Challenges to Canada’s International Policy
The past 30 days saw major developments on the international stage which have challenged the status quo of Canada’s foreign policy.
- With tensions mounting in Ukraine, Canada engaged in what many viewed as bellicose rhetoric against Russia. Global Affairs Minister Melanie Joly warned of “severe consequences and costs of any further violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
Peace advocates have called on the federal government to de-escalate tensions, warning that any conflict would come with devastating repercussions.
- Tamara Lorincz, a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and a fellow with the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute (CFPI), told The Maple: “This Ukraine crisis was very much instigated by NATO, and it should cause Canadians to rethink our membership in this alliance.”
As well, critics expressed concerns about the fact that neo-Nazi units have been incorporated into the Ukrainian military, which Canada is helping to train.
- Glenn Michalchuk, a member of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians Winnipeg Council and Peace Alliance Winnipeg, told The Maple: “The Canadian government has, through its Canadian Armed Forces that are in Ukraine, actually assisted in the training of these organizations. That to me is something that Canadians should be ashamed of, and should demand an accounting for given that [Canada] talks so much about the question of human rights and democracy.”
Earlier this month, Amnesty International released a damning report finding that Israel is guilty of committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people. Human rights advocates see the report as a potential game-changer in efforts to push the Canadian government to reevaluate its friendly relations with Israel.
- Aaron Lakoff, a spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices Canada, told The Maple he hopes Canadian members of Parliament and cabinet ministers take the report’s findings seriously, and pressure Israel to dismantle its apartheid system.
“I think the ball is in [Canadian politicians'] court in terms of, are they going to just simply ignore this thing that millions of people around the world and more and more Canadians are talking about, or are they going to take some sort of concrete action to make sure that Canada isn't complicit in Israeli apartheid?,” said Lakoff.
- Michael Bueckert, vice-president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, told The Maple: “Amnesty is sending a message to governments like Canada that we have to do everything we can to distance ourselves from that regime and make sure that not we're not complicit in that domination.”
Speaking of Canadian complicity in violence overseas, Cassandra Kislenko recently wrote a historical deep-dive for The Maple about this country’s role in the murder of the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba.
“It was the summer of 1960, and Canadian soldiers had just landed in the newly independent Democratic Republic of Congo as part of an unprecedented United Nations mission overseeing the country’s transition from Belgian colonial rule.
However, despite announcing themselves as a neutral presence, Canada and its colonial allies had an agenda – and the D.R.C.’s anti-imperialist Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was in the way.”
- Kislenko’s article was part of our Great Gilded North series. Read the other articles in that series here.
In the latest episode of our podcast, North Untapped, we spoke to Kislenko in more detail about the broader roles that imperialism and colonialism play in maintaining the power and wealth of the Canadian elite.
- Kislenko explained: “Canadian colonialism, obviously, it's important because colonialism is the only reason that Canada as we know it even exists. We're a settler colony up until the day that we record this, and we will be for quite a while after, unfortunately, so in that context, imperialism is the stage of capitalism that emerged as the Canadian bourgeoisie’s appetite outgrew its physical borders, which have changed since Confederation.”