Linda McQuaig is a prominent, award-winning Canadian journalist, sadly less well known in the
McQuaig is also a prolific author with a well-deserved reputation for taking on the establishment. In her previous seven books, she challenged
She also showed how successive Canadian governments waged war on equality since the 1980s, and in her last book before her newest one she took aim at why the
“Holding the Bully’s Coat –
In “Holding the Bully’s Coat,” McQuaig further explains how
This review covers McQuaig’s important book in detail so readers can learn what afflicts
McQuaig starts off noting the “significant shift in how Canada (now) operates in the world (having) moved from being a nation that has championed internationalism, the United Nations and UN peacekeeping to being a key prop” in George Bush’s “war on terrorism.” It belies
Before Stephen Harper took office in February, 2006, McQuaig notes
McQuaig notes the absence of any evidence Canadians approve. In fact, polls consistently show they’re “increasingly wary of our involvement in
Anti-Canadians at Home and Abroad
Since taking office in February, 2006, Harper’s been in lockstep with
McQuaig notes Canadian internationalism evolved post-WW II. It showed in support for the UN, peacekeeping as opposed to militarism, the rule of law, distaste for imperialism, and by following a good neighbor policy toward all other countries. It was completely contrary to American belligerence, hardened under George Bush post-9/11, and now largely embraced by Stephen Harper just like
Their feelings are especially strong regarding their cherished national health medicare system. It’s “founded on the principle that everyone should have access to health care (and) be treated equally,” unlike in the
It should be as unthinkable that the Harper government’s so-called Clean Air Act of October, 2006 meant
A large part of the problem is both parties’ support for industry efforts to triple oil sands production by 2015 to three million barrels daily. At that level, it’s impossible meeting
The Harper government is also massively ramping up Canada’s military spending he plans to increase over 50% above 2005 levels to $21.5 billion annually by 2010. That’s in spite of the nation facing no threats and a public consensus favoring social spending. It’s also contrary to Canada’s traditionally eschewing militarism unlike the US with its long history of it since the nation’s founding. It intensified post-WW II after it emerged preeminent and chose to pursue an imperial agenda for new markets, resources and exploitable cheap labor now endangering all planetary life by its recklessness. That’s what Canada chose to partner with making it complicit with whatever happens henceforth.
Unsurprisingly, the Bush-Harper “war on terrorism” partnership now focuses on the Middle East where two-thirds of the world’s proved oil reserves are located (around 675 billion barrels) and the Central Asian Caspian basin with an estimated 270 billion barrels more plus one-eighth of the world’s natural gas reserves. It doesn’t matter that claimed “terrorism” is phony and “war” on it against “Islamofascists” threatening our freedoms unjustified. It only matters that people of both countries believe enough of the daily media-fed fiction so their governments can pursue what enough popular outrage never would allow. Anger and disillusionment in both countries are growing but haven’t reached critical mass.
It’s the job of the dominant media to prevent it getting there. So the beat goes on daily keeping it in check in both countries suppressing ugly truths and preaching notions of American exceptionalism. We’re told it’s unique in the world giving the US special moral authority to make its own rules, irrespective of long-standing international laws and norms it openly flouts as “quaint and obsolete.” Because of its privileged status, it reigns as a self-styled “beacon of freedom” defending “democracy-US style,” empowered to wage imperial wars using humanitarian intervention as cover for them. In the made-in-Washinton New World Order, America answers only to itself, the law is what the administration says it is, and, the message to all countries is “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Thus, Spaketh a modern-day Zarathustra, aka George Bush.
McQuaig continues explaining how Canadians are used to their own media, academic and corporate elites pandering to Washington rather than taking pride mostly in their own country. She notes the National Post and C.D. Howe Institute serve as “spiritual home(s) for neoconservatism” favoring the same kinds of policies as the US-based bastions of conservative extremism like the Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution and Wall Street Journal editorial page that’s hard right enough to make a Nazi blush. She mentioned C.D. Howe’s sponsored lecture in late 2004 by former Canadian ambassador to the US, Allan Gotlieb.
He stressed Canada is a faded world power needing to accept the “transcendant (reality of) US power” and align with it. He said Canadians have a choice between “realism” and “romanticism.” The former means accepting US preeminence, even when it violates international law. Further, Canadians must “liberate themselves from the belief that the UN is the sacred foundation of our foreign policy.” According to Gotlieb, international law, embodied in the UN Charter, is obsolete and irrelevant including what constitutes legitimate armed intervention.
The “romantic” approach respecting international law and treaties, that are law for signatories, are “narcissistic” and “sanctimonious.” Following this course will marginalize Canada reducing its influence. It can only be enhanced by aligning with Washington so as its power grows, so will Canada’s opportunity to benefit from it. Advancing this kind of tortured logic guarantees Canada only trouble in light of George Bush’s failed adventurism and US status as a world-class pariah mass public opinion condemns nearly everywhere. McQuaig says “it’s hard (imagining) we’d be viewed with anything but contempt (for having chosen to “hold the bully’s coat” as its) unctuous little sidekick.” Not according to Gotlieb who scoffs at the idea of “remain(ing) committed to the values we hold….advance them to the world” regardless of what direction the US takes.
McQuaig compares her country’s government, business and military elite to the 19th century notion of a “comprador class” serving foreign business class interests. Modern-day Canadian compradors serve as intermediary junior partners for corporate American giants especially as so much of Canada’s economy is foreign owned or controlled – 28% of non-financial sectors with 20% by US companies in 2004. It’s much higher in the key oil and gas sector at 45% overall and 33% in US hands. Further, of the 150 most powerful CEOs on the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), about one-fourth of them are with subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies and 18% of them are American.
McQuaig stresses these numbers are significant but not overwhelming. What’s astonishing and overwhelming is Canada’s growing dependence on the US market now accounting for 87% of all exports. It explains why Canadian business championed its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) “leap of faith” in 1988, NAFTA in 1994, and the new Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) founded in March, 2005 by the US, Canada and Mexico. SPP aims to advance a common security strategy veiling a scheme to destroy Canadian and Mexican sovereignty under a broader plan for a North American Union under US control.
The plan is to create a borderless North America removing barriers to trade and capital flows for corporate giants, mainly US ones. It also wants to guarantee America free and unlimited access to Canadian and Mexican resources, mainly oil, of course. That will assure US energy security while denying Canada and Mexico preferential access to their own resources henceforth earmarked for US markets. Finally, it wants to create a fortress-North American security zone encompassing the whole continent under US control. The scheme, in short, is NAFTA on steroids combined with Pox Americana homeland security enforcement. It’s the Bush administration’s notion of “deep integration” or the “Big Idea” meaning we’re boss, what we say goes, and no outliers will be tolerated.
Stephen Harper and Canadian business leaders endorse the plan. Canadian businesses will profit hugely leaving the country’s energy needs ahead for future leaders to worry about. Today, it’s only next quarter’s earnings and political opportunism that matters. McQuaig notes how Canada’s elites want to push the envelope further by giving more tax breaks to business and the rich while cutting social spending for greater global competitive opportunities. It’s heading for the way it is in the US with a growing disparity between rich and poor economist Paul Krugman calls “unprecedented.”
It led to a Citigroup Global Markets 2005 report describing the developed world divided in two blocs – an “egalitarian” one made up of Europe and Japan and “plutonomies” in the other one. There the US, UK and Canada are cited as members where wealthy elites get most of the benefits and the disparity between rich and poor keeps getting more extreme. McQuaig mentions journalists like Murray Dobbin saying resistance to the US empire is futile and promotes “pre-emptive surrender(ing)” to it. McQuaig thinks Canadians in their roots have other ideas being “neither anti-American nor self-adoring – just resistant to bullies, on both sides of the border.” But given the state of the world and how Canada today is closely aligned with Washington, ordinary Canadians