Category Archives: Justin Trudeau

CANADA DOES NOT DESERVE A SEAT ON THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL

 

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Published today in the Toronto Star, this article is supported by more than a hundred artists, activists and academics including David Suzuki, Roger Waters, Noam Chomsky, Ellen Gabriel, Pam Palmater, Monia Mazigh and Roméo Saganash. To view the full list of signatories or to add your name, visit: https://www.foreignpolicy.ca/petition

 

Despite its peaceful reputation, Canada is not acting as a benevolent player on the international stage.

Rather, Canada ranks among the twelve largest arms exporters and its weapons have fueled conflicts across the globe, including the devastating war in Yemen.

In a disappointing move, Canada refused to join 122 countries represented at the 2017 UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination.

Ottawa has also been an aggressive proponent of the nuclear-armed NATO alliance, and currently leads coalition missions in Latvia and Iraq.

Echoing Trump’s foreign policy, Canada has backed reactionary forces in the Americas. The Trudeau government has led efforts to unseat Venezuela’s UN-recognized government, while propping up repressive, corrupt and illegitimate governments in Haiti and Honduras. Canada also lent its support to the economic elites and Christian extremists who recently overthrew the democratically elected indigenous president of Bolivia.

In the Middle East, Canada has sided with Israel on almost every issue of importance. Since coming to power the Trudeau government has voted against more than fifty UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights backed by the overwhelming majority of member states. The Canadian government has refused to abide by 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2334, calling on member states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied in 1967.” On the contrary, Ottawa extends economic and trade assistance to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. Should it win a seat on the UNSC, Ottawa has stated that it will act as an “asset for Israel” on the Council.

Canadian mining companies are responsible for countless ecological and human rights abuses around the globe. Still, Ottawa defends the most controversial mining firms and refuses to restrict public support for companies responsible for abuses. The chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights criticized the Trudeau government for refusing to rein in mining abuses while the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes has decried the “double standard” applied to Canadian mining practices domestically versus internationally.

Falling short of its responsibilities as a global citizen, Canada continues to oppose the Basel Ban Amendment on the export of waste from rich to poor countries, which became binding in late 2019 after ratification by 97 countries. Ottawa also failed to ratify the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Ottawa has refused to ratify more than 50 International Labour Organization conventions. In November 2019, Canada once again refused to back a widely supported UN resolution on “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

Violating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Trudeau government sent militarized police into unceded Wet’suwet’en Nation territory to push through a pipeline. The UN Human Rights Committee recently documented various ways Canada is failing to live up to its obligations towards indigenous people under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Ignoring front-line victims, Ottawa refuses to keep Canada’s dirty oil in the ground. Canada is on pace to emit significantly more greenhouse gases than it agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement and previous climate accords. Already among the world’s highest per capita emitters, the Canadian government is subsidizing further growth of heavy emitting tar sands, at the expense of impoverished nations who’ve contributed little to the climate crisis but bear the brunt of its impacts.

The international community should not reward bad behaviour. Please vote against Canada’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

 

SIGNATURES

David Suzuki, Award winning geneticist/broadcaster

Roger Waters, co-founder Pink Floyd

Noam Chomsky, linguist, author & social critic

Ellen Gabriel, artist and activist

Roméo Saganash, former MP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou

Sid Ryan, former president of Ontario Federation of Labour and CUPE Ontario

Rawi Hage, novelist

Amir Khadir, former Quebec National Assembly member

Pam Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson

Judy Rebick, activist and author

Jord Samolesky, Propagandhi

Steve Ashton, long-serving member of the Manitoba legislature and cabinet minister

George Elliott Clarke, poet and professor

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize co-winner (1976)

Trevor Herriot, author and activist

John Clark, activist

Charles Demers, comedian & author

Alain Deneault, essayist and philosophy professor

Martin Duckworth, laureate of the 2015 Albert-Tessier Prix du Quebec for cinema

Cy Gonick, former Manitoba NDP MLA and founding editor of Canadian Dimension

John Greyson, film-maker & professor

Syed Hussan, Migrant Workers Alliance

El Jones, activist, educator, journalist and poet

Gordon Laxer, author/founding Director Parkland Institute

Monia Mazigh, PhD, author and activist

Jim Manly, Member of Parliament 1980-88

Kanahus Manuel, activist

Tim McCaskell, educator & activist

Sheelah Mclean, co-founder Idle No More organizer

Serge Mongeau, author & editor

Mike Palecek, former National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Dimitri Roussopoulos, author, and long-time peace movement activist

Clayton Thomas-Müller – Director, Author, Senior Campaign Specialist – 350.org

Rinaldo Walcott, professor

Ingrid Waldron, author & professor

Harsha Walia, author & activist

Antonia Zerbisias, journalist & activist

Greg Albo, Professor of Politics, York University

August Arnold, journalist and author

Antonio Artuso, Front uni contre le fascisme et la guerre

Corey Balsam, National Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Nik Barry-Shaw, author

Corey Balsam, National Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Susan Bazilli, PhD – Director, International Women’s Rights Project

Ron Benner, artist

Karl Beveridge, artist

Raul Burbano, activist

Nancy Brown, teacher/librarian, peace/human rights activist

David Camfield, activist and academic

Stefan Christoff, artist & activist

Carole Condé, artist

Gerry Condon, Veterans for Peace (US), former president

Deborah Cowen, Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Raju J Das, York University

Judith Deutsch, academic

Gord Doctorow, educator

Martine Eloy, antiwar and human rights activist

Darren Ell, Photographer

Gary Engler, author

Yves Engler, author & activist

Joe Emersberger, author

Richard Falk, Professor of International Law emeritus, Princeton University

Kiran Fatima, co-chair Toronto Association for Peace & Solidarity

Richard Fidler, Author and Activist

Miguel Figueroa, President, Canadian Peace Congress

Don Foreman, Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Alan Freeman, author & economist

Gavin Fridell, Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor in International Development Studies Saint Mary’s University

Dr. Todd Gordon, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University

Peter Gose, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology Carleton University

Harry Glasbeek, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Osgoode Hall Law School

Tracy Glynn, activist and writer

Cory Greenlees, activist

Malcolm Guy, documentary film director/producer

Michael Harris, author

Jamelie Hassan, artist

David Heap, teacher-researcher; peace & human rights advocate

Evert Hoogers, CUPW (retired)

Pierre Jasmin, artiste pour la paix

Dru Jay, author & activist

David Kattenburg, University instructor & journalist

Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence (USA)

Gary Kinsman, activist and author

Harry Kopyto, legal activist

Jonathan Kuttab, International human rights lawyer

Dimitri Lascaris, lawyer/journalist/activist

Ed Lehman, Regina Peace Council

Raymond Legault, activist, Collectif Échec à la guerre

Tamara Lorincz, PhD candidate and member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Martin Lukacs, journalist

Eva Manly, retired filmmaker

Robin Mathews, author

Amy Miller, filmmaker

David Mivasair, retired rabbi

Bianca Mugyenyi, activist, former Co-ED The Leap

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Dr. Susan O’Donnell, researcher, writer and activist

Nino Pagliccia, activist and freelance writer

Dr. Idrisa Pandit, academic

Brent Patterson, activist

Justin Podur, author and professor

Judi Rever, journalist and author

Karen Rodman, human rights activist

Richard Roman, retired professor, writer

Reuben Roth, Professor

Herman Rosenfeld, Socialist Project

Grahame Russell, Co-Director – Rights Action

Joan Russow, activist

Cory Greenlees

Sakura Saunders, activist

Harold Shuster, Independent Jewish Voices-Winnipeg

Ken Stone, President – Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War

Donald Swartz, Carleton University

Koozma J. Tarasoff, peace activist

Marianne Vardalos, PhD Department of Sociology

Jay Watts, co-chair Toronto Association for Peace & Solidarity

Paul Weinberg, author

Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, Socialist Action

Elizabeth Whitmore, activist

Ellen Woodsworth, writer, organizer and former Vancouver City councillor

Dwyer Sullivan, board member – Conscience Canada

Dr. Thom Workman, professor, University of New Brunswick

Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat.

ORGANISATIONS

Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) – Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain

Mining Watch

Independent Jewish Voices/ Voix juives indépendantes

Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix

Solidarité Québec-Haïti

Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War

Council of Canadians – London Chapter

Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver

International League of Peoples’ Struggle

Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement pour une Paix Juste

Socialist Project

Canadian BDS Coalition

Socialist Action

Canadian Boat to Gaza,

Leap Montreal

CAIA Victoria

Freedom Flotilla Coalition

Gaza Freedom Flotilla Australia

Regina Peace Council

Al-Haadi Musalla
The petition will be delivered to UN member states prior to the vote for the security council seat in June.

*If your group or organization would like to endorse the open letter, please write to us at info@foreignpolicy.ca

 

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Filed under Israel, Justin Trudeau, Latin America, Middle East, Military

Ottawa’s ties with far right Colombian president undermines human rights rhetoric regarding Venezuela

 

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A week ago a former Canadian soldier instigated a harebrained bid to kidnap or kill Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Launched from Colombia, the plot failed spectacularly with most of the men captured or killed.

Still, the leader of the invasion Jordan Goudreau, a veteran of the Canadian military and US special forces, has been remarkably forthright about the involvement of opposition figure Juan Guaidó. A leaked contract between Guaidó’s representative in Florida and Goudreau’s Silvercorp USA describes plans for a multi month occupation force, which after ousting Maduro would “convert to a National Asset Unit that will act under the direction of the [Guaidó] Administration to counter threats to government stability, terror threats and work closely” with other armed forces. Apparently, Goudreau was hoping for a big payday from Venezuela’s opposition. He also had his eyes on the $15 million bounty Washington put up in March for Maduro’s capture as well as tens of millions dollars for other members of the government.

As the plot has unraveled, Ottawa has refused to directly criticize the invasion launched from Colombia. The military has also refused to release information regarding Goudreau’s time in the Canadian forces. What’s more, since the plot began Canada’s foreign affairs minister has reached out to regional opponents of Maduro and reasserted Ottawa’s backing for Guaidó. The PM also discussed Venezuela with his Colombian counterpart.

The Trudeau government’s reaction to recent events suggest the global pandemic has not deterred them from brazenly seeking to overthrow Venezuela’s government. In a bid to elicit “regime change”, over the past couple years Ottawa has worked to isolate Caracas, imposed illegal sanctions, took that government to the International Criminal Court, financed an often-unsavoury opposition and decided a marginal opposition politician was the legitimate president.

The day after the first phase of the invasion was foiled foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke to his Colombian, Peruvian and Brazilian counterparts concerning the “Venezuela crisis and the humanitarian needs of Venezuelans.” Four days later Champagne tweeted, “great call with Venezuela Interim President Juan Guaidó. Canada will always stand with the people of Venezuela in their desire to restore democracy and human rights in their country.”

On Monday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Colombian President Iván Duque Márque. According to the official release, they “discussed the crisis in Venezuela and its humanitarian impact in the region which is heightened by the pandemic. They underscored the need for continued close collaboration and a concerted international effort to address this challenging situation.” Over the past 18 months Trudeau has repeatedly discussed Venezuela with a Colombian president who has offered up his country to armed opponents of Maduro.

 

The Trudeau government has been chummy with Duque more generally. After he won a close election marred by fraud allegations then Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland “congratulated” Duque and said, “Canada and Colombia share a commitment to democracy and human rights.” In August 2018 Trudeau tweeted, “today, Colombia’s new President, Ivan Duque, took office and joins Swedish PM, Norway PM, Emmanuel Macron, Pedro Sánchez, and others with a gender-equal cabinet. Iván, I look forward to working with you and your entire team.” A month later he added, “thanks to President Ivan Duque for a great first meeting at UNGA this afternoon, focused on growing our economies, addressing the crisis in Venezuela, and strengthening the friendship between Canada & Colombia.”

But, Duque is from the extreme right — “le champion du retour de la droite dure en Colombie”, according to a Le Soleil headline. The Colombian president has undercut the peace accord the previous (right, but not far right) government signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end Colombia’s 50-year civil war, which left some 220,000 dead. Duque’s policies have increased violence towards the ex-rebels and social activists. Seventy-seven former FARC members were killed in 2019. Even more human rights defenders were murdered. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights found that at least 107 Colombian, mostly Indigenous, rights defenders were killed in 2019.

Through the first part of this year the pace at which social leaders and demobilized FARC members have been killed has increased. According to the UN observer mission in Colombia, 24 demobilized guerrillas have already been assassinated and a recent Patriotic March report on the “The other pandemic lived in Colombia” details 95 social leaders, human rights defenders and former guerrillas killed in the first four months of 2020.

Trudeau’s dalliance with Duque is difficult to align with his stated concern for human rights in Venezuela.

The same can be said for Ottawa’s failure to condemn the recent invasion attempt. The Trudeau government should be questioned on whether it was involved or had foreknowledge of the recent plot to invade Venezuela.

 

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Filed under Justin Trudeau, Latin America, Venezuela

Canadian GHG emissions grow

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While governments’ responses to the Covid-19 pandemic proves significant resources can be marshalled quickly in a crisis, there is little evidence official Canada sees global warming as a comparable emergency.

Even though Justin Trudeau’s Liberals say they take climate change seriously, Canadian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are actually increasing. According to the inventory report the government filed with the United Nations last week, Canada’s emissions grew to more than 729 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and its equivalents in 2018. This represents a 15 million tonne increase over 2017.

Incredibly, the editors at the Globe and Mail decided this information deserved a 75-word brief in the bottom corner of page 15. While Canada’s paper of record buried the story, it deserved front-page attention. The situation is dire. Temperatures are increasing steadily and so too the frequency/intensity of “natural” disasters. In 2019 there were 15 natural disasters linked to climate change that caused more than a billion dollars in damage. Seven of them destroyed more than $10 billion. Hundreds of thousands have already died as a result of anthropocentric climate disturbances and the numbers will grow exponentially.

At the 2015 Paris climate negotiation the Trudeau government committed Canada to reducing GHG emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 (a major step backwards from Canada’s commitment under the Kyoto Protocol and 2009 Copenhagen Accord). But, this target is unlikely to be achieved. In December Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, said Canada was expected to emit 603 million tonnes of GHG in 2030, far above the 511 million tonnes agreed to in Paris (to meet the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Canada would need to reduce its GHG emissions to 381 million tonnes by 2030).

A November Nature Communications study seeking to reconcile the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5-to-2 C concluded that if the rest of the world flouted its commitments in a similar way to Canada temperatures would increase between 3 C and 4 C by the end of the century. A Climate Transparency report card release that month found that Canada’s plan to meet its GHG targets was among the worst (along with Australia and South Korea) in the G20. The November study found that the emissions intensity of Canada’s buildings, transportation and agriculture were all above the G20 average and that Canadians produced nearly three times more GHG per capita than the G20 average.

Expansion of the tar sands guarantees that Canada will flout its international commitments to reduce GHG emissions. According to the Parkland Institute, “bitumen production grew 376% from 2000 through 2018” and is projected to grow by another 1.41 million barrels per day by 2040. To expand extraction of heavy carbon emitting Alberta oil, the Liberals are spending $9 billion on the Trans Mountain pipeline and related infrastructure. Last week the government announced $1.7 billion to clean up orphan wells in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. While energy workers should be offered work cleaning up environmental devastation, the initiative is, in effect, a subsidy to a historically profitable industry that should be covering the costs.

This was not the first time the Liberals broke their pre-election promise to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Ottawa continues to offer billions of dollars (as much as $46 billion, according to one IMF working paper) a year in assistance to oil, gas and other fossil fuel firms. While Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s 2015 mandate letter from the PM said he should “work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to fulfil our G20 commitment and phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the medium-term”, there was no mention of this objective in either Morneau’s or Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s 2019 mandate letters.

Despite claiming to take the climate crisis seriously, the Trudeau government has failed to put the country on track to meet even dangerously insufficient targets for reducing GHG emissions. This is largely because of the oil industry’s power. The profits from oil and natural gas flow to their producers and distributers, as well as the banks that finance them, and other investors whose portfolios include these stocks. These are the people who, under the current economic system, mostly determine government policy.

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Filed under Climate, Justin Trudeau, Uncategorized

Ottawa dances with Saudi kingdom

UnknownAs Canadians focus on the coronavirus pandemic the Trudeau government announced it was lifting its suspension of arms export permits to Saudi Arabia. It has also renegotiated the government’s $14 billion armoured vehicle deal with the belligerent, repressive, monarchy.

This is not surprising. The government set the stage for this decision when with its September review that found no evidence linking Canadian military exports to human rights violations committed by the Saudis. The Global Affairs review claimed there was no “credible” link between arms exports to the Saudis and human rights abuses even though the April 2016 memo to foreign minister Stéphane Dion originally approving the armoured vehicle export permits claimed they would assist Riyadh in “countering instability in Yemen.” The five year old Saudi led war against Yemen has left 100,000 dead. Throughout their time in office the Liberals have largely ignored Saudi violence in Yemen.

Despite a great deal of public attention devoted to a diplomatic spat, after Riyadh withdrew its ambassador over an innocuous tweet from the Canadian Embassy in August 2018, the Liberals have sought to mend relations and continue business as usual. In December 2018 HMCS Regina assumed command of a 33-nation Combined Maritime Forces naval coalition patrolling the region from Saudi Arabia. Last September foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “Saudi Arabia is an important partner for Canada and we continue to work with Saudi Arabia on a number of different issues at a number of different levels.” For its part, the Canadian Embassy’s website continues to claim, “the Saudi government plays an important role in promoting regional peace and stability.”

According to an access to information request by PhD researcher Anthony Fenton, Freeland phoned new Saudi foreign minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf in January 2019. In briefing notes for the (unannounced) discussion Freeland was encouraged to tell her counterpart (under the headline “points to register” regarding Yemen): “Appreciate the hard work and heavy lifting by the Saudis and encourage ongoing efforts in this regard.”

After Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s (MBS) thugs killed and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, Trudeau treaded carefully regarding the murder. Ten days after the Canadian Press reported, “the prime minister said only that Canada has ‘serious issues’ with reports the Washington Post columnist was killed by Saudi Arabian operatives inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey.” Six weeks later the Liberals sanctioned 17 Saudi nationals over the issue but none of them were in positions of significant authority.

Foreign minister Freeland looked the other way when Saudi student Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi fled Canada last year — presumably with help from the embassy — to avoid sexual assault charges in Cape Breton. While Freeland told reporters that Global Affairs was investigating the matter, Halifax Chronicle Herald journalist Aaron Beswick’s Access to Information request suggested they didn’t even bother contacting the Saudi embassy concerning the matter.

In April 2019 the Saudis beheaded 37 mostly minority Shiites. Ottawa waited 48 hours — after many other countries criticized the mass execution — to release a “muted” statement. The Trudeau government stayed mum on the Saudi’s effort to derail pro-democracy demonstrations in Sudan and Algeria in 2018/19 as well as Riyadh’s funding for Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar’s bid to seize Tripoli by force.

While they implemented a freeze on new export permit approvals, shipments of Canadian weaponry continued. The year 2018 set a record for Canadian rifle and armoured vehicle sales to the Saudis. Over $17 million in rifles were exported to the kingdom in 2018 and a similar amount in 2019. Canada exported $2 billion worth of “tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles” to the Saudis in 2019. In February Canada exported $155.5 million worth of “Tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles” to Saudi Arabia.

The Global Affairs review that claimed there was no “credible” link between Canadian weapons exports to the Saudis and human rights abuses noted there were 48 arms export permit applications awaiting government approval.

As Fenton has documented in detail, armoured vehicles made by Canadian company Streit Group in the UAE have repeatedly been videoed in Yemen. Equipment from three other Canadian armoured vehicle makers — Terradyne, IAG Guardian and General Dynamics — was found with Saudi-backed forces in Yemen. Fenton has shown many examples of the Saudi-led coalition using Canadian-made rifles as well.

The Trudeau government arming the monarchy’s military while saying little about its brutal war in Yemen should be understood for what it was: War profiteering and enabling of massive human rights abuses.

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Filed under Justin Trudeau, Middle East

Israel and Liberal International Criminal Court hypocrisy

Trudeau-Neta-678x455Just when you think Canadian government hypocrisy could hit no greater heights, the Liberals launch a double standards rocket to the stars.

The Trudeau government recently pressed the International Criminal Court to stop investigating Israeli war crimes. Ottawa sent a letter to the ICC saying it didn’t believe the court had jurisdiction over Palestine. “Canada’s longstanding position is that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize the accession of such a state to international treaties, including the Rome Statute. In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada’s view that the Court does not have jurisdiction in this matter,” a Global Affairs official told the Jerusalem Post. But, it doesn’t matter if Canada recognizes Palestine. The vast majority of UN member states recognized Palestine and it joined the ICC in 2015.

In response to Ottawa’s letter to the ICC, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat tweeted that Canada supported “Israel’s campaign for impunity.” Erekat added, “it is not about jurisdiction: It’s about war crimes. This is an encouragement to continue the war crimes.”

Canada’s letter to the ICC implies it could sever funding if the ICC pursued an investigation of Israeli crimes. Reportedly, it reminds the court that Canada’s “financial contribution to the ICC will be $10.6 million this year.”

Ottawa’s letter was a response to ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s statement in December that “I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.” At the time Bensouda called for a full-fledged investigation into Israeli war crimes, which could lead to arrest warrants being issued for Israeli officials.

Since then Tel Aviv has unleashed a vicious campaign against the ICC. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labeled the court’s investigation “pure anti-Semitism”. Israel has pushed other countries to join their attacks. Netanyahu sent a letter to Justin Trudeau calling on Canada to condemn any ICC investigation of Israeli war crimes.

Trudeau’s willingness to bow to Israeli pressure on the issue is remarkable. Not only does it claim to support the ICC, the institution is closely linked to how it markets its foreign policy.

In his recent mandate letter to the foreign minister Trudeau told Francois-Philippe Champagne to “reinforce international institutions like the International Criminal Court.” In March Global Affairs noted, “we are proud to support the International Criminal Court and the important work that it does.” The press release boasted that Canada helped “bring the ICC into existence” and was “the first country in the world to adopt comprehensive legislation implementing the Rome Statute” that created the ICC. The statement adds that “Canada firmly supports the rules-based international order and the multilateral institutions that underpin it.‎”

When Trudeau addressed the UN General Assembly in September 2018, the ICC was central to his talk. The government announced Canada was taking Venezuela to the ICC and the prime minister described the court as a “useful and important way of promoting an international rules-based order.”

On dozens of occasions former foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, Trudeau and other Liberal officials have referred to the “international rules-based order”, “international order based on rules” or “international system based on rules”. The top stated “aim” laid out in Freeland’s major June 2017 foreign policy pronouncement was: “First, we will robustly support the rules-based international order, and all its institutions, and seek ways to strengthen and improve them.” The number one priority on Global Affairs website’s is “revitalizing the rules-based international order.”

By threatening the ICC on behalf of Israel the Trudeau government is not simply enabling Palestinian dispossession. The Liberals are also making a mockery of their foreign policy rhetoric.

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Filed under Canada and Israel, Justin Trudeau

Neo-Nazi’s arrest highlights Ottawa’s support for Ukrainian far right

oYSPOCYhtB0The recent arrest of a Canadian neo-Nazi on the run in the US should embarrass the federal government. As has been reported, it raises important questions about extremists in the Canadian military. Ignored, however, is the link between the arrest and Ottawa’s support for far-right forces in the Ukraine.

A month ago Canadian Forces engineer Patrik Mathews was arrested by the FBI. This week he pled not guilty to gun charges and plotting to poison water supplies, derail trains and kill people to provoke conflict to create a white “ethno-state.” In August Matthews fled southward after he was outed as a recruiter for The Base, a neo-Nazi group that helped him go underground in the US.

Mathews’ case highlights concern about white supremacists in the Canadian Forces. While the issue has received attention recently, it’s not a new problem. Most cite the early 1990s “Somalia Affair” as the time when the concern was made public. But, in fact the issue is as old as the Canadian military. For example, up to the end of World War II Royal Canadian Navy policy required that “candidates must be of pure European descent.” In other words, the problem of racism and racists in the Canadian Forces is structural and longstanding, something that has never been properly acknowledged or dealt with.

But there is another angle to Matthews’ arrest that should concern every Canadian worried about the rise of the far-right. The Base has ties to the best organized neo-Nazis in the world, whom Ottawa has not condemned, but in fact bolstered. A recent Vice headline noted, “Neo-Nazi Terror Group The Base Linked to the War in Ukraine”. One of The Base members arrested alongside Matthews sought to fight in the Ukraine, according to the charges laid against him. Other members and associates of The Base and other like-minded extremist groups have travelled to the Ukraine recently to meet ultra-nationalists there. Mollie Saltskog, an intelligence analyst at the Soufan Center, a non-profit terrorism watchdog, compared the extreme right’s ties to Ukraine to Al Qaeda’s nesting grounds. “The conflict in eastern Ukraine is to the white supremacists what Afghanistan was to the Salafi-jihadists in the 80’s and 90’s,” Saltskog told Vice. “Remember, al-Qaeda, for which the English translation is ‘The Base,’ was born out of the conflict in Afghanistan.”

The far right benefited from the 2014 right-wing nationalist EuroMaidan movement that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. “The emergence of Azov Battalion and Right Sector in Ukraine in 2014 electrified the neo-Nazi movement” in North America and Europe, notes Jordan Green in “The lost boys of Ukraine: How the war abroad attracted American white supremacists.”

Ottawa supported the US-backed coup against a president oscillating between the European Union and Russia. In July 2015 the Canadian Press reported that opposition protesters were camped in the Canadian Embassy for a week during the February 2014 rebellion against Yanukovych. Since the mid-2000s Ottawa has provided significant support to right wing, nationalist opponents of Russia in the Ukraine.

As part of Operation UNIFIER, 200 Canadian troops — rotated every six months — work with Ukrainian forces that have integrated right wing militias. In June 2018 Canada’s military attaché in Kiev, Colonel Brian Irwin, met privately with officers from the Azov battalion, who use the Nazi “Wolfsangel” symbol and praise officials who helped slaughter Jews and Poles during World War II. According to Azov, Canadian military officials concluded the briefing by expressing “their hopes for further fruitful cooperation.”

Alongside the US, Canada funded, equipped and trained the neo-Nazi infiltrated National Police of Ukraine (NPU), which was founded after Yanukovych was overthrown in 2014.

A former deputy commander of the Azov Battalion, Vadim Troyan had a series of senior positions in the NPU, including acting chief. When a policeman was videoed early last year disparaging a far right protester as a supporter of Stepan Bandera, the National Police chief, National Police spokesman, Interior Minister and other officers repudiatedthe constable by publicly professing their admiration for Bandera. During World War II Bandera aligned with the Nazi occupation, carrying out murderous campaigns against Poles and Jews.

Soon after it was set up, Foreign Minister Stephane Dion announced $8.1 million for the NPU, which replaced the former regime’s police. Canada has provided the force with thousands of uniforms and cameras and helped establish the country’s first national police academy. Beginning in June 2016 up to 20 Canadian police were in the Ukraine to support and advise the NPU. In July 2019 that number was increased to 45 and the deployment was extended until at least 2021.

The post-Maiden Ukrainian government included a number of neo-Nazis. During his 2016 trip to Ukraine Trudeau was photographed with Andriy Parubiy, Ukrainian Parliament speaker, who had a background with the far right and was accused of praising Hitler. Liberal and other party politicians in Canada also spoke alongside and marched with members of Ukraine’s Right Sector, which said it was “defending the values of white, Christian Europe against the loss of the nation and deregionalisation.”

While they talk about the danger of the far right, the Liberals have refused to back a number of UN resolutions opposed to glorifying Nazism, neo-Nazism and racial discrimination because they are viewed as targeting the Ukraine. On November 19, 2015, Ottawa voted against a UN General assembly resolution critical of the aforementioned subject supported by 126 states. The US, Palau and Ukraine were the only other countries to vote against the resolution titled “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” In November the Liberals abstained on a similar resolution.

At this point it seems unlikely that far right groups like The Base will gain significant traction in Canada. But, if they do it will be in part blowback from Canadian policy that views the Ukraine as a proxy in Washington’s campaign to weaken Russia. But, don’t expect the Canadian corporate media to report on this angle of Patrik Matthews’ arrest.

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Filed under Justin Trudeau, Russia

Trudeau’s extraordinary campaign to overthrow Maduro

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The effort Justin Trudeau’s government is putting into removing Venezuela’s President is remarkable. So is the utter hypocrisy of their campaign.

On Thursday Ottawa hosted the Lima Group, a coalition of countries supporting Washington’s bid to overthrow the Venezuelan government. A CBC headline noted, “Ottawa attempts to reboot campaign to remove Maduro from power in Venezuela.” For more than a year the Lima Group has openly pushed Venezuela’s military to overthrow the government. Thursday’s summit was the third held in Canada of a coalition instigated by Canada and Peru in mid 2017.

During the recent Munich Security Conference Trudeau discussed the South American country with a US Senate and House of Representatives delegation led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. The Prime Minister’s release noted, “the Congressional delegation thanked Canada for its leadership on the Lima Group and for supporting Interim President Juan Guaidó and the Venezuelan National Assembly in their efforts to achieve a peaceful democratic transition in Venezuela.”

Similarly, the Prime Minister discussed Venezuela at a meeting with Austria’s Chancellor on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. According to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Canada and Austria “have many shared goals such as the empowerment of women and our support for free & fair elections in Venezuela.” According to this formulation, the empowerment of half the world’s population is of similar import to purported electoral discrepancies in Venezuela.

Foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne also discussed Venezuela with International Crisis Group President Robert Malley at the Munich Security Conference.

Last month Venezuelan politician Juan Guaidó was fêted in Ottawa. The self-declared president met the Prime Minister, deputy PM, international development minister and foreign minister. Trudeau called him “Interim President Guaidó” and Champagne sometimes referred to him simply as “President”.

Over the past couple of years, the government has put out hundreds of press releases, tweets and public statements critical of the Venezuelan government. They hired a Special Advisor on Venezuela to oversee the government’s coup efforts and the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers gave Patricia Atkinson, Head of the Venezuela Task Force at Global Affairs, its Foreign Service Officers award in June 2019 for her role in overseeing a team of diplomats that organized Lima Group meetings, sanctions, etc. The government has implemented four rounds of sanctions against Venezuelan officials and it’s brought that country to the International Criminal Court, shuttered its Embassy in Caracas, funded opposition groups and decided a marginal opposition politician was the legitimate president.

A look at Canada’s Lima Group allies highlights the hypocrisy of their campaign against Venezuela. The constitutional legitimacy of Honduras’ President is far weaker than Maduro’s; Far more dissidents were assassinated in Colombia last year; The government of Chile is facing greater popular contestation; The electoral legitimacy of Haiti’s President is much weaker; Honduras’ president has clearer links to drug runners; Violence is worse in numerous countries in the Hemisphere.

It is true that Venezuela’s economic downturn – and concurrent outward migration – is substantially worse than other Lima Group members. But, the sanctions imposed by the US and Canada have contributed to Venezuela’s economic collapse as much as any action of the government.

Canada is engaged in an extraordinary effort to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro. But, it isn’t designed to advance democracy or human rights in Venezuela.

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Filed under Justin Trudeau, Latin America, Venezuela

Trudeau government deepens ties to repressive Kuwaiti monarchy

 

1040x585_KuwaitAs many parents have warned their children, real friends do not encourage stupid, embarrassing, or life-threatening behaviour.

But because of our “friend” to the south, Justin Trudeau’s government has deepened ties to a repressive 250-year old monarchy in Kuwait and pursued other questionable policies.

After participating in the recent African Union Summit in Ethiopia Trudeau jetted off to meet the Emir of Kuwait, which has been part of the coalition bombing Yemen. The prime minister’s visit marked the most high-profile step in a bevy of diplomatic activity with a government where questioning the Emir or Islam is punishable with a significant prison sentence. During their meeting, notes the official press release, Trudeau “welcomed the long-standing friendship between Canada and Kuwait and thanked the Government of Kuwait for its support of our CAF [Canadian Armed Forces] personnel stationed in Kuwait as part of Operation IMPACT. The two leaders discussed recent developments in the region and agreed on the importance of working towards long term stability and security.”

Before the PM’s visit defence minister Harjit Sajjan had traveled to Kuwait City twice since December 19. In AprilSajjan also met Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah “to bolster and consolidate bilateral ties.” Three months earlier Governor General Julie Payette visited the Emir in Kuwait City. In November Payette sent a cable to the Emir to wish him well after an illness and the next month Assistant Deputy Minister of Global Affairs Peter McDougall met a Kuwaiti counterpart “to strengthen bilateral relations.” In August 2018 the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on establishing regular consultations between senior officials.

At the Munich Security Conference last week foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne met his Kuwaiti counterpart Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah. At an event in the Canadian Embassy on Monday Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister Khaled Al-Jarallah described the “distinguished … ties between the two countries” and “continuous communication and common interests.” On Thursday Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Lawrence MacAulay attended a celebration at Kuwait’s Embassy in Ottawa for Canadians who fought in the 1991 Iraq war.

The inaugural Kuwait and Canada Investment Forum took place in April. Finance minister Bill Morneau and parliamentary secretary Omar Alghabra participated. At the time Alghabra wrote, “let’s celebrate and continue our efforts to grow the relationship between Canada and Kuwait in investments, trade and defence.”

So, why the budding romance?

Relations with Kuwait are important to Ottawa because of the Canadian Forces base there. About 300 Canadians are stationed in Kuwait to support the Canadian special forces deployed to Iraq as well as two intelligence and one Canadian air-to-air refuelling aircraft. Alongside 200 highly skilled special forces, there’s a Canadian tactical helicopter detachment, intelligence officers and a combat hospital in Iraq. Despite being labeled a “training” mission, the Canadians called in US airstrikes, provided up-to-date battle intelligence and repeatedly engaged the enemy. A Canadian even killed someone with a record-breaking 3.5-kilometre sniper shot. The Canadian Forces backed Kurdishforces often accused of ethnic cleansing areas they captured. Canadian special forces supported a multi-month battle to dislodge ISIS from Mosul that left thousands of civilians dead in 2017.

Alongside the special forces and air support operations, Canada assumed command of the NATO Mission Iraq in November 2018. A Canadian commands 580 NATO troops, including 250 Canadians. They train instructors at three military schools and advise Iraq’s defence ministry.

The Liberals failed to properly explain why Canada took on a second mission in Iraq. But, it was likely tied to weakening the influence of the Iranian aligned Popular Mobilization Forces, Shia militias that helped defeat ISIS. According to Scott Taylor, “Canada agreed to take command of the NATO-led training mission in Iraq because the Liberal government knew it could not sell the Canadian public on sending troops back into the war in Afghanistan. That is where the NATO leaders wanted Canadians, which seems an incredibly ironic twist in that we originally agreed to go into Afghanistan because it was not Iraq.”

Trudeau and Sajjan’s recent missions to Kuwait are part of the fallout from Washington’s decision to assassinate Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Shia militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. After the January 3 killings some Canadian forces in Iraq were withdrawn to the base in Kuwait. Iraq’s parliament passed a resolution demanding foreign soldiers leave the country and Iran threatened to retaliate against US troops in the region.

The flurry of recent diplomatic activity is likely designed to reassure Kuwaiti officials of Canadian backing and to ensure Kuwait doesn’t back out of the base arrangement. The Trudeau government has happily deepened ties to a repressive monarchy to support US policy in Iraq.

To maintain foreign troops in Iraq the Trudeau government has also pushed back against the Iraqi parliament’s call for foreign troops to leave. After the country’s parliament passed a resolution calling for foreign troops to go, defence minister Harjit Sajjan sought to convince his Iraqi counterpart of the importance of Canada’s presence. Last week Sajjan celebrated Iraqi leaders willingness to keep Canadian troops. Additionally, Middle East Eye reported on Iraqi and US military officials holding a secret meeting “in the private residence of the Canadian ambassador to Jordan in Amman” to discuss pulling back US troops from Iraq.

Makes one wonder what else the Trudeau government has done or will do to support US policy in Iraq?

 

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Filed under Justin Trudeau, Middle East, Military

Trudeau promotes mining exploitation in Africa

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The Trudeau government, just like the Harper Conservatives, has used Canadian foreign policy to protect the profits of wealthy mining companies against ordinary Africans desire to benefit from resource extraction.

During a recent visit Justin Trudeau announced negotiations on a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with Ethiopia. FIPAs empower international investors by giving corporations the right to sue governments — in private, investor-friendly tribunals — for pursuing policies that interfere with their profit making. As such, they undermine governments’ ability to democratically determine economic and ecological policy. (Since few African companies invest in Canada there is little chance Ottawa will face a suit or feel domestic policy pressure as a result of a FIPA with an African country.)

The Liberals have signed FIPAs with Nigeria, Moldova and negotiated them with a half dozen more states. Following his participation in the November 2018 Africa Investment Forum, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Omar Alghabra, wrote: “To further help Canadian companies compete and succeed in this thriving region, the Canadian government has negotiated foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs) with Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Tanzania. These agreements encourage increased bilateral investments between our countries by helping to reduce risk and by increasing investor confidence in our respective markets. We continue to advance FIPA negotiations with a number of other African countries.”

With African countries, FIPAs are overwhelming designed to protect mining companies. As an indication of how these bilateral investment treaties are driven by mining interests, the government has announced a number of them at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto. 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.” At the 2014 PDAC conference the Harper government announced they were signing a FIPA with Cameroon and negotiating one with Kenya.

There are many examples of Canadian mining companies turning to bilateral investment treaties to sue governments. As the Council of Canadians pointed out, “Canadian mining companies are using FIPAs with developing countries to claim damages from community opposition to unwanted mega-projects.”

At a broader level the aim of a FIPA is to counter “resource nationalism”. Having benefited from 25 years of privatizations and loosened restrictions on foreign investment, mining companies fear a reversal of these policies. These concerns can be somewhat alleviated by gaining rights to sue a government if it expropriates a concession, changes investment rules or requires value added production take place in the country. Writing in Canadian Dimension Paula Butler notes: “Canada appears keen to negotiate FIPAs with some of the most economically and politically vulnerable but resource rich African countries before they develop a taste for resource sovereignty.”

The deputy head of Africa forecasting at political risk firm Exclusive Analysis, Robert Besseling, told the Toronto Star in 2013 that resource nationalism was Canadian miners’ top concern. The paper described “a trend toward what some call resource nationalism that’s seen a number of African governments — after opening doors to foreign investors — begin to reverse or revise regulations. Under pressure from civil society groups and labour unions, governments are driving a harder bargain or changing the rules of the game part way through.”

Any government that increases resource royalty rates or nationalizes extractive industries is a threat to Canadian mining interests. Yet, large numbers of Africans believe natural resources should be publicly held, or at minimum, heavily taxed. Some simply want minerals to remain underground. Ottawa’s “goal” in signing FIPAs with African countries, note Paula Butler and Evans Rubara, “is to prevent control of mining policy throughout the continent from falling into the hands of nationalist, pro- African, pro-community political forces who will promote a vigorous ‘resource nationalism’ agenda.”

Or, to put it even more bluntly, the Trudeau Government, like the Harper regime, defends the profits of a few wealthy owners of mining corporations over the economic and social interests of millions of Africans.

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Filed under Canada in Africa, Justin Trudeau, mining

Trudeau’s Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government is a sham

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Should peace groups challenge Canadian militarism by pushing clear, principled, demands or by promoting a militarist government’s bid to rebrand itself through a “peace” institute?

In a recent blog headlined “New Peace Centre needed to balance defence industry-funded think tanks”, the Rideau Institute promoted the proposed Canadian Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government. Since October four different Rideau Institute blogs have talked up the Liberals’ Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government. In their recent blog they linked to a January 29 Hill Times story headlined “A new Canadian peace centre could make a world of difference”. Authored by Rideau Institute head Peggy Mason and Senior advisor Peter Langille, the opinion piece called for the Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government to be modeled after the former Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security (CIIPS).

In 1984 the federal government passed “An Act to Establish the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security.” Under the legislation CIIPS was obliged to carry out research proposed by the “designated” minister. Associated with peace researchers, CIIPS was run by former External Affairs and military officials. Its first chair was William Barton who worked at External Affairs for three decades, including a stint as Canadian ambassador to the UN. The organization’s founding director was Brigadier-General George Gray Bell, who spent three decades in the military, and its initial executive director was Geoffrey Pearson, son of Lester Pearson. A former ambassador to the Soviet Union and Mongolia, Geoffrey Pearson wrote, “I have been identified with the government most of my life.” (See my Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: the truth may hurt for an assessment of his famed father’s international policies.)

While the institute generally reflected the liberal end of the dominant foreign policy discussion, CIIPS coordinator of research Mark Heller supported Canadian participation in the first Gulf War. The organization also aligned itself with Canadian policy in other ways. Geoffrey Pearson described the motivation for organizing a conference on Canada–Caribbean relations: “I thought that Canada ought to pay more attention to the … British Caribbean countries, where we had traditional interests and potentially important influence.” But Canada’s “traditional interests” in the British Caribbean have often been characterized as “imperialistic”. Canadian banks and insurance companies have dominated the English Caribbean’s financial sector for more than a century and prominent Canadians repeatedly sought to annex these territories.

In 1992 Brian Mulroney’s government disbanded CIIPS. While some suggested the decision was a response to policy prescriptions the government didn’t like, Ottawa claimed its decision was strictly financial. The government’s official explanation gives a good sense of how they viewed the institute. “It will cost the government $2.5 million less annually, because instead of having the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security, we will have officials within the Department of External Affairs doing the same job.”

If its anything like CIIPS its doubtful the Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government will push to withdraw from NATO, reduce military spending, end government support for arms exporters or withdraw Canadian troops from Iraq and Latvia. Instead the Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government is likely to offer a public relations boost to a Liberal government promoting arm sales, NATO expansionism and increased military spending, not to mention brutal mining companies, anti-Palestinian positions, an unpopular Haitian president, a coup in Venezuela, etc.

It is unclear if Mason and Languille’s position is motivated by political ‘realism’, employment considerations, fear of political marginalization, discomfort with the depths of Canadian militarism or a desire to claim victory (the Rideau Institute is part of a coalition that suggested a similar institution). Or maybe they believe the peace movement should take whatever crumbs the Liberals drop from the table since they will be better than what a Conservative government offers.

The other side doesn’t have this attitude. As the recent Rideau Institute blog rightly pointed out the DND/arms industry funded Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI) doesn’t hold back from articulating militarist positions. Last month CGAI held a conference on Modernizing North American Defence that painted Russia and China as apocalyptic threats, wanting to “destroy” (Moscow) and “own” (Beijing) us. Despite their lack of moral legitimacy, the militarists forcefully convey their positions.

Antimilitarists need organizations that do the same. Certainly, it’s not too much to expect a “peace” institute to call for reduced military spending, an end to public support for arms exporters and Canada’s withdrawal from NATO. Does the Rideau Institute believe the Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government will do that?

 

I will be speaking alongside Peggy Mason at the World Beyond War conference in Ottawa on May 27.

 

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Filed under Activism, Justin Trudeau, Military, NGOs