by Norman (Otis) Richmond aka JalaliThe youthful leader of Canada claims to be many things, including a feminist and friend of all the country’s various ethnicities. However, Canada has a poor history of friendly relations with African peoples. “Canada has played a role in the violence the Congo, Rwanda and Somali,” and was a chief conspirator in the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government, in 2004.
Justin Trudeau is Not a Friend of all God’s Children
by Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali“Canada opposed anti-colonial struggles in Africa and supported apartheid South Africa.”
Canada is attempting to project itself as a friend of Africa, Haiti, women and the world. If he is to be believed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a friend of all God’s children.
Trudeau’s first cabinet was African-less. Africans in Canada from the continent and here questioned this move. Many felt that the younger Trudeau took us for granted because his father Pierre Elliott Trudeau (18 October 1919 - 28 September 2000) “opened” the doors for immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa.
He eventually did appoint Somali Toronto MP Ahmed Hussen to the federal cabinet as immigration minister.
Trudeau did appoint an Indian born Sikh, Harjit Sajjan, MP for Vancouver South, as Minister of Defense. Sikhs have a significantly different history in Canada than Africans. The Sikh community is represented in all professional fields; medical, legal, technological, academic. Africans were brought kicking and screaming into the western hemisphere. Sajjan was also recently questioned about “fibbing” about being the leader of a battle in Afghanistan. Sajjan has also said yearly spending on war will swell by more than 70 per cent, from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27. He has promised $62.3 billion in new spending over 20 years.
Bardish Chagger is another India-born Canadian politician who is the current Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and Minister of Small Business and Tourism. Chagger was elected as a Liberal member of the House of Commons of Canada in 2015. She is the first female Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, appointed by Trudeau.
“The coup against Aristide was actually planned on Canadian soil.”
Amarjeet Sohi is an Indian-Canadian politician, currently the Member of Parliament for Edmonton and the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in the federal cabinet. He narrowly beat out strong community advocate Nigerian-born Chinwe Okelu.
Maryam Monsef is an Afghan Canadian politician, a Liberal member the House of Commons. She was previously the Minister of Democratic Institutions and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, until January 10, 2017.
Monsef has not had an easy ride. According to Wikipedia: “Monsef has been criticized for stating that she was born in Afghanistan, when in fact she was born in Iran. When this was revealed in September 2016, some commentators pointed out that this could lead to revocation of her Canadian citizenship and potential deportation, while others have criticized the absurdity of the present law or decried the importation of birtherism into Canadian politics. In an interview at that time, former MP Dean Del Mastro said that political workers in the 2014 municipal and 2015 federal campaigns knew she was not born in Afghanistan, but chose not to make an issue of it.”
Navdeep Singh Bains, the new minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is a Canadian-born Indian.
Canada’s role in Haiti should never be forgotten. Back in the day I discussed Haiti in the October 27 issue of The Black Commentator: “Canada's Crimes Against Haiti.” After reading Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton’s volume Canada in Haiti, I pointed out: The chapter “Responsibility to Protect or A Made in Ottawa Coup?“ shows that the coup against Aristide was actually planned on Canadian soil.
From January 31 to February 1, 2003, Canada’s Secretary of State for Latin America and La Francophonie, Denis Paradis, played host to a high-level roundtable meeting dubbed “The Ottawa Initiative on Haiti.” Surprise, surprise! No representative of Haiti’s elected government was invited. However, Otto Reich, then President George W. Bush’s appointee as Assistant Secretary State for the Western Hemisphere, was in attendance. Paradis leaked the fact that this meeting took place to journalist Michael Vastel, who reported the meeting in the March 15, 2003 edition of L’Actualite magazine. Another chapter, “Using NGOs to Destroy Democracy and the Canadian Military Connection,” exposes the shameful role played by many Canadian NGOs.
“Trudeau’s father Pierre Elliot Trudeau opened the doors to draft resisters, including myself.”
Trudeau is also a self-proclaimed “feminist." The court is still out on this matter. A recent article in the England-based Guardian newspaper questioned the Canadian Prime Minister. “A slight note of exasperation crept into Justin Trudeau’s voice, suggesting that this was a topic he had broached many times before. ‘I’m going to keep saying loud and clearly that I am a feminist until it is met with a shrug,’ he declared to an audience at the United Nations in New York.”
His words sparked delight around the world. But one year on, Trudeau’s heady promises have run into the realities of government, prompting the question: “Has electing a self-described feminist to helm the country translated into real change for Canadian women?”
Trudeau is also moving the Great White North further to the right on foreign affairs.
Trudeau’s father Pierre Elliot Trudeau opened the doors to draft resisters, including myself, who refused to fight against the Vietnamese people. I saw Africans in America and the Vietnamese as colonial subjects. Africans in the United States were colonized by Uncle Sam, and the Vietnamese by the French. Wikipedia points out: “While Canada had previously participated in military action against Iraq in the Gulf War of 1991, it refused to declare war against Iraq without United Nations approval."
"The Iraq War began with the United-States-led 2003 invasion. The Government of Canada did not at any time formally declare war against Iraq, and the level and nature of this participation, which changed over time, was controversial.
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said on 10 October 2002 that Canada would, in fact, be part of a military coalition to invade Iraq if it were sanctioned by the United Nations. However, when the United States and the United Kingdom subsequently withdrew their diplomatic efforts to gain that UN sanction, Jean Chrétien announced in Parliament on 17 March 2003 that Canada would not participate in the pending invasion."
However, this is not the full story. The “Big White Folks,” as Paul Robeson called them, "speak with forked tongues.” Chrétien offered the US and its soldiers his moral support. However, according to classified U.S. documents released by WikiLeaks, a high-ranking Canadian official may have secretly promised to clandestinely support the invasion. Two days earlier, a quarter million people in Montreal had marched against the pending war. Major anti-war demonstrations had taken place in several other Canadian cities. Chrétien’s moves had more to do with the growing opposition to the invasion than his political morality.
“Canada played a significant role in the assassinations of Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo, and Joseph Okito on 21 January 1961.”
The not-so-great white north has a checkered history on the African continent. Canada joined the imperialists and played on the side of the table with the white checkers. They played a significant role in the assassinations of Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo, and Joseph Okito on 21 January 1961. Ottawa came up on the wrong side of history on the question of the Congo. Yves Engler, author of the illuminating volume, Canada in Africa: 300 years of Aid and Exploitation points out: “Siding with Washington, Ottawa promoted ONUC and UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold’s controversial anti-Lumumba position. ONUC (July 1960 – June 1964) was established in July 1960 to ensure the withdrawal of Belgian forces. 1,900 Canadian troops participated in the UN mission between 1960 and 1964, making this country’s military one of its more active members. There were almost always more Canadian officers at ONUC headquarters then those of any other nationality, and the Canadians were concentrated in militarily important logistical positions including chief operations officer and chief signals officer.”
Canada opposed anti-colonial struggles in Africa, supported apartheid South Africa and Idi Amin’s coup against Milton Obote (28 December 1925- 10 October 2005), who led Uganda to independence in 1962 from British colonialism. He was overthrown by Amin in 1971. Canada played a role in the ousting of Lumumba in the Congo by the CIA, Belgium and Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga aka Joseph Mobutu, and also in the removal of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.
The Great White North pressed African states to follow neoliberal policies, which have benefitted Canadian corporations. The Canadian International Development points out: “Canada is a global mining giant and a leading player in Africa’s mining sector. 70% of the equity capital raised globally by the mining industry was raised on the Toronto (TSX) and Venture (TSXV) exchanges. Of the $10.3 billion in equity raised for mining on the TSX and TSXV in 2012 $1.9 billion or 18.5% was for projects in Latin America while another $1.7 billion or 16.5% was for projects in Africa.” Canada has played a role in the violence the Congo, Rwanda and Somali.
Canada does have a Black Radical Tradition. However, we cannot expect Corporate Canada or the Black Misleadership Class to tell the story. That onus is on us, the Black Left.