The Government of Canada’s unacceptable response to the tragedy in Lebanon

People of Quebec stand with Lebanese people at vigil at the Lebanese consulate in Montreal, August 6, 2020.

Canada has made aid to Lebanon in the midst of this great tragedy they have suffered conditional on the Lebanese government enacting all kinds of reforms demanded by the imperialist financial institutions. It blames the Lebanese government for the plight of the country for which the U.S. imperialists, Israeli Zionists, Lebanon’s former colonial power France and others are fully to blame. The conditions which exist in Lebanon today and the many tragedies the Lebanese people have suffered in the past and which they suffer today are of their making. Instead of taking up their responsibilities and putting the well-being of the Lebanese people in command of their decisions on getting aid to Lebanon, these governments blame the Lebanese people and the factional fighting in the government – a government based on the model given to them by the French imperialists in the first place. They are demanding regime change, while they channel aid through their own agencies to further undermine the unity in action of the people to deal with the tragedy which has befallen the people. Experience shows this will merely enrich these so-called humanitarian agencies while the plight of the people will remain.

Two days after the devastating explosion tore through Beirut on August 4, French President Emmanuel Macron made a trip to Beirut outside of the purview of the Lebanese government, media report. He toured the site of the blast and some of the capital’s hardest-hit neighbourhoods. Macron made it a point to say he was not there to support Lebanese leaders and would make sure that any assistance from France would go to the people. He reiterated that no financial assistance would be given to the government to help ease a deepening financial crisis, without substantial reforms. Touring a devastated neighbourhood, Macron said that he was there to ask political leaders “to change the system, to stop division… and to fight corruption.” After meeting with political leaders at the presidential palace, Macron said, “There is a need to create a new political order in Lebanon,” calling for a complete overhaul of the system and urgent reforms in all sectors.

For its part, the Government of Canada took a despicable position. At her press conference on August 6, Minister of International Development Karina Gould began by shedding crocodile tears for the victims of the blast and their families. “Just know that the government of Canada is [sorry] as well and that we are working around the clock to provide assistance and support our friends in Lebanon,” she said. She then started lecturing about neo-liberal economics and blaming the near bankruptcy of Lebanon on the Lebanese government and people, not the international financial institutions and their onerous debts and demands for neo-liberal reforms which cripple the victimized countries.

It is Hitlerite logic which must be condemned. She used this Hitlerite logic to justify why Canada is giving humanitarian aid to what she calls “trusted humanitarian agencies.”

This comes in the middle of the WE scandal which shows just what kind of “trusted humanitarian organizations” the Government of Canada finances and supports.

At the press conference, Gould continued her rant saying:

“We are very concerned about the economic situation in Lebanon and of course defaulting on debt payments [$1.2 billion Eurobond debts] was of great concern to us and we have also seen the significant repercussions that this has had amongst the Lebanese people. Canada is always willing to have conversations whether it’s with the G7 or the G20 or the multilateral development bank to see what we can do to assist Lebanon.

“However, we feel very strongly that there needs to be significant political and economic reforms within the country to make sure that that assistance would be most effective. We are having those conversations and certainly [August 4]’s events highlighted the urgency of making sure that Lebanon can get into a much better fiscal position and those conversations are ongoing, but I would say that we are deeply concerned by the current economic status and the impacts that is having on the Lebanese people.

“[…] And that is something that we have been very firm in. And so that’s one of the reasons why we continue to provide assistance to trusted humanitarian partners who are operating on the ground but recognizing that this disaster in particular has exacerbated what was already a very precarious financial position for Lebanon.”

This is gross interference for self-serving reasons in the internal affairs of the Lebanese people. It is also a diversion to deflect attention from the actual dangers posed to the security of all by hazardous substances right here in Canada, for which the Canadian government bears direct responsibility. The peoples of the world saw the horror of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy in Quebec when a freight train with 72 tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed in downtown Mégantic, spilling their contents and causing a series of fires and explosions of catastrophic proportions, in which 47 people were killed, many others were injured and downtown Mégantic was destroyed.

It has been amply proven that decades of rail industry deregulation by successive Canadian governments prepared the conditions for this tragedy and other major derailments, fires and explosions which have taken place across the country. Many of these disasters did not cause the loss of human life simply because they occurred away from populated areas.

To this day, trains carrying sulphuric acid and propane gas, which are even more hazardous than crude oil, continue to be parked at the same place, on the same slope, unattended and with insufficient brakes, from where the runaway train descended bringing hell to Lac-Mégantic on that night of July 6, 2013. The same situation exists across the country.

What lesson can the Canadian government give the Lebanese people and government? Canadian society has lots of its own problems to deal with. The Canadian government must stop interfering in other peoples’ internal affairs and being party to enslaving supranational institutions which deprive the Lebanese people of their sovereign decision-making power over their own affairs. Canadians must denounce, with utmost contempt, the Canadian government’s unacceptable position.

TML Weekly, August 8, 2020 – No. 29

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Filed under Canada, West Asia (Middle East)

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