Canadian Imperialism and Militarism: Fighting Back

Event organized by the Nouveaux Cahiers du socialisme and Canadian Dimension at the Social People’s Forum. University of Ottawa, August 23, 2014, 9h00 August 23, at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Ottawa U.

The Canadian state remains the United States’ junior partner and a loyal player in the imperialist game spearheaded by Washington and supported by the other G7 countries. Their aim is to maintain dominance over nations North and South and keep at bay “emerging” countries that are liable to challenge their grip on power. This imperialist project entails the domination of culture, images and symbols, what is sometimes called “Hollywood planet.” It keeps a close check on science and technology, and controls population flows by enlisting both the brains and the arms of the global south in the service of the interests of the global north. In the military arena, the United States and its subordinates maintain an extremely powerful war machine ranging from the new weapons of mass destructions to a vast tapestry of military bases all across the world. A part of this arsenal is wielded by NATO, with or without the consent of the UN, to destabilize real or constructed enemies and repress people, particularly in this vast area extending from Asia through the Middle East and into Africa.

The turn towards militarism

Since 2006, Canada’s Conservative government has bolstered this imperialist project, inflating the country’s military budget and channelling the army into combat missions such as the one in Afghanistan. Canada’s traditional role as part of the UN peacekeeping missions has been abandoned. Militarization has also included deliberate attempts to tie diplomatic and aid relations to Canadian interests abroad as well as participation in the endless war declared by President Bush in 2003.

Under the Harper government, Canada is playing its part in mounting a new Cold War against Russia. The government calls for military pressure on Iran. It spies on Brazil and other emerging countries. It supports Israel’s colonial and illegal policies in contravention of UN conventions and agreements.


There is a long tradition of anti-war resistance in this land, beginning with the First Nations’ resistance to colonialism. Our heritage also includes the 1837-38 Rebellions, Métis resistance in the 1860s, the antiwar movement in 1917, Québécois and Canadian participation in the fight against fascism in Spain and China in the 1930s. International solidarity and antiwar resistance made a comeback in the 1960s during the US war on Vietnam and in recent decades against the ongoing war against the peoples of the Middle East which succeeded in swaying the decision of the then Liberal government against direct participation in the attack on Iraq in 2003. We are still resisting warmaking, in spite of the strong support for the bellicose (neo)conservative project among Canadian corporate and political elites.


Today, we are demonstrating our solidarity on many fronts, protesting predatory practices in Africa and Latin America under the guise of resource extraction. Many people do not believe the lies of the Harper government about purported enemy nations and peoples, especially Muslims and Arabs, and they are rightly sceptical of the call for Canada to rearm itself with American warplanes to deter the purported threat of Russia and China. Many people are also alarmed and angry at the militarization of humanitarian assistance and development aid.

Now is the time

After nearly 10 years of this drift towards militarization it is time to say, basta! With the Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF), we have an opportunity to analyze the current imperialist and militarist program and to build alliances and develop new strategies to defeat it.

To this end, we are organizing a movement assembly on imperialism and militarism on August 23 at the PSF. Our plan is:

  •  To analyze Canadian imperialist and militarist strategies
  •  Take stock of the peoples’ capacities and strategies for action
  •  Lay the foundations for a broad convergence of peoples’ movements against war and imperialism.

Pierre Beaudet

Pierre Beaudet, active in international solidarity and social movements in Quebec, is founder of Quebec NGO Alternatives, and Editor of the Nouveaux cahiers du socialisme. He blogs on in English...