Canadian ‘progressives’ suffer bad case of war fever psychosis 

Recently a University of Victoria professor accused me of advocating genocide because I asked the Green’s leader about Canada sending arms to fight Russia. Equally troubling, the community centre hosting Montréal’s anarchist book fair canceled a talk critical of Canada’s support for the NATO proxy war.

Last week I asked Green party co-leader Jonathan Pedneault if he supported Canada sending weapons to Ukraine while opposing peace negotiations. Since becoming Green co-leaders six months ago Elizabeth May and Pednault appear to have changed the party’s policy on backing arms transfers. Just before and after Russia’s illegal February 2022 invasion interim Green leader Amita Kupner released three statements that opposed sending weapons. But May and Pednault have (somewhat ambiguously) shifted gears, endorsing Canada’s more than $2 billion in arms transfers to fight Russia.

To clarify their position, I went to the launch of Pedneault’s bid to represent the ridding of Westmount-NDG in parliament. As I approached his byelection campaign office Pedneault was talking to someone outside. When he finished, I introduced myself. Recognizing my name, Pedneault walked away as I asked if he backed Canada donating arms to fight Russia. After repeatedly refusing to answer my question Pedneault said he wasn’t interested in my “pro-Russian activism”, “pro-Russian lies” and “pro-Russian propaganda”. (In a similar vein two weeks ago NDP leader Jagmeet Singh suggested I considered Putin a “hero” when I questioned him about the NDP supporting the US Empire.)

On Twitter I posted a minute-long clip of the interaction in which Pedneault refused to answer any questions with an accompanying written commentary that read: “Since becoming Green co-leaders Elizabeth May and Jonathan Pednault have changed the party policy to back Canada donating $2 billion in arms to fight Russia. Tonight I tried to ask Pedneault about a shift in policy that defies the Greens’ pacifist constitution. His response stunned me.”

A professor in Public Administration at the University of Victoria, Tamara Krawchenko responded, “Yves Engler. You should be honest about what you’re advocating for here: Genocide.” To which I replied, “asking a politician if they support changing previous Green Party policy and defying the party’s constitution to back arms shipments is advocating Genocide?” Krawchenko double down claiming, “You are an outspoken advocate against the right for Ukraine to defend against a genocidal invasion.” That is a lie. In fact, I have repeatedly called the Russian invasion “illegal”, which is an implicit recognition of Ukrainians’ right to resist, and have never said (nor believe) Ukrainians don’t have a right to resist.

When I pressed for evidence the ecologically minded professor shifted gears asking, “Are you really denying that you’re against Ukraine receiving arms? You’ve also argued for a ‘negotiated solution with unpleasant compromises’ (Canadian Dimension). Occupation I presume, which we know means torture, mass graves.”

Does anyone seriously believe ending the horrors won’t require “unpleasant compromises”?

If questioning Canada’s role fueling the fighting makes me a supporter of genocide it’s a position supported by most of the world’s nations, which oppose sending arms. And, according to a February Postmedia-Leger poll, only 32% of Canadians support sending more arms.

Beyond that, Russia is not committing genocide in Ukraine even if its operations are brutal.

From 24 February 2022 to 21 May 2023, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 24,012 civilian casualties in the country: 8,895 killed and 15,117 injured”, noted a recent release from the OHCHR.

In a further sign of the psychosis and war fever enveloping Canadian progressives, the community centre that hosts Montréal’s anarchist bookfair canceled an upcoming talk with Université de Montréal history professor Samir Saul, Québec Green Party leader Alex Tyrell and myself. The title of the talk is “What is the truth about the war in Ukraine”. After accepting payment for the room, Céda returned the money and said the centre couldn’t host it on the grounds some Ukrainian refugees take language classes at their facilities. (The talk will proceed inside or outside at 2 PM on May 28 at 2515 Delisle St.)

A previous iteration of the talk was canceled last month by the usually union- and community-group-friendly Centre St-Pierre. The Centre initially said I was “pro-Russia” and then cited the risk of a possible counter protest for canceling the booking.

The intellectual unanimity imposed by Canada’s institutions and thought leaders regarding the NATO proxy wars is unique for a country so far from the front lines. As I detailed in “If Lula can call for peace in Ukraine, why not Canada’s left?” this country’s left is offside with most of its international counterparts and is more belligerent than six African governments and China — not to mention the Pope — all of whom have recently pushed for peace negotiations.

No MP in the House of Commons is willing to challenge Canadian policy. At least in the European Union Parliament leftist Irish representatives Mike Wallace and Claire Daly have repeatedly criticized the EU for fueling the fighting while failing to even discuss peace. In Britain, one of the most belligerent nations, MP and former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has noted, “Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution; it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war… What I find disappointing is that hardly any of the world’s leaders use the word peace; they always use the language of more war, and more bellicose war.”

In the US former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein attended an antiwar rally on the one-year anniversary of the invasion. In her speech she noted, “Instead of engaging peace overtures the U.S has been throwing billions in weapons and economic aid to keep this war alive even blowing up the Nordstrom pipeline.” At the other end of the political spectrum Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized US policy while a dozen retired US generals and top security officials recently signed a full-page New York Times ad critical of NATO’s role in encircling Russia headlined “The US should be a force for peace in the World”.

With the exception of rightist former Conservative foreign minister Maxine Bernier, is any Canadian with a public profile criticizing Ottawa’s policy? The depth of the official consensus highlights Canada’s deep historic ties to NATO and anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalism.

For decades Canada has aggressively stoked tension inside Ukraine and the region. Today the government is pumping in weapons while talking about regime change in Moscow and opposing peace negotiations.

The way self-described progressives have encouraged this policy will go down as one of the more embarrassing episodes in the history of the Canadian left, comparable to supporting the First Word War.

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