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Canada’s role in the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah

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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

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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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War Propaganda and Canada’s War for Terrorism in Syria

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A (criminal war propaganda[1]) article dated February 19, 2017, and published by TheWeeklyNews.ca, entitled “Canadian military planes flying over Syria”, speaks volumes through omission.

Brig.-Gen. Shane Brennan reportedly disclosed that Canadian aircraft have flown between 20 and 30 missions over Syria in recent months.  He said “We have done work in Syria,” and that “(t)here’s lots of work to do in Iraq. We are looking at all of the areas.”

The article omitted a few important “details”.  The seemingly casual reference to doing “work in Syria” indicates Canada’s on-going support for the criminal U.S/NATO strategy – as outlined by Defense Intelligence Agency document 14-L-0552/DIA/287-293[2] – to use terrorists, including ISIS, to destroy the sovereign country of Syria and topple its legal government.

They used it all over Syria where these battles have been, but they also armed terrorists with depleted uranium weaponry.  The whole country now, where the battles have been whether on battlefields or in urban regions, are all contaminated. And that has to be cleaned up before they rebuild the cities, parts of Damascus, almost all of Aleppo, and villages too[3].

The West also used depleted uranium ordnances in Iraq, so its willful use in Syria, is even more heinous. British Radiation expert Dr. Chris Busby, Fellow of the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Medicine and UK representative on the European Committee on Radiation Risk, claims that, “by illegally using hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) against Iraq, Britain and America have gravely endangered not only the Iraqis but the whole world,” and that these weapons have released deadly, carcinogenic and mutagenic, radioactive particles in such abundance that-whipped up by sandstorms and carried on trade winds – there is no corner of the globe they cannot penetrate-including Britain.

For the wind has no boundaries and time is on their side: the radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years and can cause cancer, leukemia, brain damage, kidney failure, and extreme birth defects – killing millions of every age for centuries to come. A crime against humanity which may, in the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time.[4]

So, Canada’s willful engagement in the pre-planned, criminal invasion of Syria – including the criminal sanctions — appears to be ramping up. And the fake MSM media, guilty on all counts of committing war propaganda, continues to aid and abet these crimes against Syria, these crimes against international law, and these crimes against humanity.

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Eight People Flee U.S. Border Patrol to Seek Asylum in Canada

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  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers assist a child from a family that claimed to be from Sudan as they walk across the U.S.-Canada border.
    Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers assist a child from a family that claimed to be from Sudan as they walk across the U.S.-Canada border. | Photo: Reuters
As the U.S. looks to tighten its policies on refugees and illegal immigrants, people seeking refugee status have been pouring over the Canada-U.S. border.

Eight asylum-seekers, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday as a U.S. border patrol officer tried to stop them and a Reuters photographer captured the scene.

As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer seized their passports and questioned a man in the front passenger seat of a taxi that had pulled up to the border in Champlain, New York, four adults and four young children fled the cab and ran to Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the other side.

One by one they scrambled across the snowy gully separating the two countries. RCMP officers watching from the other side helped them up, lifting the younger children and asking a woman, who leaned on her fellow passenger as she walked, if she needed medical care.

The children looked back from where they had come as the U.S. officer held the first man, saying his papers needed to be verified.

The man turned to a pile of belongings and heaved pieces of luggage two at a time into the gully — enormous wheeled suitcases, plastic shopping bags, a black backpack.

“Nobody cares about us,” he told journalists. He said they were all from Sudan and had been living and working in Delaware for two years.

People seeking refugee status have been pouring over the Canada-U.S. border as the United States looks to tighten its policies on refugees and illegal immigrants. Asylum-seekers sneak across because even if they are caught, they can make a claim in Canada; if they make a claim at a border crossing, they are turned away.

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Canada without the NAFTA Straightjacket? Free at Last!?

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Donald Trump has said he intends to renegotiate or cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This would be good news if we take the opportunity to get out of the NAFTA straitjacket and begin using Canadian resources for the benefit of Canadians. Under the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – chapters 4 and 9 and NAFTA chapter 6 – Canada gave the US the right to take the same proportion of any good, including all forms of energy, that it was taking over the previous three years, even if Canada itself goes short.

The US is now taking about 60% of our oil production and with the prospect of large new pipelines to the US, which cripples the idea of an east-west pan-Canadian line because we have a finite supply of oil, that percentage will rise. Under (NA)FTA, the US has the right to continue taking this 60%, and more, of our total supply, in perpetuity. Further, Canada has agreed to never charge the US more for any good, including all forms of energy, than it charges Canadians.

Meanwhile, in addition to charging some of the world’s lowest royalty rates, we are selling our oil to the US at far less than the world price – a subsidy from Canada to the US of roughly $30 billion per year – while Canada pays some $10 billion a year to import foreign oil, mostly from Saudi Arabia and the US, into eastern Canada at world price. Does that make sense?

No self-respecting country would, as Canada did under Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien, sign away its resources, its sovereignty and its future in this way and most Canadians are still unaware our country has done so. (Mexico refused to sign these energy sections in NAFTA and exempted itself from their terms.)

Eighty percent of the world’s oil resources are held by state-controlled oil companies. Yet, in the 1990s, Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments privatized and sold our national oil company, Petro-Canada, which in a few years had grown to become one of Canada’s largest companies. Norway, which has less oil than Canada, voted to stay out of the EU and today has a trillion dollar (and growing) surplus. It has used its oil and its national oil company, Statoil, to make Norwegians the richest people on Earth with free childcare, free dental care for everyone under18, free university education and generous old age pensions. There is zero government debt and homelessness is virtually non-existent.

By contrast, Canada, a far richer country than Norway, has massive provincial and federal debt, totalling some $1.2 trillion, after decades of pouring increasing amounts of oil, gas and other resources across the border. The provinces are desperately offering to sell off profitable crown corporations to pay their bills, while also implementing huge budget cuts. Canada has miserly old age pensions, high university tuition and no national free pharmacare, childcare or dental care.

If we continue in this way, the resources will be gone. Norway will hand its savings to its grandchildren, but what will we say to our generations to come?

Algeria used its oil to build Sonatrach into the largest company in Africa. Mexico’s publicly owned national oil company, Pemex, is Latin America’s second largest company, producing 40% of Mexico’s federal government revenue. Italy’s state controlled oil and gas giant, ENI, brings in $150 billion a year. Brazil’s publicly controlled Petrobras has grown into a world leader of advanced technology, the southern hemisphere’s largest company; its power kept Brazil’s stock market steady during the 2008 whiplash. Libya, until it was subjected to a horrific US-led NATO attack in 2013, in which Canada played a significant role, used its oil revenue to move its citizens from the poorest in the world in 1960 to the highest standard of living in Africa.

NAFTA’s Chapter 11 contains a dispute settlement provision allowing US and Mexican corporations to sue Canada for any law or regulation, which they think causes them “loss or damage” and which they feel breaches the spirit of NAFTA.

These disputes are not heard by Canadian judges in Canadian courts, but by special tribunals operating behind closed doors, using not Canadian law, but NAFTA rules. There is no right of appeal. Since 1994, Canada has been sued 35 times by US corporations under NAFTA, reversed several of its laws, paid out $200 million in NAFTA fines and faces claims of $6 billion more. The US has not lost a single case.

(NA)FTA gave US corporations sweeping rights to buy up most of the Canadian economy. Called “national treatment,” it prohibits Canada from restricting or screening new US investment in Canada and grants American investors, citizens and corporations the right to be treated as if they were Canadian citizens. With a low dollar and low interest rates, the wholesale take-over of Canadian companies is proceeding in a torrent. Our standard of living and real wages have declined, jobs and factories have disappeared and almost a million Canadians now use food banks.

Freed from (NA)FTA, Canada could go on to use its natural resources to create Canadian owned and controlled industries, with all the benefits and security that could mean for Canadians. Instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign machinery, electronics, ships, aircraft and jet fighters, we could build our own. We once created the world’s most advanced jet fighter, the Avro Arrow, so we know it can be done. Canada is a huge market for foreign automobiles. Countries from Korea to Italy and Sweden, far smaller than Canada, with a fraction of our resources, have built their own auto industries. So could we.

Our founding fathers would be outraged at the giveaway of our raw resources and the casual sale of our railways and iconic corporations: from Hudson’s Bay to Stelco, the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board, built by western farmers and given away for a song, and Nortel, Canada’s giant, high tech powerhouse, allowed to go down, its parts picked up by Google and its other foreign competitors.

For 150 years, great Canadian leaders have warned that, without an economic border, Canada would not long have a political border with the US. John A. Macdonald called free trade with the US “veiled treason.” A century later, Pierre Elliott Trudeau called the FTA a “monstrous swindle.”

Both John A. Macdonald and Georges-Étienne Cartier were determined to build Canada into “a northern power,” a competitor to the US, not a resource colony. We can see their vision in the magnificent Parliament buildings they left us, the world class railways they built to bind the country together and one of the world’s longest lasting and most admired constitutions.

The idea that Canada would sign away its precious non-renewable resources to another country, our greatest competitor, and that it would allow itself, at the whim of foreign corporations, to be sued for following its own goals, would have been unthinkable to our founders. Let’s take this chance to get out of these destructive agreements, the FTA and NAFTA, stand on our own two feet and make Canada an independent power on the world stage.

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Massacres of Muslims: In Canada Condemned, In Yemen Condoned

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By Christopher Black 

The massacre of Muslims in Canada at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday, January 29, raises a number of questions about what happened but also raises deep questions of morality and justice since the massacre of Muslims in Canada is rightly condemned but another massacre of Muslims, in Yemen, is shamefully and criminally condoned. In one situation, a suspect faces trial for murder and is condemned by public opinion, while in the other the guilty are treated as heroes and will receive medals. Let’s deal with the Canadian situation first.

Instead of facts we have confusion since first reports are of two figures, wearing ski masks, blasting away with Ak-47’s. Now the two are declared to be one. We have a conversation on a bridge between a “suspect” and the police, after the “suspect” is alleged to have called them “because he feels bad,” to tell them he “was involved.” What that means is not stated but is played in the press as a confession, but there is no confession. At his bail hearing on Monday, the sole accused Alexandre Bissonnette, entered no plea and said not a word.

He is portrayed in the press as a right wing oddball, a loner type. Friends and family never saw it coming. Much is made of his mundane “likes” on his Facebook site as if these indicate his guilt or innocence any more than my “likes” indicate mine. Was he a hidden ideological time bomb and killed with an objective in mind, to make a cruel statement, to create terror for political objectives? If so, and after so brazen a massacre, where were the shouts of defiance, of bragging, from this terrorist madman? Instead, a man shuffled and hung his head and dared not look anyone in the eye, tried to keep a low profile when all eyes were focused on him. Why? Is he one of the shooters? Were there two or just one?

The Toronto Star reported on the Sunday, January 30, that,

“Two attackers carried out a shooting at a Quebec City Mosque…”

Quoting Radio-Canada, the Star stated that,

“One man who was at the mosque told Radio-Canada that there were two attackers wearing ski masks who burst into the building and opened fire. The man, who didn’t want to be identified by name, said they had strong Quebecois accents, but added that he believed them shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’… The man said he narrowly escaped when a bullet whizzed over his head. He said the gunmen took aim at those who were still praying.”

There we have it, a recent direct witness statement that there were two shooters, not one, as the police now claim. The witness talks in the plural all through his statement. There can be no doubt this event is seared in his mind. He was there. There can be no doubt there were two men involved. But now one has disappeared from the official narrative. I am not surprised he feared to give his name because if killers can disappear witnesses can too.

Even the CBC, on Tuesday January 31, in reference to a witness who was arrested as a suspect by mistake, quoted that witness as stating, “I found a victim near the door. I didn’t know if he was alive or dead… when I gave him my jacket to keep warm, I saw the image of someone with a firearm. I didn’t know it was the police. I thought it was a shooter who’d returned.”

He refers to “a” shooter not “the” shooter implying there were more than one. He even thought the police officers were the shooters. But clearly he misunderstood why they were there. And the CBC article also cited the witness who saw two attackers and repeated the Radio-Canada story.

The police now state there was only one shooter. Yet the police statement from the Surete de Quebec on January 30 said, “The Surete de Quebec confirms that only one of the individuals arrested yesterday evening is connected with the attack in Quebec and is considered a suspect.” That does not exclude other attackers and does not say that Bissonnette is the only attacker. Now the press are quoting witnesses saying there was one attacker but the police state they have two long guns used in the crime. Witnesses described them as AK 47’s. They also say that a shooter also used a 9 mm pistol after his rifle jammed. The 9mm could hold 15 rounds and since more than 20 people were shot the question of two shooters does not go away.

What is the motive? Not a word on that from anyone though the media is heavy with speculation it is because of alleged right wing views. But many people in Quebec and Canada share these opinions. This is not evidence. If it was Bissonnette, was this a hate attack against Muslims and if so how did this come about? If it wasn’t, is he insane so that now he is arrested we no longer need worry? Very different scenarios cause different reactions and consequences. But we are left with the word “terrorism” as if saying it explains things. Where and how did he or they get the automatic weapons they used? Was CSIS, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service aware of any of this developing? If not, why not?

Who benefits from this crime? We know that President Trump issued an executive order banning entry of Muslims from certain countries on Friday. The Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, in reaction to the Trump travel ban, stated on Saturday,

“To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of faith. Diversity is our strength.”

One day later, on Sunday, came the message in the form of the attack that Muslims better forget Canada as a safe place to be. So, was there a political objective? If so, was it to damage Trump through the murder of innocents? Was it to slap down Trudeau and damage Canada’s reputation? Will it be another in a long string of such incidents the past few years which have been used to excuse even more draconian security laws and loss of civil rights and freedoms?

The anti-Trump media, political opponents and commentators are using it to link Trump to right wing murderers, while Trump has tried to use it to call for more security and offered Canada the help of American security services.

The Canadian media are in a frenzy putting out stories about Canada as a welcoming country that is horrified by this crime and condemning violence against Muslims. The only thing the public knows is that we do not know the whole story.

But the massacre in Quebec City was not the only massacre that took place on that Sunday. That same day American special forces invaded Yemen and carried out a series of “raids,” in reality a series of invasions of a sovereign country to kill its citizens. One of these raids was against a man they claim was a “suspected Al-Qaeda leader” their code phrase for anyone they want out of the way in the Middle East, since Al-Qaeda does not exist; it is just a label attached to any group in the middle east that resists US hegemony, or in Yemen, is part of the resistance to the US-UK sponsored war conducted by Saudi Arabia against Yemen.

This invasion of Yemen, an act of aggression against a member of the United Nations, was planned by President Obama and approved by President Trump, showing the seamless continuity of American imperialism. It was supposedly to “gather intelligence,” in the form of a computer hard drive. To obtain that hard drive, the Americans slaughtered dozens.

In one version in the US media, the American soldiers descended from their helicopters, surrounded a house, and then killed everyone in it. They then began to meet resistance and more violence ensued as the Yemenis tried to resist the American invaders. A US helicopter was shot down, and as is often the case with them, the Americans fired and bombed indiscriminately and killed, according to local media, 30 people including civilians, 8 women and children among them, and bombed a school, a medical facility and a mosque. It was reported that the Americans killed more people in Yemen in other raids that day.

This is a war crime under international law, a crime against humanity, to invade a country and kill its citizens who have every right to resist the attack. Yet where is the condemnation of President Obama for planning this operation and for President Trump for carrying it out? Where are the arrests of these two men and the soldiers who carried out this atrocity? Are they not as guilty as Alexandre Bissonnette, if indeed he is one of the attackers in Quebec? Why is it insignificant that Muslims are murdered in their homes and mosques in Yemen by a powerful state but a world tragedy when Muslims are murdered in a mosque in Canada?

Yet, as the Surete de Quebec and the other Canadian police forces and intelligence agencies carry out their activities to determine what happened in Quebec City and as the Canadian and world media put out wall to wall coverage of the massacre in Canada, the same media do nothing more than regret the death and wounding of the American murderers who carried out the massacre in Yemen and excuse this mass slaughter while the prosecutor of the ICC sits at her desk and wonders why she and the court she represents have become totally irrelevant to what seems to be a hopeless quest to prevent war crimes and the wars from which they arise and which have led directly to the crimes in Canada and Yemen.

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War and Islamophobia: The Attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City

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The tragic Jan. 30th attack on worshippers at a Quebec City mosque has gripped all of Canada. Thousands of decent Canadians, from all walks of life, have taken it upon themselves to demonstrate their outrage at this heinous crime, and to show solidarity with muslim Canadians. We congratulate the organizers of the well-attended and quickly-organized Hamilton demonstration, and hope that we can work together as a community to end the islamophobia that led to the criminal attack in Quebec.

We wish that we could say we are surprised at the Jan. 30 incident. However, like many other organizations, the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War has been warning, for the past fifteen years, about the dangers posed to our society by the permanent condition of the “War on Terror.”

The military interventions, waged by George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama in predominantly muslim countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Syria have all required the demonization of entire governments, and by extension, the peoples of those countries. Some U.S. and Canadian political figures and commentators who helped to destabilize entire regions (the Middle East and North Africa), have at the same time cynically capitalized on the resulting violence and refugee crises by raising fears about an entire religion, namely, Islam.

It’s time to recognize that successive Canadian governments and the corporate media apparatus have consistently promoted war and violence as an acceptable tool for remaking whole regions. It is in these conditions that ‘lone-wolf’ attacks occur. The powerful state and corporate media, through their blanket slander of whole countries and religions, help to put hostile islamophobic ideas inside vulnerable minds.

In a time where social stability and institutions are fraying apart, when the march of progress has seemingly ended, when people have nothing to look forward to other than war, cutbacks, and joblessness, misguided individuals will use the ideas that the powerful have handed them – that muslims are dangerous, that killing is acceptable, that violence will be rewarded – and try to turn them into practice. In doing so, they are following a template that has been created for them from above.

It is possible to build a better world. First, we need to throw off the idea that the U.S., through NATO and various other bodies, should be managing the affairs of Europe, Africa or the Middle East. Those governments have to give up their ambition of empire. They need to respect international law and sovereignty. They have to recognize the principle of national self-determination and respect people’s democratic rights to determine their own country’s destinies.

The abandonment of these concepts has led to a culture of lawlessness, violence, and impunity that we now see reflected in this tragic vigilante action in Quebec. If our governments act like gangsters, than our citizens will too. Canada can tag alongside the U.S. like the goons in a Mad Max movie, or it can follow an independent, peaceful, and humane foreign policy.

In order to build a foreign policy that reflects the vision among many Canadians for a more just and peaceful world, many of our elected representatives will have to reawaken the concept of a “political opposition” to this war agenda. When will the opposition political parties in Canada take a stand against the war agenda?

We call for the Canadian government to:

– re-establish diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran;

– end its punishing economic sanctions against Syria, Iran, and Russia;

– bring home all Canadian troops and military equipment from Syria and Iraq, Ukraine and all other frontier states bordering Russia;

– terminate the arms deal with Saudi Arabia;

– withdraw from the “Friends of Syria” Group of Countries (which organized the proxy war against Syria);

– quit NATO and join the Non-Aligned Movement instead;

– develop an independent, peaceful, and humane Canadian foreign policy.

For more info: Ken Stone at 905-383-7693 or at kenstone@cogeco.ca

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Canadian Aid to Africa under Justin Trudeau

Trudeau drapeaux

The Canadian government under Justin Trudeau is attempting to alter the narratives about our country’s relationship with the African continent.

Be aware the initiative is largely ideological chimera void of concrete action, but even worse, it is blatant hypocrisy.

Canadian Imperial Aid to Africa

The purported “new agenda” for Africa began with a trip to Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia by Foreign Affairs minister, Stéphane Dion in November of 2016.

The following month, in conjunction with a visit by Prime Minister Trudeau to Liberia and Madagascar, the government officially declared that “Canada is Back,” supposedly reviving global relationships that had been ignored or soured under the previous government.

Thus, some have suggested the time is ripe for a renewal of Canada’s foreign policy with the African continent in a manner that could allow us to reset the agenda of Canadian aid to the continent.

It is, however, ridiculous to suggest Canada was somehow absent throughout the Harper years. Canadian public institutions have facilitated and guaranteed foreign investments through a variety of channels, including the recent signing of 10 new Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements across the continent.

As far as foreign investment is concerned, Canada has never been more involved in Africa, with Canadian mining investments increasing more than 100 fold in a 20 year period. Even when we look at ‘official’ Canadian involvement on the continent we can see that Canada played a central role in the Libyan intervention-turned-invasion. It also supported French operations in Mali, and had military roles in the Congo, Darfur, South Sudan and Nigeria.

Yet, as Dalhousie University Professor, David Black notes, our developmental impact on the continent is marginal, with assistance amounting to a mere 0.28 per cent of GDP (far short of the average among donor countries and way below the UN set benchmark of 0.7 per cent).

Black also suggests there has been little coherence to Canadian policy in Africa in the Harper years. I disagree. The formula was that Canada would provide just enough ‘aid’ to get social license for its corporate engagement, while doing everything it could to protect Canadian investments. Ottawa University Professor, Stephen Brown has described this as the “instrumentalization” of Canadian aid, which was re-directed to serve Canadian business interests, rather than the supposed recipients.

I do not accept the claim that Canada is somehow ‘back’, supporting the idea that Trudeau is supposedly the last “progressive” liberal internationalist standing. Yet I agree it is an important moment to reconsider our relationships with the African continent. Evidence suggests three key ways the Liberal government could significantly help Africa in the coming decade, and two do not even relate to the issue of aid funding.

Honour the Paris Agreement

The greatest contribution we could make to Africa is to meet our Paris Agreement commitments. A 2015 Report by the Africa Progress Panel (APP), led by Former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, makes it clear Africa will suffer the most from climate change and singled out Canada as one of the countries (along with Australia and Japan) most obstructing progress on carbon reduction. Not surprisingly, African countries are disproportionately among those most at risk of loan defaults as a result (convenient that Canada has given “$50-million to the G7 Initiative on Climate Risk Insurance”). In fact, the consequences of climate change are already seeing the rapid escalation of internal displacement on the continent.

A recent report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center claims that 1.1 million were forced from their homes as a result of environmental calamity in 2015, while environmental displacement impacted 14 million between 2009 and 2015. People are also being displaced as a result of wars and development and business projects. As I’ve noted before, these trends follow on 30 years of neoliberal economic policies that have devastated agricultural systems and increased pressures around water sources as commercialization leads to an increasing enclosure of “common pool” resources.

The APP report cited above suggests that for Africa

“To avoid catastrophic climate change, two-thirds of existing [oil] reserves have to be left in the ground, begging the question of why taxpayers’ money is being used to discover new reserves of ‘unburnable’ hydrocarbons.”

Yet, with the Liberal Government approvals of Kinder Morgan and Energy East pipelines, Canada is set to unleash ‘a Carbon Tsunami’, making the chances of meeting our Paris commitments substantially less than zero. At the same time, the country still subsidizes fossil fuel companies to the tune of $3.3-billion this year – far more than the $2.3-billion budgeted to African foreign aid in 2015.

A spousal abuser does not get exonerated of their crime because they bring roses in the morning. When our government allows those pipelines to go through they are not only reneging on their treaty obligations and permanently altering ecosystems First Nations peoples depend upon, they are doing the same thing to millions of Africans. No amount of ‘Aid’ is going to correct this.

Regulate Canadian Mining Companies

Canada could also aid Africans by reigning in the mineral extraction companies that are displacing and fleecing local populations while leaving irreparable ecological damage. It is no secret Canadian mining companies are the worst, for environmental impacts and human rights violations. We also know they list on Canadian stock exchanges to take advantage of our low taxes and lax regulations, to shield themselves from legal accountability and to gain access to diplomatic services. We also know the “corporate social responsibility” strategy established by the previous government fails to improve the conduct of our mining companies. Two of the most disturbing aspects of our mining activity in Africa is that the bulk of it is within countries with the least institutional capacity to take advantage of investments, and it is specialized in gold extraction. The latter not only has enormous environmental consequences; it is largely going to end up in bank vaults of investors trying to protect themselves from the broader crisis of global surplus liquidity. In other words, the rich just have too much money and our government revenues are supporting their hoarding.

For these reasons, the Liberals should stop dillydallying and put in place a mining ombudsperson to investigate claims against Canadian companies abroad and ensure they have mechanisms at their disposal to punish offenders and make them accountable to Canadian courts.

Thirdly, Canada could stop supporting the failed neoliberal model of promoting Public Private Partnerships (P3s) in Africa. This is especially so when one considers its application in “building value chains” in the agricultural sector as a means of purportedly supporting climate change mitigation. A recent study by the Institute for Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape examined the impact of such policy orientation in Southern Africa. What they found is that these policies end up subsidizing the wealthiest farmers and agri-business companies. The intention of such programs is to support the development of hybridized seeds specifically bred for local conditions and to increase yields. Yet the results of such programs have seen the grabbing of genetic resources by international seed companies, while local populations are increasingly deprived of common pool resources, see a reduction in the diversity of their diets and see greater class differentiation, with the wealthiest farmers excelling while the smaller are sent into greater poverty. This is largely consistent with the findings of a new study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The evidence strongly suggests that such programs speed up processes of displacement and urbanization and do not promote food security, but contribute to the maintenance of the most unequalsocieties in the world. These are the conditions that lead to militarization and war.

Rather than more Public Private Partnerships, what Africans need more than anything else is serious public investment in social infrastructure; water treatment plants and sewer systems, electrification, public transportation, schools, and hospitals. Canadian companies could theoretically play a role in supporting such infrastructure development, but it should not be designed to channel public funds toward the service of Bay Street investors. The P3 Model has been a failure in every Canadian context and should stop being pushed on African countries (John Loxley of the University of Manitoba describes them as “Ideology Trumping Economic Reality”). Instead, African countries are going to have to rely a lot more on taxing their own populations and the mineral extraction companies that in some instances are getting away with ridiculously low tax rates, especially given the enormous consequences of their activities.

They will of course not accept any of these recommendations without significant social pressure being placed on them. So let’s get too it.

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The Holocaust Industry in Canada

NOVANEWS
Image result for Holocaust Industry CARTOON
By Yves Engler 

Is a school lesson plan widely used across Canada aimed at fighting racism like its promoters say or is it also a clever cover for defending Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East?

A recent 12-page Canadian Jewish News insert about Elizabeth and Tony Comper raises the issue. According to the supplement, in 2005 the Bank of Montreal head and his wife Elizabeth started Fighting Anti-Semitism Together (FAST), a coalition of non-Jewish business leaders and prominent individuals. FAST sponsored a lesson plan for Grades 6 to 8 called “Choose Your Voice: Antisemitism in Canada”. Over 2.4 million students in 19,000 schools have been through the FAST program. A year ago FAST added Voices into Action, an anti-racism lesson for Canadian high schoolers that devotes a third of its plan to the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.

Unfortunately, FAST does not appear to be an example of business leaders struggling for social justice. Rather, it’s part of what Norman Finkelstein dubbed the “Holocaust Industry”, which exploits historical Jewish suffering to deflect criticism of Israeli expansionism.

In its What We Stand For” FAST calls on Canadians “to speak out against all forms of bigotry, racism and hatred”, yet the Compers’ were honoured guests at a 2009 Jewish National Fund fundraiser in Toronto. Owner of 13 per cent of Israel’s land, the JNF discriminates against Palestinian–Arab citizens who make up a fifth of Israel’s population. (What would we think of anti-racist activists who attend KKK meetings?)

In a 2006 article titled “BMO head slams one-sided Israel critics the Canadian Jewish News reported on FAST’s Quebec launch: “Singling out Israel for blame in the Middle East conflict, even by those of good faith, is fanning anti-Semitism, Bank of Montreal president Tony Comper says. It may not be the intent, but the effect of condemning Israel alone is providing justification for hatred of Jews in Canada and internationally, Comper warned more than 400 business executives. … In underscoring the serious threat of anti-Semitism worldwide, Comper suggested that ‘a second Holocaust’ is possible if Iran acquires nuclear arms and attacks Israel.” In his speech Comper cited CUPE Ontario and the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada’s support for boycotting Israel as spurring anti-Semitism.

FAST supporters include a who’s who of the corporate elite: President TD Bank, Ed Clark; CEO of CN, Hunter Harrison; CEO of Manulife Financial, Dominic D’Allessandro; CEO of Bombardier, Laurent Beaudoin; president of Power Corporation, André Desmarais; President RBC Financial, Gordon M. Nixon and many others.

According to the Canadian Jewish News supplement, the Toronto couple also sponsored the Elizabeth and Tony Comper Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at the University of Haifa in Israel. The Center operates an online Ambassadors Program, which reports the paper, “gives students intellectual material and technical skills to combat online the global boycott, divestment and sanctions anti-Israel movement.”

The supplement was partly sponsored by Larry and Judy Tanenbaum. Larry was one of a half-dozen rich right-wing donors that scrapped the hundred-year-old Canadian Jewish Congress in 2011 and replaced it with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. As the name change suggests, this move represented a shift towards ever greater lobbying in favour of Israeli nationalism.

The Compers provided over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Established in 2008, Larry and Ken Tanenbaum gave the U of T five million dollars and helped raise more than ten million more for the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies.

Andrea and Charles Bronfman gave over $500 000 to the Anne Tanenbaum Centre, which has close ties with the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies. In 1997 the Bronfman family provided $1.5 million to create an Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies at the U of T. “Fifty years after its rebirth, the miracle of modern Israel is of broad interest,” said Charles Bronfman at the launch.

The long-standing Zionist family put up $1 million to establish a Jewish Studies program at Concordia two years later. An orchestrator of opposition to Palestinian solidarity activism at the Montreal university through the 2000s, Concordia Jewish studies professor Norma Joseph was also instrumental in setting up the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies. In 2011 multi billionaire David Azrieli gave Concordia $5 million to establish the first minor in Israel Studies at a Canadian university. After attending an Association for Israel Studies’ conference organized by the Azrieli Institute, prominent anti-Palestinian activist Gerald Steinberg described the Institute as part of a counterattack against pro-Palestinian activism at Concordia.

The Israeli nationalist tilt of McGill’s Jewish studies is actually inscribed in a major funding agreement. In 2012 the estate of Simon and Ethel Flegg contributed $1 million to McGill’s Jewish Studies department partly for an education initiative in conjunction with McGill Hillel.” But, Hillel refuses to associate with Jews (or others) who delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the state of Israel.”

The individuals driving Jewish studies and anti-Semitism lessons in Canada overwhelmingly back Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East and encourage the most aggressive ongoing European settler colonialism.

Unfortunately, support for anti-Palestinian racism, along with colonialism and western imperialism, makes one question their “anti-racism” credentials.

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Revisionism: Canada and Africa’s liberation struggles  

Canada’s position towards the African liberation struggles of the 1970s and 1980s should influence how people view deploying troops to the continent today. This history – and the media’s distortion of it – suggests the need for healthy dose of skepticism towards Ottawa’s intentions.

Did Canada lead the international charge against apartheid and white rule in South Africa or criticize a country that, in fact, did?

Recent commentary about Canada’s policy towards southern Africa’s liberation struggles distorts history that should inform debate over Canada’s planned military deployment to the continent today.

A Globe and Mail article last month described Canada’s strong support for the anti-apartheid movement” while a Kingston Whig Standard story last week claimed a senior Canadian diplomat and his wife became engaged in providing support to a wide array of South Africans actively opposing the apartheid regime.” A Le Devoir columnist wrote that faced with apartheid South Africa, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, in the 1980s, was the first in the Commonwealth to adopt a policy not of inclusion but of economic sanctions, against the government of Pieter Botha.” But, this statement is only plausible if you reduce the Commonwealth to the European settler states. Does anyone actually believe Ottawa was more opposed to the white regime than Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, India, etc.?

A Toronto Star editorial about Fidel Castro’s death hinted at a position hard to align with this self-congratulatory revisionism. (Or a Star story after Nelson Mandela’s death titled Canada helped lead international fight against apartheid”). The editorial pointed out that in the late 1970s Prime Minister Pierre “Trudeau was also voicing deep concerns to Castro… over Cuba’s military involvement in Africa, especially Angola.” The Star editorialists failed to elaborate on Trudeau’s “deep concern”.

Not long after Angola won its independence from Portugal, apartheid South Africa invaded. In an important display of international solidarity Cuba came to Angola’s defence. Thousands of Cuban troops, most of them Black, voluntarily enlisted to fight the racist South African regime. Contrary to Western claims, Cuba decided to intervene in Angola without Soviet input (Washington knew this at the time). Cuba’s intervention helped halt South Africa’s invasion.

This successful military victory by Black forces also helped bring down apartheid in South Africa. The famous township rebellion in Soweto took place three months after South Africa’s initial defeat in Angola. Nelson Mandela’s ANC noted “their [the South African army’s] racist arrogance shrank when our MPLA [Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola] comrades thrashed them in Angola.” For its part, Johannesburg’s Rand Daily Mail warned that the legacy of Angola resulted in “blows to South African pride.” The paper viewed the defeat as “the boost to African nationalism which has seen South Africa forced to retreat.” In a similar vein another South African analyst observed “whether the bulk of the offensive was by Cubans or Angolans is immaterial in the colour-conscious context of this war’s battlefield, for the reality is that they won, are winning, and are not white: and that psychological edge, that advantage the white man has enjoyed and exploited over 300 years of colonialism and empire, is slipping away. White elitism has suffered an irreversible blow in Angola and whites who have been there know it.”

Ottawa freaked out, diplomatically speaking. Trudeau stated: Canada disapproves with horror [of] participation of Cuban troops in Africa” and later terminated the Canadian International Development Agency’s small aid program in Cuba as a result.

Conversely, Ottawa funneled aid to Zambia during this period partly to support its “moderate” position in southern Africa’s racial conflict. In Canadian Development Assistance to Zambia Sinkala Sontwa explains how Ottawa “lent support to what they considered as Zambia’s moderate stand among the Front Line States on Southern African politics.”

A few years earlier Canadian officials expressed apprehension about providing indirect backing to Ghanaian and Tanzanian proponents of what Ottawa dubbed a “war of liberation” in southern Africa. At the end of the 1960s, Canada failed to renew its military training in Tanzania partly because the government provided limited support to the liberation movement on its southern border in Mozambique.

Canada’s position towards the African liberation struggles of the 1970s and 1980s should influence how we view deploying troops to the continent today. This history – and the media’s distortion of it – suggests the need for healthy dose of skepticism towards Ottawa’s intentions.

To paraphrase George Santayana, Canadians who cannot remember the past are condemned to allow the bad guys to repeat it.

Posted in Africa, CanadaComments Off on Revisionism: Canada and Africa’s liberation struggles  

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