Former Vice President of the Concordia Student Union, Yves Engler is a Montréal-based activist and author. He has published ten books: Left, Right — Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada; A Propaganda System—How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation, Canada in Africa — 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation, The Ugly Canadian — Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy, Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping — The Truth May Hurt, Stop Signs — Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay (with Bianca Mugyenyi), The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy (Shortlisted for the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non Fiction in the Quebec Writers’ Federation Literary Awards), Playing Left Wing: From Rink Rat to Student Radical and (with Anthony Fenton) Canada in Haiti: Waging War on The Poor Majority and Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid. Yves was born in Vancouver, where he grew up playing hockey. He was a peewee teammate of NHL star Mike Ribeiro at Huron Hochelaga in Montréal before playing in the B.C. Junior League. After being suspended from Concordia University, he turned to research and writing, but he’s still a fan of the great Canadian sport.
Yves first became active in Canadian foreign policy issues in the early 2000s. Initially focused on anti-corporate globalization organizing, the year he was an elected vice president of the Concordia Student Union Benjamin Netanyahu was blocked from speaking at the university. The protests sparked a massive backlash against student activism on campus. Later in the school year the US invaded Iraq. In the lead-up to the war Yves helped mobilize students to attend a number of massive antiwar demonstrations and co-founded a small collective called Block the Empire, which organized an early morning blockade of the US consulate in Montréal. Later Block the Empire organized a number of events targeting arms manufacturers, including a tour of Montréal’s weapons industry.
While these efforts challenged Canadian foreign policy, it was only after Ottawa helped overthrow the democratically elected Haitian government in 2004 that Yves began to seriously question Canada’s peacekeeper self-image. As he learned about Canada’s contribution to violent, anti-democratic policies in Haiti Yves began to directly challenge this country’s foreign policy. Over the next three years he traveled to Haiti and helped organize dozens of marches, talks, actions, press conferences, etc. critical of Canada’s role in the country. Yves also co-authored Canada in Haiti: Waging War Against the Poor Majority and helped establish the Canada Haiti Action Network.
As the situation in Haiti stabilized Yves began reading everything he could find about Canadian foreign policy, which culminated in the Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy. This research began a process that later led to Canada and Israel, Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping, etc.
Praise for Yves
“Yves became a foreign-policy expert by working as a night doorman in Montreal…He’s in the mould of I. F. Stone, who wasted no time with politicians, who all have an agenda, but went instead straight to the public record.”
– Rick Salutin, Globe and Mail
“Truth is often a casualty in politics. Thankfully, there’s Yves Engler—Canada’s version of Noam Chomsky—to set the record straight when political spin morphs into historical fact.”
– Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight
“One of the most vociferous critics of Canada’s self-presentation is Yves Engler. Engler is the sort of writer/activist so dedicated to the truth that his reputation sometimes suffers for it. ‘Success’, from a materialist perspective, is rarely just a matter of perseverance and hard work; it’s also a matter of political savvy. The truly driven, those unwilling to brook hypocrisy or self-censorship, often find themselves silently respected for their integrity, yet also subtly silenced from mainstream discourse, marginalized along the sidelines. It’s a pity, because without them, what a terrible and deluded world this would be.”
– Hans Rollmann, PopMatters
“One of the most important voices on the Canadian Left.”
– Greg Shupak, Briarpatch
“Yves Engler is part of that rare but growing group of social critics unafraid to confront Canada’s self-satisfied myths, regardless of whose feathers he ruffles in the process.”
– Matthew Behrens, Quill & Quire
“As for me, I’m still waiting for a true B.C.-raised muckraker—like Bob Mackin, Yves Engler, or Michael Bate—to receive the Order of Canada.”
– Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight
“Engler is in his mid-thirties and has established himself as a Chomsky-styled iconoclast. He has punctured holes in Canada’s beloved myths.”
– Michael Welton, Counterpunch