Dear Ceasefire.ca supporter,
This is an urgent letter from me to alert you to extremely alarming developments in Ottawa since the election of President Donald Trump.
I have worked in Ottawa for over 30 years, and I have scarcely seen anything like it!
I am so thankful for your support of Ceasefire.ca. You have been with us for some vitally important campaigns in the past – including ending our air combat role in Iraq and Syria, seeking better oversight of Canada’s arms exports, supporting nuclear disarmament negotiations, and so many more.
But today, with Donald Trump in the White House, I believe we face a challenge not just to Canada but to the entire global order, the likes of which we have never seen before.
Alarming signals in Ottawa following Trump’s win
Did you know that Prime Minister Trudeau has reworked the very top levels of his government to deepen links to Donald Trump and his Cabinet full of billionaire former CEOs and retired top military brass?
Just look at what is happening…
After roughly a year in the job, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion has been replaced by former International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland. While it might have made sense to dump Dion for his dreadful handling of the sordid Saudi arms deal or his failure to support landmark nuclear disarmament negotiations, the real reason is that Justin Trudeau wanted someone from his inner trade circle in charge of our entire foreign policy. A former business writer with a network of elite contacts in Washington and New York, and even among Trump’s close advisors, there is no doubt that Minister Freeland brings many strengths to the table.
At the same time, her new mandate includes retention of the most important part of the international trade portfolio – Canada-U.S. trade. This privileging of Canada-U.S. trade within the Foreign Affairs portfolio itself risks sidelining the rest of our UN agenda.
But Freeland’s troublingly narrow US-centric mandate is the tip of the iceberg.
Why is Trudeau calling on Harper Conservatives and the defence lobby for help?
Justin Trudeau has not only asked former Conservative PM Brian Mulroney to help open doors in Washington, he has brought in Mulroney’s former Chief of Staff Derek Burney.
After leaving Foreign Affairs, Burney headed Canada’s largest defence contractor, CAE, pushed for Canada to participate in President George W. Bush’s disastrous and illegal invasion of Iraq, and even lobbied hard for Canada to join the American missile defence boondoggle. Then he helped Stephen Harper’s Conservatives transition to power after they defeated the Liberals in 2006. After that, Burney kept up a steady drumbeat of right-wing media commentary attacking President Obama for being insufficiently hawkish on American foreign policy.
Now, unbelievably, this arch Conservative is a key Trudeau advisor on the Trump file!
The Pentagon is extending its reach into Trudeau’s government
Member of Parliament Andrew Leslie, the retired general and former army commander during Canada’s deadliest days of the Afghanistan war, was appointed by Justin Trudeau to be Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Minister Freeland, with specific responsibility for Canada-U.S. relations.
General Leslie earned a special distinction from President George W. Bush for building strong connections to U.S. commanders during his time in Afghanistan. A key architect of Canada’s counter-insurgency doctrine, Leslie is said to be on “good terms” with retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Defence. General Mattis was decorated by Prime Minister Harper’s government for helping “to shape Canada’s counter-insurgency doctrine”. At that time Leslie was also a well-known critic of UN peacekeeping, the antithesis of counter-insurgency warfare.
Trump’s high command has another ally in Canada’s top soldier, General Jonathan Vance. According to his colleagues, General Vance is “close” to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.), Trump’s first National Security Advisor. Fired by the Obama administration because of his erratic management style and extreme views, Flynn then became a loyal campaigner for Trump, egging on anti-Clinton chants of “lock her up” at rallies, tweeting that fear of Muslims is “rational” and attending events hosted by known anti-Muslim groups. Thankfully Canadians need not worry further about this particular linkage since Trump was forced to fire Flynn when the fact of his lying to Vice-President Pence became public.
We want a Cabinet that will stand up to Trump, not “go along to get along”.
Of course it makes sense to reorganize the Cabinet and bring in outside advisors to ensure that we have the strongest possible team in Washington. But the strongest possible team to do what?
For those who argue that we must put aside all else to “save” our trading relationship – the response is clear. American companies do not trade with Canada to “reward” us for docile behaviour in other areas. They trade with us because it is in their interest to do so. And our broader goals of strengthening the United Nations and thereby enhancing international peace and security constitute a vital complement to our trade agenda. So we need advisors who have the wit and the will to effectively defend and promote Canada’s broader internationalist vision against Trump’s dangerously destructive “America First” agenda.
Canada’s global peacebuilding role is at risk
I am very concerned that, in the weeks to come, millions of Canadians who supported this Liberal government and its progressive policies are going to see those policies dangerously eroded. Consider that Minister of Public Security Ralph Goodale is waffling on his commitment to outlaw any official use of information obtained through torture.
And the Trudeau government is backing even further away from implementing their pledge to re-engage in UN peacekeeping, by telling allies our decision will be delayed until Canada “gets a better understanding of what the Trump administration expects of Canada”.
This is why we need to mobilize, right away. We need to resist the dangerous Trump agenda, which after only a couple of weeks in office already includes:
- gross contraventions of American and international immigration and refugee law with the enactment of the Muslim travel ban;
- threats to cripple the UN through non-payment of America’s share of the operating budget;
- threats to UN member states that “a list” will be kept of all those who oppose U.S. policies;
- pledges to significantly increase the already obscenely bloated American defence budget; and
- a stated intention to use torture because he says “it works”.
Canada must do everything it can to resist and effectively counter this vile Trump agenda and the threat it poses to our independence, our democratic values and global solidarity around those values.
I am so grateful for your support for Ceasefire.ca. With your renewed engagement for 2017, we will be able to counter the pro-Trump, “them versus us” agenda with our bold vision of sustainable peace and common security.
Here is our action plan:
- Working with likeminded Parliamentarians and non-governmental organizations, we will use every means we have to counter the corporate and defence lobbies and the neocon advisors pushing Canada closer to Trump.
- New publications will expose and oppose any stealth transformations of progressive Canadian policies into more Trump-friendly facsimiles.
- We will also regularly provide you with the information and the tools you need to make your voices heard – including new petitions and other grassroot action items to strengthen our collective voice.
- We need to work together to keep up the momentum that began in the last election to truly bring back Canada the international peacebuilder. Americans who oppose Trump are organizing at the grassroots level as never before. The same spirit is thriving in Canada as the huge solidarity marches for women and refugees have so vividly demonstrated.
Nearly one thousand Canadians give a small donation to support our work every month, and hundreds more give special gifts throughout the year.
I would like to invite you to join our Peacekeepers Monthly Donor Club and give a donation of $12 each month by debit, PayPal or credit card.
When you join, you can choose to receive a free paperback copy of Boiling Point: Government neglect, corporate abuse, and Canada’s water crisis by Maude Barlow.
Or you might make a special gift of $45, or whatever you can afford, to support our vital peace work this year.
Thank you for your long-time support for peace. Please join me, once again, in working to ensure that the Trudeau government rejects the dark path toward endless war, and chooses instead to help lead the way toward sustainable global peace.
Rideau Institute and Ceasefire.ca
(Peggy Mason is Canada’s former UN Ambassador for Disarmament)
P.S. Please help us counteract the pernicious impact of Donald Trump by supporting our vital work to convince the Trudeau government to stand for peace – not war. Please renew your support for 2017 by joining our Peacekeepers Monthly Donor Club with a donation of $12 each month, or by making a special one-time donation of $45, right away. Visit our secure donation site at: http://www.ceasefire.ca/donate