What does it mean when the Prime Minister and other Government of Canada Ministers and Premiers say they are sorting things out with the U.S. imperialists? What are they negotiating and whom does it favour? PAULINE EASTON and K.C. ADAMS #COVIDCanada
Times of crisis have a tendency to reveal the truth of a matter in stark and often startling ways. Following Canada’s announcement of having ratified the new NAFTA trade deal with the United States and Mexico, the ugly reality of a trading relationship, declared to be mutually beneficial, has been revealed.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced in a White House press briefing on April 3 that he would use the Defense Production Act to prevent U.S. companies from selling N95 respirators, surgical masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment to other countries, including Canada and Mexico. He issued an executive order giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the power to “allocate to domestic use” several types of medical personal protective equipment that would otherwise be exported.
“It is the policy of the United States to prevent domestic brokers, distributors, and other intermediaries from diverting such material overseas,” the executive order reads while giving FEMA some discretion, telling the agency to stop exports “as appropriate.”
“We need these items immediately for domestic use. We have to have them,” Trump said at his daily briefing, describing medical supply exporters as “unscrupulous actors and profiteers.”
Medical manufacturer 3M, headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota and with plants throughout the world, said in a statement that the U.S. government has ordered it to stop sending N95 respirator masks to Canada and Latin America. “The administration also requested that 3M cease exporting respirators that we currently manufacture in the United States to the Canadian and Latin American markets. There are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health care workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators,” 3M said. News agencies report the company warned that if other countries retaliate, “the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease.”
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau responded saying that blocking trade to Canada could “end up hurting Americans as much as it hurts anybody else.” He alluded to the fact that many Canadian health care workers cross over from Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan every day to work in the U.S. medical system and that U.S. companies producing personal protective equipment receive necessary material inputs from Canadian producers. “The level of integration between our economies goes both ways across the border,” Trudeau said, adding, “It would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce the amount of back-and-forth trade in essential goods and services, including medical goods, across our border.”
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “I do want to assure Canadians that our government – as has been demonstrated by our action – is prepared to do whatever it takes to defend the national interest.”
For his part, Ontario Premier Doug Ford expressed over and over again his “disappointment” with the decision. “I can’t stress how disappointed I am with President Trump for making this decision,” Ford said at a press conference. Quebec Premier François Legault echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of provinces being self-sufficient when it comes to medical equipment. “I’m not going to rely on President Trump, I’m not going to rely on any prime minister or president or any other country ever again,” Legault said.
The Heart of the Trading Relations
To see and hear those who claim to represent Canada posturing as if Canada is independent of the U.S. and an equal trading partner is quite sickening. They parade their ignorance of historical truths to force people into believing they represent “Canadian interests” and not those of the global financial oligarchy.
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) sorted out how the matter of Canada-U.S. relations poses itself shortly after its founding in the 1970s. At that time, some proclaimed that Canada was an oppressed nation and the struggle for independence was the main issue for the Canadian people. Others called Canada an imperialist power with its main contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the working class.
CPC(M-L) pointed to the necessity of making clear distinctions when analyzing, such as:
– between colonies proper and others that one could call derivative colonies;
– between global owners of social wealth, what was called the big bourgeoisie, and owners of local or national social wealth, called the national bourgeoisie;
– between dependence and independence; and
– between an oppressor state and an oppressed state.
To characterize Canada as a colony proper, a country occupied by a European colonizing population means that the state is oppressed. In this regard, CPC(M-L) pointed out the facts of the matter. Canada was established as a colony in the 1790s in the style of colonies established with oppressor states. To say that Canada was a colony proper and that the Canadian state was an oppressor state is not contradictory. A state can be a dependant state like Canada’s, while at the same time being an oppressor state. There is no contradiction there either.
Another thesis refuted by CPC(M-L)’s investigation and analysis claimed that the question of the independence or the dependence of Canada is tied up with whether or not a bourgeois democratic revolution has taken place.
CPC(M-L) pointed out that the success or failure of a bourgeois democratic revolution does not decide the questions of whether or not Canada has an oppressed state, whether or not Canada is dependant, and whether Canada is a colony proper or not. In Canada, a democratic revolution against the colonial power never took place, and in Quebec, the British suppressed the nascent republic, preventing the democratic revolution from happening.
CPC(M-L) pointed out that from the time of the British colonial conquest of New France in the 1760s, the British colonialists established the capitalist mode of production in what is now Quebec, while at the same time perpetuating certain aspects of feudalism that had been imported from pre-revolutionary feudal France.
After the setback suffered by the British colonialists with the American Revolution in 1776, they planted the expelled so-called United Empire Loyalists in what is now Canada. This was meant to consolidate the British colonial position in British North America.
The British colonialists established an oppressor state in York (Toronto region) in the 1790s, with a capitalist mode of production throughout Upper Canada and wherever it expanded. The socio-economic system and political forms of the English bourgeoisie were extended into what is now called Canada, over which it ruled.
Canada’s ruling elite and their governments, media and social base have also perpetuated another plank in their disinformation. This concerns the history of the development of capitalism in Canada into imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, the development of industrial mass production into monopoly capitalism, and the merging of owners of industrial and financial social wealth into a financial oligarchy that sends its social wealth around the world in search of maximum profit.
Right from the 1790s and especially since 1867, the state has played a major role in establishing in Canada a capitalist socio-economic system with monopolies imposed upon it. The major branches of large-scale industry in Canada are a consequence of the import of social wealth into the country, mainly from Britain and, after the beginning of the 20th century, from the United States.
With the onset of the general crisis of global imperialism during and after World War I, state monopoly capitalism emerged in Canada. It was particularly dominant in the manufacturing, mining and forestry sectors, as the embracing feature of the economic system. This means that the socio-economic system became state monopoly capitalist, i.e. an imperialist system overlaid with monopolies, mainly multinational U.S. imperialist corporations. Within this system, the state operates as an executive committee of the most powerful owners of social wealth who together finance, direct, control and are generally active in and dominate the key economic sectors and send the social wealth they own and control throughout the world in relentless pursuit of maximum profit.
Within this situation, the Canadian state is an oppressor state within the world imperialist system of states. Nevertheless Canada has features that have perpetuated from its colonial beginning. Its imperialism is dependant on the more powerful members of the imperialist system of states and its state is dominated by U.S. imperialism.
Today, as a result of neo-liberal globalization and the striving of U.S. imperialism for worldwide hegemony, the Canadian economy and state are not just dominated by U.S. imperialism but are integrated into its global cartels and war economy.
Food for Thought
CPC(M-L) carried out the economic and historical analysis of Canada with the participation of thousands of people from all walks of life in the early 1970s. The Party established that the social base of reaction and the ruling elite in Canada is the imperialist social class, the financial oligarchy. The ruling elite include Canadian owners of great social wealth and those who exist as an extension of the U.S. imperialist financial oligarchy. The ruling elite own, control and monopolize the vast majority of the economy. They control the main means of production and expropriate the added-value the Canadian working people produce.
In Canada, what could be termed a national class of owners of social wealth, or a national bourgeoisie, is extremely weak and has proven itself incapable of fighting the ruling financial oligarchy that is integrated within the U.S.-controlled imperialist system of states.
In Canada, the class of owners of social wealth with only a home market and production of goods and services for that home market is overwhelmed by the financial oligarchy and U.S. imperialism. This class of Canadian owners of social wealth for the home market cannot sustain an independent existence because the financial oligarchy in control is the base of the U.S. imperialist domination of Canada.
The ruling elite of the financial oligarchy are reactionary through and through and do not permit the state power to be used to favour the peoples of Canada. This is why, to wage their struggles effectively, the Canadian working people have to take into account the reactionary financial oligarchy of big owners of social wealth and the U.S. imperialists and their system of states. The spokespersons for the current arrangements cover this up by presenting government representatives as representing “Canada” and “Canadians” while in fact they represent the dominant financial oligarchy and U.S. imperialism.
What the current crisis is revealing provides a lot of food for thought. Can the Canadian working class and other strata of the people go along with this so-called anti-pandemic war the Government of Canada declares to be waging on behalf of the nation? What does it mean when the Prime Minister and other Government of Canada Ministers and Premiers say they are sorting things out with the U.S. imperialists? What are they negotiating and whom does it favour? What does it mean when the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec say that to be self-sufficient in medical equipment is important for them when in fact no manufacturing of any significant capacity is independent of the U.S. imperialists and capable of taking decisions that favour Canada’s national interests.
To be truly independent demands independence from the U.S.-controlled imperialist system of states and its war economy. To be truly independent means to have the courage to oppose the financial oligarchy that is completely integrated with U.S. imperialism and which colludes and contends within its own ranks for the sole purpose of serving narrow private interests.
A new direction out from under this control beckons Canadians.
The pandemic crisis reveals an alternative is not only necessary but possible with organization, audacity and clear thinking.