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Canada Report - Reaching for Subnation Status

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Canada Report 2007 – Part I – Reaching for Subnation Status

Canadians have always prided themselves on the "goodness" if not the "greatness" of their country. Sitting north of the United States, Canadians struggle with an ideal that rejects many American ideas, yet accommodates in one way or another most of those ideas – more so currently than in the past. From medical care to military purpose Canadians view themselves as essentially different from their southern neighbours, who remain for the most part steadfastly ignorant of us. There is very much about Canada, however, that indicates that we are not quite as independent of thought and action as the average Canadian realizes. This statement by itself would not bother many Canadians, but on specific issues there is opposition to current policies.

Viewed externally, Canada does not rank so well as one interviewee said, "Canada is still considered and referred to as a subnation and only in relation with the U.S. It has still to develop an identity of its own.[1]" That comment caught and held my attention as the truth in it seemed quite apparent. In reality, while dealing with foreign affairs, the environment, military matters (part of foreign affairs), and other aspects involving international treaties and agreements, Canada very decidedly falls under the category of a 'subnation' to the United States.

What follows is a brief overview of some of the positions Canada has or has not taken that give definition to our country as a subnation. We may believe otherwise, but we are highly integrated into American life styles and policies.

Aboriginal Policy

One of the international agreements that Canada sides strongly with the U.S. is the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.[2] The four countries that voted against the declaration - Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia - are the four main British colonial countries in which ethnic cleansing and genocide were most clearly successful. Their success as British colonies turning into peaceful democratic 'western' nations under the British mould can be attributed in large part to that feature, especially if one compares it to the struggles engendered by the British in South Africa, and India/Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iraq/Palestine - generally the whole Middle East.


Article 26 of the UN declaration states: "Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired." Chuck Strahl, Canada's representative "said the government is moving ahead on "making an actual difference" in improving the daily lives of aboriginal Canadians, instead of offering "empty promises and rhetoric." His arguments for that "cited Tory initiatives such as including First Nations peoples in the Human Rights Act, improving water quality on reserves and providing a compensation package for victims of residential schools.[3]"

Nice. Here's some money for destroying your culture through the residential schools, and we'll give you clean water, but we're not letting you have any rights to your aboriginal land and its resources, although it is a legally determined right in part through the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the BNA Act, the Constitution, and various legal settlements.

Afghanistan, NATO, et al

The rise in Canadian militarism may be insignificant as compared to the rest of the world, but it is becoming more and more worrisome to Canadians themselves. Under Stephen Harper's Conservative government, Canada has adopted the rhetoric of their American leaders to the south. Adding to the "we are not going to cut and run" mentality is the belligerent positioning of Canada's claiming and strengthening its attitude within global affairs. Translated, we have become the bully's sidekick, the weakling runt that yells support from the side while feigning a few punches at the victim. Our vision of ourselves as peacekeepers, starting from Lester B. Pearson's plan to establish a UN peacekeeping force, originating from the Suez Crisis of 1956, has been altered to adopt the "war on terror" language used by the U.S. We are now "peacemakers", the folly of which is evident in Canada's role in Afghanistan.

While there may have been minor 'successes' within Afghanistan – a road built here, a school built there – we are still tied and incorporated into the overall American strategic plan that looks to control the resources of the Middle East and block the emergence of any entity – Russia, China, a Caspian Basin alliance – that might contest that. As a result we are fighting an American imperial war under the auspices of NATO and the UN. I have dealt with the NATO position before[4] and will shorten it here to say that NATO is now acting as an independent (of the UN and other international organizations) global military governance body under the command of the United States, a role the U.S. has unilaterally determined for itself. [5]

Currently the majority of Canadians are against the effort in Afghanistan, not by a large number, but an increasing number. Harper's view is "Ultimately, where we need to make progress is not turning Afghanistan into (somewhere) as law abiding as (Ottawa). It's to really put in a situation where the Afghan government is capable of managing the security threats itself ... I think we're a couple of years away from being where we need to be."[6]

In sum under the larger picture, Canada is supporting a puppet government of the U.S. consisting of war lords and drug lords (probably one and the same), a government that wishes to bring the Taliban into the discussions of the country's future, and acting as a subsidiary military force to the American strategic plan for south Asia. Security is the least of the American desires, other than strategic security, and the people be damned.

Kyoto and beyond

Canadians are one of the largest creators of greenhouse gases in the world, ranking 25th out of 29 OECD countries for greenhouse gas emissions (and 27th out of 29 on a per capita basis) with only the U.S., Great Britain, Japan, and Germany creating more. Canada's initiatives sound wonderful:
Canada signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, and pledged to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000. In 1997, Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol, formally committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% below 1990 levels by 2010.

Intentions need to be followed by action.

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Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles. His interest in this topic stems originally from an (more...)
 
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