, RED/Fernwood Publishing, 2012, p. 140.
Tom Kent quoted in Stephen Azzi, Walter Gordon and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism, McGill-Queens, 1999, p. 131.
Walter Gordon, A Political Memoir, Toronto, M&S, 1977, p.255
Barry Lord, The History of Painting in Canada, Toronto, NC Press, p. 205.
George Bowering, Craft Slices, Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1985.
Charles Foran, Mordecai, The Life and Times, Vintage Canada, 2010, p. 191.
Frank Davey, Earle Birney, Toronto, Copp Clark, 1971.
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Charles Foran, Mordecai, The Life and Times, Vintage Canada, 2010.
Walter Gordon, A Political Memoir, Toronto, M&S, 1977, p. 300.
Walter Gordon, A Political Memoir, Toronto, M&S, 1977, pp. 318-319.
Leslie Armour and Elizabeth Trott, The Faces of Reason, Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier Press, p. xviii.
Mel Watkins, “Waffle”, The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1988, p. 2270.
Walter Gordon quoted in Stephen Azzi, Walter Gordon and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism, McGill-Queens, 1999, p. 171.
Walter Gordon, A Political Memoir, Toronto, M&S, 1977, p. 316.
Christina Newman, quoted in Stephen Azzi, Walter Gordon and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism, McGill-Queens, p. 177.
Walter Gordon, A Political Memoir, 1977, p. 315.
Walter Gordon, A Political Memoir, 1977, p. 318.
Louis Fournier, FLQ, Montreal, Quebec-Amerique, 1982.
Michael McLoughlin, Last Stop, Paris, Penguin, 1988.
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Mel Hurtig, The Betrayal of Canada, Toronto, Stoddart, 1991, p. 10.
Paul Robinson, “Good Business For Good Neighours”, Chicago Tribune, October 26, 1988.
David Langille quoted in Mel Hurtig, The Betrayal of Canada, Toronto, Stoddart, 1992, p. 197.
William Kaplan, A Secret Trial, Brian Mulroney and the Public Trust, McGill-Queens, 2004, p. 13.
Gregory J. Inwood, Continentalizing Canada, The Politics and Legacy of the Macdonald Royal Commission, Toronto, UTP, 2005, p. 207.
John W. Warnock, Creating a Failed State: The U.S. and Canada in Afghanistan, Fernwood Publishing, 2008, pp. 170-171.
Gregory J. Inwood, Continentalizing Canada, The Politics and Legacy of the Macdonald Royal Commission, Toronto, UTP, 2005, pp. 304-305.
Mel Hurtig, The Betrayal of Canada, Toronto, Stoddart, 1991pp. 213-214.
Harold Innis, “Great Britain, the United States and Canada”, in ed. M.Q. Innis, Harold Innis, Toronto, UTP, 1956, pp. 394-412.
Donald Creighton, “Harold Adams Innis – An Appraisal”, in eds. Melody, Salter, and Heyer, Culture, Communication, and Dependency, New Jersey, Ablex Publishing, 1981, p. 24.
Nicholas Shaxson, Treasure Islands, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, p. 49.
Norman Penlington, Canada and Imperialism, 1896-1899, Toronto, UTP, 1965, p. 11; and see pp. 261-263.
George Bowering, “Confessions of a Failed American”, Maclean’s Magazine, November 1971, p. 79.
George Bowering, At War With The U.S., Vancouver, Talonbooks, 1974, p.25.
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The above in its entirety is the work of Robin Mathews
For those wanting to read Robin Mathews entire book, it`s available in one long post on the side-bar, atop my front page.
P.S.....Professor Mathews, it was indeed my pleasure to post your book, I personally enjoyed it, the momentum built and built, a crescendo that climaxed into a jaw-dropping conclusion...Bravo
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