Where’s NDP on fighter jet purchase?

How about a little friendly pressure?

Hopefully that’s all it would take for Left NDP MPs to join Neil Young, Stephen Lewis, Teagan and Sarah, David Suzuki and many other notable Canadian and international figures in calling for government resources to “be used to eliminate boil water advisories on reserves, build light rail lines across the country and construct thousands of units of social housing”.

So far, it seems the federal NDP wants to be seen as supporting the “best equipment” for the military, even when the government plows $19 billion — $77 billion over the planes’ full lifecycle — into strengthening the force’s capacity to bomb in US-led wars.

As wildfires blaze in western Canada amidst record breaking heat waves, the Liberal government is planning to spend tens of billions of dollars on unnecessary, dangerous, climate destroying fighter jets”, explains a public letter released last week by the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute and Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. The letter was signed by Canadian musicians Neil Young, Teagan and Sarah and Sarah Harmer as well as environmentalists David Suzuki and Naomi Klein. The No New Fighter Jets for Canada statement is also endorsed by authors Michael Ondaatje Yann Martel and Gabor Maté as well as four former NDP MPs, city councillors, a senator, NDP MPP and former leader of the Ontario NDP Stephen Lewis. Prominent international figures such as Roger Waters, Daryl Hannah and Noam Chomsky have also backed a call addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Green Party’s two MPs, Elizabeth May and Paul Manly, signed the statement. But no NDP MP was an initiating signatory. (After former NDP foreign affairs critic Svend Robinson complained on Twitter “Is there no NDP MP opposing this outrageous waste?” Leah Gazan signed on.)

I doubt that Matthew Green, Niki Ashton, Alexandre Boulerice or even other less internationalist minded members of the NDP caucus want public resources going to fighter jets over, as the letter puts it, “a just recovery, green infrastructure and investing in Indigenous communities.” But Randall Garrison is the NDP defence critic and he’s a staunch militarist, so they tread carefully on the issue.

Soon after the letter was released and MPs began receiving hundreds of emails about it Garrison replied. In a long message he wrote, “on fighter jets, New Democrats have called on the government to support the purchasing of fighters that can operate safely and effectively in the Arctic while also being interoperable with our allies in NATO and NORAD.” In response Robinson quoted part of Garrison’s statement and wrote “shame on the NDP”.

While Garrison is an extremist within the party, NDP militarism runs far deeper than him. The 2015 NDP platform said the party would “meet our military commitments by maintaining Department of National Defence budget allocations”, which is more than 10 times the size of Environment and Climate Change Canada. In 2011 the NDP supported two House of Commons votes, initiated by the minority Stephen Harper government, endorsing the bombing of Libya. (Green leader Elizabeth May was the only MP to vote against a war in which Canada played a significant role.) To the best of my knowledge the NDP has never apologized or suggested it erred in supporting a Canadian-led bombing campaign that was strenuously opposed by the African Union, which worried (correctly) that the conflict and weapons would spill southward.

Eight days before Canadian fighter jets began dropping bombs on Libya in 2011, military intelligence officers told Ottawa decision makers that the country would likely descend into civil war if foreign countries assisted rebels opposed to Muammar Gadhafi. An internal assessment obtained by the Ottawa Citizen noted, “there is the increasing possibility that the situation in Libya will transform into a long-term tribal/civil war… This is particularly probable if opposition forces received military assistance from foreign militaries.” Ten years later Libya has yet to fully extricate itself from the civil war.

The public letter about the warplanes notes that “Canada’s current fleet of fighter jets has bombed Libya, Iraq, Serbia and Syria.” The NDP opposed the first Iraq war and the 2014–16 bombing of Iraq/Syria. But it supported the illegal 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the Libya war so it’s not surprising elements of the party want to purchase expensive new fighter jets. But parts of Garrison’s reaction don’t add up.

The fighter jet purchase offers the NDP an opportunity to differentiate itself from the Liberals who are angling to buy the F-35 — they’ve paid hundreds of millions of dollars to remain part of the consortium — by reminding voters of Trudeau’s explicit promise not to do so. Oddly, Garrison didn’t even repeat his opposition to purchasing the F-35 in his long response to the public letter even though he could have stuck with a militarist lens by questioning spending huge sums on fighter jets when drone technology is advancing rapidly.

More substantively, the Covid-19 pandemic and destruction wrought by climate change — the heat wave and subsequent obliteration of Lytton, BC — is rapidly undermining militarist conceptions of “security”, as noted in a long commentary in Saturday’s Globe and Mail. It explained, “increasingly, the foes we have to fight aren’t foreign armies, but pandemics, climate change and other disasters that destabilize the world around us. Our armed forces should adapt accordingly”. In this political moment it’s hard for a progressive to argue that resources should be devoted to fighter jets rather than pandemic recovery and mitigating the climate crisis.

Perhaps a few hundred more phones calls, emails and tweets could move the NDP to just say no to spending “tens of billions of dollars on unnecessary, dangerous, climate destroying fighter jets.”


Please take a minute to email all MPs to say NO to the $77 billion fighter jet purchase. 


Yves Engler’s Stand on Guard For Whom? — A People’s History of the Canadian Military is available next month.


Comments Off on Where’s NDP on fighter jet purchase?

Filed under Military, NDP

Time to ban automobile advertising

More disappointing than watching the Habs lose to Tampa in the Stanley Cup finals were the ads during the games on TV. As Lytton, BC, broke Canada’s all-time temperature record three days in a row and was then wiped off the map by a forest fire, Canada’s public broadcaster promoted resource intensive, space consuming and carbon spewing trucks.

Decades ago when it became clear humanity was hurtling towards a climate crisis, car ads should have been banned. Stopping auto companies’ unrelenting ideological assault on the population is an important, probably necessary, step in moving away from a transport/living system structured around the environmentally destructive private automobile.

CBC’s promotion of gas guzzlers during its most widely viewed programing is a reminder that we aren’t serious about mitigating the climate crisis. That no major group is challenging Canada’s public broadcaster on the issue reflects the ecocidal nature of our political culture.

It’s not just the CBC. Public transit agencies and environmental magazines run car ads. Even lefty university student papers with well-defined ethical advertising guidelines put themselves at the service of the auto industry, which is the largest advertiser.

Few within green groups challenge auto companies’ ideological assault on the population. Even fewer discuss eliminating the private automobile, which devastates health and livability while greatly exacerbating climate and other ecological crises. Civilization could well collapse if we don’t reshape our transport/living system away from the private automobile.

Even if leftists agreed on the need to move beyond the private automobile, accomplishing the task would be a monumental achievement. But, the left is far from clear eyed on the matter, as highlighted indirectly in a recent Z Comm article titled “Degrowth Policies Cannot Avert Climate Crisis. We Need a Green New Deal”. In it Robert Pollin argues that degrowth theoreticians haven’t properly fleshed out their ideas, are not offering a program that would decarbonize quickly enough and that it’s possible to decouple economic growth from GHG emissions.

This may all be true. But the idea of degrowth doesn’t deter other decarbonization efforts and radicals shouldn’t fear the label amidst the ecological calamity. In fact, we’d be better placed today if progressives had begun promoting degrowth a half century ago when it became clear humanity was surpassing earth’s carrying capacity and that civilization was likely to collapse this century. While Pollin hints at it, the most significant issue is decoupling our understanding of growth/GDP from wellness/social utility.

In transport/living systems, degrowth usually makes cities more sustainable, healthy and pleasant. The more transport is structured to utilize shoes, bikes and rail, the fewer the resources expended getting around. At a national level the hyper auto centric US spends about twice the share of its GDP on transport as Japan. Inter-city comparisons are also helpful. People in car-oriented Houston, Dallas and Tampa spend far more than those in New York, Boston or Portland on transport. In more walking and bike-oriented cities such as Copenhagen, Fez or Amsterdam transport expenditures are a fraction of even the least car dependent North American cities.

Looking at the issue on an individual level is also illuminating. I spend a few hundred dollars a year on transport and have easy access to shops, schools, day care, parks, community centres, libraries, etc. while many suburban Montréalers expend 100 times more getting around. They generally spend far more time commuting as well.

Auto centric transport/living systems can be massively degrowthed and decarbonized while improving livability and public health.

(Degrowing the US health system would generate massive social gains as well. Just by adopting Canada’s publicly funded, universal healthcare model the US could shave five points from its GDP and increase life expectancy. Similarly, cutting the US military down to Canada’s per capita size could cut a couple more points off GDP with major social and ecological benefits.)

Progressives need to state clearly that we seek to slash the resources devoted to transport. The private automobile is a mode of transport/living that must be overcome if we are concerned about species survival. Ending our addiction to the private automobile requires radical changes to urban planning, the entire built landscape, laws, transport options, etc. But another obstacle is ideological, the incessant promotion of the idea that a truck or car will make someone ‘manly’, ‘high status’, ‘hip’, etc. A good place to begin resistance to the planet destroying auto companies’ insidious assault on our psyches is by pressuring Canada’s public broadcaster to stop promoting fuel, resource and space intensive trucks.

At least while the Montréal Canadiens are playing.


Yves Engler is a former junior hockey left-winger and co-author of Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Environmental Decay

Comments Off on Time to ban automobile advertising

Filed under Cars, Stop Signs

Halting fighter jets is just the beginning: 100 public figures oppose warplanes

Progressives should be pushing to defund or abolish the Canadian military. But, first we need to stop bolstering its capacity to kill in US and NATO lead wars.

Wednesday the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute and Canadian Voice of Women for Peace released a public letter opposing Canada’s plan “to spend tens of billions of dollars on unnecessary, dangerous, climate destroying fighter jets.” Signatories include Canadian musicians Neil Young, Teagan and Sarah and Sarah Harmer as well as environmentalists David Suzuki and Naomi Klein. The No new fighter jets for Canada statement is also signed by authors Michael Ondaatje Yann Martel and Gabor Maté as well as sitting MPs, former MPs, city councillors, a Senator, MPP and former UN ambassador. Prominent international figures such as Roger Waters, Daryl Hannah and Noam Chomsky have also backed a call addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The jets are expected to cost about $19 billion but the full life cycle cost of the planes will be closer to $77 billion. These resources could fund clean drinking water on reserves, an exhaustive search of all unmarked graves at residential ‘schools’ and plenty of indigenous run cooperative housing. Or “$77 billion could turbocharge a just transition away from fossil fuels”, notes the letter.

While the letter highlights better ways to use the resources, it also points out that “purchasing new jets will entrench fossil-fuel militarism”. Fighter jets consume large amounts of heavy carbon emitting fuel and their high-altitude release point increases the climatic effect.

But, the primary reason to oppose fighter jets is their violent nature. “Canada’s current fleet of fighter jets has bombed Libya, Iraq, Serbia and Syria”, notes the letter. “Many innocent people were killed directly or as a result of the destruction of civilian infrastructure and those operations prolonged conflicts and/or contributed to refugee crises.”

Purchasing cutting edge new fighter jets will enhance the Canadian military’s capacity to kill alongside the most violent nation the world has ever seen. In essence, the planned jet procurement will channel massive amounts of public resources into one of the most destructive parts of the military, which is among the most damaging elements of our government.

While a vitally important campaign, stopping the fighter jet procurement is a rearguard action. We need to defund the military, which sucks up $30 billion a year. In his near successful campaign to lead the Green Party of Canada Dimitri Lascaris proposed reducing military spending by half. At the recent NDP convention one resolution called for “the phasing out of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Despite the commonly held view that states should have militaries, about 20 countries don’t have an active military force. They are mostly small Caribbean or South Pacific island nations, but the list also includes Costa Rica, Iceland and Panama. If the Canadian Forces were abolished, Canada would still have a coast guard, border services agency, municipal police forces and the quasi paramilitary RCMP.

Slashing military spending in half or abolishing the Canadian Armed Forces is important. But, the 100,000 Canadians (70,000 active soldiers and 30,000 reservists) in the force, as well as the 25,000 individuals working for the Department of National Defence, require alternative employment and ways to contribute socially.

How about training some soldiers to clean the huge amounts of ordnance, chemicals and other waste from bases as part of advancing reconciliation with first peoples? Once properly cleared, some of the land could be returned to First Nations (a great deal of indigenous land was taken to build bases). The CF could return 500 or 1000 square kilometres a year of its 20,000 square kilometers land over a decade or two, which would still leave it with about half the landmass of Switzerland.

It is also imperative to convert weapons production. But, those producing arms require more socially and ecologically sustainable employment. In some instances, this may be relatively straightforward. A light armoured vehicle production line can be rejigged to assemble buses, for instance. But, new plants and significant retraining may be required in other instances.

Progressives should be pressing to defund the military. But, first let’s block efforts to strengthen its capacities to drop bombs in US and NATO lead wars.


Please email all MPs to say NO to the $77 billion fighter jet purchase. 

Comments Off on Halting fighter jets is just the beginning: 100 public figures oppose warplanes

Filed under Military

Time to stop sending Canadian troops to Haiti

Canadian and Argentinian troops in Gonaives

During times of instability in Haiti, progressives both in the Caribbean nation and abroad often fear impending US military intervention. This makes sense, given Washington’s long history of deploying soldiers to shape Haitian affairs.

Since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated Wednesday the Haiti Information Project has reported that combat vessel USS Billings is in Santo Domingo on the other side of the island. They also published photos of two US C-20 military aircraft unloading passengers and gear at the Toussaint Louverture Airport in Port-au-Prince. A video appears to show plainclothes men, reportedly Special Forces, being met by US embassy representatives.

But, what about Canadian Forces? While I have yet to find evidence of any Canadian deployment, it’s important for progressives to be vigilant considering this country’s history of using or threatening to use force to influence Haitian politics.

Amidst a February 2019 general strike that nearly toppled Moïse, heavily-armed Canadian special forces were videoed patrolling the Port-au-Prince airport. The Haiti Information Project suggested that they helped family members of Moïse’s corrupt, repressive and unpopular government flee the country.

On February 29, 2004, JTF2 commandos took control of the airport from which Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was bundled (“kidnapped” in his words) onto a plane by US Marines and deposited in the Central African Republic. According to AFP, “about 30 Canadian special forces soldiers secured the airport on Sunday [Feb. 29, 2004] and two sharpshooters positioned themselves on the top of the control tower.” Reportedly, the elite fighting force entered Port-au-Prince five days earlier ostensibly to protect the embassy. The JTF2 deployment was part of the Canada/France/US campaign to destabilize and overthrow Haiti’s elected government. According to the military’s account of Operation PRINCIPAL, “more than 100 CF personnel and four CC-130 Hercules aircraft … assisted with emergency contingency plans and security measures” during the week before the coup.

For the five months after Aristide was ousted five hundred Canadian soldiers joined US and French forces in protecting Haiti’s foreign installed regime. A resident of Florida during the preceding 15 years, Gerard Latortue was responsible for substantial human rights violations. There is evidence Canadian troops participated directly in repressing the pro-democracy movement. A researcher who published a report on post-coup violence in Haiti with the Lancet medical journal recounted an interview with one family in the Delmas district of Port- au-Prince: “Canadian troops came to their house, and they said they were looking for Lavalas [Aristide’s party] chimeres, and threatened to kill the head of household, who was the father, if he didn’t name names of people in their neighbourhood who were Lavalas chimeres or Lavalas supporters.” Haiti and Afghanistan were the only foreign countries cited in the Canadian Force’s 2007 draft counterinsurgency manual as places where Canadian troops participated in counterinsurgency warfare. According to the manual, the CF had been “conducting COIN [counter-insurgency] operations against the criminally-based insurgency in Haiti since early 2004.”

After a deadly earthquake rocked Haiti in 2010 two thousand Canadian troops were deployed while several Heavy Urban Search Rescue Teams were readied but never sent. According to an internal file, Canadian officials worried that “political fragility has increased the risks of a popular uprising, and has fed the rumor that ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, currently in exile in South Africa, wants to organize a return to power.” The government documents also explain the importance of strengthening the Haitian authorities’ ability “to contain the risks of a popular uprising.” To police Haiti’s traumatized and suffering population 2,050 Canadian troops were deployed alongside 12,000 US soldiers and 1,500 UN troops (8,000 UN soldiers were already there). Even though there was no war, for a period there were more foreign troops in Haiti per square kilometer than in Afghanistan or Iraq (and about as many per capita).

Canadian soldiers were part of the UN mission in the country between 2004 and 2017. A handful of Canadian military officials filled senior positions in the MINUSTAH command structure, including Chief of Staff. 34 Canadian soldiers were quietly dispatched to Haiti during the final six months of 2013.

Canada’ military involvement in Haiti dates to the previous century. Canadian troops joined the US led operation immediately after 20,000 troops descended on the country in 1994. Afterwards Canada took command of the UN force and about 750 Canadian soldiers were on the ground. At a 1996 NATO summit Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was caught on an open microphone saying, “he [US President Bill Clinton] goes to Haiti with soldiers. The next year, Congress doesn’t allow him to go back. So he phones me. Okay, I send my soldiers, and then afterward I ask for something in return.”

According to the 2000 book Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy, Canadian vessels have been sent to Haiti on multiple occasions. In response to upheaval in the years after Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier fled Haiti warships were deployed in 1988 and 1987. Another vessel was deployed in 1974. This time, reports military historian Sean Maloney, “Canadian naval vessels carried out humanitarian aid operations to generate goodwill with the Haitian government so that Haiti would support Canadian initiatives in la Francophonie designed to limit French interference in Canadian affairs.”

As Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier’s first mandate came to an end in May 1963, the country was gripped with upheaval.When Haitian military officers accused of plotting against Duvalier fled into the Dominican Embassy in Port-au-Prince there was a major diplomatic incident between Duvalier and Dominican President Juan Bosch. Fearing forces sympathetic to Cuba may take advantage of the instability to grab power, HMCS Saskatchewan, a British vessel and seven US warships approached Haiti’s coast (three other Canadian ships stood by). The next year HMCS Saskatchewanwas again sent to Haiti to ensure Duvalier did not move towards Cuba.

‘Canada’ intervened militarily in previous centuries as well. In November 1865 HMS Galatea bombed Cap-Haitien in support of a Haitian political leader battling an opponent. Based in Halifax and Bermuda, the British frigate was part of the Empire’s North America and West Indies Station. Two decades later Halifax based HMS Canada was dispatched to Haiti on two occasions over six-months.

British/Canadian forces also sought to crush the Haitian slave revolution. Britain’s primary naval base in North America, Halifax played its part in London’s efforts to capture one of the world’s richest colonies (for the slave owners). Much of the Halifax-based squadron arrived on the shores of the West Indies in 1793 and a dozen Nova Scotia privateers captured at least 57 enemy vessels in the West Indies between 1793 and 1805. A number of prominent Canadian-born (or based) individuals fought to capture and re-establish slavery in Saint Domingue (Haiti). First Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, led the British invasion of Saint Domingue in 1796. As Governor, Simcoe re-instated slavery in areas he controlled.

Canada has a long history of intervening militarily in Haiti. Amidst the current instability, we should seek to ensure it doesn’t happen again.


Comments Off on Time to stop sending Canadian troops to Haiti

Filed under Canada in Haiti, Haiti

More attacks on Palestine solidarity from Green party leadership

Richard Zurawski

Annamie Paul’s team have once again smeared Green MPs and party members as anti-Semitic for opposing Palestinian dispossession. These ongoing attacks are part of the Green leader’s broader commitment to Canadian imperialism.

Last week Paul appointed Richard Zurawski to her shadow cabinet. Three weeks earlier the new party critic for Green Recovery publicly denounced “BDS terrorists” and strongly implied Green MP Paul Manly and now former MP Jenica Atwin were anti-Semitic. On Facebook Zurawski wrote, “she [Paul] makes the hard choices Shimon, and that is why I support her. She is pushing hard against the anti-Semitic factions, like the BDS terrorist group, within the GPC [Green Party of Canada] that is using the Middle East as a wedge to isolate and spread misinformation, hijacking the GPC mandate. It is sad to see their agendas being promoted by Manly and Atwin.”

In 2016 when Green members voted for a resolution supporting the long-oppressed Palestinians Zurawski was quoted in numerous media outlets disparaging the party. He said, “when we specifically single out Israelis, I worry about the buzzwords and subtext and code language, which is anti-Semitic.” Zurawski also told the press that members democratic decision was “destructive for the party”.

Appointing Zurawski to her shadow cabinet after he called Greens “BDS terrorists” follows on the heels of her senior adviser, Noah Zatzman, repeatedly smearing Green MPs, members and other politicians opposing Palestinian subjugation. Paul has also attacked Green members in a similar fashion. During and just after the leadership race Paul was quoted by GlobalTimes of IsraelHa’aretzJewish IndependentCanadian Jewish Record and others labeling party members as anti-Semitic. In a July 2020 Canadian Jewish Record commentary she wrote, “My loyalty to Canada has also been called into question, and I have been accused of taking bribes from Israel, leading a Zionist take-over of the Green Party of Canada and of spreading hasbarah.”

Paul’s anti-Palestinianism appears to be motivated by familial ties, religious conviction and careerism. But, it is also part of her broader imperialist worldview. As I detailed a month ago in “Annamie Paul’s failure to confront international racism”, she backed the coup against Bolivia’s first ever indigenous president Evo Morales and has stoked Sinophobia. Ten days ago Paul met Latvia’s ambassador to Canada Kārlis Eihenbaums. According to his account of the virtual get-together, “Paul stressed the importance of international organisations like NATO, the significance of Canada’s international engagements and role.” In the discussion Paul apparently endorsed Canada’s role in the nuclear armed NATO alliance and stationing 500 Canadian troops on Russia’s border as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia.

But, after an unpopular Canadian backed tyrant was recently killed in Haiti Paul claimed to be committed to “nonviolence”. On Wednesday Paul tweeted, “as the leader of a party committed to non-violence, I strongly condemn the assassination of Haitian President Moïse, and urge local authorities and international partners to do all they can to prioritize the protection of civilians and to prevent further casualties.” To the best of my knowledge this is Paul’s first public comment on Haiti. She was quiet when reporter Diego Charles and activist Antoinette Duclair were killed on June 29 in Port-au-Prince. She also ignored a recent Harvard Law report documenting a couple hundred killed in “brutal attacks” by government-backed gangs. Paul was also quiet about Moïse ruling by decree and his lack of constitutional legitimacy. Paul failed to raise her voice five months ago when Green MP Paul Manly, environmentalists David Suzuki and Naomi Klein, as well as Stephen Lewis, Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters, George Elliott Clarke and other prominent individuals called on Canada to “stop propping up a repressive and corrupt dictatorship in Haiti.”

In response to Paul’s tweet about Moïse a number of individuals highlighted the hypocritical nature of her message considering her indifference to Israeli violence against Palestinians. “I wish you demonstrated as much concern for the murder of Palestinians as you do for the murder of a dictator”, noted one. A more perceptive commentator noted Paul’s status quo outlook: “Why is it that every time Trudeau tweets something about global affairs, you tweet the same exact message?” A former Global Affairs Canada employee, Paul’s resume demonstrates rock solid support for the US led global order.

On July 20 the Green Party’s federal council will vote on whether to give members the opportunity to decide if Paul should continue to lead the party. The federal council should allow the members to vote. My bet is that the vast majority of Greens are fed up with attacks from Paul and her team on members who promote the Green party’s official policy on Palestine.


Comments Off on More attacks on Palestine solidarity from Green party leadership

Filed under Green Party

Trudeau Actively Aids Israeli Occupation

The Trudeau government presents itself as both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian. In fact, Ottawa pursues policies that enable Israel’s expansionism while its relations with the Palestinians also serve the colonial authority.

At the start of last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had successive calls with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali “I have killed lots of Arabs” Bennett and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Foreign Minister Marc Garneau then met his Israeli and PA counterparts. The outreach is designed to offer diplomatic support to the new Israeli government and the PA, which recently canceled elections it has postponed for over a decade.

According to polls 84% of Palestinians consider the PA corrupt and many are critical of the Palestinian Authority for yielding in the face of ongoing Israeli settlement expansion. In recent days there have been major demonstrations in Hebron, Ramallah and elsewhere in the West Bank calling for the fall of the PA due to its role in repressing the Palestinian liberation struggle. In response the PA has asked Israel if it could buy gas canisters, stun grenades and “non-lethal” munitions to replenish its stocks.

The protests are a response to Palestinian security forces killing Nizar Banat, a 43-year-old media activist who documented alleged PA corruption. “Now the Dayton authority is arresting political activist Nizar Banat and confiscating all his possessions, including computers and phones, and brutally assaulting him,” his family posted toBanat’s Facebook account minutes before he was killed.

Palestinians regularly denounce the “Dayton Authority” and “Dayton forces”, which is a reference to former US Security Coordinator Keith Dayton. In the late 2000s the US lieutenant general oversaw organizing a 10,000-member Palestinian security force. “We don’t provide anything to the Palestinians,” Dayton told the Associated Press in 2009, “unless it has been thoroughly coordinated with the State of Israel and they agree to it.” For instance, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, vets all of the Palestinian recruits.

Like colonial authorities throughout history, Israel has looked to compliant locals to take up the occupation’s security burden. What is unique about the PA security forces’ operations are their international ties. In a 2011 story detailing how PA security “undermine efforts by Palestinians to challenge the occupation”, Adam Shatz wrote: “It is an extraordinary arrangement: the security forces of a country under occupation are being subcontracted by third parties outside the region to prevent resistance to the occupying power, even as that power continues to grab more land.”

Canada was/is the second-biggest contributor to the Dayton/Office of the United States Security Coordinator. A fifth of Dayton’s initial staff were Canadians, including a counterpart Canadian Brigadier-General. During the Stephen Harper government ministers repeatedly praised Dayton and Canadians trained the Palestinian security force in Jordan at the U.S.-built International Police Training Center (established to train Iraqi security after the 2003 invasion). While the number has varied slightly, 23 Canadian troops and 3 RCMP officers are currently part of Operation Proteus, Canada’s contribution to the Office of the United States Security Coordinator.

“The Canadian contribution is invaluable,” explained Dayton to The Maple Leaf, a publication of the Canadian army. Canadians are particularly useful because, Dayton said, “US personnel have travel restrictions when operating in the West Bank. But, our British and Canadian members do not.” Calling them his “eyes and ears” Dayton added: “The Canadians … are organized in teams we call road warriors, and they move around the West Bank daily visiting Palestinian security leaders, gauging local conditions.”

Canada has plowed more than $100 million into the PA security services over the past 15 years. In 2021 the military is allocating $8.8 million to Operation Proteus and millions of dollars more in “aid” supports Palestinian security forces. In 2018 the Trudeau government initiated the $1.25 million “Empowering the Palestinian Security Sector” and the $3.5 million “Security Sector Capacity Building in the West Bank” projects. According to Global Affairs’ description of the latter initiative, “these activities complement the ongoing institutional capacity-building efforts by Operation PROTEUS, Canada’s contribution to the United States Security Coordinator.”

At the height of Canada’s involvement in Palestinian security sector reform tens of millions of dollars a year supported the Dayton led mission. According to former Minister Peter Kent “most” of a five-year $300 million Canadian “aid” package to the Palestinians that began at the end of 2007 was for the Palestinian security forces.

When Harper’s Conservatives threatened to sever aid to the PA for pursuing recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN, the Israelis pressured Canada not to cut off assistance. “There have been increasing references in the past months during high-level bilateral meetings with the Israelis about the importance and value they place on Canada’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority, most notably in security/justice reform”, explained Canadian International Development Agency president Margaret Biggs. In the heavily censored 2012 note released through an access to information request Biggs also suggests the goal of Canadian “aid” was to protect the corrupt PA from popular backlash. She explained that “the emergence of popular protests on the Palestinian street against the Palestinian Authority is worrying and the Israelis have been imploring the international donor community to continue to support the Palestinian Authority.”

Canadian military trainers and aid money have supported a Palestinian security force explicitly designed to enforce Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. An associated objective of Canadian support for the PA security forces was/is to bolster Abbas’ Fatah against Hamas. In 2007 Canadian ambassador to Israel Jon Allen was quoted by the Canadian Jewish News saying Ottawa supported the Palestinian police “to ensure that the PA maintains control of the West Bank against Hamas.” Dayton all but admitted that he was strengthening Fatah against Hamas, telling a US audience in 2009 his force was “working against illegal Hamas activities.” Between 2007 and 2011 PA security forces arrested 10,000 suspected Hamas supporters in the West Bank as part of the Israel–US–Canada stoked Palestinian civil war.

After Hamas won Canadian-monitored and facilitated legislative elections in 2006 Canada was the first country after Israel to cut its assistance to the PA. The aid cut-off was designed to isolate Hamas, which has long been a Canadian objective.

A principal way this has been accomplished over the past two decades is by criminalizing Palestinian political life. Eight of the oppressed nation’s organizations are listed as terrorist groups by Ottawa, which means Canadians cannot support those groups in any way. According to the terrorist legislation the federal government has to review listed organizations’ status every five years and last week the Trudeau government relisted HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, which were all listed in the early 2000s by Liberal governments.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a left secular organization that barely engages in armed struggle. Hamas won the last Palestinian election in 2006 and despite its obvious ideological problems appears peaceful when compared to the Israeli military, which recently killed 67 children in Gaza.

In 2018 the Trudeau government relisted the first ever Canadian-based group designated a terrorist organization. The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN) was listed a terrorist organization in 2014 for engaging in the ghastly act of supporting orphans and a hospital in Gaza through official (Hamas-controlled) channels.

The Trudeau government has proffered innumerable forms of customary diplomatic/economic/security support to Israel, ranging from selling it arms to an enhanced free-trade agreement, security forces’ collaboration to diplomatic visits. It has also provided numerous forms of unconventional backing, including celebrating Canadians fighting in the Israeli military, withdrawing from a major UN conference on racism to placate Israel’s supporters, saying Canada would act as an “asset” for Israel if it gained a UN Security Council seat, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop consumers from knowing where wines are produced to obscure Israeli land theft, etc.

Despite professions of support for both Israelis and Palestinians, the Trudeau government’s relations with Palestinians largely serve Israel. Ottawa has a pro-Israel Israel policy and a pro-Israel Palestinian policy.

Comments Off on Trudeau Actively Aids Israeli Occupation

Filed under Canada and Israel, Israel, Justin Trudeau

The assassination of Jovenel Moïse

Jovenel Moïse was a violent and corrupt tyrant. While his passing may not elicit much sympathy, the Haitian president’s assassination should not be celebrated.

Backed by Washington and Ottawa, Moïse appears to have been killed by elements within his own violent PHTK political party. The well-organized operation was probably bankrolled by one of the country’s light skinned oligarchs and almost certainly carried out with support from inside the government. Police controlled the road to his house yet this video shows a convoy of armed men moving methodically up the hill towards the president’s residence. The presumed assassins announced that they were part of a US Drug Enforcement Agency operation.

Incredibly, the president and his wife were the only individuals hurt in the operation. None of Moïse’s direct security were harmed. Nor were any police. Reportedly, a dozen bullets riddled his body.

Moïse was extremely unpopular. Little known before former president Michel Martelly anointed him PHTK presidential candidate, important segments of the oligarchy had turned against Moïse. So had most of the right wing Haitian political establishment. During his mandate Moïse appointed seven different prime ministers, including a new one on Monday. Previous interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, now claims he is in charge of the government, which is disputed by recently appointed (though not sworn in) prime minister Ariel Henry. The day after the assassination Joseph met the “Core Group”, which is a collection of foreign ambassadors (US, Canada, Spain, France, Germany, Brazil, UN and OAS) that wields immense power in Haiti. Afterwards the UN special envoy for Haiti, Helen La Lime, a former US State Department official, said Joseph will lead the country until a planned September election.

While much of the establishment had turned against Moïse, few among the impoverished masses ever supported him. Since massive anticorruption protests began in July 2018 a strong majority of Haitians have wanted Moïse to go. Protesters were enraged by the Petrocaribe corruption scandal in which the Moïse and Martelly administrations pilfered hundreds of millions of dollars. Between mid 2018 and late 2019 Moïse faced multiple general strikes, including one that shuttered Port-au-Prince for a month.

For a year and a half Moïse has been ruling by decree and his already limited constitutional legitimacy expired February 7. In response a new wave of mass protests began.

During his mandate there have been a number of horrific state-backed massacres. At the end of April Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic and L’Observatoire Haïtien des crimes contre l’humanité published a report titled “Killing with Impunity: State-Sanctioned Massacres in Haiti”. It documents three “brutal attacks” by government-backed gangs that left 240 dead in neighborhoods known for resistance to Moïse.

The scope of the violence and lawlessness has worsened in recent weeks. Gang violence has engulfed entire neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, displacing thousands of women and children. On June 29 reporter Diego Charles, activist Antoinette Duclair and 13 others were killed in a violent attack.

It’s unlikely Canada had a direct hand in Moïse’s assassination. In fact, Canadian officials were likely unhappy about the killing. But, that doesn’t mean Canadian hands aren’t all-around the crime scene.

Ottawa has strengthened the most regressive and murderous elements of Haitian society. In 2004 the Canadian government helped sabotage the most democratic election in Haitian history. 7000 elected officials were overthrown when the US, France and Canada destabilized and then ousted the elected president.

After backing a 26-month coup government that killed thousands, the US and Canada tried to block social democratic candidate René Préval from becoming president. That failed. But they undercut Préval when he attempted to raise the minimum wage and joined the subsidized Venezuelan oil program Petrocaribe. After the terrible 2010 earthquake they took advantage of the government’s weakness to sideline Préval and impose the PHTK in a rushed ‘election’.

In February I wrote about Canada’s role in enabling Haitian corruption and violence after it came to light that PHTK senator Rony Célestin stashed nearly $5 million in Montréal property. The story quoted Haitian-Canadian author Jean “Jafrikayiti” Saint-Vil who explained: “The PHTK regime headed by Michel Martelly and his self-described ‘bandi legal’ (legal bandits), came to power thanks to fraudulent elections organized, financed and controlled by the foreign occupation force established in Haiti since the coup d’état of February 2004. The planning meeting for the coup d’etat and putting Haiti under trusteeship was organized by Canadian Minister for La Francophonie Denis Paradis. The Ottawa Initiative on Haiti [January 31-February 1, 2003] succeeded in overthrowing the legitimate President as well as 7,000 elected officials from the region’s most impoverished country. The elected officials were replaced by bandits such as ‘Senator’ Rony Célestin.”

Offering an even more stark way of understanding Canada’s relationship to violence in Haiti Saint-Vil asked, “Can you imagine [Hells Angels leader] Maurice ‘Mom’ Boucher and [serial killer] Carla Homolka installed as Senators in Canada by fraudulent elections led by a coalition of Haitian, Jamaican, Ethiopian diplomats in Ottawa?” Few Canadians would be happy with such an outcome, but it’s a troublingly apt description of US, Canadian and French policy in Haiti.

It may turn out that the CIA or another arm of the US government had a hand in Moïse’s assassination. But, it’s more likely Moïse was killed in an internal PHTK struggle over political power, drug routes, pillaging state resources, etc. Or maybe there was a dispute over some gang alliance or act of violence.

A presidential assassination in the middle of the night with the probable involvement of other elements of the government reflects that deterioration and criminal nature of the Haitian state. It’s the outgrowth of the US and Canada empowering the most corrupt and violent actors in Haiti.

Washington and Ottawa support the most retrograde elements of Haitian society largely out of fear of the alternative: a reformist, pro-poor, government that seeks out alternative regional arrangements.

Canadian officials “knowingly support drug traffickers, money-launderers and assassins in Haiti”, tweeted Madame Boukman in February. “That is the only way Canadian mining vultures can loot Haiti’s massive gold reserves.”

It may be hard to believe, but that description is not far from the mark.


Comments Off on The assassination of Jovenel Moïse

Filed under Canada in Haiti, Haiti

The smear campaign at the centre of Green debacle


Last week Annamie Paul added a new chapter to her deception in service of Israeli colonialism and fidelity to Noah Zatzman. On Tuesday the Green party leader told the Globe and Mail that the federal council of the party no longer required her to repudiate Zatzman’s anti-Palestinian smears and threats against Green MPs (as well as other politicians).

In commenting to the Globe Paul was probably seeking to portray herself as the victor in the internal party dispute in the hope the council will drop talk of a leadership review. Paul understands that the federal council is in a bind since discussing the ouster of the leader weeks before a probable election is damaging. Paul has the media megaphone and has made it clear she is willing to say anything to take total control of the party. Finally, getting 75% of council members — the threshold required to bring the question to the membership — to vote to remove Paul is extremely difficult, especially since a handful of council members (short-sightedly) resigned recently to protest Paul’s actions.

But Paul’s bid to strong arm the council into accepting the conflict was resolved on her terms backfired. The next day the head of the federal council Liana Cusmano told the Canadian Press the vote of nonconfidence in the leader was moving forward and they organized a member’s townhall to discuss the situation. Cusmano said the party’s federal council was moving to sanction Paul for “failing to openly condemn the actions of Noah Zatzman.”

In response Zatzman confirmed the importance of Paul repudiating her former (and current?) senior adviser. Zatzman sent a statement to the media calling the Green council’s action “further evidence of an organization whose leadership fosters a culture of systemic anti-Semitism and discrimination.” If that wasn’t bad enough, Zatzman subsequently threatened to sue. “If the party does not immediately retract this attached statement that was just read out publicly, I will begin legal action,” he wrote in an email to council president Cusmano and interim executive director Dana Taylor, which was copied to numerous others. Zatzman added, “Liana [Cusmano], your conduct is truly appalling, your statement contains alternative facts, and you should be ashamed of yourself for these Soviet-style tactics. This is Canada — a free and open democracy — your actions are autocratic, borderline Orwellian, and wrong; and have caused me great harm.”

This is but the latest of Zatzman’s threats and smears. In his infamous May 14 Facebook post, Zatzman denounced“appalling anti-Semitism” and “virulent anti-Jewish behavior” by a slew of politicians who he threatened to “defeat”.On Twitter and in media interviews he has smeared others who disagree with his anti-Palestinian outlook. He called on “all progressives” to “stay away” from the 2,300-member Green Party of Canada Supporters Facebook group. “They are not climate activists and I doubt they are even members of the Green Party of Canada”, he wrote. “It is a group of 150 of the country’s worst anti-Semitic actors … including a few neo-Nazis. They have been digitally harassing me and many others because we are Jewish in recent days, weeks and months. We must all come together to defeat anti-Semitism!!!!”

As he’s threatened and smeared Greens who criticize his beloved Israel, Zatzman has presented himself as the victim. He repeatedly claimed those criticizing his outrageous May 14 statement were anti-Semitic. He told a CBC reporter that his parents had to delist their home address (how do you delist an address?), presumably fearing Green activists.

This from a supporter of Israel, who I can find no record of ever criticizing Honest Reporting Canada and other similar pro-Israel organizations who have repeatedly intimidated journalists, academics and others. Does he really believe it is acceptable for supporters of Israel to “cancel” people’s jobs and ruin their careers for defending Palestinians but “outrageous anti-Semitism” for Green Party members to be offended and want him fired when their party dues and donations are going to fund someone who says he will work to defeat two-thirds of the party’s federal caucus?

Given his background of working in public relations for the Ontario premier and a large insurance company perhaps he thinks he can “spin” anything. But few people are buying what he’s selling.

Incredibly, throughout the seven-week Green party saga Paul has effectively stood beside Zatzman, refusing to criticize his anti-Palestinian attacks. She kept him on as a “volunteer” adviser after the executive council terminated Zatzman’s contract and Paul defended Zatzman to the council. Presumably, Zatzman is still aiding Paul behind-the-scenes and his recent attacks against the federal council were carried out with Paul’s approval. While slightly less crass, Paul has generally echoed Zatzman’s positions. In a number of recent interviews, for instance, she strongly implied that journalists asking her to criticize Zatzman’s threat to “defeat” Green MPs were doing so because she’s Jewish. She’s repeatedly accused her critics of anti-Semitism. In a hit piece titled “On eve of leadership choice, Canada’s Greens confront anti-Semitism in their ranks”, she bemoaned to Global News in October about “the level of vitriol” against her. “Most of the attacks, most of the online hate that I’ve received has really been targeted at my Jewish identity”, claimed Paul in an interview where she said her main competitor for the party leadership, Dimitri Lascaris, shouldn’t have been allowed to run. In that story the vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs Richard Marceau said, “radical far-left activists are trying to take control of the Green Party, hijack the Green Party.”

During and just after the leadership race Paul was also quoted in the Times of Israel, Ha’aretz, Jewish Independent, Canadian Jewish Record and elsewhere attacking Green Party members as anti-Semitic. In a July 2020 Canadian Jewish Record commentary she wrote, “My loyalty to Canada has also been called into question, and I have been accused of taking bribes from Israel, leading a Zionist take-over of the Green Party of Canada and of spreading hasbarah.

To get her way Paul has had her underlings accuse others of anti-Semitism and racism. As part of a battle with the Green council over paying her the salary of an MP ($185,000) and plowing significant resources into her (longshot) Toronto riding Paul’s campaign manager, Sean Yo, suggested the council was anti-Black and anti-Jewish in an April story the Toronto Star headlined “Senior Green officials are sabotaging the first Black woman to lead a Canadian political party, ‘disgusted’ insiders say”.

Still, Paul will most likely survive the nonconfidence vote on July 20. But it’s important for anyone concerned about democracy in a supposedly progressive party to not let Paul simply move on from this dispute. Standing up to Paul’s bullying is a matter of principle.

A similar dynamic is at play for those who believe Palestinians are human beings. It’s important that Paul pays a price for her flagrant anti-Palestinian behavior. But on the Palestinian question there is more of an upside since Zatzman’s blatantly crass bullying and avoidance of the real issue (a party adviser publicly revealing he is working to defeat Green MPs) has only served to discredit the Israel lobby.

While many progressives remain unwilling to confront the subject, the attacks against leftist British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn highlight the importance of calling out “anti-Semitic” smears. Palestine solidarity and the left more generally are confronted with history’s greatest ever ‘identity politics’ smear campaign. In navigating this predicament, it is preferable to do battle with an adversary who lacks subtlety and nuance. Zatzman fits the bill and the more attention we can draw to his ridiculousness the better.

Comments Off on The smear campaign at the centre of Green debacle

Filed under Green Party, Israel Lobby

Conservative and Liberal media defend Green leader as she accuses her critics of racism

Last month Montréal saw some of its largest ever protests by racialized communities. On May 15 upwards of 10,000 came out for Palestinian rights with about 80% of those participating from an Arab or other racialized background. The racial makeup of the protests in other cities wasn’t dissimilar.

Alongside those taking to the street, huge numbers signed petitions and statements supporting Palestinian rights. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it generated over 100,000 letters to the government regarding Israel’s attacks on the Al-Asqua mosque, ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem and violence on Gaza. A slew of Canada’s most prominent Black and indigenous activists — from Black Lives Matter to Desmond Cole, Idle No More to Ellen Gabriel — publicly supported the protests. The recent protests for Palestine have been among the largest uprisings of racialized Canadians in recent history.

So, anti-racists are right to be appalled with Annamie Paul’s deflection, refusal to side with Palestinians and inability to criticize Israeli apartheid.

What prompted most to take the street or write government officials was righteous outrage at probably the starkest racism on the planet. On one side is a country with a $44,000 per person GDP, nuclear arms and staunch support from the world’s superpower. On the other side is an imprisoned population with a GDP per capita of $2,000 and no army, let alone nuclear weapons.

Two thirds of the 2 million living in Gaza were ethnically cleansed from what is now Israel. Palestinians in Gaza can’t leave a 363 square km — between the size of Saskatoon and Winnipeg — open-air prison to view the homes their families were driven from 70 years ago but my longtime friend in Vancouver, Michael Rosen — who hasn’t been to Israel, has no familial connection to the country and has never even been religious — can emigrate there.

But the Green Party leader chose to ignore the uprising of racialized Canadians opposed to some of the starkest racism on the planet. Even worse, she is now claiming her anti-racism critics are racist.

Paul’s two statements last month on the conflict were as bad or worse as what the Trudeau government said. In so doing Paul ignored the pleas of Arab and Muslim Canadians, as well as her own party’s democratically determined policy, which repeatedly calls for pressure to be brought to bear on Israel to comply with international law. Before her first statement whitewashed Israeli racism and belligerence, Green MPs Jenica Atwin, Elizabeth May and Paul Manly privately pressed Paul to respect party policy.

When Atwin, Manly, May and many other Canadian political figures expressed support for the besieged Palestinians, Paul’s senior adviser Noah Zatzman smeared them as anti-Semitic and threatened to defeat them. After a huge letter writing campaign, the Green executive council terminated Zatzman’s contract. But Paul kept Zatzman on as a “volunteer” adviser, effectively flouting the executive council’s decision. She has also steadfastly refused to criticize Zatzman’s anti-Palestinian attacks despite a direct request from the Green executive to do so. Instead, she has reportedly threatened to sue the council over their request.

At the same time as this was playing out, Paul refused to talk with Atwin and blocked a number of individuals, including former Green leadership candidate Judy Green, from running for the party. When Atwin responded to Paul’s autocratic and anti-Palestinian behavior by leaving the party the dispute became leading news.

Instead of recognizing her central role in this debacle, Paul responded by calling her opponents “racist” and “sexist”. While Paul’s deflection is transparently self-serving, deeply anti-Palestinian and damaging to equity struggles, much of the dominant media has echoed the establishment–minded politician’s framing. Under the caption “standing her ground” Paul was on the front page of Saturday’s Globe and Mail and a Toronto Star editorial claimed, “the only positive to be found in the party’s sad spiral into irrelevance is the conduct of its embattled leader, Annamie Paul” who has been “attacked by the left fringe of the Green movement.”

Paul’s recent actions have been remarkably cynical, autocratic and anti-Palestinian. But even before she took the helm of the Green’s Paul rode a wave of autocratic and anti-Palestinian decisions. Paul’s rise was largely the outgrowth of former leader Elizabeth May’s disregard for party democracy. Despite promising to stay out of the leadership race, May threw her substantial influence behind Paul, fearing eco-socialist and pro-Palestinian forces in the party led by Dimitri Lascaris.

After members voted for a pro-Palestinian resolution proposed by Lascaris at the party’s 2016 convention, May demonstrated extreme disregard for party democracy. She threatened to resign and forced the party to hold a special convention six months later in Calgary to revaluate that single vote. May also expelled Lascaris and two others from her shadow cabinet and the party initially barred Lascaris from running to be leader of the Green party. Ultimately, Paul defeated Lascaris on the eighth-round of voting by 2,000 votes.

While Paul benefited greatly from May’s massive influence, soon after taking her position Paul butted heads with the May-aligned Federal Council. As a new leader, Paul requested the party pay her the salary of an MP ($185,000) and demanded significant funds be plowed into her Toronto riding where she faces long odds of winning.

As part of this conflict, Paul’s people sought to publicly embarrass the council. The manager of Paul’s unsuccessful Toronto Centre by-election, Sean Yo, implied the people around May were anti-Black and anti-Jewish in a story the Toronto Star headlined “Senior Green officials are sabotaging the first Black woman to lead a Canadian political party, ‘disgusted’ insiders say”.

That the Green party has a race problem should not be controversial. Black Green activist Matthew Sloly has long complained it is the least diverse of all the federal parties. But Sloly is harshly critical of Paul (as well as May’s) autocratic and anti-Palestinian outlook.

Other Black voices within the Greens are challenging Paul. Anti-Racist Equity Consultant Lisa Gunderson, who was seeking the party nomination for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, recently dropped her bid saying she was “concerned that recent events are not consistent with Green values.”

The idea that the way to solve the Green party’s lack of racial diversity is for the party leader’s senior adviser to smear all those, disproportionately Arab and Muslim Canadians, promoting Palestinian rights is outrageous. To frame opposition to Paul’s leadership as simply driven by racism is to ignore her autocratic behavior and anti-Palestinian racism.

Paul has severely divided and damaged the Green Party and is apparently fine with that. Certainly, there have been no public attempts to heal a glaring rift in the membership. If one were to ascribe motives based on her actions, it would seem she aims to purge the internationalist, anti-racist left from the party. By calling them racists. A tactic much of the media is applauding.

Comments Off on Conservative and Liberal media defend Green leader as she accuses her critics of racism

Filed under Green Party

NDP defence critic ignores party policy

Why does the NDP defence critic promote militarism and anti-Palestinian racism? Shouldn’t all critics promote their party’s policies? And if they don’t, what should the party leader do?

Randall Garrison complained to the Hill Times that the government’s recent budget didn’t devote enough to the military. In “Opposition MPs say they’re worried about lack of defence spending in budget, as experts to future of NORAD” he’s quoted saying: “Defence doesn’t change just because there’s a pandemic. … We spent a decade not providing the military with an adequate operating budget to do the work we already asked them to do. It’s time to fix that.”

Garrison has repeatedly demanded more resources for the military, which has more than 10 times the budget of Environment and Climate Change Canada. When the Liberals announced a 70 per cent increase in military spending in 2017 Garrison criticized the announcement for not putting up more money immediately, bemoaning (incorrectly) that “the money you’re proposing will not keep pace with the rate of inflation.”

Garrison supports spending $19 billion — $77 billion over their lifecycle — on 88 new aggressive, climate destroying, fighter jets. Garrison’s most egregious position concerns the Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC) procurement, which could cost $286 billion over their lifecycle. He stayed silent on the issue after the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated in February that the cost of acquiring 15 highly armed CSCs at over $77 billion, five times the initial estimate. And $77 billion is just the sticker price. Former Assistant Deputy Minister of Materiel at DND and Assistant Deputy Minister, Supply Operations Service in Public Works and Government Services Canada, Alan Williams, suggests the full life-cycle cost of the CSC will be an eye popping $286 billion.

Garrison has also ignored media reports about extreme secrecy in the CSC procurement process. Nor has he commented on its radar tying the vessels into US Ballistic Missile Defense or arming the frigates with Tomahawk missiles that travel 1,700 kilometers.

None of this aligns with the views of most NDP members.

In mid-April 85% of NDP convention delegates voted for the Palestine Resolution. It calls for “Ending all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine” and “Suspending the bilateral trade of all arms and related materials with the State of Israel until Palestinian rights are upheld.”

In response to Israel’s ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque and violence in Gaza, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called for an arms embargo on Israel and the party promoted a petition making this demand, which most MPs shared.

Garrison stayed quiet on the arms embargo and convention resolution. He also failed to criticize Israel’s violence and ethnic cleansing. Instead, he signed a statement at the end of May designed to shield Israel from criticism, which was promoted by anti-Palestinian lobby group Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). The statement Garrison signed was connected to his position on an unofficial task force lobbying social media firms to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) anti-Palestinian working definition of anti-Semitism.

Garrison is also vice-chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group (CIIG). Three years ago 200 well-known musicians, academics, trade unionists and NDP members called on NDP MPs to withdraw from CIIG. Most ultimately did so. Garrison has refused to leave a group that promotes “greater friendship” and “cooperation” between the Canadian and Israeli parliaments. As I detailed, CIIG has organized events with other pro-Israel lobby organizations and the co-chairs of its Israeli counterpart — the Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group — have been stridently anti-Palestinian. Garrison’s ties to anti-Palestinian lobbying groups go beyond his role as vice-chair of CIIG. Garrison has participated in initiatives with the staunchly anti-Palestinian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and CIJA. He has also repeatedly promoted the notion that pro-Palestinian activism is anti-Jewish. Last summer Garrison was one of two NDP MPs who refused to sign Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East’s pledge to oppose Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank.

Garrison is clearly out of step with NDP members on Palestinian rights. His militarism is also not shared by most in the party.

It’s time Jagmeet Singh removed Garrison as defence critic.


Please take one minute to send a letter to the NDP leadership calling for Garrison’s removal as defence critic.

Comments Off on NDP defence critic ignores party policy

Filed under Israel Lobby, Military, NDP