Is the Maple Leaf a Fig Leaf?

todd gordonCanada often has a reputation as a kinder, gentler kind of first-world nation, due to socialized medicine, a relatively open immigration policy, 19th century haven for travelers on the Underground Railroad, etc.  Oh yeah, and also the contrast of being next door neighbors to the world’s lone remaining superpower, y’know, the one who spends 600 billion a year on “defense” while the second highest spender comes in at around 200 billion, (China).  And thinks that’s not enough.

Our new record generally focuses on US imperialism but the characters who say speak in the songs could also be expanded to include fellow neocolonial actors such as France, the UK, and yes, Canada.  (Though it would be Eurocentric to exclude newer “sub-imperial” powers in the Global South.) I’ve been frequently struck by how often Canadian mining companies appear as vicious actors in various stories I read about things like Tar Sands oil in Canada proper and Canadian pursuits of various mined commodities in Central and Latin America.  Today I listened to a podcast from Latino Rebels that I highly recommend on the topic.  It consists of an interview with Todd Gordon, author of “Imperialist Canada” and “Blood of Extraction: Canadian Imperialism in Latin America.”  I had heard of these books before, but after hearing the podcast today I’m bumping them up the queue of my “to read” list.

I remember when Justin Trudeau was elected and friends of mine were posting celebratory compare and contrast accounts of his merits to draw attention to what is sorely lacking in the US political system.  In that sense, his election played in the US as a hopeful symbol of what the Democratic Party could pull off if it let go of the shackles of its Clinton-era triangulation strategies.  Time has put yet another liberal “Great White Hope” narrative to the test, and found it lacking.  Gordon is asked to compare and contrast Trudeau and his conservative predecessor Stephen Harper vis a vis their policies on mining and resource extraction at home and abroad, and replies that they are essentially the same except that Trudeau has a prettier, younger face.  Ouch.  I hope the Democrats can beat #45 in 2020, but Trudeau’s trajectory may serve as a cautionary tale about looking at such a turn of events as a Hollywood ending, no matter how cute the leading man.



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