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Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Canada's "independence"

Two posts below reflect different aspects of Canada. In a post earlier today, we learned about Canada excluding (or trying to exclude) antiwar activists from simply being in Canada, whereas a few days ago I wrote about Canada's stance on Cuba, so markedly different than that of the U.S. with its citizens allowed to freely travel back and forth to Cuba, and with Cubans allowed to travel to Canada. That difference was highlighted to me all the more, not just by the presence of several Cubans (including the Cuban Ambassador to Canada) at the meeting I was attending, but by the huge "Viva Cuba" signs I saw on bus shelters as I walked around Toronto, and on a billboard I passed on the way to the airport. At first I thought the solidarity groups were doing a heck of a job, until I realized that they were advertisements placed by the Cuba Tourist Board in Canada to encourage travel to Cuba.

But Canada, and this didn't just start under its current right-wing leadership, shouldn't be confused with some kind of anti-imperialist country. Although it certainly wouldn't have invaded Afghanistan or Iraq all by itself, it was (and is, bearing in mind I'm speaking about the government and not the people) delighted to send troops to Afghanistan to help project "Western" power around the world. It has a long record of oppressing its own indigenous people (see this brochure for numerous articles on the subject, or, more generally, articles from Fire This Time). And, as I learned at a meeting I attended, even that policy on Cuba has a "gotcha" for Americans. The U.S. now "insists" (and Canada is happy to cooperate) that it receive passenger lists for all flights crossing its territory, i.e., for flights from Canada to Cuba. The idea that that has anything to do with U.S. "security" is laughable - if something ever got past Canadian security, and someone hijacked a plane and crashed it into a building in the U.S., surely the passenger list would be available for inspection. Not to be paranoid (and not that I've flown from Canada to Cuba, I haven't), but it seems highly likely this is one more way to prevent Americans from going to Cuba, and nothing more.

Canadian independence? Like Gandhi's "Western civilization," it would be a nice idea.

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