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Thank you for participating in the Dialogue on Foreign Policy. The interactive web site is now closed. The Minister's report will appear on this web site once it is released.

This Forum is bilingual, and participants post messages in their language of choice.

Canada Not OK

Contributor: jwitt

Date: 2003-02-24 19:21:28


Canada Not OK. At this point, you will probably already be sharpening your knives in anticipation of a revolting monologue emanating from a David Frum clone -frothing at the
mouth with republican idealism. Well, I'm anything but a republican ideologue, so put your knives away- at least for now. My purpose here is to counter the posting "USA NOT OK" -not by trumpeting American policy on Iraq, their case has left me unconvinced, or by espousing US policy on anything else for that matter. The simple fact is that on the whole, we are no better than the US in a wide field of activity, and for the most part, the US is just 10x bigger, and as a consequence, it does 10 times as much of the same lousy things we do, and on 10x the scale. Canadians love to point fingers at the Americans and give them long lectures on just about every topic under the sun. We sit on the apex of our self induced delusion of hyper-morality and scold the Americans for selfishness, over consumption, greed and their rotten culture. We tell them that, on the whole, they are "not worth emulating". Who are we trying to kid?

The RCMP (Royal Canadian Morality Police) love to accuse the US of dreadful behaviour on the international stage. They levy charges of propping up dictatorial regimes and selfishly doing business with horrible tyrants, whose people earn pennies a day languishing in sweatshops to the
benefit of large US corporations. At the same time, they conveniently forget that Canada's record is anything but meritorious. While the charges of international impropriety are being repeatedly read to the American defendant, successive waves of 'Team Canada Trade Missions' disembark for China. Our media pundits delight in the truly edifying spectacle of our Premiers and Ministers lining up to smile and shake hands with a repugnant regime, whose human rights record is absolutely atrocious. We watch our businessmen toast the regime; big money partnerships are created with Chinese industries that have horrific environmental standards, and whose badly under compensated workers toil in abysmally poor conditions. Yes,Canada sure has cornered the market on international moral standards.

The RCMP relishes in charging the US with being an environmental rapist, the quintessential serial consumer, plundering the resources of third world countries and plowing over traditional agriculture in the name of corporate America. Are people so naive as to think that Corporate Canada runs around from country to country with a halo over its head, handing out Halloween candy? Travel to the interior of Jamaica and witness the enormous environmental mess created by a Canadian company whose name has five letters, begins with an 'A' and ends with an 'n'. What about corporate Canada's Sudan episode? Forget the international scene, what about our record in our own country? The citizens of Victoria voted to continue spewing raw sewage into the Pacific to avoid a tax hike. As a percentage of the world's population, Canadians are meting out considerably more than our fair share of environmental degradation, and consuming an even
larger share of the world's resources. We are no better than the Americans. In fact, we're probably worse. On a per capita basis, America is not the world's largest consumer of oil, gas, and water - the gold medal goes to Canada.

The spectre of Canadians having the unmitigated audacity to lecture Americans on these topics is nauseating enough, but it is in the arena of culture where Canadian hypocrisy reaches its supreme
climax. Canadians are ready and more than willing consumers of American culture. In fact, Canada's unsatiable appetite for American culture is frequently manifested in herd behaviour. Canadians rush to their televisions in droves to catch the last episode of Cheers, or Seinfeld, or to find out who shot JR. Canadians were moved to tears upon learning that Henry Blake's helicopter was shot down. Like cattle at the trough, Canadians line up at theatres to devour the latest release of Star Wars, or Star Trek, or Star whatever. On three consecutive nights,
Canadians flocked to Maple Leaf Gardens for sold out shows, to have Bruce Springstein serenade them with 'Born In The USA'. We are collectively so enamoured with American
culture that we struggle to find an identity of our own. Since many seem to find it so difficult to find something tangible to differentiate American and Canadian culture, they attempt to do so with something intangible -hypocrisy. America will always dwarf Canada in literature, music, art, science, medicine and technology, which collectively makes us feel just a bit insecure. Yes,
we're having a little identity crises. We're feeling just a little bit inferior- and given that poutine appears to be our major contribution to the world's culinary inventory, one might argue that we ought to.

Finally, its time to turn our attention to the man of the hour -G.W. Bush Jr.America has had some very good presidents- Carter and Roosevelt for examples. However, the history books might well show that G.W. Bush does not stand among them. On the whole,Canadians are most unimpressed with Mr. Bush, and Mr. Bush knows it. Yet, despite the fact that we don't like him, we most certainly expect him to love us. Why shouldn't he? Isn't everyone supposed to love us? After all, we have cornered the market on international moral standards haven't we? We are the model of global citizenship for all nations to aspire to -aren't we? Of course Mr. Bush should love us. We are clearly justified in crying and whining like infantile children when he "snubs us" in his address to congress. We should have been the principal recipient of his praise and admiration because we embody the height of mankind's moral achievement -right? Wrong. We are no better than the Americans, and those who continue to live the Canadian National Delusion should really try some strong coffee and a cold shower.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: banquosghost

Date: 2003-02-24 20:55:25


Could you say a bit about what these paragraphs mean to you in terms of Canada's foreign policy? Thanks.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: jwitt

Date: 2003-02-25 15:15:37


Certainly. Our foreign policy does not exist in isolation from how we collectively view ourselves, and how we view ourselves in relation to the US and the rest of the world. So in my view, any attempt to form a foreign policy should be pre-empted by a sober look at who we really are, followed by a serious discussion on where we want to go. Don't get me wrong, its not my contention that who we are is all bad, but rather that once we embark in a process of self critique, we'll find that several of our attributes are less than gratifying, if not altogether surprising.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Fleabag

Date: 2003-02-25 19:21:14


I must concur wholeheartedly. "Find the End, and the Means will find you".
Or, less cryptically, 'Once you choose where you want to go, the path becomes clear'.
However, that being said, lots of people agree (especially in Canada) that the ideals of Marx (and indeed of true communism) are utopian. Yet we choose to see utopia as unattainable, and go in the direction of self-gratification.
We have a choice to go left (or more left, as Canada's case may be) or right, becoming more like the US.
I, personally, do not want our country to be like the US, where "Every man for Himself" is the common denominator. I believe in socialism, for 'what benefits all ergo benefits me'. I just wish our government wasted less, and produced more. Unfortunately, government itself is a 'caste' system. Privatization, especially of government, could 'maximize profit', but whom would ultimately benefit? The upper caste.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: jwitt

Date: 2003-02-26 18:14:30


Hmm, from a purely pragmatic point of view, I'm not sure that any notion of 'utopia' (in the broad sense) is in fact attainable. Mainly for the simple reason that there is likely to be little agreement on precisely what utopia represents (again in the broad sense). However, it remains an extremely useful construct for guidance, or a road map if you will. Again, your concept of utopia and my concept of utopia may be quite different, although in this case, it seems that they we are both decidedly to the left. So, do we try to develop an 'average utopia' or collective utopia to represent society as a whole, while understanding that it will not likely reflect the conceptualization of any single individual?

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Fleabag

Date: 2003-02-26 23:45:39


In a previous post, you mentioned that 'our policies must go beyond the issue of Iraq'. This is also (or could be) pivotal in our national, and individual, development.
For Utopian ideals, I believe that they are much simpler that many think. There is one common ideal that pervades all things.
The right to exist.
Perhaps if I were to adhere to a 'religion', it would have to be buddhism. The 'sentient' quality of all 'existing entities' have equal rights to existence, it is only mankind who sees their 'individual right' as greater than thy neighbor's.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: jwitt

Date: 2003-02-27 16:45:51


Buddhism, -an interesting choice. In my case, though I'm anything but religious, I've always been semi- enchanted with the concept of reincarnation. Principally because if we faced the prospect of a return to earth upon death, we might have a much greater impetus to take better care of it, and make it a much better place. Quite strange the way western religions have evolved, seems the evolution of religion, in some (but certainly not all) ways, has fundamentally defied the principles of evolution as biologists and behavioural scientists understand them.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Fleabag

Date: 2003-02-27 21:18:44


Personally I am a devout agnostic. My diocese is called "Our Lady of Perpetual Cynicism". As far as I have studied, Buddhism says ' don't worry about the afterlife when you can work on perfecting this life'.
If The Second Coming were to happen, Jesus would be hungy (as a mere mortal) and would need to eat. Let's suppose he sees an apple tree. If he were to go pick an apple, and eat it, he would be branded, in todays world, as a thief and a tresspasser.
I still believe that the earth was the allegorical 'Garden of Eden'. We are still in it, yet it has been subdivided, polluted and paved strictly for Man's purposes. To return to it is all in our heads. We must see mankind as 'of one', rather than 'the one'.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: banquosghost

Date: 2003-02-25 20:25:19


http://erg.environics.net/news/default.asp?aID=506 is a link to an Environics report of the Pew Center for People and the Press. I do *not* work for Environics. :-)

Polls are odd creatures. Our media tend to simultaneously give them too much weight and too little analysis. They can be pretty good snapshots. If you really want to get a good grip on a poll always find out precisely what the question was and precisely how the sampling was done. And always, always take the margin for error into consideration.

This study revealed some interesting things about Canadians. You might find it interesting. If you like you can backtrack in the Environics site and find other polls that might interest you as well. And if you'd like to investigate the Pew Center their url is http://people-press.org/

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Fleabag

Date: 2003-02-24 21:16:51


For the most part, you are right on with your dissection of Canadians being influenced by the US. To a large degree, that makes many 'hypocritical'. I, myself, do not watch television anymore, nor do I frequent multinational fast food chains, clothing shops, etc. Somewhat of an anomaly, to be sure. I have seen plenty of misguided protests, ranting against the US, etc. in Canada that serves no purpose.
I guess what the gist of your message is "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".
In Calgary, a visiting dignitary often receives a white cowboy hat from our mayor. When one was given to the visiting Chinese president(or premier, I can't actually remember), the headlines read something like "A Black Day For White Hat". We are aware of our selling our morals for profit, to a certain degree, and it doth rankle our soul. However, we still seem to want to take our place in line to suckle at the teat of the Golden Calf.
Still, salvation may be at hand. If the US can be confronted, and told that we do not value Jerry Springer as much as public health care, or education, we may be able to save ourselves from complete degradation yet.
Interesting, a doctor in Canada can earn more in the US, while a person in Hollywood pretending to be a doctor can be worth more than an entire hospital. Where shall we focus our efforts?

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: jwitt

Date: 2003-02-25 20:19:30


Fleabag,

On the basis of your previous postings, I already had you pegged as an anomalous entity -that I knew for sure. Nothing personal there. So, where shall we focus our efforts? That I believe, is the crux of the issue.

I think the first order of business must be recognizing who and what we collectively really are. It is my strong conviction that the vast majority of Canadians truly don't understand the real implications of activities such as the Team Canada Trade Missions (by now you likely realize that this is one of my more serious peeves),and given the apparent lack of broad participation in this dialogue, I fear that the vast majority of Canadians don't even care to understand. A very frightening prospect.

We are all currently feeling a little overwhelmed with Iraq and the middle east in general,(and given its potential ramifications, so should we be). Certainly, we should continue discussing Iraq, especially given that the matter will really start to heat up in the coming weeks. However, we can't forget that our foreign policy needs to reach well beyond Iraq. Gotta run now, but I hope we can continue this over the next week.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Fleabag

Date: 2003-02-26 00:14:24


The Human Condition currently resides in the phase of 'I think therefore I am' when they should be thinking ' My existence is defined by the observations and evaluations of my co-existers (or be-ers). To some on this planet, I may be a delicious place to lay eggs. To others, I may be family, sharing genetic foibles.
It is, however, the driver, as it were, of our actions. It is our soul behind the wheel of our "Individual Mobile".

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Barretm82

Date: 2003-02-25 00:01:53


Perspective grasshopper; Your comparisons of Canadians to Americans casts us in poor light, but compare Canada to N. Korea and Canada looks pretty rosy.

It's all in the eye of the beholder. ;)

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: jwitt

Date: 2003-02-25 20:21:59


agreed

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: jwitt

Date: 2003-02-26 13:20:01


This may interest you

http://cbc.ca/stories/2003/02/25/chinamines030225

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Barretm82

Date: 2003-02-27 00:51:10


Well jwitt,

I think I'm going to go jump in one after catching the news tonight.


{My head hits desk}
Steve.


P.S. (No I won't jump, I just feel like it)

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Barretm82

Date: 2003-02-27 11:55:46


Terrible situation in China, curious you mentioned mining, I do have mining clients but they are in Australia, Africa and Canada.

I donít know what efforts could be done about saftey abuses in China, there are too many abuses, and not enough energy in a day to deal with them all.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Fleabag

Date: 2003-02-27 21:56:31


Human rights and labour abuses in China, and throughout the world, need to be addressed as seriously as the 'Iraqi threat'. I just read an article about the head of a clothing factory in Borneo being convicted of using slavery. Oddly,(or not oddly at all) it was a US company that owned operation. Certain countries that do not subscribe to international human rights standards are excellent places for countries to 'maximize profits'.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: invitation

Date: 2003-03-22 06:32:14


Humbly, I admit that I agree with your synopsis of Canadiana mentality. We do have our "let's tolerate everything" attitude, which makes us seem magnanimous, but in fact I think is a reflection of the moral chaos rampant in this country. We simply can't identify principles of right and wrong anymore, or if we do, we're not quite sure why. The problem comes in busily erasing all vestiges of our Christian/Judeo heritage, which formed the basis of our culture and values and laws. Now, in favour of "multi-culturalism" we "interpret" through the Supreme Court the social agenda of the day. What this produces is a society without backbone and a breeding ground for those whose aim is power and control for whatever they deem their purposes to be.
I disagree on one point however--I like George Bush. One may not agree with him on all issues, but it is refreshing to listen to a leader that at least has some sense of conviction. Perhaps that is what makes some uncomfortable--George Bush is led by a set of principles that he personally believes. It has been so long since we had a leader in either of our countries with any strength of character we simply don't recognize what that sounds like.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: cfallon

Date: 2003-03-24 13:43:23


Thank you invitation. It can often appear that like minded people no longer exist in this country!

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Fleabag

Date: 2003-03-24 20:39:57


What you say about Bush Jr. is sad but true. It is too bad he is convinced 'might makes right' but he is affecting the world like no other recently.

I diagree, though, that Judeo/Christian values were the basis for greatness. They were only 'paragons of virtue' by default, for their ideals already existed. They began to 'rend the world asunder' by melding church and state, and thereby 'pidgeon-holing' virtue rather than diversifying it.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Vox

Date: 2003-03-25 21:30:23


Fleabag:

I think you may have mis-read "Invitation"'s message.

You wrote "...What you say about Bush Jr. is sad but true. It is too bad he is convinced 'might makes right' ..."

But "Invitation" actually wrote "... I like George Bush. One may not agree with him on all issues, but it is refreshing to listen to a leader that at least has some sense of conviction... It has been so long since we had a leader in either of our countries with any strength of character we simply don't recognize what that sounds like..."

You seem to think Bush is a tyrant but Invitation is praising Bush for being inspired by his beliefs. Invitation would seem to advocate for leaders who actually have convictions and follow through on them. I don't see how Invitation would see that as "sad" or if it necessarily have anything to do with 'might makes right'.

IMO, 'might simply makes coercion possible' and a nation which has the means to coerce a tyrant to disarm is an asset to the world community. I do not believe the US wanted to have this war at all costs. Its actions are consistent with it wishing to avoid violence and death. I would however say that Bush was determined to affect a "regime change". I agree that there is no other option with Saddam because he is incorrigible and is too dangerous to leave in power.

As for your comment that "... Judeo/Christian values were the basis for greatness...". I don't think that is what Invitation wrote.

Invitation wrote "... our Christian/Judeo heritage, which formed the basis of our culture and values and laws. Now, in favour of "multi-culturalism" we "interpret" through the Supreme Court the social agenda of the day. What this produces is a society without backbone and a breeding ground for those whose aim is power and control for whatever they deem their purposes to be..."

What I believe Invitation said is that Canada's multi-culturalism causes great confusion and indecision amongst Canadians over the interpretation of Canadian values and laws because Canada used to be founded upon a more consistent set of cultural principles. Canadians are now uncertain if it is deemed acceptable to uphold those principles that made Canada a great country to live in. In place of those principles Canadians are now forced to accept such a diverse and broad range of social mores and standards that it opens the door to "unscrupulous" people who feel they can use multi-cultural excuses to disguise "immoral" practices as an ethnic right.

Like you, I also do not think "... Judeo/Christian values were the basis for greatness..." as western civilization had a history of great hypocrisy and utter failures. I don't think it was the values that were bad. I think they were exploited and misrepresented by unscrupulous people. The failure was in the people who recognized the evil and did nothing to correct it. Just as it probably was in Iraq when people turned a blind eye to Saddam's abuses in earlier days and simply accepted it as a "cultural thing" of a distant people. Well, that faraway culture is now having a major impact on us at home.



Vox Canadiana

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: cfallon

Date: 2003-03-27 17:54:09


I would also add, to Vox's lucid comments (as usual) that western civilization has pre-Christian, non-Judaic roots. Afterall, who were Socrates, Plato and Aristotle?

Are we forgetting how fundamental they were to shaping the way we think today?

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: Fleabag

Date: 2003-03-28 19:40:17


It is I who have been unclear. By 'sad', I mean that for some time, no one has shown conviction on anything to a world-take-notice degree. (Except, I suppose, fanatical terrorists).
As for the 'Judeo/Christian' value systems, I have heard it argued from the 'religious-right' that morality is a biblical invention, and that no one who is non-religious can possess morality. It is to this notion that I disagree. (Not that I think 'Invitation' was espousing this)
While Canada may be experiencing problems with interpretations of law to appease everyone, and thereby pleasing no one, we are in a way a 'miniature earth' within our borders, and while we may have not gotten it exactly right yet, we are on the right track. We must find a way for all cultures and beliefs to co-habitate with the best interests of the community and the individual foremost in our 'hearts and minds'. Canada truly faces the greatest challenge because of our diversity, but can be a model for the rest of the world if we do it right.
The first thing I would try to get rid of is 'political correctness', when the truth will do just fine.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: cfallon

Date: 2003-03-31 10:19:52


I agree: Canada is a "miniature, BUT DEMOCRATIC Earth".

What Canada proves is that all cultures, religions and ways of life THRIVE in democracy.

Canada will survive the mob that runs our parliament right now, and once it has, I hope it will emerge as a voice for democracy across the globe.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: fatmomma

Date: 2003-04-03 07:39:04


We are not ruled by a mob; thank goodness we have a reational thinking government at this time. I do hope the world will survive the "mob" ruling the USA which is trying to force its aggressive views on the world.Mr Harper would have us guilty of the atrocities and poor judgement of the present American administration. Hopefully, the American people will soon recognize the errors of judgement of the present regime. (Many do already)
What Canada proves is that all cultures and religions can live together side by side with respect and cooperation.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: cfallon

Date: 2003-04-03 13:54:44


I agree with you on what Canada proves.

Ironically, we both agree on this and it leads us to totally opposite conclusions.

Fatmomma, you must find this interesting. I would be very curious to sit down with you and try and figure out how our shared values lead to entirely different conclusions. (And don't tell me I'm brainwashed by US propaganda - cause I'll just say you are brainwashed by Canadian propaganda!)

:)

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: fatmomma

Date: 2003-04-04 23:48:11


I think it is because you may believe that you can just have instant democracy. This is not what I believe. Change must come slowly in steps as ours did; otherwise it may lead to corruption and poor economy. People can come into our established system and not upset an already established practice. But for a whole nation to suddenly have democracy thrust upon them can create many problems. Before you can have a good democracy; you must have the people to be able to understand how it works. With no previous experience they would make many serious economic mistakes and blame democracy and distrust it. As they have always had all the important country wide decisions made for them ; it would be simple for a corrupt government to take over.
You would be wrong to say I am brainwashed by Canadian propagand because many of my views have been shaped by information from Americans and American sites but mainly by my own logic.

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Canada Not OK

Contributor: codc01

Date: 2003-04-05 05:17:41


Again, this is my opinion of the world view as well (not much related to Iraq). Countries have to learn by themselves how to go into democracy, our western society evolved into democracies over a very long period of time (e.g : Magna Carta, the French Revolution)... Its a very slow process, but i think its the only process we can accept (except in cases when there is a clear genocide in that country)...

Western countries, with their values,
should help as much as possible the countries which want to become democratic... But there should not be any direct interference (except again in the case of genocide or such horrible crimes)...

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