Listen to this editorial now.
Canada should stop fooling itself
A recent Toronto Star reported that Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly will visit three European countries, Slovenia, North Macedonia and Albania “as part of a push to shore up Canada’s ties with countries in Russia’s backyard.”
It goes on to say that the visit is part of a NATO commitment “to support democracies facing Russian meddling and misinformation.” Not only that, but our foreign minister “will meet with government officials from Moldova and Belarus’s opposition, with both countries facing anti-democratic forces supported by Moscow.” Then she will meet with the prime minister of Albania “about the rule of law and equity issues.”
Just like that, in a matter of a few sentences, Canada establishes some “facts” about Russia, about itself, as an arbiter of truth, a purveyor of democracy, and a muscular defender of the weak against the strong. There was a time when we modestly referred to ourselves as “punching above our weight.” But to say that about this version of Canada, described herein, is at best an understatement, at worst an insult. The Star’s piece implies that we’re now a heavyweight, free to move around and teach recalcitrant states some manners while passing on our “rules based” values.
It’s a dangerous thing when you start believing all the stuff in your resume. Because that summary of your work experiences never includes stuff that cast a shadow on your past. So you never include the time you got fired from that dishwashing job, or the lousy grades you earned at some obscure university in Alabama.
So we are not likely to find out how we protect the many Canadian-owned mining companies in any number of Central and South American or African countries by bribing officials, breaking legitimate trade union activities, and embracing autocrats. It’s important to note that “three-quarters of the world’s mining companies are headquartered in Canada. Canadian mining firms are mired in corruption and human rights abuses around the world, yet Justin Trudeau has reneged on pledges to regulate them and end the abuses,” according to writer and researcher Yves Engler.
Our government and its scribes proudly point out that Canada has committed $4.85 billion to help Ukraine run a bankrupt country, plus another $1.8 billion of military assistance. The scribes do not say that the money benefits defence manufactures in Canada and around the world. For example, General Dynamics Land Systems received $165 million from the Canadian government for a light-armoured vehicle fleet produced in London, Ontario, to go to Ukraine. That sum is just for this one contract.
Up to now, the public is locked out of discussions about spending billions in Ukraine on a war we helped start, even as Canadians plead for finding affordable housing, public transit, and for the building and repair of our decrepit infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Melanie Joly is walking around, trimming Russia’s backyard and talking about “Our shared values, including the defence of democracy and the pursuit of a rules-based world order, unite us.”