‘Ugly Canadian’ mining policies continue with Trudeau 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, delivering remarks to supporters at a Liberal Climate Action Rally in Toronto, ON, on March 4, 2019. (Photo by Arindam Shivaani/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Liberal government continues to promote an often-controversial industry across our planet.

Canada is home to 75% of the world’s mining companies. Present in most countries, Canadian-based or listed firms operate about 4,000 mineral projects abroad, which works out to over 20 per UN member state.

There have been an astounding number of conflicts at Canadian-run mines. Pick almost any country in the Global South — from Papua New Guinea to Ghana, Ecuador to the Philippines — and you will find a Canadian-run mine that has caused environmental devastation or been the scene of violent confrontations.

Recently Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) criticized Americas Gold and Silver. The Toronto-based company is accused of blocking workers from unionizing at their mine in northern Mexico.

AMLO has repeatedly criticized Canadian mining companies’ failure to pay outstanding taxes. But Canadian diplomats have gone to bat for the companies embroiled in a tax dispute with the Mexican government. Seventy per cent of foreign-owned mining companies operating in Mexico are Canadian-based and the embassy has repeatedly backed controversial mining projects.

Straight south, Canadian firms have dominated mining in Guatemala as well. In March a case was brought before the Federal Court alleging the minister of foreign affairs had improperly withheld information about its support for a Vancouver company that ran roughshod over indigenous communities in the Central American country. The federal government has refused to release details about its communications with Goldcorp, Guatemala and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights after the commission called for the closure of Goldcorp’s Marlin mine due to its lack of consultation with Indigenous communities.

A different Canadian court is currently hearing another case about a mining firm in Guatemala. Hudbay Minerals (previously Skye Resources) is being sued for its role in the gang-rape of eleven Indigenous women. The Intercept recently published “Evicting Lote Ocho: How a Canadian Mining Company Infiltrated the Guatemalan State” that reported on internal corporate documents released during the precedent-setting lawsuit. The files paint a picture of corporate influence and abuse.

In Brazil Belo Sun Mining has benefited from far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s hostility to indigenous rights and the environment. The Toronto-based company was recently allowed to move forward with a highly contentious gold mine in one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth. It’s use of heavy metals and cyanide in the Amazon’s Xingu River will “prompt the last stages of ecocide”, according to Rosana Miranda of the Sao Paulo-based Amazon Watch.

In March, protesters pelted Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez’s bus over his support for mining in Patagonia. Local and indigenous communities in the southernmost part of the hemisphere strongly oppose projects by Canadian firms Pan American Silver, Yamana Gold and El Dorado Gold. Mining and real estate interests have been pushing for mining bans to be lifted in the region. Suspected as a way to weaken opposition to capitalist encroachment, a wave of fires thought to be caused by arson, have destroyed land that Indigenous communities have protected from miners and developers.

Around the world Canadian-run mines commonly destroy farmland, harm endangered species and contaminate drinking water. They have also spurred beatings, kidnappings, arbitrary arrests and killings in the communities nearby. Canadian mines often undermine Indigenous self-determination and are pushed through despite overwhelming local opposition.

Over the past two decades thousands of articles, reports, documentaries and books have detailed Canadian mining abuses abroad. At least five UN bodies have called on Ottawa to hold Canadian companies accountable for their international operations. In 2015 the UN Human Rights Committee noted: “The State party [Canada] should (a) enhance the effectiveness of existing mechanisms to ensure that all Canadian corporations under its jurisdiction, in particular mining corporations, respect human rights standards when operating abroad; (b) consider establishing an independent mechanism with powers to investigate human rights abuses by such corporations abroad; and (c) develop a legal framework that affords legal remedies to people who have been victims of activities of such corporations operating abroad.”

To comply with international criticism and present a progressive face the Liberals promised to establish an independent ombudsperson on mining prior to their 2015 election. But Trudeau’s government waited nearly four years to announce the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). Another two years passed before CORE started taking cases last month.

In a House of Commons committee recently Liberal MP John McKay reportedly “confronted” minister for Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng over the government’s failure to provide CORE with sufficient power to properly investigate abuses by companies. All 14 union and NGO representatives on the government’s “multi-stakeholder advisory body on responsible business conduct” resigned in May 2019 after their concerns about the ombudsperson were disregarded. Instead of a robust, independent, position they promised to create in January 2018 CORE “relies on companies’ goodwill to voluntarily provide information that it requires in order to do an investigation,” said Emily Dwyer, coordinator of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability. “It has not been given the basic, minimum kind of mandate and tools that it would need to have any effect.”

The mining industry successfully thwarted legislation to constrain their abuses abroad. According to a report titled “Lobbying by mining industry on the proposed Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE)”, the two main industry associations met government officials hundreds of times between when the government announced it would establish an ombudsperson and its presentation of what turned into a largely powerless position. Between January 2018 and April 2019 the Mining Association of Canada and Prospector and Developers Association of Canada lobbied the federal government on 530 occasions. They met officials in the Prime Minister’s Office 33 times. The industry lobbying campaign was likely even greater since individual mining companies also organized dozens, if not hundreds, of visits.

While the government announced an independent position, they effectively created an advisor to the minister of international trade. But minister Mary Ng is an aggressive lobbyist for Canada’s global mining juggernaut. In March, her department put out a release noting “Minister Ng promotes Canada’s mining industry at virtual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada 2021 Convention”. During the convention Ng addressed a Canada-Africa Chamber of Business event labeled the “biggest African Mining Event in North America”. Just before the global pandemic hit Ng traveled to South Africa to attend Mining Indaba, the largest African focused mining conference.

Justin Trudeau has placed the power of Canadian foreign policy behind the industry. Canadian diplomats regularly visit officials with mining company representatives and raise mining interests with top government officials.

Extractive companies are big beneficiaries of Export Development Canada’s services. The crown corporation has provided tens of billions of dollars in financing and insurance to the extractive sector, including many controversial international projects. To the benefit of mining firms, the Liberals have demonstrated little interest in establishing human rights and environmental standards for EDC.

The Liberals have also boosted the Global Affairs run Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), which supports many mining projects. TCS officials based at Canadian diplomatic outposts assist firms with market assessments, problem-solving, contacting local officials, etc. “The TCS plays a pretty big role,” said Ben Chalmers, senior vice‑president Mining Association of Canada in 2019. Trade commissioners “stand behind us and give us the additional credibility that being associated with the Government of Canada abroad brings.”

Largely designed to protect Canadian mining investment, the Liberals have continued to negotiate and sign Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPAs). In a March 2017 release titled “International Trade Minister promotes Canada’s mining sector at Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention”, Francois-Philippe Champagne “announced that the Canada-Mongolia Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) is now in force. This agreement provides substantial protections for Canadian investors in Mongolia, where there are already significant Canadian-owned mining assets.” These investors’ rights accords circumscribe governments’ capacity to regulate corporations by giving them the right to sue governments — in a private, investor-friendly, international tribunal — for pursuing policies that interfere with their profit making.

The Trudeau government has also channeled large sums of aid to international mining. They’ve put up more than $100 million in assistance for international projects with names such as “West Africa Governance and Economic Sustainability in Extractive Areas”, “Enhanced Oversight of the Extractive Industries in Francophone Africa” and “Enhancing Resource Management through Institutional Transformation in Mongolia”.

In other words not much changed between the previous taxpayer-subsidizing corporate mining Conservative government and the current Liberals. Notwithstanding some “progressive” rhetoric, the sober reality is that Trudeau has largely continued the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ “Ugly Canadian” mining policies abroad.

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Filed under Justin Trudeau, mining

Why is a Montréal school pushing students to join the Israeli military?

Hebrew Academy bombards its students with pro-Israel Defense Force messages. Montréal’s largest Jewish school shows movies that celebrate the Israeli military; students send gifts to IDF bases; Israeli emissaries lead kindergarten classes in “fun IDF programs”.

Why should Quebec taxpayers fund a school aggressively promoting a foreign military engaged in a brutal 50-year occupation? These efforts to entice impressionable young minds into oppressing Palestinians may even be illegal.

The Foreign Enlistment Act is supposed to prohibit Canadians from recruiting for a foreign army. It notes, “any person who, within Canada, recruits or otherwise induces any person or body of persons to enlist or to accept any commission or engagement in the armed forces of any foreign state or other armed forces operating in that state is guilty of an offence.”

Hebrew Academy (HA) promotes those who join the Israeli military. An April 2020 article from the school website notes, “following a nod to HA alumni serving in the IDF and a prayer for chayalei Tzahal [IDF] by School Rabbi Rabbi Eddie Shostak, Head of School Dr. Laura Segall relayed that her parents both served in the IDF.” That month HA also posted a video to its Facebook page of alumni currently serving in the IDF. Under the caption “A meaningful video featuring our HA alumni who are serving in the Israel Defense Forces”, a half dozen alumni spend 12 minutes telling students about the importance of serving in the violent occupation force.

The school considers joining the IDF a special accomplishment. Last March 24 HA posted a picture of three young men to its Facebook with the caption: “Mazel tov to class of 2018 alumni Michael Kuperstok, Nathan Bebuzru and Yehuda Besner who are enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces this week. We are beyond proud of you!”

A number of initiatives may more directly seek to entice students to join the IDF. Former Israeli soldiers visit HA students about to graduate (Grade 11 in Québec). In 2016 their website reported, “only one week into the new school year, Grade 10 and 11 students were privileged to meet three former members of the IDF who are in Montreal on a two-week visit as representatives of Beit Halochem.”

HA is a federal government recognized Community Learning Centre and is registered with the Québec education ministry. Private schools in Québec receive 60% of the per-pupil operational funding of public schools and 40% of their total funds generally come from the provincial government. But, this sum doesn’t include the cost to the public purse of the tax receipts given to charities. A sizable share of tuition at HA can also be deducted from an individual’s federal income tax and HA receives significant support from Federation Combined Jewish Appeal of Montréal and other registered charities.

A recent parliamentary petition is putting a spotlight on recruitment and inducement for the Israeli military. Submitted by Rabbi David Mivasair and sponsored by NDP MP Matthew Green, the petition calls “upon the Minister of Justice to undertake a thorough investigation of those who have recruited or facilitated recruiting for the Israel Defense Forces, and if warranted lay charges against those involved in recruiting and encouraging recruiting for the IDF.” It is part of a multi-faceted campaign that began in the fall with an open letter signed by Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, filmmaker Ken Loach, author Yann Martel, former MP Jim Manly, poet El Jones and more than 150 others asking the federal government to apply charges under the Foreign Enlistment Act against those recruiting Canadians for the Israeli military.

While Canadian law makes it illegal to recruit soldiers for a foreign state, it is unclear where the line is between enticing impressionable young people to oppress Palestinians and formal recruitment.

Legal questions aside, should a Montreal school funnel youngsters into a foreign military engaged in a brutal 50-year occupation? And should taxpayers foot the bill?

 

 

Please sign the parliamentary petition calling for an investigation into illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada.

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Canadian military is a patriarchal, authoritarian threat to democracy

Details of former Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance’s sexual relations with a subordinate has put the patriarchal character of the military back in the spotlight. But there’s been insufficient discussion of the ways in which the issue highlights the authoritarian nature of the armed forces and its negative impact on pluralistic, democratic, values.

Six years ago former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps released a report detailing widespread sexual assault within the Canadian Forces (CF). Her 2015 investigation found a “culture of misogyny” in the CF “hostile to women and LGTBQ members.” In 2019 Deschamps told the House of Commons defence committee there had been little progress in eliminating sexism within the CF and between April 1 2016 and March 9 of this year there were 581 sexual assault and 221 sexual harassment complaints implicating CF members.

In a bid to change the culture of the military and offer greater protection to victims, Deschamps made 10 proposals. The most important suggestion was to establish a misconduct reporting system outside of the chain of command to receive reports of sexual assault and harassment. But the military largely failed to implement her proposals.

Instead of calling on the military to immediately move forward with Deschamps’ proposals, the Trudeau government responded to growing criticism of their complicity in Vance’s sexual misdeeds by asking another former Supreme Court judge, Louise Arbour, to conduct an … investigation. On CBC’s Power and Politics last week the panelists were clear that the government instigated a new investigation simply to change the channel on an embarrassing scandal. But they ignored broader questions about the military, ignoring the ways in which Deschamps’ proposals put into question not only CF patriarchy, but also its authoritarian and hierarchal, character.

Ranging from Private Basic/Ordinary Seaman to General/Admiral, there are nineteen ranks in the CF. In deference to authority, the lower ranks must salute and obey orders from higher ranks. CF uniforms, badges and bars help individuals know who they must salute and obey.

There are few ways to legitimately challenge authority in the CF. Military members are not permitted to sign petitions complaining of unjust conditions. Nor are the rank-and-file allowed to unionize. Majority rule or even influence runs counter to CF principles. The rank-and-file collectively refusing an order is considered mutiny and is punishable by life in prison (formerly by death).

Military personnel are not entitled to jury trials. Unlike a number of European countries, the CF military justice system is not under civilian authority. CF members are subject to military law and tried in military courts even when the alleged crimes are committed off-duty and aren’t related to military affairs.

Soldiers must follow a DND code of values and ethics and Queens Regulations and Orders, which reinforce hierarchy and undercut solidarity. Members are required to reveal secrets about their peers when supervisors ask. Failure do so is severely punished.

CF members are restricted in what they can say publicly or post online. Under the Defence Administrative Orders and Directives and Queens Regulations and Orders, soldiers are not allowed to discredit the CF or discourage other troops from their duties. Any “enunciation, defence or criticism, expressed or implied, of service, departmental or government policy” is forbidden.

The military’s authoritarian ways seep into other areas of Canadian life. The largest and oldest government-funded youth program, 50,000 kids participate in the cadets.  The CF boasts that cadets “develop a great sense of pride and discipline through their involvement in a hierarchical system that allows them to hone their leadership skills.”

The cadets have also been embroiled in sexual assault scandals. In 2006 Ottawa agreed to pay $8 million to 35 former sea cadets who were sexually assaulted and a 2016 suit launched by former cadets in the Atlantic provinces alleged the organization created an environment “which encouraged or fostered silence and obedience” when abuse took place. Some suggest that abusers are attracted to cadet training positions since it puts them in contact with children and the hierarchical structure — having to obey commanding officers — enables abuse.

The authoritarian, hierarchical, nature of the military isn’t simply a danger to those abused. CF culture and structures are frequently in opposition to pluralistic, democratic, values. So are the demands of warfare. This is the reason why people with extreme right-wing beliefs are often attracted to the military as it conforms to their views on how society should function.

Loyalty, conformity and obeying orders are considered essential by the CF. There’s little room to challenge authority or injustices and voting is nearly nonexistent. Political meetings are not allowed on base and it is prohibited to establish a feminist, environmental or socialist club.

The military command structures reinforce the most undemocratic and ignorant impulses of Canadian society while the patriarchal, authoritarian, nature of the Canadian Forces is a threat to many within the institution. Fixing this will not be simple.

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Time to disrupt IDF promotion network

Once again a human rights group has determined that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians amounts to apartheid. Human Rights Watch is calling for governments around the world “to impose sanctions and reconsider trade deals,” according to Tuesday’s Globe and Mail.

Once again supporters of Israel claim “bias” and “anti-Semitism” instead of acknowledging the obvious crime against humanity and promising to change. These apartheid deniers also complain it is unfair to compare Israel to South Africa. And maybe it is, just not in the way Israeli nationalists mean.

As Noam Chomsky has noted, that country’s oppression of Palestinians is “much worse” than the racism of the South African regime. Similarly, Canadian support for Israeli apartheid is far greater than it was for the South African variant.

For example, can anyone imagine major Canadian institutions flouting the law to recruit young whites to join apartheid South Africa’s brutal military in the 1980s? But that’s exactly what’s happening today with the recruitment of Canadians for the military that enforces Israeli apartheid.

More than a few taxpayer-subsidized groups flout Canadian law to induce young people to move 10,000 kilometers to add their boots to the many already choking Palestinians. Fortunately, a new parliamentary petition is calling for an investigation into illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada. Submitted by Rabbi David Mivasair and sponsored by NDP MP Matthew Green, the petition calls “upon the Minister of Justice to undertake a thorough investigation of those who have recruited or facilitated recruiting for the Israel Defense Forces, and, if warranted, lay charges against those involved in recruiting and encouraging recruiting for the IDF.”

The petition is part of a campaign backed by Chomsky, Roger Waters, Yann Martel and numerous other prominent individuals that delivered evidence of Israeli military recruitment to the justice minister and RCMP commissioner. While aiming to end formal recruitment, the goal is also to disrupt a vast IDF promotion network in Canada.

The reality is many Canadian institutions celebrate Israel’s occupation force and some of them do so with taxpayer support. Receiving nearly half of its funds from the public purse, Montréal’s largest Jewish school, Hebrew Academy, shows movies that celebrate the Israeli military; students send gifts to IDF bases; Israeli emissaries lead kindergarten classes in “fun IDF programs”. Toronto schools Heschel, Bialik Hebrew, Netivot HaTorah, Bnei Akiva and Leo Baeck also promote the IDF in different ways. These schools feed students to TanenbaumCHAT, Canada’s largest private high school, which organizes fundraisers for Israeli military initiatives and holds regular “IDF days.”

At the other end of the age spectrum a group of 80-something Torontonians gathered regularly before the pandemic to make hand-knitted tuques for IDF soldiers. They are part of the Hats for Israeli Soldiers initiative. Another organization that supports the occupation force is Israel Defence Forces Widows & Orphans-Canada, which is a registered charity and partly funded by the Israeli government.

Sar-El offers more concrete support to the IDF. Some 150 Canadians volunteer on Israeli army supply bases each year with an organization founded by an IDF general. A regular ad in the Canadian Jewish News for Sar-El noted: “Express your Zionism by serving as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli army supply base.”

For its part, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (Canada) has sponsored “fun activities” for “lone soldiers”. Established by billionaire power couple Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman, the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers also supports non-Israelis in the IDF.

At its Toronto office, the Friends of Israeli Scouts’ Garin Tzabar program provides Hebrew lessons and support services, as well as help with transport and accommodation in Israel, for Canadian “lone soldiers”. Nefesh B’Nefesh also helps non-Israelis join the IDF. In probable contravention of the Foreign Enlistment Act, registered charities United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto and Federation Combined Jewish Appeal Montréal publicized a webinar by Nefesh-B’Nefesh last June titled “Joining the IDF”, which claimed to offer participants “everything you need and want to know about joining the IDF.”

A few months before the pandemic began 1,100 people attended an Association for the Soldiers of Israel–Canada and Canadian Zionist Cultural Association event in Toronto. “The evening featured heartfelt and captivating speeches from IDF commanders, as well as a performance by the IDF Ensemble”, reported the Canadian Jewish News.

Association for the Soldiers of Israel in Canada, Sar-El, Israel Defence Forces Widows & Orphans, Beit Halochem Canada (Disabled Veterans of Israel), Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers, Hats for Israeli Soldiers, etc. have all received sympathetic coverage in the Canadian Jewish News. The news site has published dozens of articles promoting these organizations and repeatedly celebrated Canadians who join or promote the Israeli military.

While it is immoral to promote and join the occupation force, it’s logical from an Israeli nationalist perspective. The military is at the heart of Israeli society. “Israel is an army with a state”, goes the saying. Considering its small size, Israel is among be the most warlike nation in the history of humanity. Born of months of ethnic cleansing, the country has almost always been at war. In addition to suffocating Gaza, occupying the West Bank, regularly invading Lebanese airspace and annexing Syria’s Golan Heights, Israel has recently attacked Iranian ships and bombed Syria dozens of times. Over the years it’s also bombed Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Iraq and unleashed violence in many other places.

Every time one sees an IDF soldier put their boot on a Palestinian’s neck in the West Bank, shoot a protester in Gaza or bomb Syria, it’s important to recognize the Canadian groups actively promoting Israel’s military. Anger with these groups is the first step towards disrupting promotion of the IDF in Canada.

Those of us who oppose all forms of apartheid must challenge IDF recruitment in Canada, which contravenes the law and is obviously immoral. Complaints must also be made against registered charities supporting the IDF in breach of Canada Revenue Agency restrictions on non-Canadian military support. Schools and other groups that promote the IDF should be publicly shamed.

Finally, please sign the parliamentary petition calling for an investigation into illegal Israeli military recruitment. We need to disrupt Canadian support for the agents of Palestinian misery.

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Filed under Canada and Israel, Israel Lobby

Israel lobby paralyzed by anti-recruitment campaign

What are the primary Israel lobby groups in Canada afraid of?

When their favoured colonial outpost in the Middle East is maligned the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, B’nai B’rith and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC) are usually quick to attack. In recent months they’ve put out statements labeling a modest NDP resolution a “toxic obsession with Israel”, a University of Toronto graduate students’ motion “institutional anti-Semitism” and a small restaurant’s Instagram posts and “I Love Gaza” sign “antisemitic statements” and “antisemitic tropes”.

But when a Member of Parliament sponsors a House of Commons petition suggesting the Israel lobby is breaking Canadian law by promoting recruitment into a military that “has repeatedly contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention, and illegally attacked Syria and Lebanon” they respond with … silence. No press releases, no tweets, nothing. Nor did they bother to offer a comment when the Canadian Jewish News wrote about NDP MP Matthew Green’s parliamentary petition calling for an investigation into illegal recruitment for the Israeli military.

An MP sponsoring a parliamentary petition suggesting Israel lobby criminality is certainly more significant than the University of Toronto graduate student union passing a resolution or a sandwich shop putting a pro-Palestinian message in their window. So why aren’t they bemoaning Green’s “bias”, “obsession”, “defiance of IHRA definition of anti-Semitism”, etc.?

It’s not fear of confronting Green. When he tweeted about Israel demolishing a COVID testing centre in the Palestinian city of Hebron in the summer CIJA and B’nai B’rith attacked Green.

The lack of reaction isn’t about who sponsored the petition but rather the subject. The Israel lobby doesn’t want to draw attention to an issue that divides their conservative base.

The parliamentary petition is part of a multi-faceted campaign that began in the fall with a formal complaint and open letter signed by Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, author Yann Martel, poet El Jones and more than 150 others. The letter called on the federal government to apply charges under the Foreign Enlistment Act against those recruiting Canadians for the Israeli military.

For over six months CIJA, B’nai B’rith and FSWC have ignored suggestions their crew is engaged in criminal activity despite the campaign generating nearly two dozen stories, a response from the justice minister and multiple action alerts, including a parliamentary petition that has garnered nearly three times the signatures required to be read in Parliament in its first week.

How to explain their lack of reaction?

Discomfort with the legal question partly explains their silence. Drawing on information accessible through a simple Google search, the Israeli consulate, United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto and Federation Combined Jewish Appeal Montréal have all violated the Foreign Enlistment Act over the past year and a half. Additionally, Hebrew Academy, TanenbaumCHAT and other Toronto and Montréal schools have enticed youngsters into the Israeli military in possible contravention of the law. A proper police investigation would likely uncover far more evidence regarding violations of the Foreign Enlistment Act.

Nonetheless, it’s exceedingly unlikely anyone will be prosecuted, let alone convicted, for these violations of Canadian law. There is little political will to do so in relation to Israel and no one has ever been convicted under the legislation. So, the discomfort is not about anyone fearing spending time in jail but rather the bad press that comes from potentially breaking the law.

Tied to this is the political logic underpinning the Foreign Enlistment Act. While the 1937 act was written to stop leftist Canadians from fighting against Franco’s fascists in Spain, the Foreign Enlistment Act is the successor to an 1870 British act that applied in Canada. That legislation was the outgrowth of rising nationalism in Europe (which later stoked Zionism). It’s common for governments to seek to deter their citizens from joining other countries’ militaries.

On top of the Foreign Enlistment Act, the Canadian government restricts registered charities from supporting other countries militaries. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines note, “increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not.”

Promoting a foreign army rests uneasily with right-wing nationalist thinking, which is generally sympathetic to an anti-Palestinian outlook. In a 2014 interview about Canadians fighting in Israel, Syria and elsewhere, prominent military historian Jack Granatstein, said “in my view no one who is a Canadian should be able to enlist in some other country’s military and keep his Canadian citizenship.” That would put a stop to recruitment for the IDF!

The lack of response to Green and the recruitment campaign is also influenced by other considerations such as the fact the parliamentary petition was submitted by a Rabbi (David Mivasair) and has yet to penetrate the most important media. (The campaign has generated significant coverage in left, pro-Palestinian, Jewish and mainstream Québec outlets, but none in major English Canadian media.)

More than other Palestine-related demands, the anti-recruitment campaign puts the anti-Palestinian lobby on the backfoot. Part of its power is in its Canadian centric demand, which offers a broader lesson for pro-Palestinian campaigners.

Though little discussed, the most important support Canada has offered Israel in recent decades is tax deductible charitable donations. Since the federal government introduced deductions for charities in 1967 billions of dollars in subsidized donations have gone to Israel. In 1991 the Ottawa Citizen estimated that Canadian Jews sent more than $100 million a year to Israel and possibly as much as $200 million (with inflation this number would have doubled). Assuming $100 million has been sent to Israel yearly since 1967 and with approximately 30% of the $5.4 billion total subsidized by the taxpayer that’s around $1.7 billion in Canadian public support.

But there’s little discussion of the public funds that have gone to Israel through charitable donations in recent years. With the exception of the campaign to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada, which won a partial victory recently, there’s been almost no activism targeting Canadian charitable support for Israel. This despite some of these donations violating Canadian charity law. Funds supporting West Bank settlements, explicitly racist institutions and the Israeli military probably contravene CRA regulations. Without any direct pressure from the Palestine solidarity movement, Beth Oloth Charitable Organization lost its charitable status two years ago for “increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Israeli armed forces” and funding projects in the occupied West Bank. A registered charity since 1980, the Toronto-based organization had $61 million in 2017 revenue.

While not against current CRA regulations, there’s a strong argument to be made against Canadian taxpayers subsidizing donations to hospitals, universities, etc. in “Israel proper”. Is it right for all Canadians to pay a share of some individuals’ donations to a country with a GDP equal to Canada’s? How many Canadian charities funnel money to Sweden or Japan? Is the Israeli government subsidizing Canadian orchestras, museums, guide dog centres, nature conservatory, universities, hospitals, etc?

(Canadian Friends of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind, Canadian Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Canadian Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Canadian Association For Labour Israel and Canadian Friends of the Israel Museum are among the many registered charities that raised over a quarter billion dollars for Israel-focused projects in 2018.)

Irrespective of CRA regulations, activists who promote the aims of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement should push to outlaw donations to Israel until that country complies with international law. As they’ve done with other countries, federal government sanctions on Israel should seek to cut off the flow of money from Canada (in compliance with international law).

Drawing attention to subsidized charitable donations, like IDF recruitment, puts the Israel lobby in an uncomfortable position. It is rooted in Canadian law and the Canadian centric nature of the demand undercuts their tired talking points, particularly the idea Israel is being ‘singled out’ unfairly. In fact, these issues demonstrate how the Israel lobby “singles Israel out” sometimes in contravention of Canadian law and often on the taxpayers’ dime.

 

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada please sign the parliamentary petition calling for an investigation into illegal Israeli military recruitment.

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Challenging illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada

The campaign to oppose illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada has received a significant boost. A parliamentary petition calling for an investigation into IDF recruitment has quickly surpassed the number of signatures required to be presented in the House of Commons.

Submitted by Rabbi David Mivasair and sponsored by NDP MP Matthew Green, the petition “calls upon the Minister of Justice to undertake a thorough investigation of those who have recruited or facilitated recruiting for the Israel Defense Forces, and if warranted lay charges against those involved in recruiting and encouraging recruiting for the IDF.” In 48 hours over 1,000 individuals have signed the petition, which is twice what’s required for it to be read in Parliament. The government then has to respond.

The petition is part of a multi-faceted campaign that began in the fall with a formal complaint and open letter signed by Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, filmmaker Ken Loach, author Yann Martel, former MP Jim Manly, poet El Jones and more than 150 others. The letter called on the federal government to apply charges under the Foreign Enlistment Act against those recruiting Canadians for the Israeli military.

It is a crime to recruit anyone for a foreign military or to encourage any person to serve in a foreign military. The Foreign Enlistment Act states, “Any person who, within Canada, recruits or otherwise induces any person or body of persons to enlist or to accept any commission or engagement in the armed forces of any foreign state or other armed forces operating in that state is guilty of an offence.”

On several occasions the Israeli consulate in Toronto has advertised that they have an IDF representative available for personal appointments for those wishing to join the IDF. In 2019 the consulate announced, “an IDF representative will conduct personal interviews at the Consulate on November 11-14. Young people who wish to enlist in the IDF or anyone who has not fulfilled their obligations according to the Israeli Defense Service Law are invited to meet with him.” Subsequently, United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto and Federation Combined Jewish Appeal Montréal publicized a webinar last June by Nefesh-B’Nefesh titled “Joining the IDF”, which claimed to offer participants “everything you need and want to know about joining the IDF.”

As part of drawing attention to the recruitment, Justice Minister David Lametti received a formal complaint and letters from nearly 1,500 individuals. Additionally, the chief of staff for the office of the RCMP Commissioner, Rob O’Reilly, received a packet of evidence and 900 emails regarding illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada.

The campaign has been widely covered in left Canadian and pro-Palestinian media. “Why is the Israeli military still recruiting in Canada?” (Canadian Dimension), “Canadians should not be recruited to fight for the Israeli army” (Rabble), “Canadians recruited for Israeli war crimes” (Spring), “Toronto schools push students to join Israeli military” (Canada Files), “What Constitutes Recruiting” (Jewish Independent), “Civil society groups demand action on illegal Israeli military recruiting in Canada” (Rabble), “National Campaign Against IDF Recruiting Begins in Canada” (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs), “Justice minister asked to investigate alleged illegal recruiting in Canada by Israeli Military” (Canada Talks Israel Palestine), “Canadians call on justice department to investigate IDF recruitment in Toronto schools” (Mondoweiss), “Israel illegally recruits Canadian citizens to its army” (Electronic Intifada), “Open letter declares opposition to the Illegal Recruitment of Canadians by the IDF” (Canada Files), “Campaign to stop Israeli military recruitment in Canada gathers pace” (Middle Eastern Monitor) are some of the articles published on the campaign.

In Québec Le Devoir discussed the campaign on its front page and in a follow-up article while Journal de Montréal also ran a story on the challenge to Israeli military recruitment in Canada. But, in English Canada the dominant media has ignored the evidence presented to the justice minister and RCMP. A number of reporters expressed interest in the campaign but got cold feet or were stopped by their editors from covering the public letter and evidence compiled. In February Davide Mastracci wrote a powerful article about how “Media Is Ignoring Alleged Illegal Israeli Army Recruitment In Canada”.

The lack of corporate media attention partly reflects the silence of the anti-Palestinian lobby. Generally quick to denounce pro-Palestinian activists “toxic obsession with Israel”, the Israel lobby have failed to find fault with a campaign suggesting they are engaged in criminal activity. They understand that publicly denouncing the anti-recruitment campaign would draw attention to an issue difficult to defend. The potential illegality of the recruitment is embarrassing and promoting a foreign army rests uneasily with even right-wing nationalist thinking, which is generally sympathetic to an anti-Palestinian outlook. Prominent military historian Jack Granatstein, for instance, told an interviewer, “in my view no one who is a Canadian should be able to enlist in some other country’s military and keep his Canadian citizenship.”

At the same time, the Israel lobby doesn’t want to stop convincing young people to join the IDF. According to 2017 statistics from the IDF, 230 Canadians served in the Israeli military. In 2020, 9 per cent of “lone soldiers” in the Israeli military were from Canada according to the IDF. Canadians staff West Bank checkpoints and ships enforcing the blockade of Gaza.

About 3,500 “lone soldiers” serve in the IDF. This is significant but a relatively small proportion of the 150,000 enlisted in the Israeli military.

But “lone soldiers” are of value beyond their military capacities. Foreigners volunteering to fight for Israel are a powerful symbol to pressure/reassure Israelis weary of their country’s violent behavior.

“Lone soldiers” also intensify the Zionist ethos within much of Canada’s Jewish community. If a friend or family member is willing to give up two years of their life to ‘protect the Jewish people’, goes a certain Zionist logic, I should at least donate to an Israel focused group, lobby a politician, undermine a pro-Palestinian professor, etc.

The campaign to oppose Israeli military recruitment in Canada challenges this ideological climate. Bringing the issue into the House of Commons is an important step in disrupting a dynamic where a young Torontonian can be in charge of overseeing Palestinian misery. Please sign the parliamentary petition.

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Filed under Israel, Israel Lobby

Does the NDP want a war with Russia?

Heather McPherson

Does the NDP want to go to war with Russia? Unfortunately that is the logic of a recent statement by its deputy foreign affairs critic.

In an interview with Ukrainian-Canadian media outlet New Pathway, Heather McPherson said the government should promote Ukraine joining NATO. Additionally, she wants Ottawa to expand its military presence in the nation. Asked whether the NDP “support Ukraine’s bid to join the MAP [Membership Action Plan] program and advocate for this with our NATO allies” and “expand both the scope of Operation Unifier and number of CAF [Canadian armed forces] personnel within the program?” McPherson responded: “The NDP will continue to strongly support Ukraine’s bid to join the MAP program and we have and will continue to push the government to advocate for this with our NATO allies. That Prime Minister Trudeau and (Foreign Affairs) Minister (Marc) Garneau have been unwilling to explicitly state their support for Ukraine’s bid and their failure to adequately support the bid via advocacy efforts and multi-lateral diplomacy is very disturbing.

“Further, the NDP would expand both the scope of Operation Unifier and number of CAF personnel within the program. In December 2018, the NDP called for an extension of operation UNIFIER after an unprecedented act of aggression by Russia which seized three Ukrainian ships and their 20 crew members off the coast of Crimea. As you know, in March 2019 the operation was renewed. The support needs to be renewed and increased to acknowledge recent increased aggression by Russia.”

McPherson’s position is highly provocative. As part of Operation UNIFIER, 200 Canadian troops “train” Ukrainian forces that have integrated far right militias who use the Nazi “Wolfsangel” symbol and praise officials who helped slaughter Jews and Poles during World War II. When extending the mission in 2018, the Liberals also eased restrictions that required the Canadians to stay in the western half of Ukraine, away from the fighting in the east that has left over 10,000 dead.

Canadian troops also lead a NATO mission in another nation bordering Russia. Alongside 550 Canadian troops in Latvia, Canadian naval vessels have recently patrolled in the Baltic Sea and Canadian fighter jets have been stationed in Romania.

Massing NATO troops on Russia’s border is highly belligerent. It also violates a US, German and French promise to Soviet/Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev regarding the reunification of Germany, an important Cold War divide. In 1990 Gorbachev agreed not to obstruct German reunification, to withdraw tens of thousands of troops from the east and for the new Germany to be part of NATO in return for assurances that the alliance wouldn’t expand “one inch eastward”. Now, the alliance includes countries on Russia’s border and North American troops are stationed there.

Officially NATO operates on the idea that an attack against one member is an attack against all members. Currently the government in Kiev claims Russia is backing a secessionist movement in the largely Russian speaking east of the country and illegally occupying Crimea so adding Ukraine to NATO would put the alliance on a war footing with Russia.

Fortunately, there’s push back to McPherson’s reckless position. In retweeting a Canadian Foreign Policy Institute message stating, “Yikes. NDP is criticizing government for not supporting bringing Ukraine into NATO and says it wants to send more Canadians troops there”, former MP and foreign affairs critic Svend Robinson wrote: “NDP shouldbe calling on Canada to withdraw from this discredited Cold War NATO alliance and redirect arms expenditures into fighting real enemies of climate emergency and obscene inequality in Canada and globally. Canada Out Of NATO.”

Employing more strident language, Rabble blogger David Climenhaga added: “Oh FFS! What is it about Canadian progressives that they have to prove they can be warmongering lunatics too? NATO has no business camped on Russia’s doorstep — it’s bad tactics AND bad strategy. What is the Canadian Greens position on this? I may have to change my vote.” Hoping to stir up dissent within NDP ranks, Green MP Elizabeth May retweeted Robinson’s criticism.

My guess is that Climenhaga and Robinson’s position is closer to that of most NDP activists, members and even voters. A resolution calling on the NDP to “actively campaign to get Canada out of NATO” and “remove the NATO nuclear ring around Russian borders” was submitted by two riding associations to the party’s recent convention (it was never debated). At a time when NATO had at least a nominal Cold War justification, NDP members voted to leave the organization. After years of internal debate over NATO party members called on Ottawa to withdraw from the alliance in 1969. But the position was partially reversed by the NDP leadership in the mid-1980s, culminating in a 1987 “security” policy paper that equivocated on the subject.

Whether or not one believes Canada should withdraw from NATO, pushing to expand the alliance in a way that could put Canada on a war footing with Russia is reckless.

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Filed under NDP, Russia

Navy performing provocative manoeuvres in South China Sea

Interesting how the military “defends” this country by sending ships 7,000 kilometres from Canadian soil.

Canada’s navy is running provocative maneuvers in the South China Sea. While they claim to be upholding the “international rules based order” in these missions, their main partner refuses to recognize the Law of the Sea.

At the end of last month HMCS Calgary passed near the Spratly Islands claimed by both China and the Philippines. In response Chinese vessels shadowed Calgary through the South China Sea.

In recent years Canadian vessels have repeatedly been involved in belligerent Freedom of Navigation (FON) exercises through international waters — claimed by Beijing — in the South China Sea, Strait of Taiwan, and East China Sea. To counter China’s growing influence in Asia, Washington has stuck its oar into long-standing territorial and maritime boundary disputes between China and the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and other nations. As part of these efforts to rally regional opposition to China, the US Navy has engaged in regular FON operations, which see warships travel through or near disputed waters.

Last year the Canadian Press obtained documents showing that FON efforts in the South China Sea were approved at the highest levels of government. When HMCS Ottawa traveled through the South China Sea’s Taiwan Strait the government said it “demonstrated Canadian support for our closest partners and allies, regional security and the rules-based international order.”

But Canadian FON missions are principally designed to demonstrate support for the US, which is one of only a handful of countries that has refused to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The US has failed to ratify UNCLOS even after gaining broad changes to the convention in 1994. Failing to ratify UNCLOS is but one of many examples of Washington’s hostility to the “international rules based order” the Trudeau government claims to uphold.

US Naval patrols in the region regularly violate UNCLOS. In “Do US Actions in the South China Sea Violate International Law?”, scholar Mark J. Valencia points out that their employment of sonobuoys (radar) to search for submarines is prohibited by UNCLOS. Valencia also questions whether FON exercises to pressure China violate the UN Charter. Irrespective of legal interpretations, Washington’s expressed concern over China’s failure to adhere to international norms in maritime disputes shouldn’t be taken too seriously given its own flagrant refusal to accept the Law of the Sea.

Ottawa is under pressure to increase its military contribution in a region with a significant US presence. (Le Monde Diplomatique pointed out that despite China’s 14,000 kilometers of coastline, it collides with the US military, which has bases sprinkled all around region, as soon as it goes out to sea.) Recently the Globe and Mail published “Canada urged to play bigger role with allies to counter China in the Indo-Pacific”. The story called on Ottawa to join the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which includes the US, India, Japan and Australia.

Incredibly, Canada may join an alliance focused on an area some 7,000 kilometers from Canada’s coast. Earlier this year, the Canadian Air Force participated in an anti-submarine warfare exercise in Guam known as Sea Dragon with the Quad nations for the first time.

While increasing, the Canadian navy’s presence in the region is nothing new. In 2012 it came to light the military sought a small base with a port facility in Singapore to keep an eye on China. For two decades the Canadian navy has made regular port visits to Asia and since its 1971 inception Canada has participated in every Rim of the Pacific Exercise, which is a massive US-led maritime warfare training action every two years.

During the early 1950s Korean War Canadian ships bombed North Korean and Chinese troops. They hurled 130,000 rounds at Korean targets. According to a Canadian War Museum exhibit, “during the war, Canadians became especially good at ‘train busting.’ This meant running in close to shore, usually at night, and risking damage from Chinese and North Korean artillery in order to destroy trains or tunnels on Korea’s coastal railway. Of the 28 trains destroyed by United Nations warships in Korea, Canadian vessels claimed eight.” Canadian Naval Operations in Korean Waters 1950-1955 details a slew of RCN attacks that would have likely killed civilians.

Before the outbreak of the Korean War the Canadian Navy sought to exert itself in the region. In a bizarre move, Ottawa sent a naval vessel to China in 1949 as the Communists were on the verge of victory. According to Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy, the boat was sent too late to stop the Kuomintang’s defeat by Mao’s forces and was not needed to evacuate Canadians since British boats could remove them. The objective, it seems, was to demonstrate to the US and UK “that Canada was a willing partner”, particularly in light of the emerging north Atlantic alliance.

A Canadian naval presence off China’s coast isn’t new. But running provocative maneuvers to support a nation that refuses to recognize the Law of the Sea is a bizarre way to uphold the “international rules based order”.

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Filed under Asia, Military

Do Canada’s unilateral sanctions violate international law?

Is Canada breaking international law when it applies unilateral coercive economic measures that are commonly referred to as sanctions?

Most countries and international law experts believe sanctions are only legitimate when approved by the World Trade Organization or United Nations Security Council. Economic sanctions outside the framework of the UN charter are generally considered “unilateral” and unlawful. According to the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization report “Unilateral and Secondary Sanctions: An International Law Perspective”, “the imposition of unilateral and secondary sanctions on countries through application of national legislation is not-permissible under international law.”

So US sanctions on Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Syria and elsewhere clearly violate the UN charter. Rather than a nonviolent measure, they are akin to a medieval siege designed to starve a city or fortress into submission.

Unilateral sanctions run afoul of the principle of self-determination and people’s right to development. In The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights a trio of authors note: “Unilateral economic sanctions (as opposed to multilateral UN measures under Chapter VII of the Charter) imposed by one State or group of States on another, to compel the latter to change a particular political or economic policy, could amount to a prohibited intervention and a denial of self-determination.” Similarly, the UN Human Rights Council recently reaffirmed that “unilateral coercive measures are major obstacles to the implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development.” Last month the Human Rights Council approved a resolution 30 to 15 (with two abstentions) urging all states to stop adopting unilateral sanctions as they impede “the right of individuals and peoples to development.”

In recent years the Canadian government has adopted unilateral sanctions against a host of countries including Venezuela, China, Russia, Nicaragua and others. In a sign of Ottawa’s growing employment of sanctions as a tool of coercive statecraft, Canada adopted legislation modeled after the US Magnitsky Act and Global Affairs created a Sanctions Policy and Operations Coordination Division in 2018. At the time they put up $22 million over five years to enforce their sanctions regime.

Alongside the US, UK and EU, Canada sanctioned a Chinese state agency and four officials recently. Individuals assetsin Canada were frozen and they are prohibited from travelling here or doing business with Canadian firms.

Two years ago Canada sanctioned nine Nicaraguan government officials, including ministers and the president of the National Assembly, in coordination with Washington. A June 2019 media note released by the US State Department declared “Canada’s sanctions actions today illustrate the international commitment to Nicaraguans’ cause, signaling clearly that President Ortega’s insufficient and self-serving measures are not nearly enough to address Nicaraguans’ demands for democracy, basic rights, and freedom from repression.”

Canada has adopted four rounds of sanctions against Venezuela since 2017. These moves reinforced and legitimated US sanctions that have contributed to tens of thousands of deaths. According to the preliminary report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, Alena Douhan, “the [Venezuelan] government’s revenue was reported to shrink by 99%, with the country currently living on 1% of its pre-sanctions income,” which has impeded “the ability of Venezuela to respond to the Covid-19 emergency.”

Not only a possible violation of international law, Canada’s first round of sanctions on Venezuela may have actually contravened domestic law. According to lawyer Andrew Dekany the August 2017 sanctions weren’t in accordance with Canadian legislation stating that international sanctions be adopted only as part of international alliances. As such, the Trump administration aided the Trudeau government by creating the US-Canada “Association Concerning the Situation in Venezuela” to conform to the existing sanctions legislation. In a Venezuela Analysis article titled “Do Canadian Sanctions Against Venezuela Violate Canadian Law?”, Dekany wrote, “there is no reason for Canada to ‘create’ this association but for its desire to help the U.S. out [by sanctioning Venezuela], having failed to persuade the one obvious organization (Organization of American States) which it had democratically joined to, among other things, act in such a way.”

Partly to sidestep the requirement to sanction in accordance with international institutions the federal government adopted the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (or Magnitsky law), empowering it to freeze individuals’ assets/visas and prohibit Canadian companies from dealing with sanctioned individuals. These sanctions are presented as simply targeting corrupt officials, but they have broader impacts. They dissuade broader commercial relations with a country and often legitimate harsher US measures. Whether they are in compliance with the UN charter is unclear. In her September report “Negative impact of unilateral coercive measures: priorities and road map: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights”, Douhan questions “the legality of sanctions imposed on individuals and non-State entities, especially due to the proliferation of Magnitsky-like acts.”

Trudeau and his ministers regularly claim to promote an “international rules based order” with the No. 1 priority on Global Affairs’ website “revitalizing the rules-based international order.” As such, it’s remarkable how little discussion there is of whether unilateral Canadian sanctions violate international law.

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Filed under International Law, Justin Trudeau

NDP in bed with neocons over China

 

Canadians truly committed to a rules-based, peaceful international order need voices in Parliament to speak up against militarism and the US empire. Instead we get a supposed ‘left’ party indistinguishable from the right.

The recent flap over an award given out by the Halifax International Security Forum highlights how the NDP is jumping into bed with neocon militarists over China.

Recently Washington-based Politico reported that the Trudeau government pressured the HSF not to give its John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. The government denied the charge but initially refused to recommit the $3 million in Department of National Defence (DND) funding for HSF.

NDP foreign affairs critic Jack Harris labeled any interference in the HSF award choice as “shameful and plays into the hands of the Communist leadership of China.” Harris also told Globe and Mail reporter Steven Chase that the award to Tsai would be “an indicator of how the free world is united against China’s bullying tactics.”

If Harris had stopped at “the free world is united against China’s bullying” it would have simply represented an example of his increasingly common China bashing. But Harris also lauded the HSF as “among the free world’s most significant defence meetings.” On Wednesday NDP MPs backed a Conservative motion in the House of Commons, which passed unanimously, supporting giving an award to Tsai and maintaining HSF’s funding.

Sponsored by NATO, DND and military companies, the HSF is based in Washington. It was set up by a neocon who advised the Harper government and was strongly promoted by arch militarist John McCain.

Since its founding a decade ago activists have rallied in front of the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel during the conference. I spoke at the 2018 protest.

The award Harris and Canadian MPs want HSF to give to Tsai is named after an individual who heavily promoted the lies that led to the 2003 Iraq war. John McCain also championed the NATO bombing of Libya and backed Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen. McCain rose to public attention in the late 1960s by dropping bombs on civilian targets (a war crime) in North Vietnam. During his presidential bid in 2000 McCain told reporters “I hate the gooks” and “I will hate them as long as I live.” McCain refused to apologize for using a racial slur to condemn the North Vietnamese who held him captive and tortured him.

Giving an award to Taiwan’s president is a provocative moved designed to increase tension with China. (While apparently Sinophobic reporter Steven Chase implies Beijing is the only force that has pushed the idea Taiwan and mainland China are one country, Ottawa recognized the government in Taiwan as the official representative of all of China for 21 years after the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan with some two million Chinese supporters after they were defeated by Mao’s forces in 1949. Until 13 years ago the governing party in Taiwan openly claimed to represent all of China.) The award is part of HSF’s growing anti-China posture. In November they released a handbook titled “China vs. Democracy: The Greatest Game” that painted Beijing as a threatening force bent on global domination.

For HSF conflict with China feeds the military/intelligence apparatus they represent. It legitimates Canada spending hundreds of billions of dollars on new naval vessels and fighter jets as well as justifying the racist Five Eyes intelligence arrangement.

Voices citing the China ‘threat’ to justify military spending are growing. In “This is no time for the Liberals to think of slashing defence spending” National Post columnist John Ivison wrote that the government “should increase” military spending in next week’s budget “to counter China’s growing threat”. A recent CTV story said Ottawa should pony up $6 billion to modernize NORAD to deal with the “Threats from Russia, China” while an earlier Global News story said “Canada should follow Australia’s example in defence, foreign policy” by massively increasing military spending to deal with China.

By promoting China hysteria, the NDP is empowering militarists. When the NDP foreign affairs critic labels the Halifax International Security Forum “among the free world’s most significant defence meetings” it really is the No Difference Party.

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Filed under Asia, China, NATO, NDP