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Canadian companies caught with hands in African colonial cookie jar

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Image result for Canadian FLAG
By Yves Engler 

The recent seizure of phosphate from a Moroccan state company in South Africa and Panama is a blow to corporate Canada and a victory for national independence struggles. It should also embarrass the Canadian media.

This month courts in Port Elizabeth and Panama City okayed requests by the POLISARIO Front asking South Africa and Panama to seize two cargo ships with 100,000 tonnes of phosphate from Western Sahara, a sparsely populated territory in north-western Africa occupied by Morocco. Ruled by Spain until 1975, Moroccan troops moved in when the Spanish departed and a bloody 15-year war drove tens of thousands of Sahrawi into neighbouring Algeria, where they still live in camps.

No country officially recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. The UN calls it “occupied” and the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the Rome Statute prohibit an occupying power from exploiting the resources of territories they control unless it’s in the interest of, and according to, the wishes of the local population. In 2002 the UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Hans Corell described the exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources as a “violation of the international law principles applicable to mineral resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories.”

Saskatoon’s PotashCorp and Calgary’s Agrium, which are merging, have a partnership with Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s OCP Group to export phosphate mined in Western Sahara. The two Canadian companies buy half of Western Sahara phosphates and it was an Agrium shipment that was seized in Panama.

To deflect from its complicity in violating international law, PotashCorp says OCP’s operations benefit the Sahrawi people. A 2014 PotashCorp statement claimed: “OCP has established a proactive affirmative action campaign to the benefit of the local people and, importantly, is making significant economic and social contributions to the entire region. As a result, we believe those who choose to make a political statement about OCP are effectively penalizing Saharawi workers, their families and communities.”

International solidarity activists have called on businesses to stop exploiting Western Sahara’s resources, which has led the Ethical Fund of Vancity credit union, four pension funds in Sweden and Norway’s $800 billion pension fund to divest from PotashCorp. A number of fertilizer companies have also severed ties to OCP, Morocco’s largest industrial company. The POLISARIO Front national liberation movement and African Union claim deals with OCP to export Western Sahara phosphate contravene international law and prop up Morocco’s control.

While only preliminary, the recent court decisions are important for national independence struggles. The South Africa case is thought to be the first time an independence movement has won legal action to intercept the export of state property.

Aside from a handful of stories in the business press, the Canadian media has basically ignored PotashCorp and Agrium’s role in violating international law. In the lead-up to the 2015 Saskatoon launch of Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation I submitted a piece about PotashCorp’s role in buying the non-renewable resources of Africa’s last remaining colony. The Saskatoon Star Phoenix opinion editor, who I’d communicated with on a few occasions when writing op-eds for a union, told me he was considering it and then responded a week later. “Hi Yves, Thanks, but I will pass on your op-ed. This issue has been on our pages in the past, with both sides of the debate making their points.” But when I searched the Star Phoenix database for articles on the largest publicly traded company in Saskatoon ties to Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara there was a single 264-word letter to the editor criticizing PotashCorp’s policy two and a half years earlier (and a rebuttal from a company representative). Apparently, the Saskatoon business titan’s role in violating international law only warrants 264 words.

As part of writing this story, I searched Canadian Newsstream for coverage of PotashCorp and Agrium’s ties to Western Sahara. I found eight articles (a couple appeared in more than one paper) in major dailies on the subject, as well as three letters to the editor, over the past six years. Yet, as if violating international law is only of interest to those making investment decisions, all but one of the articles appeared in the business pages. When the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland brought a resolution to PotashCorp’s 2015 shareholder meeting about Western Sahara, the Canadian Press reported on it but only a few news outlets picked up the wire story.

While the Sahrawi struggle is unfamiliar to Canadians, it is widely known in African intellectual circles. An international solidarity campaign, with a group in Victoria, has long highlighted corporate Canada’s ties to the Moroccan occupation. I wrote about it briefly in my Canada in Africa and in an article for a number of left websites. In September 2015 Briarpatch did a cover story titled A Very Fertile Occupation: PotashCorp’s role in occupied Western Sahara and last week OurSask.ca published a long article titled Why a Segment of Saskatchewan’s Economy, and Our Ethical Compass, Hinges on an Undeveloped, War-Torn African Nation. An activist in Regina has been crowd funding for a documentary project titled Sirocco: Winds of Resistance: How the will to resist a brutal occupation has been passed on to two women by their grandmothers.

As my experience with the Star Phoenix suggest, the mainstream media is not unaware of the subject. Rather, there is a deeply held bias in favour of the corporate perspective and unless activists politicize the issue editors will ignore corporate Canada’s complicity in entrenching colonialism in Africa.

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Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Resolution of Support for Prisoners’ Strike Joins Growing Labor Solidarity for Palestinian Freedom

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national labor federation representing 3 million workers across Canada passed an Emergency Resolution at its 2017 convention in Toronto on 10 May in support of Palestinian prisoners’ #DignityStrike. The text of the resolution follows:

Emergency Resolution

CLC Supports Palestinian Prisoners’ Dignity Strike

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will:

a) Call on the Canadian Government to pressure Israel to stop violating international law by illegally detaining Palestinians and depriving them of their basic human, civil and political rights;
and

b) Work with global union federations, affiliates and civil society organizations in Canada on campaigns in support of Palestinian prisoners.

BECAUSE More than 1600 Palestinian prisoners have been on a hunger strike since April 17, 2017; and

BECAUSE Key demands of the hunger strike include: end to the denial of family visits, the right to appropriate health care, the right to education in prison and an end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention”; and

BECAUSE The CLC supports the right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination and an end to the illegal Israeli occupation as the basis for a just peace in the region.

This important resolution follows on strong, growing international labor movement and trade union support for Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian struggle for justice, self-determination and liberation.

On 12 May, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), which represents nearly one million workers in Norway, endorsed a full international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel as a necessary means to support fundamental Palestinian rights.

The Congress of LO unanimously supported some form of boycott of Israel, as 193 delegates voted for a full boycott and 117 voted for a limited boycott of Israeli settlements. The strong majority of the LO congress embraced a full boycott of Israel, emphasizing the importance of meaningful international action in the face of impunity and apartheid.  The LO vote escalated the existing position of the labor confederation in support of the boycott of settlement products.

This important action came as 1500 Palestinian prisoners have been engaged in a hunger strike since 17 April for their basic human rights, including an end to the denial of family visits, proper medical treatment and health care, the right to pursue distance higher education, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.

A number of trade unions and workers’ organizations have been vocal in their support for the Palestinian prisoners. 26 European trade unions and labor organizations endorsed a collective statement in support of the hunger strike:

“We believe that as trade unionists and conscious citizens of this world, we have duty and power to take a stand. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in their demand for fair treatment and justice. We commit to working within our respective unions not to renew contracts with corporations like HP and G4S profiting from the imprisonment of Palestinians. In addition we call on the EU and European member states to end their complicity and hold Israel accountable for its gross violations of human rights,” emphasized the unions, including labor organizations in Belgium, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, Galicia, Basque Country, Valencia, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, the Netherlands, Catalonia, and Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Teachers in the UK has joined several other international labor unions in being an HP-free zone.  Kevin Courtney, general secretary with the National Union of Teachers, said in the Electronic Intifada thatImage result for HP printer

“the NUT does not buy or use HP products or services as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

HP provides services and technologies to the Israeli military as well as the Israel Prison Service, and the boycott of HP is a priority for BDS campaigns in support of Palestinian prisoners.

These statements followed declarations by the World Federation of Trade Unions, representing 92 million workers in 162 countries, and the International Trade Union Confederation, representing 181 million workers in 163 countries, in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.

The WFTU statement

expresses its firm internationalist solidarity with the more than 6700 Palestinians, including 389 children and 56 women, currently imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces.

We strongly denounce the imprisonment of the Palestinian people by Israel, the inhumane detention conditions and the acts of abuse like the violent beatings against our Palestinian brothers and sisters and we demand the immediate release of all Palestinian prisoners and the end of Israel’s arrest campaigns, aggressiveness and occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Image result for pizza hutThe WFTU also issued a statement condemning the Pizza Hut Israeli advertisement – later pulled – mocking Palestinian hunger strikers, emphasizing again that

“The World Federation of Trade Unions and the international class oriented trade union movement stand on the side of the heroic Palestinian people and prisoners, express their solidarity and support to their fair struggle.”

ITUC also expressed its solidarity with

Palestinian prisoners who have declared an indefinite hunger strike to protest against violations of human rights inside Israeli Prisons. We also support the ‘general strike for freedom and dignity’ held in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners and call for wider international solidarity…

We add our voice to the demands of the hunger striking Palestinian detainees calling for the lifting of restrictions on family visits, improved overall detention conditions and access to medical care, including easing restrictions on access to education materials and food, as well as the installation of telephones to communicate with their relatives. We also recall that under international humanitarian law, detainees from occupied territories must be detained in the occupied territory, not in the territory of the occupying power, as enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

In South Africa, among the endorsers of the South African Campaign for Palestinian Political Prisoners is the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) as well as the South African Municipal Workers Union.  Sidubo Dlamini, the President of COSATU, is joining in the broad one-day hunger strike in South Africa in support of Palestinian prisoners, alongside government officials, anti-apartheid struggle veterans and former political prisoners.

This support comes amid a growing campaign in the international labor movement in support of Palestinian rights, including an end to occupation and apartheid, full equality for all and Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled. Unions endorsing BDS include COSATU, CUT in Brazil, CSN in Quebec, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Irish Confederation of Trade Unions and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) in the United States. Unions in Scotland, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Belgium, the Basque Country, Uruguay and many other countries have also taken a stand in support of Palestinian rights and the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions. Workers’ struggles and popular movements like the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil have been strong supporters of the Palestinian struggle – including that of the Palestinian prisoners – for many years.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes all of the labor unions taking a stand with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian prisoners. We echo the call of Palestinian trade unions:

“We also take this opportunity to call on trade unions yet to join the BDS movement to: implement boycotts of Israeli and international companies that are complicit with violations of Palestinian rights, divest trade union funds from companies and institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid, and apply pressure on governments to cut military and trade relations with Israel. We reiterate our call for a boycott of Histadrut, Israel’s general trade union, for its complicity with Israel’s violations of international law and its refusal to take a clear stand in support of comprehensive human rights for Palestinians.”

We urge all labor organizations and workers’ movements to express their solidarity and support for the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike, for the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation and for the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The majority of Palestinian prisoners are Palestinians of the popular classes: workers, from the villages, the refugee camps and the cities. The international workers’ movement is engaged in a battle confronting capitalist exploitation, oppression and austerity around the world. The Palestinian prisoners in their battle for dignity and freedom are on the front lines not only of the struggle for Palestinian freedom, but for social justice and human liberation in the world today.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Canada0 Comments

Canadian Academic Wrongfully Accused of Terrorism: Support Dr. Hassan Diab’s Right to Come Home

NOVANEWS

Public Vigil May 17, Ottawa

 

What: Public Vigil to support Dr. Hassan Diab’s right to come home
When: Wednesday May 17, 2017, at 12:00 noon
Where: Office of the Prime Minister, Langevin Block, corner of Elgin and Wellington Streets, Ottawa  — Map

Hassan Diab is an innocent Canadian citizen, a university professor, husband, and father of two young Ottawa children, wrongfully sent to France where he sits in a tiny jail cell 22 hours a day undergoing a years-long investigation for a crime he did not commit. The physical description, the finger and palm prints, and the handwriting of the suspect do not match Hassan’s, and French investigating judges have concluded that Hassan was not even in France at the time of the attack committed in Paris in 1980.

Hassan has been ordered released on bail six times within the past year by the investigating judges, but each time the French Court of Appeal quashed the release order at the Prosecutor’s behest because of the political climate in France.

When will Hassan’s Kafkaesque nightmare end?

We are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to live up to his words that Canada is back on the world stage and looking out for its citizens. In August 2015, Trudeau said that then-PM Harper

“has an obligation to use the full force of the Prime Minister’s Office to help Canadian citizens when they are unjustly imprisoned abroad. His inaction must end today.”

We believe Prime Minister Trudeau must speak out publicly and use the full force of his office to help Canadian citizen Hassan Diab, who is in the extraordinary situation of remaining behind bars despite being ordered released an unprecedented six times.

This is a critical time in building pressure to support Hassan Diab. Please come out on May 17, bring a friend or two, and sign the Petition to the Government of Canada:

https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/e n/Petition/Details?Petition=e- 833

For more information, contact:
diabsupport@gmail.com
http://www.JusticeForHassanDia b.org

Posted in Canada, Human Rights0 Comments

Meet The Right-Wing Think Tank Driving Canadian Policy Toward War

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A registered “charity” with buckets of donations from arms manufacturers and other corporate sources is aggressively trying to push Canadian foreign policy further towards militarism and the use of violence.

And the right-wing Canadian Global Affairs Institute seems to be growing in influence, or at least media prominence.

Since last month’s federal budget, senior CGAI analyst David Perry has been quoted throughout the media arguing for increased military spending.

I’m stunned this budget is actually taking money away from the military and pretending to give it back several decades in the future,” Perry told CBC.

In its reports, conferences and commentary, the Calgary-based institute promotes aggressive, militarist positions. In the midst of a wave of criticism towards General Dynamics’s sale of Light Armoured Vehicles to Saudi Arabia, CGAI published a paper titled “Canada and Saudi Arabia: A Deeply Flawed but Necessary Partnership” that defended the $15-billion deal. At least four of the General Dynamics-funded institute’s “fellows” wrote columns justifying the sale, including an opinion Perry published in the Globe and Mail Report on Business titled “Without foreign sales, Canada’s defence industry would not survive.”

Previously, CGAI has called for Ottawa to set up a foreign spy service — think CIA, MI6 or Mossad. At the height of the war in Afghanistan, they commissioned a survey claiming most

Canadians are willing to send troops into danger even if it leads to deaths and injuries as long as they believe in the military’s goals.”

Watch Justin Trudeau’s interview with Huffpost Canada here.

Beyond the media work most think tanks pursue, the institute expends considerable effort influencing news agencies. Since 2002 the institute has operated an annual military journalism course together with the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. A dozen Canadian journalism students receive scholarships to the nine-day program, which includes a media-military theory component and visits to armed forces units.

The stated objective of the course is “to enhance the military education of future Canadian journalists who will report on Canadian military activities.” But that description obscures the political objective. In an article titled “A student’s look inside the military journalism course,” Lola Fakinlede writes:

“Between the excitement of shooting guns, driving in tanks, eating pre-packed lunches, investigating the insides of coyotes and leopards — armoured vehicles, not animals — and visiting the messes, we were learning how the military operates. … Being able to see the human faces behind the uniform, being able to talk to them like regular people, being able to see them start losing the suspicion in their eyes and really start talking candidly to me — that was incredible.”

Captain David Williams was forthright concerning the broader political objective of the program. In 2010 he wrote,

The intent of this annual visit has always been to foster a familiarity and mutual understanding between the CF and the future media, two entities which require a symbiotic relationship in order to function.”

Along with the Conference of Defence Associations, the institute gives out the annual Ross Munro Media Award recognizing a “journalist who has made a significant contribution to understanding defence and security issues.” The winner receives a handsome statuette, a gala dinner attended by Ottawa VIPs and a $2,500 prize. The political objective of the award is to reinforce the militarist culture among reporters who cover the subject.

Journalist training, the Ross Munro award and institute reports/commentators are a positive way of shaping the discussion of military matters. But CGAI also employs a stick. In detailing an attack against colleague Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen military reporter David Pugliese pointed out that it’s

not uncommon for the site to launch personal attacks on journalists covering defence issues. It seems some CDFAI [CGAI’s predecessor] ‘fellows’ don’t like journalists who ask the government or the Department of National Defence too many probing questions. … Last year I had one of the CDFAI ‘fellows’ write one of the editors at the Citizen to complain about my lack of professionalism on a particular issue. … The smear attempt was all done behind my back but I found out about it. That little stunt backfired big time when I showed the Citizen editor that the CDFAI ‘fellow’ had fabricated his claims about me.”

The institute has received financial backing from arms contractors.

While it may not have succeeded in this instance, online criticism and complaints to journalists’ superiors do have an impact. If pursued consistently this type of “flack” drives journalists to avoid topics or be more cautious when covering an issue.

While not exactly forthcoming about its funders, the institute has received some military backing. The Canadian Forces identified CGAI’s predecessor, the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, under the rubric of “defence-related organization and defence and foreign policy think tanks.” DND’s Security and Defence Forum provided funding to individuals who pursued a year-long internship with the Institute and CGAI has held numerous joint symposiums with DND, NATO and NORAD.

The institute has received financial backing from arms contractors. General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin Canada, as well as Edge Group, C4i, Com Dev, ENMAX, SMART Technologies, the Defense News Media Group and Canadian Council of Chief Executives have all supported CGAI.

Beyond weapons makers, the institute has wealthy patrons and ties within the corporate world. Rich militarist Frederick Mannix helped found the registered charity, and recent directors include the CEO of IAMGOLD Steve Letwin, Royal Bank Financial Group executive Robert B. Hamilton and ATCO director Bob Booth.

A bastion of pro-corporate, militarist, thinking, the Canadian Global Affairs Institute is increasingly influential in shaping the foreign policy discussion in this country.

Canadians who disagree with militarism, who wish for diplomacy over war, and who support a Do Unto Others as We Would Have Them Do Unto Us foreign policy must raise their voices loudly and clearly so that we, too, are heard by government.

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Free Speech in Canada Suppressed and Negated

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In October, 2011, Canadian peace and human rights activist Ken Stone attended a conference in Iran dealing with Apartheid, Israel’s illegal oppression of Palestinians.

In January, 2012, Stone wrote an op-ed for the Hamilton Spectator, in which he criticized the Canadian government for demonizing Iran, which the Canadian government continues to falsely describe as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Subsequently, in January 2013, two Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officers made an unannounced visit to Stone’s home, questioning him about his trip to Iran. Stone felt anxious and intimidated. He felt that the visit amounted to a suppression of his Constitutional rights of freedom of expression. Consequently, he filed a complaint with the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC).

SIRC dismissed Stone’s complaint, but recommended that the spy agency revisit its interviewing policy, and chided the officers for their sloppiness with note-taking.

Stone, for his part, takes solace from the fact that, despite the dismissal, the case highlighted for a broader Canadian audience, that talking to agents in the aforementioned circumstances is voluntary.

Image result for ken stone canadian

Canadian peace and human rights activist, Ken Stone

All of this was covered by Canada’s mainstream media. But the broader issue of the irony of the incident was entirely omitted.

The irony is this. Whereas Canada continues to falsely condemn Iran as being a state sponsor of terrorism, Canada itself is a state sponsor of terrorism.

Stone explains in an article, dated November 12, 2013, entitled Canada’s Harper Government Supports Covert Mercenary War On Syria, Funds al Qaeda Affiliated Groups that

if CSIS is looking to find state sponsors of terrorism, they should look much closer to home – in Ottawa, in fact, at 26 Sussex Drive, the prime minister’s residence. Under the Harper government, Canada played a significant role in organizing the proxy war for regime change in Syria, in which terrorist mercenaries from over 80 countries (including Canada) have taken part. In December 2011, for example, the Canadian ambassador to Tunisia, Glenn Davidson, was tasked with organizing the pre-conference to the founding conference of the so-called “Friends of Syria” Group of Countries (FSG).

The FSG was founded a few months later in Tunis in February 2012, with Hilary Clinton sitting in the front row. The FSG was the international group of countries that organized, recruited for, co-ordinated, and funded the proxy war for regime change in Syria, which resulted in nearly half a million deaths and widespread destruction inside of Syria. In June 2013, the Harper government hosted a meeting of the Economic Sanctions Subcommittee of the FSG in Ottawa. That meeting, which Canada chaired, created a regime of broad international economic sanctions against Syria, which were illegal because the sanctions did not have the approval of the United Nations Security Council. However, the FSG illegal sanctions were very effective. They rendered hundreds of thousands of Syrians jobless, put the price of food out of reach of working people, and turned hordes of Syrians into refugees.

The Harper government also hosted representatives of the so-called Free Syrian Army in Ottawa and foreign minister, John Baird, appeared several times abroad in public with FSA “rebel” leaders.

The FSA referenced in the above passage are sectarian terrorists. In 2013, they and their al Qaeda counterparts occupied and committed atrocities in the ancient, primarily Christian town of Maaloula Syria, and in the same year they committed genocide in Latakia, Syria, fighting shoulder to shoulder with other al Qaeda affiliated terrorists. “Moderate” terrorists never existed in Syria.

Mainstream media (MSM) messaging about Syria amounts to criminal war propaganda, and Canada’s direct support and sponsorship for all of the terrorists infesting Syria — where there were none prior to the West’s dirty war on this non-belligerent country – constitutes the supreme crime of War of Aggression according to Nuremberg Standards.

Without a doubt, Canadians’ freedom to express – and learn — the truth is almost completely suppressed in this country. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya writes in The Globalization of NATO that

(t)he mainstream media is a vital instrument for inundating society with the views of the most powerful groups and organizations. It helps shape the views of what the sociologist C. Wright Mills has termed a mass society, one where most members are not involved in expressing their opinions as outputs, but only receiving opinions as instructions and as a form of social programming …

Stone’s case presents a window through which we can better perceive the blindness that the warmongering elites are imposing on us through their apparatus of social programming and deception.

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The “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”: Humanist Peacekeeping or…?

On Sussex Drive in Ottawa, just a few steps away from the enormous US embassy, stands the Peacekeeping Monument. The structure titled “Reconciliation” was erected to honour the more than 125,000 Canadians who have served in United Nations peacekeeping forces since 1947. The current article documents one particular instance –the February 2004 intervention in Haiti – where the historical record conflicts with the “good peacekeeper” narrative communicated by the Canadian government, reiterated by the corporate media, and represented by “Reconciliation.”

Seeing themselves as a generous people, most Canadians also consider that their noble ideals are reflected in the foreign policy of their government. The importance of nurturing this positive image both at home and abroad is well ingrained in the national psyche and, every now and again, surveys are conducted to confirm its resilience.[1]

Walter Dorn, Associate Professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, writes that:

For Canadians, peacekeeping is about trying to protect people in mortal danger… about self-sacrifice as well as world service. These notions of courage and service resonate with the public, and politicians across the political spectrum have readily adopted the peacekeeping cause… Canadian support for its peacekeeping role has been so strong for so long that it has become a part of the national identity.[2]

Canada’s intervention in Haiti is represented and legitimized in such terms. On the very first line of the section of its website devoted to Haiti, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) boasts how

“Canada has committed to allocate $555 million over five years (2006-2011) to reconstruction and development efforts in Haiti.” Such “special consideration” is given to Haiti because “[t]he Government of Canada is committed to helping the people of Haiti improve their living conditions.”[3]

Unequivocally endorsing the government’s line as reiterated by its Ambassador to Haiti, Claude Boucher, Maclean’s Magazine answers its own question in an April 2008 feature article:

“it’s easy to forget that what Boucher says is true. Haiti is a less dangerous, more hopeful place than it has been for years, and this is the case, in part, because of the United Nations mission there and Canada’s involvement in it.”[4]

The Ottawa Initiative

In contrast to Maclean’s pronouncement, a growing number of international critics insist that what is happening in Haiti is instead an odious imperialist crime in which Canada is shamefully complicit.[5] These skeptics argue that in January, 2003 the Canadian government organized a meeting to plan the illegal and violent overthrow of the democratically-elected government of the small Caribbean nation for political, ideological and economic reasons.[6] The meeting, called the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti,” was held at the government’s Meech Lake conference centre in Gatineau, Québec, on January 31 and February 1, 2003, one year before the February 29, 2004 coup d’état.

The extraordinary decisions taken at this gathering of non-Haitians were first leaked to the general public in Michel Vastel’s March 2003 article, published in French-language magazine l’Actualité. Under the prophetic title “Haiti put under U.N. Tutelage?,” Vastel described how, in the name of a new Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, parliamentarians of former colonial powers invited to Meech Lake by Minister Denis Paradis, decided that Haiti’s democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, had to be overthrown, a Kosovo-like trusteeship of Haiti implemented before January 1, 2004 while the US- subservient Haitian Army, the Forces armées d’Haiti (FAdH), would be reinstated alongside a new police force. The UN trusteeship project itself first surfaced in 2002 as mere rumor (or trial balloon?) in the neighboring Dominican Republic’s press.

Denis Paradis

While Canadian soldiers stood guard over Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, the president of Haiti and his wife were put on an airplane by US officials before dawn on February 29, 2004. According to world-renowned African-American author and activist Randall Robinson, who interviewed several eye-witnesses, the aircraft was not a commercial plane. No members of the Aristide government and no media were at the airport as Mr. and Mrs. Aristide were effectively abducted and taken to the Central African Republic against their will, following a refueling stop in the Caribbean island of Antigua.

***

In its December 10, 2004 report titled “An Economic Governance Reform Operation,” the World Bank bluntly declared that (thanks to the coup),

The transition period and the Transitional Government provide a window of opportunity for implementing economic governance reforms with the involvement of civil society stakeholders that may be hard for a future government to undo.”[7]

Within the same post-coup period, said transitional government adopted a budget plan baptised “interim cooperation framework” (ICF) which outlined extensive privatization measures, accompanied by massive layoffs of public sector employees. This was done without the benefit of any legal sanction from a Haitian parliament. De facto Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, who was hand-picked by the U.S. to implement the ICF, promptly began the distribution of $29 million dollars to remobilized soldiers and paramilitaries whom the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had recruited and trained for the coup over the previous years in neighboring Dominican Republic and whom Latortue dubbed “freedom fighters”. The announcement of special pay to Latortue’s “freedom fighters” was made within days of a December 6, 2004 announcement of new “aid to Haiti” by the Canadian government.[8]

As of September 2008, most of the objectives attributed to the Ottawa Initiative have come to fruition. Haiti’s democratically–elected government has been overthrown, the country has been put under UN tutelage, new armed forces have been formed, and former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is still in exile. As for Canada’s promised “improvement to living conditions”, such improvements can easily be demonstrated for the over 9000 foreign troops (police and military) whose salaries have in many instances doubled during their tour with the UN force in Haiti (MINUSTAH). However, as far as the overwhelming majority of Haitians are concerned, there are no reasons to rejoice. In the past five years, they have been subjected to an unprecedented wave of kidnappings, rapes and murders, among other forms of urban violence. The Haitian state has been further weakened and destabilized. The trauma and social divisions of the Haitian people have been greatly exacerbated as a consequence of the coup. Understandably, many charge that the R2P doctrine has proven to be “a nightmarish and violent neo-imperialist experiment gone terribly mad” conducted on Haitians in blatant contravention of international law.[9]

At the time of the first leak of the Ottawa Initiative meeting to the public, Canadians of Haitian origin warned Prime Minister Jean Chrétien not to engage in such “a foolish adventure in neocolonialism.”[10] But these warnings were to no avail. After several changes in government in Ottawa, there is no indication of any change in policy. On the contrary, Canadian officials are steadfastly implementing the same ill-fated policy while disingenuously diverting blame for failure onto its victims. Does it not speak volumes that in Haiti, as in foreign-occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, kidnappings and the “brain drain” are two phenomena that have markedly intensified with the arrival of the foreign troops?[11]

Four shaky pillars

The post-coup regime in UN-occupied Haiti rests on four unstable pillars: money, weapons, class solidarity and racism.

Money: Those who call the shots in Haiti today are those who control the bank accounts. Contrast, for example, the $600 million budget of the UN force with that of the Republic of Haiti. The latter grew from $300 million in 2004-05 to $850 million in 2005-06 to 1.8 billion in 2006-07 and finally to $2 billion in 2008-09, with the caveat that above 60% of the budget is dependent on foreign sources and their associated conditions. President Préval’s pleas for MINUSTAH tanks to be replaced by construction equipment remain as futile as they are incessant.[12] The “grants” allocated to Haiti at never-ending donors’ conferences are largely directed towards the donor’s own selected non-governmental organizations.

In response to last year’s food riots, Préval vowed in a speech delivered in Creole that he would no longer subsidize foreign rice imports but would instead stimulate the production and consumption of Haitian rice. This statement was retracted in a matter of hours, and Préval announced instead that he was in fact using the country’s meager resources to subsidize imported (American) rice to reduce the retail price by 16 percent.[13] The balance of power being what it is in these complex relationships, Haiti is expected to accept without a whimper the poisoned gifts “donated” by her generous benefactors in the name of “peace” or “humanitarian aid.” I recall how in 1997, when confronted with the poor quality of a foreign “expert’s” report submitted to the Minister, a junior Canadian NGO staff person, who was supposedly working in support of Haiti’s Ministry of Environment, arrogantly interjected that “beggars cannot be choosers.”

Weapons: MINUSTAH, comprised of some reputedly ruthless forces of repression including those of Brazil, China, Jordan and the U.S. has no rival on the ground in terms of sheer fire power. MINUSTAH’s marching orders are especially clear following the “suicide” of its former military leader, Brazilian General Bacellar, who was found dead on January 7, 2006, following a night of heated exchange with members of Haiti’s business elite who were openly critical of him for being too “soft” with “slum gangs”, “bandits” or “chimères.” MINUSTAH serves the role of place holder for the defunct Haitian army (FAdH), the traditional tool by which Haiti’s elites and their foreign allies have kept the “black masses” under control.

In the context of a country with an estimated 210,000 firearms (the vast majority of which remain securely in the hands of its ruling families and businesses)”, writes Peter Hallward, “it may be that a ‘chimère’ arsenal of around 250 handguns never posed a very worrying threat.”[14]

The dramatic increase of weapons entering Haiti by way of Florida immediately after the 2004 coup suggests that the powers in place aren’t willing to take any chances.

Class solidarity: By caricaturing the base of support for the toppled Lavalas government as a violent underclass of “chimères” (monsters), mainstream media inside and outside of Haiti helped the coup forces to gather much sympathy. The attack on Lavalas was systematic, but the casualties of the coup went far beyond a single political party. Today, there remains not a single political party in Haiti which is independent of the foreign forces. Préval himself declares that he does not belong to a political party.[15] The Lespwa platform under which he was elected is already in shambles. Hallward provides an in-depth analysis of 20 years of efforts deployed by the US and its allies to destroy Haiti’s emerging popular democracy. The devastating impact of the assassinations in the 1990s of key figures of the progressive bourgeoisie linked to Lavalas, such as the Izmery brothers, attorney Guy Malary, agronomist and journalist Jean Dominique, are key to understand the class struggle still unfolding in Haiti. The web of connections between the Port-au-Prince-based ambassadors, NGO directors, food importers and sweatshop owners, all of whom live in the same neighborhoods, send their kids to the same schools and have developed an acute sense of (Apartheid-like) community is an important element that remains to be thoroughly researched, documented and analyzed. Meanwhile, mainstream media continues to propagate the stereotypes which sustain this mentality of a “besieged class” that must be protected from “savage others.”[16]

In order to meet the class-based “responsibility to protect” they have assumed in post-Aristide Haiti, Canada, the US, the UN and the Préval Government are steadfastly enforcing undemocratic and illegal practices such as the maintenance in African exile of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the exclusion of his Fanmi Lavalas party from the Senatorial elections of April 19, 2009[17]. Clearly, rather than contribute to inter-Haitian reconciliation, social appeasement or political stability, such practices further exacerbate political tensions among a people that has heroically struggled for peace but have consistently been denied the benefit of genuine international brotherhood.

Racism: The lingering influence of white supremacist ideology in world affairs is seldom referred to in mainstream publications about Haiti. Yet, it is a key pillar of the Ottawa Initiative and the R2P doctrine on which it was predicated. Indeed, the racial features of the conflict brewing in Haiti are quite visible.

At the international level, the anti-coup and pro-Haitian sovereignty positions adopted by members of the US Congressional Black Caucus, the nations of the Caribbean and Africa, have consistently stood in sharp contrast to those in the US White House, Canada and Europe.

In Haiti, the black majority stands in opposition to a foreign-backed minority represented by the likes of white American sweatshop owner André Apaid, his brother-in-law and unsuccessful presidential candidate Charles Baker, American Rudolph Boulos, his brother Reginald Boulos, Hans Tippenhauer, (uncle and nephew of the same name), Jacques Bernard, etc.[18]

The similarities abound with the 1915 US occupation of Haiti which resulted in the imposition of a string of light-skinned, U.S.-subservient, dictators ruling Haiti: Sudre Dartiguenave, Louis Borno, Elie Lesco, Louis Eugene Roy and Stenio Vincent. As in 1915-1934, members of Haiti’s black majority resisting the humiliating occupation of their land today are deemed to be a horde of “bandits” who endanger “private property.” Back in the 20th century the private property being protected by Yankee troops was mostly American. Today, MINUSTAH’s ‘responsibility to protect’ also extends to important Canadian investments such as Gildan Active Wear’s sweatshops and Ste-Geneviève Resources’ gold exploration concessions.[19]

In a research paper titled Defining Canada’s role in Haiti, Canadian Armed Forces Major J.M. Saint-Yves writes that:

While the solutions may sound colonial in nature it is clear that the endemic corruption of Haitian society will prevent the establishment of a sound economic solution to Haiti’s problems under Haitian control. Rather, foreign investment under foreign control is required to establish a new Haitian economy based on industries that will directly benefit the rural Haitian population”.[20]

As we will see in further detail, the “foreign control” Saint-Yves is calling for is already in place. But, it appears that the results of such racist and imperialist take-over have thus far proven to be the kind of ugly orphan that no one wants to officially claim as their own.

Documenting Canada’s Role

From the early hours of the coup, Haitian-American activist and attorney Marguerite Laurent has been a powerful and relentless voice denouncing the overthrow of the Aristide government and in documenting its consequences for thousands of people worldwide.

“If justice, and not power, prevailed in international affairs,” writes Laurent, “the coup d’état corporatocracy in Haiti, that is, the governments (US/France/Canada), international banks and rich multinational corporations, and their Haitian minions who funded the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government, would be paying reparations to the people of Haiti who lost and continue to lose loved ones, property, and limbs.”[21]

Ten days after the coup, Stockwell Day, then-foreign affairs critic for the Conservative opposition, declared in Parliament that

we have an elected leader Aristide. We may not have wanted to vote for him… But the (Canadian) government makes a decision that there should be a regime change. It is a serious question that we need to address. That decision was based on what criteria?”[22]

At first, the Liberal government attempted to cast doubt on whether the infamous coup-plotting meeting of January 31, 2003 ever took place. Records of a March 19, 2003 Senate hearing titled “Meeting on Regime Change in Haiti” include Senator Consiglio Di Nino inquiring about a “secret initiative referred to as the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” that is being led by the Secretary of State for La Francophonie.” The Senator asked:

“Can the leader of the government in the Senate tell us if this meeting actually took place?” to which Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs answered: “I cannot honestly say whether this meeting took place. I have no information whatsoever on such a meeting.”[23]

Since this exchange in the House of Commons, successive governments – Liberal and Conservative alike – have steadfastly pursued the agenda developed under “The Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”, the minutes of which have yet to be made available as requested by New Democratic Party MP Svend Robinson. Vancouver-based Journalist Anthony Fenton, who eventually obtained a severely edited set of documents concerning the meeting and its aftermath under Access to Information, wrote to the author as follows:

It remains a reasonable question to ask why these full, uncensored minutes haven’t been tabled in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. Since the coup, the same committee has heard Haiti-specific testimony on at least thirteen separate occasions. Between May and June of 2006, the Committee heard from over thirty ‘witnesses,’ in the course of conducting their ‘Study on Haiti.’ This resulted in the December 2006 tabling of the ‘Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Canada’s International Policy Put to the Test in Haiti.’

Fenton notes that, of course, no reference to a coup or Ottawa Initiative is to be found in the Report or the Government’s response.

In “Canada in Haiti: Waging War on The Poor Majority,” written with colleague Yves Engler, Fenton documents various aspects of Canada’s involvement in the 2004 coup d’état.[24] Of particular note is the role CIDA played in both the destabilization campaign that prepared the way for the coup and the PR campaign which followed. In Damming the Flood, a book published by UK-based Canadian author Peter Hallward, Canada is deemed to have executed “its client functions in rare and exemplary fashion” in the eyes of the US, the ultimate leader of the multinational coup. “Canada’s foreign minister Pierre Pettigrew reportedly met with leading figures in the anti-Aristide opposition and insurgency shortly before the February coup and, as we have seen,” Hallward continues, “CIDA provided significant financial assistance to pro-coup pressure groups like the National Coalition for Haitian Rights-Haiti (NCHR-Haiti) and SOFA.”[25]

Upon analysis, the case of CIDA’s funding to NCHR-Haiti is particularly disturbing in that it provides direct evidence of collusion between the highest level of Canadian government and a pro-coup NGO of much disrepute in the eyes of Haitians and international observers alike. NCHR-Haiti is said to have caused great harm to the cause of peace and justice in Haiti. Chiefly among NCHR-Haiti’s damages, critics often point to the wrongful jailing of Haiti’s Prime Minister Yvon Neptune for over two years on trumped-up charges that were – through the CIDA/NCHR-Haiti connection – essentially financed by Canadian tax-payers. NCHR-Haiti has been so discredited on account of the Yvon Neptune wrongful imprisonment scandal that its US-based parent organization demanded that it change its name, which has since been modified to Réseau national de défense des droits humains (RNDDH).

In his well-researched article “Faking Genocide,” Kevin Skerrett writes that:

Within days of the coup, accusations of Prime Minister Neptune’s responsibility for a major massacre, a “genocide” of 50 people, were published by a human rights organization called the National Coalition for Haitian Rights-Haiti (NCHR-Haiti)…The particular episode of violence and political killings for which Neptune was being blamed took place in the city of St. Marc on February 11 2004, during the three-week “death squad rebellion” that began February 5 in Gonaives and was then spreading through the north of Haiti. The attacks launched through this “rebellion” culminated in the coup of February 29.[26]

Documents obtained in 2007 through Anthony Fenton’s Access to Information Request (CIDA A-2005-00039) reveal that, in the name of the victims of coup violence, NCHR-Haiti submitted a $100,000 project to CIDA on Friday March 5, 2004. By Monday March 8, Mr. Yves Petillon, Chief of Canadian Cooperation at the Embassy in Haiti, received a recommendation from his staff to approve the funding and on Thursday, March 11 (within less than 5 working days from the original submission), Mr. Pétillon signed and approved the 10 page grant request. As someone with over 17 years of experience in the federal grant funding world, the author can attest that this is an unusually rapid response time.

In their March 5 funding proposal, the applicants wrote:

“Just as NCHR aided and assisted victims of the Lavalas regime, the organization has the obligation to do the same for Lavalas supporters now coming under attack.”

Yet, the same document confirms NCHR’s deliberate decision to limit the dates covered by the victims’ fund to February 9 through 29, 2004. Thus, they purposely exclude the victims of anti-Lavalas violence which peaked as the death squad “rebellion” hit Gonaives in the first days of February and in the days following Aristide’s removal on February 29, 2004. In addition, NCHR openly refused to enter the Bel Air neighborhood to investigate widespread reports of killings of unarmed Lavalas supporters by foreign occupiers in early March 2004.[27]

Two days after the coup, in an interview given to journalists Kevin Pina and Andrea Nicastro, Prime Minister Yvon Neptune declared:

“The resignation of the President is not constitutional because he did that under duress and threat. The chief of the Supreme Court was brought here into my office by representatives of the international community. I was not invited or present when he was sworn in”.[28]

In sharp contrast to the CIDA-funded reports produced by NCHR-Haiti, the above statement goes a long way to explain the true motivations behind the illegal incarceration and torment suffered by Haiti’s constitutional Prime Minister during the post-coup period when “Haitian” justice and prison systems effectively fell under Canadian control. While Mr. Neptune was being punished in jail for his refusal to condone the coup, Paul Martin went to Haiti in November 2004. This was the first ever official visit of a Canadian Prime Minister to Haiti. During his visit, Martin, who dubs himself a proud champion of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, was quoted by Agence France Press as saying that “there are no political prisoners in Haiti.”[29]

Haiti’s Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune, was eventually freed under René Préval’s presidency. His release occurred after all risk was effectively cleared that dozens of illegally incarcerated top leaders of Fanmi Lavalas would register and win the foreign controlled elections of 2006.

Months after his return to Canada, Prime Minister Martin was publicly denounced by activist Yves Engler with the infamous heckle “Martin lies, Haitians die” for his shameful behavior in Haiti. During another episode of colourful protest, Engler decorated then Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew’s hands in the red of Haitian blood. For his efforts, Engler ended up spending several days in jail.[30]

What is becoming clearer is the hugely embarrassing contradiction between the multi-million dollar contributions which the Canadian government boasts having made to help fix the Haitian police and justice systems and the fact that said systems are deemed by several independent studies to be in much worse shape several years after the coup. The suggestion that this “failure” is solely that of Haitians also falls flat in the face of scrutiny. Consider the bold statements made by Chief Superintendent David Beer, Director General of International Policing at the RCMP at the April 3, 2008 meeting of The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development:

“Mr. Chair, I think the committee might be interested to know that although our numbers are down to a certain degree in the total number of almost 1,900 serving police officers, in the mission Canada continues to have very key roles. Indeed, Canada holds the position of deputy commissioner of operations, senior mentor and advisor, and senior mentoring unit for the police for the city of Port-au-Prince. We are in charge of the Bureau de la lutte contre le trafic des stupéfiants, the counter-narcotics unit. We’re also in charge of the anti-kidnapping unit. We also contribute to border management, the academy, and la formation de la police nationale. Also, we’re involved in a financial integrity and assets management project within the Haitian National Police. Finally, Mr. Chair, the vetting and registration of the HNP is also a responsibility of a Canadian police officer”. [31]

The conspicuous exchange of funds between CIDA and NCHR-Haiti which financed Mr. Neptune’s ordeal may never make the front pages of Maclean’s Magazine or the Globe and Mail. Generally speaking, Canadians meet with great surprise and disbelief the recurring corruption scandals involving their political elite. One of the cases currently in front of the courts involves former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who is accused of having accepted bribes in cash, while in office, from German arms dealer Karlheinz Shreiber. Many are shocked by the case. However, that the Mulroney-Shreiber deal in question allegedly involved the purchase of weapons destined to “peacekeeping” has attracted no special attention. If anything, it seems, Brian Mulroney stands to benefit from the “peacekeeping” connection that he volunteered about his dealings with the infamous arms dealer.

Peace Be Unto Them . . . With Tanks and Bullets

In fact, bloody foreign interventions dubbed ‘peacekeeping’ enjoy such a positive aura in Canada that para-governmental bodies such as FOCAL are openly calling for Canada to engage ever deeper in the imperialist adventure that is The Ottawa Initiative.

Source: www.focal.ca

It is this aura which inspires military figures such as Major Michael D. Ward to write that

“strong commitment to the sovereignty [and] independence … of Haiti is a crucial barrier to the international engagement required to rebuild and reform the Haitian state.”[32]

Such crude and condescending statements explain why the North-South Institute cautioned, as early as October 2005, that

“The Canadian government’s justification for the 2004 intervention in Haiti, without open debate from an R2P perspective, has damaged the R2P campaign, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean.”[33]

The CIDA-funded think tank proceeds to lament how ‘peace-building’ in Haiti has been compromised by de facto collaboration with paramilitary leaders responsible for past human rights violations.

In the very document produced by the R2P Commission, it was boldly highlighted how governments engaged in such interventions must prove themselves to be very agile at spinning and controlling information.

“The key to mobilizing international support,” it states, “is to mobilize domestic support, or at least neutralize domestic opposition.”

Further, it highlights the crucial role that government-funded entities (wrongly referred to as ‘non-governmental agencies’ – NGOs) have to play in this regard:

“NGOs have a crucial and ever increasing role, in turn, in contributing information, arguments and energy to influencing the decision-making process, addressing themselves both directly to policy makers and indirectly to those who, in turn, influence them.”[34]

It thus falls to heavily-funded NGOs to ensure that racism is seen as humanism and imperialism as peacekeeping – no matter the native body count. It is hardly surprising, then, that in the eyes of people of African-descent worldwide, Canada’s “good” image has suffered a considerable blow as a result of the 2004 coup and its aftermath.

Commenting on the food riots that rocked Haiti in April 2008, veteran journalist John Maxwell, wrote in the Jamaica Observer:

“Today, and especially for the last few weeks, the starving people in Haiti have been trying to get the world to listen to their anguish and misery…Mr Bush and Mr Colin Powell and a mixed gaggle of French and Canadian politicians had decided that freedom and independence were too good for the black people of Haiti. Lest you think I am being racist, there is abundant evidence that the conspiracy against Haiti was inspired by racial hatred and prejudice…I have gone into this before and I will not return to it today . . . Suffice it to say that the US, Canada and France, acting on behalf of the so-called ‘civilised world’, decided on the basis of lies that, as in the case of Iraq, a free and independent people had no business being free and independent when their freedom and independence was seen to threaten the economic interest of the richest people in Haiti and, by extension, the wealthiest countries in the world”.[35]

Conclusion

According to Walter Dorn, there exist two groups of advocates of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

“The idealist or internationalist school often clashes with the realpolitik school, whose members are usually called realists (although not necessarily realistic),” says the military professor. “Canadian realists hold that Canada’s contributions do not arise from the purity of our souls or national benevolence, but because of basic national interest.” Dorn tells us that, for the realists, “Canada’s large contributions to the UN’s successive missions in Haiti are also explained in part by a desire to assist the US in the continental backyard.

Speaking about his own ‘civilized world’s responsibility to protect ‘others’ in early 2003, then-Minister for la Francophonie Denis Paradis was quoted by journalist Michel Vastel as follows:

I do not want to end up like Roméo Dallaire…” “Time is running out because, it is estimated that Haiti’s population could reach 20 million in 2009,” observed Vastel, before proceeding to quote Minister Paradis describing Haiti’s 99 percent African population as “a time bomb which must be stopped immediately! ”[36]

It is frightening for a historically-conscious person, especially one of African descent, to observe how the logic of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘White man’s burden’ emanates so easily from the minds of high-ranking Canadian officials and intellectuals, and then is translated into foreign policy that is implemented with brute force. As Sherene Razack writes in Black Threats, White Knights,

Peacekeeping today is a kind of war, a race war waged by those who constitute themselves as civilized, modern and democratic against those who are constituted as savage, tribal and immoral.”[37]

Luigi Einaudi

A report issued by the International Commission argues that

“there is much direct reciprocal benefit to be gained in an interdependent, globalized world where nobody can solve all their own problems: my country’s assistance for you today in solving your neighbourhood refugee and terrorism problem, might reasonably lead you to be more willing to help solve my environmental or drugs problem tomorrow.”[38]

One is indeed well advised to ask the crucial question: What are they talking about as far as R2P is concerned? This so-called responsibility is to protect who from what? Are soldiers being mobilized to protect vulnerable populations from massive human rights horrors or to protect the interests of world elites from threats such as Haiti’s perceived black “time bomb”, or Europe from the advances of the wretched of the earth arriving by way of Morroco and Spain?

While seeking the answer to that pivotal question, I am mindful of the shocking statement made by the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, in front of myself as well as several other witnesses at Haiti’s Hotel Montana, on December 31, 2003:

“The real problem with Haiti” said Luigi Enaudi, “is that the ‘International Community’ is so screwed up & divided that they are actually letting Haitians run Haiti.

Less than two months after Einaudi uttered these words, US Marines entered the residence of Haiti’s president, while Canadian RCMP soldiers secured the airport to facilitate the coup and occupation of Haiti. Since that fateful night, Haitians are no longer running Haiti and the bloodbath the foreign invaders claim to have intervened to avoid has reached unprecedented proportions, with full involvement of the UN forces engaged in what can only be defined as class and race warfare. Meanwhile, the world still awaits a serious report on the circumstances surrounding the death of U.N. Commander Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar, at Hotel Montana, on January 7, 2006.

Bill Graham & Colin Powell

“there is a limit to how much we can constantly say no to the political masters in Washington. All we had was Afghanistan to wave. On every other file we were offside. Eventually we came onside on Haiti, so we got another arrow in our quiver.”

Bill Graham, Former Canadian Foreign Minister in January 2007 interview cited in Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar (Toronto, ON: Viking Canada, 2007), pp. 126-27

What Should Canadian Policy Towards Haiti be? – beyond figurehead politics… making a real paradigm shift!

Contrary to the IMF style of “aid”, the Cuba-Venezuela model is, in essence, what activists for peace with justice have been advocating for several years. Unfortunately, successive Canadian governments have chosen to ignore this message and, instead, have multiplied workshops, conferences, meetings (usually, with little or no Haitian participation) to coordinate even more “aid” to Haiti. This is done in blatant disregard of the evidence that Haiti has, for far too long, been “aided to death” by its self-appointed foreign friends.

The appalling poverty found in Haiti is no recent phenomenon due to “bad governance,” as is often posited by apologists for the violent conquest of this continent. The endemic vulnerability of the African and First Nations populations of the Americas stems from 500 years of inhumane colonial and neo-colonial policies. A strategy consisting in piling up money and weapons, while patching up a brick school, a dispensary and a few prisons in return for shameless waving of countless Canadian flags, is no solution at all.

Commenting the current world hunger crisis, Jeffrey Sachs suggested that the long-term solution involves putting brakes on the U.S. ethanol industry, creating a $5-billon fund for agriculture, and financing better research and development for crop technologies in the developing world.[39] Laudable goals, indeed! However, judging from the Haitian experience, governments of enriched societies who built their wealth on racial slavery, theft of indigenous land and shameful trickery of the world financial system, can hardly be counted upon to make such a radical 180 degree conversion. It will necessitate a mass mobilization of peoples worldwide to force these urgently needed changes. Reversing the situation requires us all to force the enriched states to adopt new policies and approaches, rather than rehashing the same old racist practices, masked or not, with clever and cynical humanitarian rhetoric. Their challenge is to first stop doing harm, and then repair the damage already done. Our challenge is to consistently practice genuine people-to-people solidarity.

NOTES

[1] “World Sees Canada as Tolerant, Generous Nation,” Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research (November 12, 2006).

[2] Walter Dorn, “Canadian Peacekeeping: Proud Tradition, Strong Future?” Canadian Foreign Policy, Vol. 12, No. 2, (Fall 2005)

[3] Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) website [www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/CIDAWEB/acdicida.nsf/EN/JUD-12912349-NLX]

[4] Michael Petrou, “Haiti: Are we helping?,” Mclean’s (April 7, 2008)

[5] See Marguerite Laurent, “It’s Neither Hope nor Progress when the International Community is Running Haiti,” Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, [www.margueritelaurent.com] and Aaron Lakoff, “The Politics of Brutality in Haiti: Canada, the UN and “collateral damage,” Dominion Paper (January 21, 2006).

[6] Anthony Fenton and Dru Oja Jay, “Declassifying Canada in Haiti” Global Research [www.globalresearch.ca]; and Canada Haiti Action Network website [www.canadahaitiaction.ca]

[7]Report No. 30882-HT, “Program Document of TheInternational Development Association to the Executive Directors for an Economic Governance Reform Operation”, World Bank, (December 10, 2004)

[8] DeWayne Wickham, “Payoffs to Haiti’s renegade soldiers won’t buy peace,” USA Today (January 3, 2005)

[9] Jean Saint-Vil, “Please Fix Canada’s Policy Towards Haiti,” Letter to Minister Peter McKay, (May 29, 2008) [www. archivex-ht.com]

[10] Jean Saint-Vil. “New Canadian Premier Gets Sound Advice on Haiti,” Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, (February 6, 2006) [www. windowsonhaiti.com]

[11] Five LDCs — Haiti, Cape Verde, Samoa, Gambia and Somalia — have lost more than half their university-educated professionals in recent years because these professionals have moved to industrialized countries in search of better working and living conditions. UNCTAD, “Least Developed Countries Report 2007: Knowledge, Technological Learning and Innovation for Development” [www.unctad.org] (July 19, 2007)

[12] President René Préval’s Inaugural Speech, Haiti, (May 14, 2006) [www.margueritelaurent.com]

[13] The New York Times appears to have been better connected to the real powers running the show in Haiti. Because of its precipitous attribution of the price reduction measure to Mr. Préval, the Times issued a correction note dated April 10, 2008, in which one reads “A picture caption last Thursday about rioting in Haiti over high food prices misstated President Rene Préval’s position on the issue. He urged Haitians to become agriculturally self-sufficient; he did not say he would urge Haiti’s congress to cut taxes on imported food.” See “Haiti’s President Tries to Halt Crisis Over Food,” New York Times (April 10, 2008).

[14] Cited in Robert Muggah, “Securing Haiti’s Transition,” Small Arms Survey Occasional Paper no. 14 (October 2005)

[15] In interview with Haitian President René Préval, March 2006, Ottawa.

[16] “An Inside Look at Haiti’s Business Elite, An Interview with Patrick James,” Multinational Monitor (January/February 1995)

[17] HAITI: Fanmi Lavalas Banned, Voter Apprehension Widespread, By Jeb Sprague, IPS (april 17, 2009)

[18] Jean Saint-Vil, “Haiti’s ‘Ambassador’ to Canada” Znet (June 9, 2005) [www.zmag.com]

[19] Reed Lindsay, “Haiti’s future glitters with gold,” Toronto Star (July 21, 2007)

[20] Maj. J.M. Saint-Yves, “Defining Canada’s Role in Haiti”, (Toronto: Canadian Forces College Master of Defence Studies Research Project, 2006), [http://wps.cfc.forces.gc.ca]

[21] Marguerite Laurent, “Debt Breeds Dependency Equals Foreign & Corporate Domination” [www.margueritelaurent.com], (January 4, 2005)

[22] Hansard,House of Commons, 37th Parliament, 3rd Session (March 10, 2004)

[23] Hansard, Debates of the Senate, 2nd Session, 37th Parliament,
 (March 19, 2003)

[24] “Using NGOs to Destroy Democracy and the Canadian Military Connection,” excerpt from: Canada in Haiti Waging War on the Poor Majority by Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton. Fernwood Publishing, 2005

[25] Peter Hallward, “Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment”, Verso Books, 2007

[26] Kevin Skerrett, “Faking Genocide: Canada’s Role in the Persecution of Yvon Neptune,” Znet (June 23, 2005) [www.zmag.org]

[27] Tom Reeves, “Haiti’s Disappeared,” Znet [www.Zmag.org] (May 5, 2004)

[28] Kevin Pina and Andrea Nicastro, “Interview with Prime Minister Yvon Neptune,” Haiti Action (March 2, 2004) [www.haitiaction.net]

[29] “Canada in Haiti for long run, says PM,” Caribbean Net News (November 19, 2004)

[30] Marcella Adey and Jean Saint-Vil, “Human Rights worker arrested for heckling Prime Minister Paul Martin” globalresearch.ca (December 4, 2005)

[31] Hansard, 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, Number 021 “Evidence” Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, (April 3, 2008)

[32] Major Michael T. Ward, “The Case for International Trusteeship in Haiti” Canadian Forces Journal, vol. 7, no. 3 (Autumn 2006)

[33] Stephen Baranyi, “What kind of peace is possible in the post-9/11 era?” North-South Institute , (October 2005)

[34] ICISS (IBID)

[35] John Maxwell, “Is Starvation Contagious?” Jamaica Observer (April 13, 2008)

[36] Michel Vastel, “Haiti mise en tutelle par l’ONU?” L’Actualité, (March 15, 2003)

[37] Sherene H. Razack, “Black Threats & White Knights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeing, and the New Imperialism”, University of Toronto Press, (2004)

[38] ICISS, “Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty” (page 71), [www.iciss.ca] (December 2001)

[39] Sinclair Stewart, “Facing a food crisis, optimist finds hope in the dismal science,” The Globe and Mail (Wednesday April 30, 2008)

Posted in Canada, HaitiComments Off on The “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”: Humanist Peacekeeping or…?

Under NAFTA, Diabetes Became Leading Cause of Death in Mexico

NOVANEWS
Image result for NAFTA LOGO
teleSUR 

Diabetes has become the leading cause of death in Mexico, according to a new study released by the World Health Organization, WHO.

The United Nations agency claims diabetes rates in the Latin American country began surging just over two decades ago, around the time the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, came into force.

An estimated 80,000 people die each year in Mexico from diabetes, WHO also reports, adding that nearly 14 percent of adults there suffer from the disease.

“Diabetes is one of the biggest problems in the health system in Mexico,” Dr. Carlos Aguilar Salinas told NPR during a recent interview.

“It’s the first cause of death. It’s the first cause of disability. It’s the main cost for the health system.”

Why has diabetes become such an issue in Mexico after NAFTA? The answer is simple: cheap imported junk food.

Since its 1994 inception, NAFTA has allowed U.S. and Canadian restaurants and processed food manufacturers to sell products at rates much lower than their Mexican counterparts. This creates a situation where fastfood chains like McDonald’s and processed food brands like Nabisco are able to dominate the country’s market, given that their products are more financially accessible.

And in a country with rising poverty, inequality and food insecurity, cheap imported junk food is often the only nutritional option.

In 2015, WHO reported that Mexico is the leading consumer of junk food in Latin America — the average person there consumes 450 pounds of ultra-processed foods and sugary beverages each year.

The organization also reported that until recently, Mexico was the largest per capita consumer of soda in the world, with the average person drinking 36 gallons each year. The U.S., Argentina and Chile are now the leading consumers of soda.

“Diabetes used to be a disease of the rich,” WHO’s Mexico chief Dr. Gerry Eijkemans also told NPR during a recent interview.

“In Western Europe and the U.S., it was really the people who had the money who were obese, and now it’s actually the opposite.”

Nearly 60 percent of Latin Americans are overweight, according to a UN report.

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Canadian govt responsible for harming aboriginal children in ‘Sixites Scoop’

NOVANEWS

Image result for aboriginal children PHOTO

RT 

A Canadian court has ruled that the government harmed thousands of indigenous children who were robbed of their cultural heritage when it took them from their families. Launched eight years ago, the lawsuit could cost the government US$1bn.

Ruling on the case on Tuesday, Justice Edward Belobaba said Canada breached its “duty of care” when the Ontario-led program forcibly removed 16,000 aboriginal children from their families and relocated them to non-indigenous homes between 1965 and 1984.

The federal initiative, which aimed to educate children on Euro-Canadian and Christian values, became known as the ‘Sixties Scoop’. An investigation into the program produced the Kimelman Report, which described it as “cultural genocide.”

“The uncontroverted evidence of the plaintiff’s experts is that the loss of their Aboriginal identity left the children fundamentally disoriented, with a reduced ability to lead healthy and fulfilling lives,” Belobaba said, as quoted by CBC.

“The loss of Aboriginal identity resulted in psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, unemployment, violence and numerous suicides.”

“There is … no dispute that great harm was done,” the judge added.

The case had stuttered for several years until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power, fulfilling an election promise that it would be revived to better the country’s relationship with its indigenous population. Tuesday’s ruling is expected to have an impact on a number of similar cases across the country.

Damages have yet to be decided upon.

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde welcomed the decision, telling Reuters: “Children have the right to speak their language and stay connected to their heritage. Today’s decision is a step towards reconciliation.”

Marcia Brown Martel, who was taken from her native family aged four, began the class-action lawsuit against the federal government when she began searching for her roots. No information had been provided to Martel’s adoptive family on her original home, leaving her to try tracing her past from her limited memories.

Reacting to the ruling, Colleen Cardinal, who was also taken as part of the program when she was just two years old, said she was surprised with the ruling but is now confident that similar lawsuits will go the same way.

“I think the rest of the country has been waiting for this class action to be resolved, and I’m pretty sure that the rest will follow suit,” she told CBC.

Cardinal said this was a “monetary victory” but that those taken still needed support to help them heal.

A number of children taken during the program were adopted by US families, including Sydney Dion, who was denied entry to Canada when he attempted to return home as he did not have a Canadian birth certificate. He was eventually allowed to enter the country after border patrol acknowledged he was a minor when taken to the US and did not consent to becoming a US citizen.

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Canada’s role in the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah

OAU

Friday, February 24 is the anniversary of the 1966 coup against leading Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah. Canada played a key role. Following the coup, the Canadian High Commissioner in Accra C.E. McGaughey, wrote that “a wonderful thing has happened for the West in Ghana and Canada has played a worthy part.”

A half-century and one year ago this Friday, Canada helped overthrow a leading Pan-Africanist president. Ghana’s Canadian-trained army overthrew Kwame Nkrumah, a leader dubbed “Man of the Millennium” in a 2000 poll by BBC listeners in Africa.

Washington, together with London, backed the coup. Lester Pearson’s government also gave its blessing to Nkrumah’s ouster. In The Deceptive Ash: Bilingualism and Canadian Policy in Africa: 1957-1971, John P. Schlegel writes: “the Western orientation and the more liberal approach of the new military government was welcomed by Canada.”

The day Nkrumah was overthrown the Canadian prime minister was asked in the House of Commons his opinion about this development. Pearson said nothing of substance on the matter. The next day External Affairs Minister Paul Martin Sr. responded to questions about Canada’s military training in Ghana, saying there was no change in instructions. In response to an MP’s question about recognizing the military government, Martin said:

“In many cases recognition is accorded automatically. In respective cases such as that which occurred in Ghana yesterday, the practice is developing of carrying on with the government which has taken over, but according no formal act until some interval has elapsed. We shall carry on with the present arrangement for Ghana. Whether there will be any formal act will depend on information which is not now before us.”

While Martin and Pearson were measured in public, the Canadian High Commissioner in Accra, C.E. McGaughey, was not. In an internal memo to External Affairs just after Nkrumah was overthrown, McGaughey wrote “a wonderful thing has happened for the West in Ghana and Canada has played a worthy part.” Referring to the coup, the high commissioner added “all here welcome this development except party functionaries and communist diplomatic missions.” He then applauded the Ghanaian military for having “thrown the Russian and Chinese rascals out.”

Less than two weeks after the coup, the Pearson government informed the military junta that Canada intended to carry on normal relations. In the immediate aftermath of Nkrumah’s overthrow, Canada sent $1.82 million ($15 million today) worth of flour to Ghana and offered the military regime a hundred CUSO volunteers. For its part, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had previously severed financial assistance to Nkrumah’s government, engaged immediately after the coup by restructuring Ghana’s debt. Canada’s contribution was an outright gift. During the three years between 1966 and 1969 the National Liberation Council military regime received as much Canadian aid as during Nkrumah’s ten years in office with $22 million in grants and loans. Ottawa was the fourth major donor after the US, UK and UN.

Two months after Nkrumah’s ouster the Canadian High Commissioner in Ghana wrote to Montréal-based de Havilland Aircraft with a request to secure parts for Ghana’s Air Force. Worried Nkrumah might attempt a counter-coup, the Air Force sought parts for non-operational aircraft in the event it needed to deploy its forces.

Six months after overthrowing Nkrumah, the country’s new leader, General Joseph Ankrah, made an official visit to Ottawa as part of a trip that also took him through London and Washington.

On top of diplomatic and economic support for Nkrumah’s ouster, Canada provided military training. Schlegel described the military government as a “product of this military training program.” A Canadian major who was a training advisor to the commander of a Ghanaian infantry brigade discovered preparations for the coup the day before its execution. Bob Edwards said nothing. After Nkrumah’s removal the Canadian High Commissioner boasted about the effectiveness of Canada’s Junior Staff Officers training program at the Ghanaian Defence College. Writing to the Canadian Under Secretary of External Affairs, McGaughey noted, “All the chief participants of the coup were graduates of this course.”

After independence Ghana’s army remained British dominated. The colonial era British generals were still in place and the majority of Ghana’s officers continued to be trained in Britain. In response to a number of embarrassing incidents, Nkrumah released the British commanders in September 1961. It was at this point that Canada began training Ghana’s military.

While Canadians organized and oversaw the Junior Staff Officers course, a number of Canadians took up top positions in the Ghanaian Ministry of Defence. In the words of Canada’s military attaché to Ghana, Colonel Desmond Deane-Freeman, the Canadians in these positions imparted “our way of thinking”. Celebrating the influence of “our way of thinking”, in 1965 High Commissioner McGaughey wrote the Under Secretary of External Affairs: “Since independence, it [Ghana’s military] has changed in outlook, perhaps less than any other institution. It is still equipped with Western arms and although essentially non-political, is Western oriented.”

Not everyone was happy with the military’s attitude or Canada’s role therein. A year after Nkrumah’s ouster, McGaughey wrote Ottawa: “For some African and Asian diplomats stationed in Accra, I gather that there is a tendency to identify our aid policies particularly where military assistance is concerned with the aims of American and British policies. American and British objectives are unfortunately not regarded by such observers as being above criticism or suspicion.”

Thomas Howell and Jeffrey Rajasooria echo the high commissioner’s assessment in their book Ghana and Nkrumah: “Members of the ruling CPP tended to identify Canadian aid policies, especially in defence areas, with the aims of the U.S. and Britain. Opponents of the Canadian military program went so far as to create a countervailing force in the form of the Soviet equipped, pro-communist President’s Own Guard Regiment [POGR]. The coup on 24 February 1966 which ousted Kwame Krumah and the CPP was partially rooted in this divergence of military loyalty.”

The POGR became a “direct and potentially potent rival” to the Canadian-trained army, notes Christopher Kilford in The Other Cold War: Canada’s Military Assistance to the Developing World, 1945-1975. Even once Canadian officials in Ottawa “well understood” Canada’s significant role in the internal military battle developing in Ghana, writes Kilford, “there was never any serious discussion around withdrawing the Canadian training team.”

As the 1960s wore on Nkrumah’s government became increasingly critical of London and Washington’s support for the white minority in southern Africa. Ottawa had little sympathy for Nkrumah’s pan-African ideals and so it made little sense to continue training the Ghanaian Army if it was, in Kilford’s words, to “be used to further Nkrumah’s political aims”. Kilford continued his thought, stating: “that is unless the Canadian government believed that in time a well-trained, professional Ghana Army might soon remove Nkrumah.”

During a visit to Ghana in 2012 former Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean laid a wreath on Nkrumah’s tomb. But, in commemorating this leading Pan-Africanist, she failed to acknowledge the role her country played in his downfall.

* Yves Engler’s latest book is, A Propaganda System: How Canada’s government, corporations, media and academia sell war and exploitation. His previous book is, Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.

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Canada’s Fake Posturing About Islamophobia

NOVANEWS
 
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The “Wahhabi” ideology, instrumentalized by the West and its allies to grow terrorism, is the polar opposite to the religion of Islam as practiced and taught, for example, by Syria’s Grand Mufti, or by Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, political and media advisor to President Assad, who asserts that “(t)hose who kill in the name of Islam, those who destroy in the name of Islam, are not Muslims at all.”

Whereas “Wahhabism” is exploited to create hate and intolerance, Islam is a religion of love and peace.

Canada’s sectarian terrorist proxies in Syria – “moderates” do not exist, and never did – commit genocide and all manner of horrific crimes in the name of Islam, but they are in fact anti-Islamic.

When the Canadian government presents itself as opposing Islamophobia, it is being willfully duplicitous, since Canada supports and nurtures the Saudi Arabian-style “Wahhabism” and sectarianism in Syria and beyond.  And it is this toxic ideology that creates fertile ground for Islamophobia, not the genuine Islam as taught and practiced in Syria.

Canadians are misled to believe, in the first instance, that we oppose sectarianism in Syria – which is a Big Lie — and in the second instance, that we support secular, democratic governance, and pluralism in Syria – another Big Lie.

If the Canadian government supported secular governance and pluralism in Syria, as opposed to hatred, intolerance, and Sharia law, then it would be supporting rather than trying to destroy, Syria’s legitimate government.

Before the West’s pre-planned, dirty/government change war against Syria, the country was blessed with a secular government, and a diverse, tolerant population, where Mosques and Christian churches stood side by side in peace and harmony. And this is still the case in government secured territories – which include most of Syria now.

But imperialists need to generate lies and hatred to advance their country-destroying agendas, and this is what the Canadian government and its supine agencies, including the corporate fake media, have done, and continue to do.

The Nuttall/Korody synthetic terror case, for example, was engineered to create, rather than to suppress, Islamophobia.

The demonization of Syria’s elected President, Bashar al-Assad, also serves to create Islamophobia, since fake media conflates his government with Islam and Muslims, when in fact it is a secular government.  Even the demonization of Russia creates Islamophobia, since it is common knowledge (or at least it should be), that Russia is waging a successful war against sectarian terrorism in Syria, even as Canada and its allies support the aforementioned terrorists.  Mainstream Media “perception managers” would have us believe that the sectarian terrorists are “moderate”, or that they represent a civilized alternative to Syria’s elected government, and that Russia is therefore “bad” for destroying the terrorists. So, in its words and deeds, Canada is tacitly presenting sectarian terrorists as representative of “Islam” or “Muslims”, which is an inversion of the truth.  The terrorists in Syria are anti-Islamic.

Terrorists who commit genocide, who deal in sex slaves, who commit torture, and mass beheadings, who engage in organ harvestingand traffic in drugs, are in no way Islamic.

Canada’s deeds in Syria, and its false messaging about Syria, create and sustain Islamophobia. Empty words from hollow politicians simply disguise the truth.

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