The Federal Election And The U.S. Factor: Part One

Posted on Sunday, June 06 at 12:24 by Robin Mathews
This may be the first time, however, that the born-again politics of a U.S. president adds attraction for the born-again leaders of a Canadian Right party.

The strange creation of the Preston Manning, Stockwell Day, Peter MacKay, Stephen Harper Right is not unrelated to Brian Mulroney. An economic annexationist, Mulroney sang Canada into the falsely vaunted Free Trade Agreements with the U.S.A. He also DID hitch Canada to the "Desert Storm", 1990s, first U.S. war against Iraq. He did it, moreover, without U.N. approval and without debate in the Canadian House of Commons. He did it, you might say, as a U.S. agent, not as a Canadian Prime Minister. To add salt to the wound, he took Canada eagerly into that illegitimate war.

Brian Mulroney is said to have helped create the Alliance Party by ignoring the needs of the West. That is simply a load of malarky. Ernest Manning made feints and overtures at a Bible-belt, Right, U.S. Clone national party before Mulroney came near office.

John Bircher, anti-semitic, white suprematist, U.S.-loving supporters always gathered around the Alberta Social Credit Party of Ernest Manning, Preston Manning's premier father. What Brian Mulroney taught those forces was that a Canadian conservative party could front for annexation/integration with the U.S.A. (Look how Mulroney, the last Progressive Conservative prime minister DIDN'T make a public fight to save the party that founded the nation.)

The Mulroney actions constituted a political about-face. Canada?s history - until Mulroney - had been an anti-annexationist/pro-annexationist battle, sometimes in the open, sometimes underground. But the annexationist forces for most of our history were among the Liberals. The staunch Canadians were among the Conservatives. Brian Mulroney changed all that. But surely you must want to ask: "Why annexationist forces? Where did they come from?"

The explanation is simple, and unlovely. The U.S. never intended Canada to exist. With its early preaching of Manifest Destiny (God's intention that the U.S. should fill the whole continent), and its 1823 unilateral declaration called The Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. intended to take the North American continent. A lot of its supposed hatred of monarchy was a front to disconnect Great Britain from Canada, and then to take Canada over, virtually unchallenged.

Ironically, the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) helped save Canada's bacon. In order to set up the policies and institutions needed to become a full-fledged imperial power, the U.S. North had to break the plantation, conservative, hierarchical South where wealth was based on land (not capitalist entrepreneurship). The freeing of the slaves was incidental to the Civil War. It became a propaganda tool not unlike the present U.S. claim to be fighting to bring democracy to Iraq. Abraham Lincoln didn't formally adopt his slave emancipation policy until two years into the Civil War!

The U.S. Civil War was total war, with huge casualty lists and property damage. For nearly fifteen years the U.S. was almost totally self-absorbed. In that time Canada pulled together far-sighted people and established (in 1867) the Dominion of Canada. Every Canadian student should learn (and doesn't) that not a word of congratulation was sent by any U.S. federal representative to Canada upon Confederation. The U.S. did not want Canada to exist.

It went to work immediately to un-pick Confederation, to break Canada-Great Britain ties, to grab disputed land, to make excessive demands for "rights" in Canada, and to set up pro-U.S. lobby groups on the ground in Canada.

In its growing imperial strength, almost until air power was fully developed, the one thing the U.S. couldn't best was the British navy - which, in a way, was Canada's navy, too. As long as Canada was a legal extension of Great Britain it could call on the British navy in a Canada/U.S. war. Canadian leaders knew that and hugged the British connection. U.S. leaders knew it, and they tried to break Canada's identity as a constitutional monarchy with a shared monarch who morphed from imperial head in the nineteenth century to titular leader of the Commonwealth of Nations in the twentieth. The U.S. spent the last half of the nineteenth century urging Canadians to gain "freedom" from Britain, to untie from the monarchy, to modernize - in short, to become sitting ducks for U.S. takeover.

The U.S. wanted unimpeded access to Canadian wealth. It spent the last half of the nineteenth century, too, building pro-U.S. lobby groups in Canada. They urged annexation to the U.S.A. They were persistent. They became a traditional aspect of Canadian life. Their latest manifestation, after Brian Mulroney, is the Stephen Harper/Peter MacKay party-of-the-Right vying to be the Canadian government in the present election campaign. My next column will describe the story of the continuing U.S. annexationaist lobby in Canada from Confederation to our day.

But one last note here. Even before Confederation there was a famous Annexation Movement in 1849. Government of the day in the united Canadas gave consent to what was called The Rebellion Losses Bill, a bill essentially intended to salve the wounds of the 1837 rebellions and to recognize francophone legitimacy. In addition, some tariffs were lifted that had benefitted the merchant/capitalist class. In response, the supporters of that class attacked the Governor General, Lord Elgin, and burned down the Parliament Buildings. (The Right always gives democracy a slightly different look than we are used to.)

The merchants themselves, caring first for their pocketbooks, advocated annexation to the United States as a way of frustrating a more just society in Canada. And so annexation was put on the Canadian agenda as a continuing factor by people foolish enough to believe that joining the U.S. would somehow make them rich, beautiful, superior, loved, and free. There are people who still believe it, and they?re fighting to become the government of Canada.

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Robin Mathews publishes on culture, politics, the arts, and Canadian Intellectual history. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, a potter. His column appears regularly on Vive le Canada.

Comments: rmathews@sfu.ca

Note: rmathews@sfu.ca

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