By Pierre LeBLANC
In its foreign policy, the Justin Trudeau/Chrystia Freeland government has run roughshod over the sovereignty of citizens-first, freestanding governments in many regions of the world; in knee-jerk compliance to the diktats of its magnate handlers and in lock-step with the albatross on its southern border. Buttressed and commanded by its corporate captors and sustained by the sycophantic hysterics of the mass media, this avatar of some imaginary autonomous government has refused all overtures and calls from its citizens to take the true measure of the interests and values of Canadians as well as of the nefarious impacts of its own actions. The utter destructiveness and criminality of its foreign policy, in total disregard for the underpinnings of its true global obligations and of the preferences of its own citizens, is akin to a childlike series of tantrums setting off stink bombs against those countries who dare challenge its jaundiced, supremacist worldview.
Canada’s malfeasance in countless parts of the world has been well documented by an array of analysts and citizen advocates. Two questions arise: how can the dangerous and ultimately self-defeating policies and actions of the Trudeau government be? And how can conscientious objectors change the trajectory of Canadian international policy? The analytical lenses must be redirected from the behaviour of the Canadian government itself and trained on its intellectual authors and back-stage power brokers, on the one hand, and on the strategies and tactics required of Canadians of conscience to effect meaningful and lasting change, on the other.
Canadians committed to justice and equity are very busy in their own areas of solidarity/justice-aspiring work. They are educating themselves, informing people and taking action on a wide array of planes and forums. This organising, while vital, is not enough. Canadians must identify and zero in on specific nerve centers, pressure points and theatres of operation, that is to say the propaganda organs and the truly offensive, corrosive nodes of public policy dominance. These self-serving, morally bankrupt ventriloquists are most often out of public view and do not solely have access to the governmental decision-makers; they are the intellectual authors of the directives that the government leaders sheepishly execute in the interests of the few and to the damnation of the masses, overseas and in-country. However, one must not forget that they are actual human beings, not unfathomable alien creatures, who capture governments and drive them to act according to the whims of big finance, big mining and big oil to blanket the world with their reprehensible designs, backing these with coup d’états and hybrid warfare in all its forms, thereby throttling (or attempting to throttle) citizen-driven surges of economic and political emancipation. All this while sugar-coding their words and actions with progressive sounding names, “human rights” language and misleading euphemisms.
One such perverse entity is the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, a staging ground for all manner of domination discourse and fallacious, truncated justification of acts of aggression against imaginary foes, be they Venezuela, Palestine, China, Russia, Iran, Haiti or Nicaragua. This American style think-tank is the legacy of Peter Munk, the now deceased head of Barrick Gold, a leading merchant of death, hegemonic political control and environmental devastation across the globe. Amassing a motley crew of former and current corporate leaders, journalists and academics, indentured to the power brokers who dictate policy choices and command the courses of action for the government, the Munk School acts as a megaphone and sound-bite provider extraordinaire for the boy-scout mass-media. It is self-absorbed and self-promoting to the absurd extent that, during the 2019 federal Canadian election campaign, it got caught up in the web of its own delusions. The Munk punks had the gall to propose a nationally televised leadership debate, misrepresenting themselves as just another disinterested, enlightened and altruistic third party providing an essential service to voters. Happily, their gambit failed.
Irwin Cotler, former Liberal Canadian Justice Minister and self-designated hunter-in-chief, keeps popping up as if by magic in most of the regime change, hegemonic initiatives undertaken by the Canadian government. As Paul Martin’s Minister of Justice in 2004, he steered Canada away from its longstanding position of supporting or at the very least remaining neutral to UN resolutions calling for justice for Palestinians and imposed a dramatic shift to full-throated support for apartheid Israel. When this occurred, a Tier II Palestinian-Israeli civil society peace development process was getting under way. The political ground shifted under the feet of its key proponents immediately upon Cotler’s messianic game-changer. Irwin Cotler stands as one of Canada’s staunchest Zionists, a most effective purveyor of hate speech, including the demonization of anyone daring to criticize those who challenge Israel’s crimes against humanity, and central driver of Canadian political and media class’ actions against the legal and historical rights of the Palestinian people.
Who pops up in the very midst of the 21-year-long coup d’état efforts against Venezuela – our intrepid Irwin Cotler posing as the lawyer for key coup leader Leopoldo López! Cotler continues to be one of the important vectors of Canada’s efforts to annihilate Venezuela, as he organises putschist leader meetings with Trudeau et al, House of Commons and Senate committee meetings, anti-Venezuela motions and media misrepresentations and pressure. In early 2021, Cotler became one of the leading, knife-in-the-teeth haranguers for sanctions and military action over the fabricated “Uyghur crisis”; a kind of China-basher-in-chief. In the 2000s, he repeatedly interfered in the internal affairs of Russia, including in its elections. In 2017, Cotler orchestrated the adoption of the Magnitsky Act by the Chrystia Freeland driven House of Commons, a tool that is used as a criminalisation battering ram against any government leader who stands in the way of corporate greed and peoples’ oppression.
Ben Rowswell, president of the Canadian International Council (CIC) and former Ambassador to Venezuela, famously bragged of having converted tens of thousands of privileged youth into coup d’état social media operatives, using Canadian taxpayer funds no less. His CIC serves as the common watering-hole for the mining and oil executives and countless others hell-bent on fashioning the world by the force of economic sanctions and military arms, often via clandestine private paramilitary contractors, as means to fulfill their most vile domination and collective punishment fantasies. Beyond its chapters across Canada and its assorted propaganda spewing media organs, it has launched “its very own Young Professionals Network (YPN) to connect and engage Canada’s future foreign policy leaders”.
The world dominators are leaving nothing to chance. Rowswell cut his regime-change teeth in places where the big powers sought to stir up division as part of their efforts to impose their will under the guise of a medley of “humanitarian principles”, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and in regards to Iran. On the CIC website, he declares his determination to manufacture consent amongst Canadians: “Neither can we leave it to our elected leaders, or their public servants, to stand up for the rules-based international order alone. The storm now gathering in international politics will impose some painful choices on Canada. The Canadian public needs to contribute to the decisions our government will take, and the government needs the Canadian public on board as it navigates these turbulent waters. Luckily for Canada, we already have an organization (CIC) that was set up for this very purpose.” (The emphasis is ours.)
The CIC pool of inequity has verticalized its government capturing operations, starting with so-called research, policy definition, corrupting media messaging, bending-the-knee of prime ministers and premiers and the operationalisation and implementation of their policy and program fetishes, domestically and internationally. Today, no good media corporation can function without content, and most media have gutted their content production teams. CIC and the like fill that void, decide who the next target will be (China, anyone?) and launch the mind-bending, imaginary-offenses-media-missiles. They are merely only the government’s contractors (in the Blackwater sense of the word), but are in fact dictating the government’s policies, all the way down to the drafting of the contracts, of which by some divine intervention, they are the financial beneficiaries. It’s a nice gig when you can get it.
Can ways and means be put in place to hone in on these pilferers and separate them from the public policy development, financing and implementation arena? Morally steadfast, committed citizens are condemned to facing off against a broad, multi-tentacle, multi-nodal ligament of sorts, running from the US oil, arms and tech node, through the Pentagon/CIA node, via the Harvard/Lawrence Summers/George Soros node, through the Munk Institute/Canadian Mining node to the Chrystia Freeland/Ben Rowswell/Irwin Cotler policy apparatus. This powerful, transnational ligament flexes, transfigures and triggers all manner of events and human catastrophes that fit the frame of their classist, racist, world domination phantasm of North American corporate superiority and divine righteousness. The justice-seeking, world-reframing citizens must identify and zero in on the nerve centers (nodes) of this warmongering ligament and largely forget about the shiny objects bereft of all real power that are Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau. Theirs are ventriloquist-activated lips mouthing crowd pleasing banalities while the real, most often opposite action, is being spawned, resourced and executed.
These modern-day going-for-the-jugular crusaders, individually and in various pods and constellations, have vested interests and fear-induced vulnerabilities. Indeed, it is this very fear of being knocked off their pedestals of privilege and domination that governs much of their oppressive and illegal impulses and makes them vulnerable. Committed citizens must identify these people, properly dissect their strength(s) and weaknesses and unspool them. This of course, in the present reality of hugely disproportionate access-to-information, reach, resources and power, is much easier said than done.
Here are a few ideas. Two years ago, just before the February 4th 2019 Lima Group gabfest in Ottawa, a fellow traveler found out about a closed CIC meeting chaired by Ben Rowswell during which the well-healed mining and oil aficionados waxed delirious about how they were on the verge of overpowering Venezuela’s evil regime and on the wonderful opportunities for Canadian corporations and investors that the accession to power of Brazil’s “visionary” Jair Bolsonaro presented. During the Q&A, he took the mike, chided the CIC president Rowswell and the attendees for their disgusting intentions towards these two peoples and laughed at their incompetence for not having succeeded, for all their efforts, genius and wasted resources, in “taking care” of Venezuela over 20 years of political interference, sabotage and hybrid warfare. The chair called for his silence and the VP twice tried to physically wrestle the microphone from his two mike-gripping hands, but he persisted. One red-eyed participant yelled: “you’ll see, that Maduro is going to fall next week”, alluding of course to the upcoming meeting of the much-vaunted though impotent Lima Group. The president shushed this participant, saying they shouldn’t be revealing THE strategy. My friend’s intervention brought this scurrilous gathering to a sudden close. Six days later, Rowswell and other luminaries gifted the Lima Group officials with a seminar on “how to deal with Venezuela”. Hands off Venezuela Ottawa-Gatineau’s demonstration and the banner drop on the day of the Lima Group meeting drew cross-continental media attention and effectively neutered and made a mockery of the event, of Chrystia Freeland and of the Rowswell clan.
This was but one action among many undertaken by a host of committed citizens. For example, during the 2019 Canadian election, every time a government party candidate appeared on the campaign stage in Montreal, he or she was met by someone who had made their way on stage, interrupted the speech and asked pointed questions, thereby neutering the efforts of the candidate. During the fall of 2019 and the early winter of 2020, First Nations citizens brought rail traffic to a halt in much of Canada and hindered port activity in solidarity with Wet’sowet’en First Nation, thereby revealing the weaknesses of Canada’s robber barons and their political acolytes. Others have launched court cases that have proven powerful vectors of change.
Obviously, many more key government policy arm-twisters must be identified and sent packing. Just as evidently, Canadian activists have carried out countless thousands of initiatives aiming to correct the course of Canada’s policies, using innovative, targeted approaches. Still, too many of us, myself included, are inefficiently burning energy shouting out of windows at ultimately inconsequential people like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau. We need to ferret out the self-anointed, pivotal wielders of power and sharpen our tools of engagement.
These tools should include the launching of more targeted media platforms and technological tracking and information dissemination instruments aimed directly at defanging these people-crushing political operatives and think tanks. They must include specific strategies designed to transform the public, media and political discourse from the present domination, right-to-profit-at-all-costs, progress-conceived-as-the-trampling-of-the-undeserving mantra to citizens and peoples’ right to choose, and to craft and implement, their own social, cultural, interracial, environmental, political and economic constructs and systems of collective wellbeing and thriving, including the governance structures and their leaders. Greatly increased coordination and intersectionality among the multiple actors and platforms for justice and equity stand necessary preconditions to the success of this endeavour.