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Friday, March 07, 2008

My Man in Canada: Chris Cook 

O! Canada '08: Reviewing the Unrecognizable Nation
Written by Chris Cook
Friday, 07 March 2008

The Century has not so far been kind to those Canadians pining reminiscent for the days the country was a liberal democracy; relatively responsible actors on the world stage, the brokers of peace, guarantors of civility and fair governance in a dangerous, chaotic world.

To be fair to the successors of Brian Mulroney, the prime minister who hitched the nation's wagon to America's seemingly forever rising star through the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), destiny dealt them a crummy hand, but both the Jean Chretien and Paul Martin administrations went beyond the investment oriented FTA (later to morph, with the inclusion of Mexico, into the tripartite NAFTA agreement) "committing" Canada to both America's foreign policy objectives, and the military methods it employs to achieve them.

While more extreme than his predecessors, Stephen Harper's administration has merely accelerated the process begun by Mulroney, and furthered by the Liberal party, a process that has most dramatically manifested in the deaths of at least seventy-eight Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, and the killing and maiming and imprisoning of uncounted numbers of Afghanis.

Harper recently proposed legislation in Parliament to extend the country's entanglement in Afghanistan in the form of a promises made to NATO to continue past the already extended exit schedule of February 2009 through to the end of 2011. He did this with the complicity of the federal Liberals, whose support his minority government had to have.

The fact the majority of Canadians opposed Canada's involvement in what was ostensibly America's revenge for the 9/11 attacks, (based on the untried assumption Osama bin Laden planned and orchestrated the storied operation from his cave hideout in Afghanistan) before the launch of 'Operation Enduring Freedom' carried no freight with Jean Chretien's administration, just as majority opposition to the country's continued involvement means nothing to the current Harper regime. Canadians will continue to follow U.S. diktats in Afghanistan, and both Canadians and Afghanis will continue to pay the price for Ottawa's acquiescence.

The surrender of sovereign foreign policy is not limited to Afghanistan: Canada under Harper was first to express support for Israel's embargo against the rightfully elected Hamas government in Palestine, and uttered nary a word of protest against Israel's brutal and illegal bombing campaign over Lebanon in 2006. This support came even as one of the last Canadian peacekeepers attached to the United Nations was deliberately murdered, (with three colleagues) by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) while at his U.N. observation post in southern Lebanon.

Harper too had nothing to say about a Canadian family of seven murdered by a missile as they attempted to flee the Lebanon blitzkrieg in their car. On that occassion, Harper's team thought it more pertinent to question why the Lebanese-Canadians were visiting what was about to become a warzone, rather than demanding the IDF cease its killing spree, at least until the thousands of Canadians known to be in harm's way had a chance to evacuate.

If the official Canadian silence on Israel's serial war crimes in Palestine, crimes that translate as a measured, systematic genocide, were not dutiful enough for America and her racist client/colony in the Middle East, Stephen Harper's Conservatives too take pride of place, being among America's first and most eager accomplices in its self-proclaimed War on Terror, an essentially open-ended declaration of war on any and all standing between America and her perceived "vital interest."

The Canada/U.S. cooperation under arms is an arrangement about to get cosier in Afghanistan, where Canada's demand for a thousand more soldiers is being answered in part by France, which is expected to send as many as 700 more soldiers to relieve American forces operating in the east, enabling then a redeployment of those American soldiers to enjoin the battle at the heart of the resistance to the foreign occupation in southern Afghanistan, beside Canadian Forces.

Harper has proven the perfect pupil for neo-con Washington so far, but a breaking story, predictably dubbed in the press 'NAFTA-gate,' highlights his first failure in his masters' eyes.

In the hours before the much vaunted Clinton-Obama primaries in Ohio and Texas earlier this week, a whisp of scandal wafted south of the forty-ninth. Apparently, the war of words between the candidates, each claiming to audiences in delegate-rich, rust-belt Ohio to hating the NAFTA agreement, largely blamed for the demise of the state's manufacturing sector and loss with it of union jobs, more than the other is nothing but a con.

Agents for both camps had tipped nervous Canadian officials, telling them the NAFTA rhetoric was just that, reassuring the deal was in safe hands.

Curiously, it was the second revelation of Democrat duplicity, that of 'front-runner' Obama, that hit the airwaves. Now, Harper is being pilloried in the U.S. media, dragging down with him the reputation of the Prime Minister's office, and as Toronto Star columnist, Chantal Hebert pointed out on tonight's C.B.C. television broadcast of 'The National,' the administration's loose lips could also sink Canada's foreign services.

Hebert wonders if the Obama-embarrassing revelations would raise doubts in the minds of others who might otherwise confide in Canada, trusting their information would not lead the next evening news, either by political design, or through incompetence. This she argues could make their efforts extremely difficult and disadvantage the country.

It would be ironic if Stephen Harper, accomplished Canadian boot-lick, found himself on the wrong side of history; caught wrong-footed as the new political reality of an Obama presidency dawns.

But perhaps Hillary would smile upon her unwitting servant, who already granted one great service in a tight race needing winning. A second President Clinton would also continue Canada's newly understood role at America's side, as enacted by Harper, extending "The Mission" in Afghanistan still further, and assimilating the rest of the country's military, law enforcement, and political infrastructure.

It will doubtless make for an awkward moment for Stephen Harper, should President Barak Obama come to call. That is assuming Harper has a year left in his rule.

The Chuck Cadman affair is not going away. In that lurid case Harper emissaries offer death bed conversion to the terminally ill independent MP Cadman in exchange for a vote in the House that could bring down the erstwhile Liberals of Paul Martin.

The operatives are said to have offered an insurance policy arrangement allegedly worth up to a million dollars for Cadman's widow, (herself now the official candidate for Harper's conservatives in her late husband's riding).

Though a recording of Stephen Harper admitting he knew beforehand of the plan to make the offer to Cadman, an offer the Liberals insist is a bribe has aired nationwide, Harper does not admit to either authoring, or authorizing the plan. He does however admit to knowing about, and doing nothing to stop their plan - an illegal plan, if the Liberals are proved correct.

That makes Mr. Harper guilty of conspiracy to bribe a public official. Considering the seriousness of the charge, and the dogged grip with which the opposition has taken up the allegation, (Liberal heavy, former hockey star, Ken Dryden going so far as repeating his charge against Harper for the cameras word for word outside House of Commons' slander protections) the Cadman affair could well bring on the election Harper has been spoiling for.

Should Harper and his Republican-like Tories survive the year, or be replaced by the equally servile Liberal party, Canada in 2009 will resemble nothing more than it does today; a rump-nation, pulled along by a shortening leash; made to devote its blood and treasure in the service of a tyrannical master; made to savage the rights and freedoms at home it purportedly fights wars to instill abroad.

This is not the Canada I remember.

This is not the Canada any Canadian can remember.

[Note: Chris Cook is an editor-writer for Pacific Free Press of Canada.]

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