Good bye Canada.
No, I’m not leaving Canada but my Canada, and yours, is leaving us. Well, not so much leaving us as being transformed around us into a country we will soon no longer recognize. And what’s more, into a country we won’t want to recognize.
Canada is being changed. Canada has changed.
Don’t take my word for it, look around you and hear other voices. Here’s an American voice:
What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.
But that was the old Canada.
Those are the words of Chris Hedges, in an article titled Corporations Have no Use For Borders. Hedges is a journalist who for more than two decades reported from within more wars, rebellions, revolutions and uprisings than most of us even care to think about. He was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times. He has taught at numerous prestigious universities, including Princeton, Columbia and good old U of T. He knows whereof he speaks and writes. And his words hold no comfort for Canadians:
Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accords so it can dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation. It carried out the largest mass arrests of demonstrators in Canadian history at 2010’s G-8 and G-20 meetings, rounding up more than 1,000 people. It sends undercover police into indigenous communities and activist groups and is handing out stiff prison terms to dissenters. And Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush. He champions the rabid right wing in Israel, bows to the whims of global financiers and is a Christian fundamentalist.
In case one wonders whether a Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent is straying out of his field by identifying our PM as a Christian fundamentalist it may be worthwhile to point out that Hedges has a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School and is well aware of how “faith” impacts political ideology.
Hedges talks of “the decay of Canada” and attributes it to Corporate Power:
Corporations have no regard for nation-states. They assert their power to exploit the land and the people everywhere. They play worker off of worker and nation off of nation. They control the political elites in Ottawa as they do in London, Paris and Washington.
A few brief years ago we Canadians would have written off such a warning as the utterings of a madman. But perhaps, just perhaps, when a highly informed American voice assures us that Corporations are in control of Ottawa, perhaps we might listen up.
It’s not as though our own voices are silent.
Here are recent words from the personal blog of the Anglican Bishop of Quebec, Dennis Drainville. He was reacting to the recent pronouncements from our PM and cabinet ministers Oliver and Kent all of whom seem bent on categorizing as disloyal and dangerous “radicals” any environmentalists or other citizens who oppose the Harper Government’s corporate friendly objectives :
[T]his majority government, which received about a third of the votes cast by approximately 50% of those eligible to vote, has decided that what is good for Canadians is the corporate agenda led by the scions of the Petroleum Industry….This is no slight correction in the development of policy, it is a fundamental and dangerous change in the raison d’etre of the role of government.
The good bishop has earned his right to voice opinions concerning any government’s relationship to its people. Drainville is an ordained Anglican priest who, in the social work trenches, helped establish Toronto’s STOP 103, of which he was Executive Director. He literally went to the barricades in Ontario on behalf of Aboriginal land rights and for his efforts received the reward of a brief prison sentence . Later, as an NDP candidate, he not only won a seat in the Ontario legislature but did so in a staunchly Conservative rural riding by defeating the nearest rival by well over 6000 votes. Later he ministered in the Gaspe on behalf of both the Anglicans and the United Church and, simultaneously, taught Humanities and History at a CGEP and served for eight years on the city council of Ville de Percé. Now, as Anglican Bishop of Quebec, when Drainville voices an opinion it is based on deep grassroots experience:
No longer is the Government of Canada playing the role of careful steward of our collective resources and a protector of our people and lands. We now have a government committed to furthering the corporate agenda regardless of the effects of that agenda on vulnerable peoples and lands
For some, “corporate agenda” sounds like an old fashioned left wing rant but we’re badly mistaken if we think it means the same now as it did back in, say, the ‘70s. As I’ve said before, the modern mega corporation is an alien species not to be confused with the business next door. And since I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, the Corporate Creatures with whom our PM is aligning his government (which used to be our government) are dedicated to the enterprise of making profit from war, disease, natural disasters, worker displacement, and environmental degradation.
Away back during World War Two the term Quisling became synonymous with politicians who aligned themselves with foreign invaders. It’s difficult to say what term should be used for politicians who align themselves with alien creatures. The good bishop calls them “enemies of the people”:
Canadians must not be passive to this assault on our rights and freedoms. Any and all governments that repudiate the ” Common Good” must be seen as the true enemies of the people. We must be both active in responding to the needs of our fellow citizens and vigilant to protect our common interests. Only in this way will democracy be preserved.
I return to Chris Hedges. In asking “What happened to Canada?” he is under no illusions as to the answer and in his article sees the global Occupy Movement as the current best hope for democracy:
This, I suspect, is why the tactics to crush the Occupy movement around the globe have an eerie similarity—infiltrations, surveillance, the denial of public assembly, physical attempts to eradicate encampments, the use of propaganda and the press to demonize the movement, new draconian laws stripping citizens of basic rights, and increasingly harsh terms of incarceration…….The Occupy movement reminds us that until the corporate superstructure is dismantled it does not matter which member of the native elite is elected or anointed to rule. The Canadian prime minister is as much a servant of corporate power as the American president. ….
Amen. Here endeth the lesson.