The Council Of Canadians Back In The News. Living In The U.S. Empire [Part 2]
Above Photo: The Council of Canadians – Montreal chapter/ Facebook
Any move (since European settlement) in Canada for Independence has had to be anti-imperialist …. In relation to U.S. imperial power in Canada the fight has been endless, covert as well as overt, packed with political sell-out, fraught with threat, bribery, and intimidation … and wrapped in such saccharine phrases as “the longest undefended border” etc. The U.S. wanted Canada from the beginning, conducting two wars for (attempted) conquest … and it covertly watched the 19th Century Fenian Raids (Irish-led incursions into Canada to wound the British Lion) to see if they would develop into acasus belli … an excuse for U.S. troops to enter Canada.
The pretense is always in place that the U.S. is not an Imperial Power in Canadian life. Except … it is … and there has, as well, always been a North American “integrationist” force at work inside Canada (when possible, fed from the U.S.A.) Sometimes the force acts overtly as in the famous 1891 Election when John A. Macdonald is said to have campaigned himself to death to defeat the (largely Liberal forces) advocating “Commercial Union”…, prelude (many believed) to political union with the U.S.A. There being no Canadian citizenship at the time, Macdonald is famous for saying on the hustings that “a British subject I was born, and a British subject I will die” – meaning “I will NOT become a U.S. citizen”.
As I have written, the formation of the Council of Canadians in 1985 was an anti-US Imperialism action. Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney – always gooey-eyed in his love for things U.S. – was undertaking a Free Trade Agreement which – many Canadians believed could be the first step on the slippery slope into complete domination of Canada by the world’s most powerful Imperial State. (Brian Mulroney is said, as a boy, to have sung at “events” for the U.S. bosses in his Company Town … and to have developed – in so doing – habits he has found impossible to throw off.)
Earlier preludes to the Council of Canadians were created… the Waffle Movement in the NDP (1969) (to take the Party Left and into “nationalization” of parts of the economy) and The Committee for an Independent Canada (1970) a “Liberal’ish” response – equally concerned with foreign (meaning U.S.) ownership of the Canadian economy …. “Independent Canada” … Independent from what? Of course from the U.S. Empire … and so, quietly, also an anti-Imperialist movement…. So much do Canadians pretend about U.S. power in Canada that if you told a member of the Committee for an Independent Canada that he or she was an anti-imperialist, that person would probably have been flabbergasted!!
Those organizations sprang, essentially, from three forces: Canada’s Centennial Year in 1967 with its enthusiastic celebration from Coast to Coast. And – by historical chance – the dumping by Lester B. Pearson of his (anti-U.S. Imperialism) Minister of Finance, Walter Gordon in 1963. The Pearson/Gordon appeasement agreement to strike a Task Force on Foreign Ownership of the Canadian Economy was the third force… producing in 1968 what is called ‘The Watkins Report’ after its lead investigator and writer of the Report, Mel Watkins, an economist at the University of Toronto … which alerted a very large body of Canadians to the tireless encroachment upon Canada by the U.S.A.
All of those things were happening as “Trudeaumania” swept the country, pushing forward a dynamic, young (he lied about his age), colorful, “new vision” prime minister of Canada. Walter Gordon records in his memoirs that Pierre Trudeau showed himself sympathetic to Gordon’s position on the Canadian Economy… and the work of the Task Force. But that was while Trudeau was seeking allies in his bid for leadership of the Liberal Party. When he got the leadership … things changed. No Canadian prime minister (so far) has declared publicly that he wishes to prevent the U.S. Empire from meddling in Canadian affairs and even dictating Canadian Economic, Military (and other) policy ….
The genuine desire of Canadians to have visibly greater independence from the U.S.A. engaged a great many young people. Politicians responded…. After The Watkins Report more investigations of the economy were conducted resulting in the Wahn Report (1970) and then the Gray Report (1972), all prefigured by “the (Walter) Gordon Commission Report on ‘Canada’s Economic Prospects’” in 1957… produced, of course, before he was “turfed” by Lester B. Pearson….
Pierre Trudeau spent a lot of his younger years being a Reactionary Anti-Democratic Roman Catholic Quebec Separatist. The Liberal Party of Canada doesn’t widely advertise those facts. That personal history colored Pierre Trudeau’s relation with the public. He frequently showed contempt for the Canadian population. Indeed, when the Gray Report on the Economy was produced and tabled, Pierre Trudeau would not make it public. And so a major portion of it was stolen and published by Canadian Forum.
The Committee for an Independent Canada, early in the debate, conducted a petition to demand the release of The Gray Report. Getting sufficient signatures, they asked for a meeting with Trudeau to discuss the matter. (I was present for some of the pre-meeting deliberations.) A large body in the Chateau Laurier was pressing for a meeting with Trudeau to present the Petition and discuss the Gray findings. Conducting negotiations for Trudeau was Marc Lalonde. Finally, the prime minister let it be known that he wouldn’t meet with the large body assembled to discuss the matter; he would meet with eight or nine people. The group should have refused his terms … but didn’t … and the selection of “representatives” went ahead.
To illustrate the absurdity of the whole operation, when the list seemed complete someone protested that the NDP was not represented. And so Pierre Berton was chosen as a fitting representative of that Party! THEN a student protested that names on the petition had been very largely collected by youth … and no youth was represented on the small body to meet the prime minister. And so a youth member was added …. When, the next morning, the cortege arrived at Trudeau’s office, there was not enough room for all. Trudeau didn’t guide them to a more commodious room … but had the student representative sit out in the hall with the door open for the duration of the meeting while Trudeau explained that to release the Gray Report would upset the Stock Market….
While we may express amusement at the former attempts of “progressives” in the NDP and in the Liberal Party/Progressive Conservative ranks to fight off (in however a disguised way) U.S. Imperialism in Canada … maybe we should ask who is filling that role now??? And the answer might well be that there is no visible force doing it. Canada seems to be lackey to the U.S. disguised ‘global military’ force called NATO (the NDP used to have a policy to get out of NATO). And in foreign policy Canada neither successfully regulates its own Corporate Actors abroad nor demands serious global regulation … let alone taking conscionable and decent positions on such matters as the rape of Venezuela and other inhuman actions of U.S. hegemony.
Instead, as with the war in Libya … Canada plays the role of Lackey To The U.S. Empire and is responsible for the most vicious violations of Human Rights and civilized behavior. WE should set to work, at once, to re-build the Waffle Movement in the NDP and the Committee for an Independent Canada … with all speed! For we have nothing to boast about as a lackey of U.S. Global Policy … without even polite Canadian organizations existing to fight our “lackey’ism”. Those former anti-imperialist organizations may seem old fashioned and out-dated … but they are better than anything we have … and far ahead of any so-called “political activism” now ….