Monday, May 15, 2006

Opinion: Canada as an Imperialist State

One of the speakers I saw over the weekend was Steven Staples of the Polaris Institute. He has done some important work surrounding military spending. He believes that Canada's foreign policy is mainly driven by want to keep trade with the United States. Its very important that we get away from that form of thinking. Canada is not simply catering to the imperialism of the United States, Canada is imperialist in its own right.

The history of Canada is mired in domination of others. It began by the colonization by the French and English empires over the hundreds of Aboriginal and Inuit Nations. Once the Seven Years War led to the conquer of the French settlers it established the dominance of the English over all people in what later became Canada. Later Canada became an official country and continued to widen power over First Nations, French, and minorities. First Nations land was reduced and reduced including today and, awful cultural elimination programs were put in place to produce imperialism on a domestic scale. This domestic imperialism has continued as seen by Oka in 1990, Ipperwash in 1995, and Caledonia today.
When talking about Canadian imperialism however, it is important to look at the current international context. Canada is participating in the occupation of Afghanistan which though many of the media spin as humanitarian is anything but. Canadian companies are making large amounts of money from the occupation and in fact Jean Chretien the former Prime Minsiter has many links to Caspian sea hydrocarbon companies. You might ask aren't are troops providing stability for the people of Kandahar regardless? No, Canada is providing stability for a pipeline for oil and natural gas that runs from the Caspian through Turkmenstein, through Afghanistan passing Kandahar and then going south to Pakistan. Canada has interests other then the United States in Afghanistan.

The coup d'etat in Haiti also represents a wing of Canadian Imperialism. Haiti is a small island country in the Caribbean and the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Yet, Canada along with France and the United States planned a coup here in Ottawa then orchestrated it in Haiti against the democratic leader. The crime of the country was self-determination in its economic policy instead of following a neo-liberal tract that perpetuates economic inequality. Later companies like Gildan ActiveWear closed down manufacturing in Canada and moved it to sweatshops in Haiti.

One must also look at what Canada is now doing with diplomacy. Canada now opposes resolutions that condemn Israel and have cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority. It has been pushing genetically modified foods and terminator seeds at the UN Convention for Biological Diversity. Canada also is one of the few countries in the West not to condemn Guantanamo Bay most likely because, of the creation of the Milhaven facility and the use of Security Certificates. Another important statistic to note is that Canada is the sixth largest producer of arms in the world. Its time for people to wake up and understand the complexity and rage of Canadian imperialism. That way people will be able to say no to this perpetuation of oppression and the debasing of Canadian integrity.

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