Canadians’ demands for a just foreign policy absent from ‘leaders’ debate’

Protests outside pro-war foreign policy debate, Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto | MLPC

Protests outside pro-war foreign policy debate, Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto | MLPC

Absent from the Munk Debate on foreign policy was the most important factor in discussing Canada’s foreign policy — the need to get Canada out of NATO and NORAD so that its foreign policy is not under the command of the U.S imperialists whose president is ultimately the commander of Canadian forces.

Far from any meaningful discussion taking place, the debate was yet another occasion for the three so-called leaders to repeat stock phrases from their play book as they vie for the position of becoming Canada’s next Prime Minister. This is the position which has all the prerogative powers to send Canada to war without the approval of the people. More importantly, the event exemplified how private interests are trying to direct the outcome of the election. Moderator Rudyard Griffiths’ questions, imploring the leaders to “go deep” and “skip the talking points,” framed all the issues in a manner clearly aimed at putting on the defensive and marginalizing any deviation from the position the ruling class is now making clear it favours.

In this regard, as the election goes into its final stretch, the debate revealed that the knives are out and the fix is in. Meanwhile, a significant demonstration took place outside Roy Thompson Hall where the debate was held. That is where the demands of Canadians for a just foreign policy were expressed.

Significant protest outside “leaders’ debate’

A spirited protest was held outside Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto on September 28, the venue of the federal election “leaders’ debate” on foreign policy. The debate was sponsored by the Munk Debates, a private concern financed as a not-for-profit by mining capitalist Peter Munk of Barrick Gold. Groups participating included No One Is Illegal, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, Indigenous organizations, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, Canadian veterans organizing against Harper, environmental and climate justice groups and others. Supporters of the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals also gathered with signs for their respective party leaders.

The action vigorously opposed the Canadian government’s unjust foreign policy based on war and occupation that directly contributes to the refugee crisis and environmental degradation around the world. Speakers pointed out that under the Harper regime, Canada’s foreign policy has exhibited total disregard for human rights and the rights of nations. They called for the defeat of the Harper government and the necessity for Canada to have domestic and foreign policies based on upholding human rights.

Speakers touched on the Canadian government’s close relationship to mining corporations such as Barrick Gold, which have caused environmental degradation and human dislocation around the world. One speaker noted that Canadian mining firms in Africa treat workers as slave labour while the Canadian government turns a blind eye and even supports these companies when they violently suppress local people defending their rights.

Indigenous activists spoke of the importance of Canada upholding nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous peoples and abandoning its policy of trying to extinguish their rights. One elder stated that ending the Canadian government’s colonial outlook at home and abroad can only be done by the Indigenous peoples and Canadian people working together for a common future beginning with defeating the Harper government.

The Harper government’s brutal treatment of immigrants and refugees was also denounced. It is not uncommon in Canada for immigrants and refugees, especially from Africa, the Caribbean and Asia to be detained for up to a decade without recourse to justice, it was pointed out. There are at least 500,000 refugees in Canada without status, who everyday contribute to the Canadian economy but face the prospect of being arrested and deported even if they have established relationships and families here.

Sheets of paper with the names of some 20,000 refugees known to have died in transit around the world were laid on the ground outside the north entrance of the venue. These sheets had the effect of humanizing those who had died in contrast to the dehumanization imposed by Canada and the imperialist states.

 

Source: Renewal Update, September 29, 2015 • No. 176 (Previous Issues)

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