Friday, January 05, 2018

We Can't Go Back

Justin Trudeau likes to proclaim that, "Canada is back." Paul Koring writes that it's:

a statement that evokes a vague, nostalgic yearning to recreate a once-proud international reputation. In a way, it’s rather like Donald’s Trump’s equally vague vow to “make America Great Again”; neither leader seems capable of explaining what the slogans mean, but both like the way the words sound.
In Canada’s case, being “back” seems to suggest a return to the heady decades of the Cold War, when Canada was widely admired for its founding role at the United Nations, its commitment to peacekeeping, its hefty contributions in action and money to foreign aid and a succession of leaders who turned out to be effective international statesmen: Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.

But the world has changed:

When Canada joined the G-7 in 1976, its economy was the world’s seventh largest. Today it has slid to 10th place. In the post-Second World War era, Canada — rich and democratic, yet unburdened by the baggage of the former colonial powers — played a major international role in the Commonwealth and the Francophonie. To cite one shining example: Canadian leadership in the campaign to shame the racist regime in South Africa out of existence stood in stark contrast to the complicity of Britain and the United States. Canada wasn’t elected every decade to a UN Security Council seat by accident; it was an honour meant to reflect the country’s proven performance in international affairs.
The Cold War ended, and with it the era of superpowers guaranteeing peace deals. In Bosnia, Croatia and Somalia, second-rate equipment turned out to be extremely dangerous. And when a pair of elite Canadian special forces soldiers tortured and murdered a defenceless teenage prisoner in Somalia — followed by a concerted cover-up by the Canadian high command — the gloss was off UN peacekeeping.

There is one basic principle that we all find hard to accept: Life goes on. We can't return to the old world. We have to build a new one.

Image: joe malik rameer


Steve said...

I say with the election of JT Canada is back. I got my Canada back. Harper was a evil thug, not Canadian. He did not have Canadian values.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that Trudeau is an improvement over Harper, Steve. But we're fooling ourselves if we think we can return to a Golden Age.

Steve said...

Owen I disagree. Canada is the great white north that is with climate change going to become green. Russia and Canada will be the superpowers of climate change. We seem to be able to handle diversity better than any other country in the world. The people that come here become Canadians. This is the our institutional competence that Harper tried to monkey wrench.

Canada owns the future. If we build any walls it will be along the southern border.

Owen Gray said...

I am proud of this country, Steve. But we didn't build Canada by looking backwards.

Steve said...

For sure Owen. You know who built this country. You know who broke up the Anglo cartel. It was PET. This is his country, and its a great country. Looking forward we have to get back to the past social justice. That was what made PET tick and we need that clock again.

Owen Gray said...

PET also made multiculturalism official government policy, Steve.

The Mound of Sound said...

We cannot be the nation we once were until we free ourselves from the fetters we all too willingly accepted throughout the neoliberal era. The Canada of Pearson and Trudeau could not have existed had we outsourced our foreign and military policy to a dominant, often controlling state. We managed to balance our membership in both NORAD and NATO against what was often a non-aligned foreign policy, especially when it came to the less developed world. The proof of that was how Third World countries, despite our military alliances, could still see Canada as a welcome "honest broker."

Canada has squandered that goodwill and garnered nothing lasting in return. Nations, like individuals, must earn trust and recognize how easily and irretrievably that trust can be lost. Look at us today. Look at our support of Saudi Arabia's brutal and criminal slaughter in Yemen and our sale of billions of dollars of democracy-crushing armoured death wagons to Riyadh. Look at our utterly futile war in Afghanistan, a war we set out to lose. Mission Accomplished. Look at Canada's disgraceful voting record in the General Assembly whenever issues pertaining to Israel and Palestine come up. Trudeau the Lesser is in lockstep with Harper in these matters.

As for Pierre Trudeau and Trudeau the Pretender, look at how the Dauphin defied both the rule of law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by rejecting the clear per curiam decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on assisted dying in the Carter case.

Justin Trudeau trades on a noble name and sullies it in the process. He certainly does not honour what was best about Canada in decades past.

the salamander said...

.. you left out

'taking back the Alberta Advantage' Owen ..
Whatever the hell that is, was..
could be maybe, aint..

Quoth the Raven.. nevermore..

Owen Gray said...

From what I remember of Trudeau the Elder, I can only imagine that the father would not be pleased with the son, Mound.

Owen Gray said...

I accept that we can't go back to a Golden Age, salamander -- nevermore. But we don't have to sabaotage the future.

Gyor said...

You guys grossly over idealize Pierre Trudeau, he wasn't as great as you make him out to be and he made so huge mistakes, such as ending the practice of borrowing Canadian debt from the Bank of Canada.

IMO we haven't had a great Prime Minister since Lester B Pearson.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that Pearson was a great prime minister, Gyor -- an opinion that has only come to me with the passage of time. And I agree that Trudeau Sr. had his faults. But, having lived through the October Crisis in Quebec, I firmly believe that he was the right man at the right time.

And, because he gave us the Charter of Rrights and Freedoms, I believe "great" is not too strong a word to describe him.