Defeatist Liberals feeding the tyranny
“The debt that we owe the Liberals is that they have been so willing to be led. The party has been made up of those who put only one condition on their willingness; that they should have personal charge of the government while our sovereignty disappears.”
-George Grant, Canadian philosopher, Lament for a Nation 1965
George Grant wrote these words over half a century ago. They are as true today as the day they were written. He saw that Canada’s political and economic elites were willing to sell the country down the drain as a matter of commercial expedience. They have been so defeatist and without vision they felt Canada, butted-up against the mighty American empire, as we are, was a worthy sacrifice. They were content to see Canada extinguished; even though with a reasonable amount of political fortitude and imagination Canada could co-exist on the borders of the empire with a measured sovereignty. Grant felt nationhood required a “thrust of intention” of which our elites were then, and still are, totally incapable. For them complete servility is the only option.
Grant singles out the Liberal Party, as they have been the predominate party since end of WWII when the precipitous decline of Canadian sovereignty began. Even though Canada had in so many ways came of age as a nation during that war, it was marked for extinction by our defeatist elites.
Part of Grant’s prophecy was that historical events could accelerate the demise of Canada. These events were to arrive with increasing rapidity. In 1989 the Mulroney Conservatives signed the Canada/US Free Trade Agreement. By 1994 the Chretien Liberals had signed on to the expanded FTA in the form of the NAFTA. With the collapse of the USSR in 1991(three years after Grant’s death) American triumphalism was unleashed and its naked pursuit of global hegemony ensued. In 2001, 9/11, “the event that would change the world forever,” arrived and coerced Canada into an even closer relationship with the swaggering empire.
Canada’s mindless addiction to so-called free trade agreements that are actually about captive trade, about corporate rights and integral to the neoliberal agenda of erasing nation states continued. In 2015 the biggest and most fascist of all trade agreements arrived on our door step: The TPP. Where Harper’s conservatives “negotiated” it (read, had it rammed down their willing throats) the neophyte Liberals under Trudeau stood ready to sign on the dotted line; had it not been stalled in the US by the surprising win of President Elect Donald Trump.
Historian Michael Bliss noted in his 2006 lament:
“Federal politicians since the end of the [PE] Trudeau era have given Canadians “really pretty rotten government,” says [Michael Bliss]. There has been a “failure to provide Canadians with any kind of satisfying vision or even basic integrity. It’s not just an accident that politicians are at the bottom of the trust index. It’s a terrible failure of leadership.” (1)
Brian Mulroney came to power in 1984. He had a visceral hatred of the Trudeau liberals and was out to destroy their legacy. He took Canada on a sharp turn to the right and began the odious privatization of Crown corporations. He undertook major constitutional change in the form of the Meech Lake Accord ( later the Charlottetown Accord). Had it succeeded it would have balkanized the country. His crowning achievement was to sell out the country with passage of the FTA, later to become the NAFTA as ratified by the Chretien Liberals in 1994.
The Bliss comment is very pertinent as from 1984 onward successive Liberal and Conservative governments have not been concerned with governance but with dismantling the country. They have been functioning as integrationists. As Bliss so correctly points out they lack both “vision” and “integrity.” Their obstinate unwillingness to actually govern leaves them floundering about without real purpose or conviction. The defeatist disposition of both these parties is the very sort of accelerant to which Grant refers. Canada’s demise has been accelerated by both events and debauched political attitudes.
Canada is now a single party state as none of our political parties offer Canadians a real choice. They are, as the saying goes, all singing from the same song book. Trudeau Jr. has now been in office just over a year, and so many Canadians are coming to realize he is just a Harper mimic.
The difference between the two leaders is that Harper was openly contemptuous of Canada and out to destroy the country and our institutions. Trudeau, on the other hand, is the artless dodger, the back-peddler, making endless promises and then backing away from them. He has neither the vision or integrity to lead. Like Chretien and Martin, he is the faint-hearted bench warmer, content to preside over our demise.
‘Canada is back,’ says Trudeau in Paris. ‘We’re here to help’
PM Justin Trudeau made this comment at the Paris climate change conference of November 2015. His comment that “Canada is back” has many interesting inferences. Does he mean Canada is back after ten years of the Harper nightmare? Does he mean Canada is back in the safe hands of a Liberal majority government; as they once laid claim to being our country’s “natural governing party?”
Here we are just over a year later, and it’s the same old Liberals and their definition of help is beyond help. In the interim the prime minister has revealed his addiction to pipelines, new ones and the expansion of old ones. He just can’t say, No! He fails to realize that every time he approves a pipeline it is thousands of tons of pollutant pumped into the atmosphere. Every time a pipeline is built or expanded it forestalls any real momentum on dealing with global warming.
Obama could not stop fighting wars but made it clear Keystone XL was not going to be built on his watch; even so the mighty Stephen Harper lobbied long and hard for it. Now Trudeau has promised to follow Harper’s lead and go after Trump to build it. Like the alcoholic who has to have that one last drink, he drinks on and on.
The F-35JSF has a bizarre history in Canada. In 2012 Harper’s defense minister Peter MacKay sparked a national scandal when he got his numbers on the cost of the aircraft horribly wrong. He also tried to do an end-run around normal procurement procedures. To bury the scandal the Conservatives punted the decision until after the 2015 election, which of course they lost. Had they won they would have no doubt went ahead with the purchase.
During the 2015 election campaign Trudeau adamantly proclaimed any government he led would not purchase the F35JSF. All that has changed, this over-priced, under-performer is still in contention and once again the “decision” has been deferred until after the 2019 election, when they will no doubt announce its purchase-should they be returned to office?
It doesn’t matter to either of these timorous parties that this purchase is ill-chosen for Canada’s needs. The real determinant here is for Lockheed Martin to meet its stated goal of selling 3100 of these aircraft to maintain its excessive profit margins and maintain its leadership in the utterly depraved global arms trade.
At a time when privatization has been proven to be nothing more unguarded theft of tax payer dollars the Trudeau Liberals, like the Harper Conservatives, have bought into it hook, line, and sinker. Since the time of Margaret Thatcher’s disastrous 1994 privatization of British Rail politicians have continued to buy in to this corporate thievery.
Where Harper did his damage over the period of a decade, Trudeau has in a year’s time, abandoned his so-called progressive agenda and revealed himself to be no more than a Harper clone. Both parties practice circular government; leading voters around by the nose and the country goes nowhere. The dynamic duo of Harper and Trudeau have affirmed once and for all that they stand for nothing and are contemptuous of Canada’s existence. They could just as easily merge and remove the pretense of democracy.
And what of the silence of the Liberal grass roots? Is this but an acknowledgement the party is in fact a Chimera, an illusion, devoid of authenticity and intent? Is there no sense of betrayal?
The Liberals promised a golden chalice of progressivism and are delivering a rusted out piss pot of broken promises and doing a full retreat into being politically superfluous.
As Michael Bliss noted in his December 9th, 2002 National Post column, Ottawa’s hopeless incompetence:
“Until recently, I had thought that the Chretien government was one of the more mediocre regimes of the past few decades of Canadian history. The events of the past few months convince me it is much worse, touching rock bottom in many areas.”
How rocky can that bottom get? How shallow the waters! The present Liberal government is just over a year into its mandate, and already scraping bottom. Fifteen years later nothing has changed for the Liberal party. Canada is a very long way from being “back.”
Feeding the tyranny
Following, is one of the closing paragraphs of Grant’s, Lament for a Nation:
“The discussion of such issues as these is impossible in a short writing about Canada. Also the discussion would be inconclusive, because I do not know the truth about these ultimate matters. Therefore, the question as to whether it is good that Canada should disappear must be left unsettled. If the best social order is the universal and homogenous state then the disappearance of Canada can be considered as a step toward that order. If the universal and homogeneous state would be a tyranny, then the disappearance of even this indigenous culture can be seen as a minor barrier on the road to that tyranny. As the central issue is left undecided, the propriety of lamenting must also be left undecided.”
Here Grant poses the essential question: Does the disappearance of Canada contribute to the “best social order” of a universal and homogenous state; or is it just a casualty, “a minor barrier” on the road to a global tyranny?
Clearly, we are well down the road to a global tyranny where endless warfare and militarism prevail. We have a failing capitalism that manufactures poverty exponentially and begs reform. We are so far unable to bring to bear the “thrust of intention” required to deal with climate change.
If Grant were writing today he might be writing another book; A Lament for many Nations. As neoliberalism has come to prevail globally it is the instrument of corporatists intent on reducing the world to a Neo-feudal monoculture in service to their profit margins. The first requirement for neoliberals is that all nation states must be erased in service to their insatiable greed. The slaughter is now wholesale and global.
All of Canada’s political parties are neoliberal in that they are willing to pander to it. None will mention the word as they deceive the population. They are not alone. This is just part of the leadership crisis of obstinate Western governments and politicians, willing to be led, when they should be leading and insisting on an essential multilateralism; and the “best social order” we can achieve.
Canada’s Liberal Party is a Chimera, an illusion, it stands for nothing, it believes in nothing, and is without intention. It merely presides. By its defeatism it feeds the tyranny and forestalls positive change and allows the crisis to deepen.
A servile state that stands for nothing, comes to nothing. It is incapable of making a positive contribution to better outcomes. It just exists, passively waiting to adopt any or all future tyrannies.
(1)Columns by Michael Bliss are readily available through your local library, under Digital Archives, Canadian Newsstream