I’m no nationalist. Still, I’ve had moments of being proud to be a Canadian because, in the past, we have tended to represent the voice of reason and compassion in foreign affairs and have often been on the side of peace. The position my country took at the UN this week with respect to the resolution on Israel and Gaza shocked me into paying greater attention to the path Canadian foreign policy has taken in recent years.
Todd Gordon puts all this in perspective. He says, in part, this:
Canada’s stance on Israel shouldn’t be taken in isolation. It needs to be situated within Canada’s overall foreign policy, which is becoming more belligerent.
Since the early 1990s, Canadian corporate investments have spread at a considerable pace around the globe and into the developing world. Canada ranked eighth among the top foreign investor nations in the world in 2007, and has consistently ranked in the top ten in the last several years. Controlled for the size of its economy, Canada is the second largest investor among G7 nations in the global South. And income earned by Canadian multinationals off of their developing world investments has increased steadily over the last few decades, rising by 535 per cent from 1980 to 2007, for a total of $23.6 billion in earnings in the latter year.
And just like the third world investments of other rich nations, Canada’s are mired in human rights violations and environmental catastrophe. From mining, to oil and gas development, to sweatshop manufacturing, to banking, Canadian companies are systematically engaging in displacement of indigenous peoples from their land, destruction of ecosystems, targeted violence against local resistance to their investments and union busting.
All this is done with the support of the Canadian government, whether headed by Liberals or Tories. The government has facilitated the global expansion of Canadian capital through its aggressive pursuit of structural adjustment policies, one-sided trade and investment agreements and an aid policy designed in large measure to liberalize foreign markets. We also shouldn’t forget Canada’s absolute refusal to establish human rights legislation to govern the foreign activities of its corporations, many of which receive government funding for their predatory activities. Canada has also sought to undermine the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Canada’s view of the world, in other words, is one in which the South is subordinate to the whims and predilections of the North.
Read the whole thing here, at rabble.
There isn’t much happening with respect to real leadership on the Israel/Gaza issue. Michael Ignatieff has made it clear that he’s on Israel’s side and the NDP has nothing to be proud of in this regard either. It makes sense to understand these positions outside of the idea of our leaders having any particular love for Israel.
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