“Vivre le Quebec Libre!” thundered France’s President Charles de Gaulle from the balcony of Montreal’s City Hall to the rapturous applause of a huge crowd in 1967, on Canada’s Centennial Birthday no less as a fully independent sovereign nation. This egregious interference in our domestic affairs encouraged the separatists in their bombing campaigns and fed the fire of terrorism leading to the FLQ Crisis in 1970. The Deputy Premier of Quebec was murdered and a British diplomat was kidnapped. Then Minister of Justice, Pierre Trudeau, who publicly defied the rocks and bottles of separatist rioters, strenuously objected to de Gaulle’s incitement. As prime minister, he was led to declare the War Measures Act and Canada was placed under military law. The Army was called in and occupied city centres with chattering helicopters overhead and machine guns at the ready. Civil liberties were suspended and over 500 people were summarily rounded up by police in midnight raids and thrown in jail.
One wonders what would have happened if a Pierre Vallieres, FLQ propagandist and author of “White Niggers of America”, had declared himself President at that time and then French President d’Estaing declared him to be the lawful “interim” President with an implicit threat to invade if Trudeau did not concede. We already know what Trudeau, a former professor of constitutional law, would have done for we have his immortal words: “Just watch me.”
Venezuela’s lawfully elected President is now being confronted with a comparable situation, and from rather ironically another Trudeau, our present Prime Minister, who purports to recognize a far-right hitherto unknown populist CIA-groomed politician as President, thus encouraging more domestic terrorism in Venezuela featuring far-right killers setting citizens on fire, but furthermore, potentially sparking a civil war in which tens of thousands may perish. Trudeau meet Trudeau.
The first and foremost fact regarding Venezuela is that it is a sovereign country. If Canada is a “rule of law” country, as Trudeau continually repeats when asked about the questionable detention of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou, then by definition, it applies to all countries all the time. Inviolate national sovereignty is the foundation of all international law. It is found, for example, in Article 1, par. 4 of the United Nations Charter, or UN Resolutions 50/172 Re: Respect for the principles of national sovereignty, which explicitly refers to the principle “…that there is no single political system or single universal model for electoral processes equally suited to all nations and their peoples…”; and 1803 (XVII) Re: "Permanent sovereignty over natural resources", i.e. Bolton’s “oil.” Accordingly, France had no greater right to have intervened then in our own domestic crisis than Canada today has in the domestic affairs of Venezuela.
For those who respect international law, for those who have traditionally invoked the aid of the United Nations to resolve international disputes, this simple principle ends the debate regarding our role in fomenting a coup d’etat in Venezuela.
But in avoidance of this obvious conclusion, double standards and profound hypocrisy are necessary to advance Trudeau’s intercession in Venezuelan domestic affairs. The double standard is obvious, for if Canadians should be all concerned about all of the “illegitimate” elections around the world, then we need not look no further than south, and the hilariously bungled Florida “hanging chad” fiasco that got Bush elected with 47.9% (versus 48.4% for Gore) of the popular vote in 2000 with the aid of hoodlums at the polls, and a politicized Supreme Court which absurdly blocked the re-counting of 537 votes out of 50,456,002, a practice usually seen only with Third World tinpot dictatorships. Perhaps then Canada ought to have imposed an economic blockade followed up with a tacit threat to invade.
As per Montesqui, hypocrisy is vice’s homage to virtue. It is practiced by criminals who fear being convicted by, and cowards who fear being compelled to comply with, their professed principles. With respect to Venezuela, and the significant risk of causing terrorism and civil war, Trudeau acts as both criminal and coward when he acts illegally in the proclaimed defence of the rule of law and the international “order”.
One needs lies, -hypocrisy’s wardrobe, -lots and lots of lies, some big, some small. For as Churchill once opined, “…In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” So, what lies within Trudeau’s bodyguard of lies buttressing Canada’s undeclared war of subversion of the Venezuelan state?
In answer to my query as to why Canada was involved with Venezuela, put to my local Liberal MP, Julie Dabrusin, she had the good grace and integrity to respond with the official Liberal party line. To wit, Canada in tandem with the “Lima Group” rejected the “fraudulent and anti-democratic” election of Madura in May, 2018. The elections were “internationally” criticized and condemned with “reports” of coercion, fraud and electoral rigging; that “independent international observers were not on hand”; and a “crackdown” on critics left “several” unable to participate; so therefore, the Maduro “regime” is now a fully entrenched dictatorship. And in contrast to the world’s other 50 “dictatorships” worldwide in places like China, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eqypt, Saudi Arabia, etc., this “dictatorship” must be overthrown by Canada.
The fundamental issue of national sovereignty is studiously ignored for good reason in that it immediately defeats this entire “Lima Group” project. What is this Grupo de Lima? Composed mostly by right-wing pro-American leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, it was established in Lima, Peru in August, 2017. It arose as a right wing reaction to the policies of the late Hugo Chavez, a working class hero, who upon being overwhelmingly elected in democratic votes in 1998, 2000, 2006 and 2012, implemented the so-called socialist “Bolivarian Revolution”, which domestically, featured nationalization of some sectors of the national economy and extended anti-poverty measures and internationally, resistance to neoliberalism and its institutions like the IMF and the World Bank.
Chavez’s anti-poverty and universal health programs were substantially successful. The population in poverty levels dropped from 48.7% in 1999 to 31.9% in 2011. Per capita incomes rose, as did life expectancy by 2.2 years and average schooling by 3.9 years. Ideologically, Venezuela was then and is even now closer than the United States to Canada. Chavez envisioned a pan-Latin American axis of socialist states in direct opposition to the financial and security interests of the USA. In 2002, in reply, the US orchestrated and financed a failed and violent coup d’etat.
Maduro was first elected with an 80% turnout in 2011 in an election certified as fair by 150 international observers, which included members from the US Carter Center and the Union of South American Nations. Running against opposition candidates Henri Falcón and Javier Bertucci, Maduro won a second term in May, 2018 receiving 68% of all votes cast. Other right wing opposition parties abandoned the democratic process, and boycotted the election, resulting in a lowered voter turnout of 46%. The main opposition party boycotting the election refused to allow the United Nations to monitor the voting. As reported by our own Radio Canada International, “The team of seven Canadian observers who were part of a larger group of 250 election monitors from 60 countries did not see any election irregularities, intimidation or coercion, despite what’s being claimed by the opposition and Western governments hostile to Maduro Socialist government. The results were confirmed as valid by the US-certified Latin American Council of Electoral Experts.
In reply to Liberal MP Ms. Dabrusin’s “facts”, -or what we would term hypocrisy’s lies needed by Canada to foment a civil war and a violent coup d’etat: namely that there was no “coercion, fraud and electoral rigging”. There were over 250 independent international observers on hand. There was no “crackdown on critics” as all were invited to participate but some declined in order to sabotage the bona fide election of Madura by the Venezuelan people.
Given the lack of facts to support opposition allegations, Debrusin reports as true “accusations” that unidentified “party activists” scanned “Fatherland Cards” which unnamed “many” voters “hoped” would being them “a cash bonus or even a free apartment”. Such trivial and fact-free allegations only expose the thinness of the election loser’s objections. It is noted that none of the 250 observers reported any such apparent electoral law violations.
There is no debate that human rights have been violated in Venezuela by both sides. But if human rights violations were the rationale for Canada’s intervention, again, we need only look south to see legalized torture, perpetual detentions, and the warrantless murder of US citizens for comparison. Or better yet, look to Trudeau’s valued arms customer, Saudi Arabia, whose patently medieval practice of public beheadings warrants not a squeek of Canadian protest.
Malicious U.S. sanctions and economic distress caused by a major drop in world oil prices have spurred shortages, mass unemployment and the rioting they engender over the past decade, reaching a peak in 2014, with 9,286 documented protests. There is no doubt that human rights have been violated in Venezuela by both sides. There has been a soft but violent civil war since at least 2002 raging in the country thanks in part to American financial and military assistance to rebels attempting to overthrow the legal government.
The 2002 47-hour coup featured the now familiar spectacle of a unilateral declaration by an obscure person, then the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce declaring its president Pedro Carmona as President of Venezuela. Carmona avoided imprisonment when the coup failed by fleeing the Presidential Office to hide out at the present residence of Trudeau’s favoured “interim President”: the Colombian Embassy. Juan Guaidó will soon follow Carmona into exile. Yet violence continues: as of this past Thursday, 16 dead and 228 wounded have been reported in street clashes between police and opposition protesters.
In light of the foregoing, Canada is not only committing a gross violation of international law but is also forsaking a diplomatic legacy of playing the honest broker between US militarism and its victims. Recall the golden age of Canadian international diplomacy, when Lester Pearson mediated the Suez Crisis to the great honor of this country and its people. There was a time when Canada was almost universally hailed as the peacekeeper, and a fervent supporter of the United Nations and the rule of law in support of the international order. No more.
The profound hypocrisy and dishonesty exhibited by Canada’s role in this most blatant of yet another attempted American coup d’etat and expropriation of another poor people’s resources would have shamed a Pierre Trudeau. It was to the great admiration of many so-called Third World countries, and their grotesquely exploited and impoverished peoples, that Pierre Trudeau always strongly asserted and defended Canada’s sovereignty and independence in the face of the American megalith, and its attempted interventions in our policies, both domestic and foreign. Canada was the first Western power to recognize communist China in 1970. Canada maintained its diplomatic relations with Cuba after its 1960 revolution despite American outrage and pressure. Trudeau won our final independence with the repatriation of the BNA Act and our 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Would he ever have allowed Canada to deny the same to an impoverished and persecuted people?
The greater shame lies with the son. His father’s legacy now vanished into thin air. In contrast to a brave, proud and principled “Just watch me” in the face of grotesque injustice, in the face of blatant illegality, we now have only the obeisant squeaks of a hopelessly ignorant and inexperienced toy lapdog for a Prime Minister with his foreign minister puppy in the face of the despicable Trump Regime and its violent and immoral cadre of neoconservative warmongers and death squad captains, -a lament, indeed, for a nation: oh Canada, what have you become?