Among matters which concern Canadians most are questions related to war and peace. Canadians opposed the Harper government not least for its extremist positions, opposition to peaceful resolution of conflicts and warmongering activities. The Harper government offended Canadians with its boorish rhetoric and refusal to comply with international norms. This included its support for the war in Afghanistan, participation in bombing and regime change in Libya, aggressive stance towards the peoples of Iran and Palestine and the DPRK, support for regime change in Syria and, most recently, embroiling Canada in a dirty war in Ukraine and another U.S.-led war in Iraq and then Syria.
The Liberal Party, during the 2015 federal election, gave the impression that they also opposed this extremism and stood for peace. The Liberals referred to a “proud tradition of international leadership” and cited the creation of the United Nations, the campaign against South African apartheid and a treaty to ban landmines as hallmarks of Canadian foreign policy from which they would take their cues. The Liberals accused the Harper government of turning its back on the United Nations and multilateralism, giving the impression they support the right of sovereign UN members to determine their own affairs and the peaceful resolution of conflicts between nations. The Liberals emphasized the supposed humanitarian and peacekeeping capabilities of Canada’s armed forces. This was referred to as “restor[ing] Canada’s leadership in the world.” Importantly, the Liberal platform stated, “We will end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq.”
Since being elected, the Liberals have shown that in the name of peace they, like the Harper government, stand for war. Picking up the thread of the Chrétien Liberal government’s foreign policy review which never questioned Canada’s participation in NATO, the government of Justin Trudeau has revealed itself to be in lockstep with U.S. imperialism and its striving to establish its hegemony over all regions of the world. Besides other things, it has now fallen in line with the Obama program to take over UN peacekeeping missions with the new nomenclature of “peace operations.” It is supporting U.S. meddling in the peace process in Colombia and continuing Canada’s support for death squad democracy in Haiti as well as in Ukraine, as seen in Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion’s visit to Kiev on February 1 and the government signalling its intention to continue to support the fascist-led Ukrainian government and to provide Canadian troops to train the fascist paramilitaries. Rather than end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq, reports say the Liberals will soon announce an increase in the number of Canadian soldiers sent to participate in the U.S.-led war.
It has been twenty years since the Chrétien government conducted a review of Canada’s foreign policy following the demise of the Soviet Union in the 1989-1990 period. This ended the bi-polar division of the world and should have led to a new era of peace between the nations of the world once the Cold War was over. It should also have led to Canada being taken out of the aggressive U.S. military alliance NATO and calls for it to be dismantled. The 1994/95 review entitled Canada in the World did none of this. Instead, the review gave rise to warmongering theories such as the Responsibility to Protect. The review put forward the idea that the three “key objectives of Canada’s foreign policy” should be: “the promotion of prosperity and employment; the protection of our security, within a stable global framework and the projection of Canadian values and culture.”
Now this government, in the name of bringing Canada’s foreign policy in line with current realities, is using monopoly-sponsored think tanks and the Liberal intelligentsia to promote its warmongering course in the name of peace. This was the concern of Ottawa Forum 2014: Rethinking Canada’s International Strategy and its triumphant return with Ottawa Forum 2016: Building a Foreign Policy for Canada’s Future. The Ottawa Forum is sponsored by the think tanks Canada 2020 and the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS). Keynote speakers in 2016 were Foreign Affairs Minister Dion and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Dion used his speech at the Ottawa Forum 2016 to advance the theory that Canada’s foreign policy experienced a “period of drift” over the past 10 years. Dion claimed that Canada suffered from a foreign policy of “isolation.” Now is the time to “remember [the] legacy” of Canada’s foreign policy “and re-engage with it,” Dion said.
“If we are smart and we stand up for who we are, we can be stronger as a result of engagement and we can be there, where we should be, to protect human rights and to project Canadian values,” Dion said.
Dion presented a fairytale image of “the Canadian way” in which crimes and suppression of rights were described as “respect” and “peaceful means.” “[P]luralism, respect for one another, respect for our heritage (Indigenous peoples), the very fact we speak the languages of the Commonwealth et La Francophonie, our ability to transcend difficult challenges in our own democracy through peaceful means: the Clarity Act – are the way forward,” Dion said.
How can Canada “regain ourselves to again become effective fixers and rational players,” Dion asked. He pointed to the meeting of North American foreign ministers which he hosted later that day in Quebec City. It is an example of how “we can strengthen the relationship, not just within North America but from it to the Caribbean, Latin America, even the world,” he said.
In conclusion Dion said that political leaders “should be guided by the ethics of responsibility, as opposed to the ethics of conviction.”
In this regard the government has also appointed Roland Paris as Senior Advisor to Justin Trudeau in the Prime Minister’s Office. He is one of five people listed as principal secretaries of the Prime Minister. These include two other Senior Advisors, Principal Secretary Gerald Butts and Chief of Staff Katie Telford.
Paris is the former Founding Director of CIPS at the University of Ottawa from which he is now on leave and co-organizer with Taylor Owen of Ottawa Forum 2014. The National Post called Paris “the man behind Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy.” The Post reported on December 29 that Paris was working for the Liberals before the election was called and that “his fingerprints are clearly evident in the party’s election platform.” All the while Paris was also frequently quoted, before and after the election, as an academic and expert commenting on Liberal foreign policy prospects. Paris is also said to be present at “most, if not all, of Trudeau’s meetings with foreign leaders.”
Contrary to Liberal rhetoric, Canadians opposed the government’s foreign policy over the past 10 years not because of Canada’s “isolation” but because of its unrepentant warmongering character, alignment with the aims of U.S. imperialism and NATO, and the crimes of its military aggression in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq, Syria, Haiti and Ukraine, among other countries. To refer to this as “isolation” is a hallmark of Liberal hypocrisy and should not be tolerated. The warmongering thread of the foreign policy of the previous government runs straight through the governments which preceded it and it is precisely this aspect which the Liberals plan to continue and step up in the name of “the Canadian way” and “Canadian values.”
What does the Minister of Foreign Affairs mean by the ethics of responsibility as opposed to the ethics of conviction? He suggests that the “isolation” of the past 10 years was a result of the “conviction” of the previous government when it should have upheld “responsibility.” The “solution” presented is the opportunism and hypocrisy of the Liberals which know no end. Canadians will not stand for increased warmongering under the hoax of responsibility.
Oppose Liberal Hypocrisy!
No to Any Aggressive Role for Canada!
Canada Out of Iraq, Syria and Ukraine Now!
Canada Needs an Anti-War Government!
Source: TML Weekly, February 6, 2016 – No. 6