Tag Archives: Canada

“Freedom in Jeopardy’: Thousands rally across Canada against New C-51 “Anti-terror” Law

March 17, 2015


A still from YouTube video by Brent Morton

Thousands of demonstrators have united across Canada to take action against proposed anti-terrorism legislation known as Bill C-51, which would expand the powers of police and the nation’s spy agency, especially when it comes to detaining terror suspects.

Organizers of the ‘Day of Action’ said that “over 70 communities” across Canada were planning to participate on Saturday, according to StopC51.ca.

The biggest gatherings were reported in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax.

“I’m really worried about democracy, this country is going in a really bad direction, [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper is taking it in a really bad direction,” protester Stuart Basden from Toronto, the Canadian city which saw hundreds of people come out, told The Star.

“Freedom to speak out against the government is probably [in] jeopardy…even if you’re just posting stuff online you could be targeted, so it’s a really terrifying bill,” Basden added.

The ruling Conservative government tabled the legislation back in January, arguing that the new law would improve the safety of Canadians.

Anti-terror bill labeled ‘too vague’

Demonstrators across the nation held signs and chanted against the bill, which they believe violates Canadian civil liberties and online privacy rights.

Protester Holley Kofluk told CBC News that the legislation “lacked specificity…it’s just so much ambiguity, it leaves people open [and] vulnerable.”

One of the protest organizers in Collingwood, Jim Pinkerton, shared with QMI Agency that he would like to see the Canadian government “start over with Bill C-51 with proper safeguards and real oversight.”

“We need CSIS to be accountable. It’s not OK for CSIS to act as the police, which is what’s indicated in Bill C-51. We need accountability and Canadians deserve that,” Pinkerton said.

The Day of Action is being backed by more than 30 civil liberties groups, including Amnesty International Canada, LeadNow, OpenMedia, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the Council for Canadians, and others.

One of the biggest concerns the new legislation raises is the additional powers it grants to police and Canada’s spy agency – the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – by increasing information sharing and allowing detention on mere suspicion.

“This bill disproportionately targets indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials, [and] will make it easier and ostensibly lawful for government to continue infringing upon the rights of peaceful people,” StopC51.ca said.


Govt ‘rejects argument’

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, Jeremy Laurin, spoke in support of the bill on Saturday, telling CBC News that the government rejects the argument that every time we talk about security, our freedoms are threatened.”

“Canadians understand that their freedom and security go hand in hand [and] expect us to protect both, and there are safeguards in this legislation to do exactly that,” Laurin said.

Blaney’s parliamentary secretary, Roxanne James, also issued comments of support, saying she was happy to answer any questions or concerns about the proposed law.

“Most people across Canada believe that if one branch of government comes across information pertinent to the national security of this country and the safety and security of our citizens, then that branch of government should be able to relay that information to our national security agencies,” James said. “That is precisely what Bill C-51 would do, and I was pleased to be able to answer those concerns.”

Fast Track Is Not A Done Deal: The People Will Stop It

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
January 19, 2015
Dissident Voice


There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress to Fast Track and a large movement of movements mobilized to stop it.

The corporate media is reporting that since the Republican leadership and President Obama support Fast Track trade authority, it is a done deal. And that message, also heard by countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is driving the race to finalize that agreement.

The truth is: Fast Track is not a done deal. There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress and a large movement of movements organized to stop it.

Across the political spectrum there is mass opposition to fast tracking the secretly negotiated TPP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, aka TAFTA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). People remember the impact of NAFTA on job loss, destruction of Mexican agriculture, expansion of inequality, environmental degradation and increased immigration. The most recent South Korean trade pact, which Obama touts as a success, is leading to similar results of lost jobs and an expanding US trade deficits.

Members of both parties know that Obama will be out of office when the negative impacts of these trade agreements are felt. Congress will be alone facing an angry electorate while Obama is raising money for his post-presidential career from the transnational corporations who get rich off these agreements at the expense of everyone else.

Conservative Opposition Grows In All Segments of Republican Party

On the conservative side of the political spectrum there is more organizing than ever. Breitbart reports a Fast Track bill faces conservative headwinds. The opposition as a “broad spectrum of the Republican Party” and represents “all three legs of the traditional Republican Party stool– national security, economics and faith-based.”

Breitbart quotes Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government expressing concern about the secrecy surrounding the trade agreements, a concern shared by colleagues across the spectrum, “we don’t know what’s in it. We do know that this is a huge grant of authority to President Obama.”

Dana Milbank, writing for the Washington Post (a very pro-free trade publication), notes how for six years Republicans have railed about President Obama usurping power, and the irony of its leadership now wanting to give Obama massively expanded power through fast track. He highlights the Tea Party opposition to fast track and notes “roughly 30 House Republicans are already on record opposing the trade legislation.” The conservative activist base predicts that number is growing.

Conservatives have taken to calling the trade deals ObamaTrade and do not want to see the Congress give away its authority under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” Manning describes Fast Track as Congress “effectively tying its own hands.”

In a press statement quoting multiple conservative leaders, TheTeaParty.net leader Niger Innis builds on Manning’s point, describing Fast Track as ceding additional legislative powers to Obama that would be “a monumental failure of Congressional Republicans.”

These conservatives highlight Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitting Fast Track is “an enormous grant of power, obviously, from a Republican Congress to a Democratic president.” Manning described McConnell’s path as the opposite of what Congress should be doing, saying the legislation is “an ill-founded grant of trust to a President who has repeatedly shown that he has outright disdain for the legislative branch, rather than providing a speedy up or down vote, the Senate should examine every aspect of any treaty that is presented to ensure that American interests are advanced.”

Frank Gaffney, president and founder of the Center for Security Policy, told WND (World News Daily) that “We know the people bringing us this deal have a record of serial malfeasance with respect to negotiations. It would not only be the height of irresponsibility to essentially give the president a blank check, it would be something that makes the Congress complicit in the next bad deal if they give the president fast track authority.”

WND reported that at an event on Capitol Hill, Glyn Wright, executive director of the Eagle Forum, presented remarks from conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly. She blasted the Congressional move toward Fast Track as sending the wrong message saying, “Fast track just legitimizes what the president has already done once again behind Congress’ back.”

Religious conservative, Sandy Rios, the director of government affairs for the American Family Association, emphasized opposition to the trade agreements because they undermine the traditional role of the United States in using its economic might to expand freedom around the world, saying:

Wisdom dictates that America must use all means at its disposal to resist religious persecution anywhere it is found through the power of our God-given treasure and resources. It is for this reason that American Family Association opposes passage of fast track legislation that negates their ability to change the Trans-Pacific Partnership to end religious oppression in Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

WND reports that the coalition delivered a letter to Congress urging opposition to Fast Track. Further, the coalition promised “a robust effort to educate members of Congress and their constituents about the dangers of giving Obama yet more power.” In addition to those at the press conference, they report that others signing the group letter were Jenny Beth Martin, founder of Tea Party Patriots and Judson Philips of Tea Party Nation.

Conservatives, like progressives, want the trade agreements to be considered under regular order, which would allow for unlimited debate and amendments.

Largest Progressive Coalition Ever On Global Trade Opposes Fast Track

On January 8, a large coalition of progressive and liberal organizations joined with more than a dozen members of Congress to express opposition to Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America, described the coalition as “the largest coalition to ever oppose global trade agreements, representing tens of millions of Americans.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who is leading the opposition on the Democratic side in Congress, echoed Cohen’s view saying:  “This is one of the broadest advocacy coalitions that we’ve had. There is no reason why we should exacerbate the loss of jobs or lower wages in the United States.”

Opponents on the left argue “the president is asking for carte blanche to hammer out trade deals that would cost American jobs, weaken food safety and financial regulations, and undermine environmental and labor standards.”

When President Obama toured the country to discuss the economy he avoided mention of the trade agreements as he knows the Democratic base opposes them. But, even without mentioning them, people in Detroit took the opportunity of a presidential visit to express their anger.

Politico reports that even before he landed, Obama was being attacked by labor, Hill Democrats and others in his base for his call for new trade deals.  Reuters reports that local officials say “the Korean free trade agreement has helped that country’s auto industry significantly more than the U.S. sector.” They told the president that “trade agreements would hurt manufacturing jobs like those in the resurgent auto industry.”

The White House has touted the South Korean trade pact as the type of agreement Obama wants to see. The facts: in its first two years, the pact resulted in $7.6 billion increase in the trade deficit with South Korea and the loss of 50,000 jobs. Perhaps the president is making the mistake of believing the false and misleading statements of the US Trade Representative. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said: “The fact that the Korea deal has resulted in a worse trade deficit and more lost jobs has had a very chilling effect on public and congressional support for the TPP and Fast Track….”

The AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka said unions oppose the trade deals and will put resources into a campaign to stop Fast Track. Celeste Drake, the AFL-CIO’s policy specialist for trade and international economics, told Politico there’s no way to make an argument both for a major international trade deal and for American workers, as Obama is attempting to do, adding:

If you’re serious about reviving U.S. manufacturing and raising wages for America’s workers, the last thing you want is yet another race-to-the-bottom trade agreement that doesn’t empower workers, it empowers companies to offshore jobs. And you fight fast track — the process that guarantees that bad trade deals become law — tooth and nail.

When trade negotiators gathered in Washington, DC in early December they were protested by a broad coalition of groups. The day of protests began with a Popular Resistance blockade of the US Trade Reps building calling for release of the text and opposing Fast Track. Eyes on Trade reports: “hundreds of activists from labor, environmental, consumer, human rights, public health, Internet freedom, faith and family farm activists joined concerned citizens to loudly make their voices heard outside of the secretive negotiations.” The cry heard from the protest was “No Fast Track now, No Fast Track ever!  The TPP is a lost endeavor!”

Eyes on Trade further reports:

Fast Track faces widespread opposition in the U.S. Congress and among the U.S. public.  Though a Fast Track bill was tabled about one year ago, it has gone nowhere due to massive opposition from most Democrats and a sizeable bloc of Republicans.  This past September, nearly 600 organizations sent a letter opposing Fast Track to Chair Ron Wyden.  A poll earlier this year found that 62 percent of U.S. voters oppose Fast Tracking the TPP.

Indeed, a year ago when the Congress considered Fast Track there was a massive outpouring of opposition. Congress received more than 40,000 phone calls and 600,000 emails opposing Fast Track in ten days. More than 100 organizations joined the Stop Fast Track coalition, 5.4 million users were reached in a social media “Thunderclap” and 50 rallies and protests were held in the US, Canada and Mexico.

In November 2014, the opposition to TPP grew significantly when the world’s largest trade union, the International Trade Union Confederation representing 176 million workers added their voice to the growing list of organizations and individuals speaking out against the trade pact. They urged that the negotiations be stopped and a transparent process be developed before they begin again.

In November, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit there were protests held around the world against TPP. In the United States, a broad coalition of labor unions, environmental, consumer, faith, online, and other groups assembled on Capitol Hill to deliver 713,674 petition signatures opposing Fast Track. Eyes on Trade reporting on these worldwide protests says: “The message of citizens across the globe is clear: we are not willing to accept a ‘trade’ deal negotiated in secret in the interest of corporations and at the expense of our rights to safety, democracy, and health.”

Opposition Will Grow, Fast Track Will Be Defeated

President Obama will be urging action on Fast Track in his upcoming State of the Union address, bringing national attention to trade agreements shrouded in secrecy. As more people learn about these agreements opposition will grow across the political spectrum. There will be an immediate reaction of tens of thousands contacting Congress to oppose Fast Track and secretive trade deals.

Dave Johnson has a preview of the State of the Union and a response to what Obama is expected to say. He notes that Obama plans to have an owner of a small business that has increased exports to South Korea. This will be a false story as the opposite is more common. On the specific point of small business, Johnson writes:

The KORUS FTA has hit American small businesses harder than large ones. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, small firms with fewer than 100 employees saw exports to Korea drop 14 percent while firms with more than 500 employees saw exports decline by 3 percent.

The State of the Union will be followed by Congress holding hearings on Fast Track at the end of January. Congress is likely to introduce legislation on Fast Track shortly after that. This will galvanize opposition and members of Congress will realize they are risking their careers if they support giving this authority to President Obama. They will understand that these ‘NAFTA on steroid’ agreements risk their political futures.

The arguments are on our side. Public Citizen published a report reviewing the 20 year history of these corporate trade agreements. The data paint an ugly picture:

Trade deficits have exploded, growing more than 440 percent with countries with Fast Tracked trade pacts. Since Fast Track was used for NAFTA and the WTO, the U.S. goods trade deficit has more than quadrupled, from $216 billion to $870 billion.

–  Good American jobs were destroyed; nearly 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs – one in four – were lost since the Fast Tracking NAFTA.

– U.S. wages have stagnated and inequality has soared with three of every five manufacturing workers who lost a job finding reemployment with pay cuts, one in three losing greater than 20 percent, according to the Labor Department. U.S. wages have barely increased in real terms since 1974, the year that Fast Track was first enacted, despite American worker productivity doubling.

–  U.S. food exports have stagnated while food imports have doubled under NAFTA and the WTO. The average annual U.S. agricultural deficit with Canada and Mexico under NAFTA’s first two decades reached $975 million, almost three times the pre-NAFTA level. Approximately 170,000 small U.S. family farms have gone under since NAFTA and WTO took effect.

This is a hard record to defend. Congress will be made aware of the failure of corporate trade agreements and warned that they will be the ones paying the political price. Congress needs to live up to its constitutional duty and oppose Fast Track and examine these agreements closely.

These trade agreements are game changers for climate justice. People can work to stop extreme energy extraction or create a new energy economy in the face of climate change, but if these treaties become law, their efforts will have been in vain and their successes reversed.

The same is true for Internet activists who are working to ensure a free and open Internet. All of the work on raising wages will be undone by trade agreements that allow corporations to sue for expected lost profit from laws passed in the public interest.

On issue after issue, if we fail to stop these trade agreements, it will be a major setback. The only way these agreements can become law is through secret negotiations in league with transnational corporations followed by Congress giving up its constitutional responsibility and not having a democratic and transparent review process. Stopping Fast Track is the essential task ahead.

A major opportunity to show our opposition to Fast Track and stop these trade agreements will be in New York City. A meeting of trade negotiators for the TPP has been scheduled for January 26- February 1. It will take place at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in midtown Manhattan. They are pushing hard to complete the negotiations and a protest at this event will let trade negotiators know that the people say “No Fast Track, no way, not ever, not today.”

Click here for more information about what you can do to stop Fast Track.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC, co-direct Its Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Read other articles by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers.

Obama Administration Muzzling Its Scientists

By Steve Horn
December 11th, 2014
Dissident Voice


In recent years, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire for disallowing scientists working for the Canadian government to speak directly to the press.

An article published in August by the New Republic said, “Harper’s antagonism toward climate-change experts in his government may sound familiar to Americans,” pointing to similar deeds done by the George W. Bush Administration. That article also said, “Bush’s replacement,” President Barack Obama, “has reversed course” in this area.

Society for Professional Journalists, the largest trade association for professional journalists in the U.S., disagrees with this conclusion.

In a December 1 letter written to Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the society chided the Obama administration for its methods of responding to journalists’ queries to speak to EPA-associated scientists.

“We write to urge you again to clarify that members of the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) and the twenty other EPA science advisory committees have the right and are encouraged to speak to the public and the press about any scientific issues, including those before these committees, in a personal capacity without prior authorization from the agency,” said the letter.

“We urge you… to ensure that EPA advisory committee members are encouraged share their expertise and opinions with those who would benefit from it.”

Press NGOs: Muzzling Policy Impacts

Harper maintains similar procedures, with scientists unable to speak directly to the press without prior authorization from public relations higher-ups.

Unlike the Harper rules, EPA Science Advisory Board members do not work directly for the U.S. government. Instead, they serve as advisors for U.S. environmental policy, but almost all members work full-time at U.S. universities, corporations or environmental groups.

Critics say muzzling of these scientists matters because they make policy decisions with real-world impacts on society.

“Federal advisory committees are generally composed of experts outside the federal government who provide advice to policymakers on a broad range of issues,” the Society for Professional Journalists, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Society of Environmental Journalists and others wrote in an earlier August letter.

“Very often, their advice carries great weight and is reflected in final rules, especially when statutes require that regulations be developed based solely on the best available science.”

Muzzling Fits into Broader Trends

Due to National Security Administration (NSA) surveillance of electronic communications and the U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaing phone records of the Associated Press’ newsroom, the Committee to Protect Journalists — which generally only covers the media of other countries — wrote an October 2013 report about Obama’s press treatment.

The committee’s report concludes that the AP subpoena and NSA electronic surveillance has gone a step further than the EPA’s procedure to route journalists to PR spokespeople for comment. That is, they also want to control and know who journalists are talking to off-the-record or confidentially, which the report concludes has had a chilling effect for both sources and reporters.

“I worry now about calling somebody because the contact can be found out through a check of phone records or e-mails,” R. Jeffrey Smith, a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, said in a statement to the Committee to Protect Journalists. “It leaves a digital trail that makes it easier for the government to monitor those contacts.”

Due to the report’s findings and other related issues, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill has said on multiple occasions that the Obama Administration has launched a “war on journalism.”

Stop Spin, Let Sunshine in

A July letter written by many free press and open government organizations called on the Obama Administration “to stop the spin and let the sunshine in.”

“You recently expressed concern that frustration in the country is breeding cynicism about democratic government,” they wrote. “You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in.”

These groups also demanded the Obama administration reverse course and issue a new, press-friendly policy.

“We ask that you issue a clear directive telling federal employees they’re not only free to answer questions from reporters and the public, but actually encouraged to do so,” they continued. “We believe that is one of the most important things you can do for the nation now, before the policies become even more entrenched.”

To date, there is little indication a policy shift from Obama is in order in this sphere, though.

So for now, not only do Canada and the U.S. have a shared bond in that record amounts of Alberta’s tar sands now flow into the U.S. , but also that the muzzling of scientists, and by extension the press at-large, is a threat to democracy in both countries.

Steve Horn writes at Desmogblog where this article first appeared. Read other articles by Steve.

“NAFTA-Land Security”: How Canada and Mexico Have Become Part of the U.S. Policing Regime

By Paul Ashby
December 04, 2014
nacla December 1, 2014


national-guard-monitorsNational Guard PFC monitors one of dozens of cameras on the border with Mexico at the Border Patrol’s Communications Center in Arizona (U.S. Army / Creative Commons)

During this summer’s child migrant crisis and the accompanying frenzy around “security” along the U.S.-Mexico boundary, a spotlight was shone on Mexico’s role in protecting the U.S. “homeland.” It helped illuminate what Washington considers the United States’ territorial boundaries: those of the countries associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In other words, the territories of Canada and Mexico are part of the U.S. policing regime, under a regional security framework we might call “NAFTA-land Security.”

Evidence of this emerged in July when a Congressional hearing featured a discussion on, as Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) put it, “what Mexico is actually doing to help us” regarding the unauthorized movement of Central American children. Some lawmakers and officials hinted that insufficient efforts by Mexican authorities made possible the unwanted migrants’ northward movement through Mexico.

In response, administration officials pointed to Mexican President Peña Nieto’s new southern border strategy, one that, as Todd Miller has written, involves the exportation of the U.S. border policing model to Mexico.

The current focus on Mexico’s border with Guatemala and Belize is at once a long-developing story and part of a much larger policy agenda. Partly in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, partly the result of security compunctions deepened through the advancement of economic interests by way of North American economic integration, the United States has sought to improve the Mexican state’s policing capacities. In doing so, Washington aims to shape those capacities toward U.S. concerns in order to ensure Mexico’s political economic stability, to better protect the U.S. homeland through “layered defense,” and, in turn, to insulate the highly integrated and strategically crucial North American economic space from internal and external threats.

As Laura Carlsen and I have argued, this aim has underpinned the over $2 billion provided to Mexico under the Mérida Initiative. Ostensibly a counternarcotics aid package, Mérida has in fact been a vehicle for an expansive regional security effort, with roots in the now-defunct Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and other plans for augmenting U.S. and North American security emerging out of 9/11.

Amongst varied goals within the Initiative (a central one being the mitigation of destabilizing drug violence), exporting Homeland Security concepts and approaches to Mexico remains key. This includes increasing the Mexican state’s capacity and willingness to interdict “illicit traffic” at its southern border and to be better able to track and trace movements throughout its territory.

While drugs and terrorists are supposed to be Mérida’s primary targets, the emerging strategy has enveloped ordinary people escaping drug-related violence and/or seeking economic opportunity. As a recent Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) report attested, it has also had manifest effects at Mexico’s southern border and throughout its territory via a build-up of security forces dedicated to apprehension, and the continued threat of abuse of migrants by those forces. In the wake of this past summer’s crisis, Mexico has cracked down on those moving through its territory to the United States, increasing deportations and pulling people from trains, buses, and hotels.

The southern border of Mexico has long been a site of U.S. interest, not least during the wars in Central America in the 1980s when refugees from Guatemala and El Salvador headed to the United States through Mexico. Cables accessed by the whistle-blower Chelsea Manning and released by the WikiLeaks organization show that it has taken on a new significance in the post 9/11 era. In December 2004, a cable discussed U.S. Congressional research into a new “North American security architecture,” and the relevance therefore of the unwanted “openness of Mexico’s southern border.”

In the cable Guatemala is described as a potential “buffer” between Central and South America and the “NAFTA space,” a position that would allow it to help improve U.S. security. Large numbers of cables from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico refer to the “porosity” of the southern border and contendthat “securing this border is of vital importance to U.S. security.” A regional, NAFTA-based security framework that would treat this border as a perimeter for North America was the underlying aim of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). It was into this wider context that the Mérida Initiative emerged in 2007. The Initiative in fact puts into practice many of the priorities of the SPP.

U.S. officials themselves have explained clearly these overall goals represented within Mérida. One of the “four pillars” of the Initiative under Obama is the creation of “21st Century borders.” The aim is to facilitate the movement of the good stuff (trade in legal items) while keeping out the bad (drugs, guns, illicit cash, terrorists, and, it would seem, desperate people). The 21st Century border is not just envisioned between the United States and Mexico (and the United States and Canada), but at NAFTA’s perimeter.

The exportation of Homeland Security concepts, and the projection of U.S. security in line with the 9/11’s Commission’s claims that the “American homeland is the planet,” is a manifestation of a wider trope in U.S. foreign policy. However, within North America, distinct, deeper logics of security integration exist. The Department of Defense (DoD), through its Operational Command USNORTHCOM, states that its major “Prioritized Strategic End State” is one whereby “allies and partners actively contribute to the cooperative defense of North America.” In this regard, the DoD continues, “USNORTHCOM’s Top Theater Security Cooperation Priority is Mexico.”

Moreover, as NORTHCOM strategist Biff Baker stated in a journal article in 2007, “From a bilateral perspective the North American economy and related critical infrastructure is a shared center of gravity that must be defended to preserve our ways of life.” In practical terms this has meant both using the issue of drugs to open Mexican security forces to U.S. influence, and encouraging the Mexican government to take “the gloves off” with regard to Mexico’s cartels.

It has also meant treating NAFTA’s borders as the security perimeter of a distinct political economic space. In a clear indication of this thinking, Allan Bersin, the Department of Homeland Security’s chief international advisor, asserted in 2012 that “the Guatemalan border with Chiapas, Mexico, is now our southern border.” As the WOLA report makes clear, this wider focus is now visible at the southern border zone.

This reflects a binational, multi-agency approach. The Pentagon reports that it has aided Mexican marines (outside of Mérida funding channels) who are now positioned on the Mexican side of NAFTA’s buffer zone. U.S. officials have also asserted that, as part of the Mérida Initiative, Blackhawk helicopters are available to assist the Mexican navy’s border mission.

This is where things become complicated and troubling. The Mexican military is not legally mandated to apprehend migrants (the DoD states that the Mexican navy’s mission at the border is to intercept “transnational criminal organizations,” the preferred officialese for cartels), but WOLA found that it was in fact engaging migrants and that abuses were occurring.

More broadly though, the entire NAFTA-land Security project and attendant spread of the U.S. Homeland Security model is deeply militarized in its approach. In terms of human security, it is palpably failing. Not only are Mexican citizens dying in the tens of thousands in the continued drug war—which involves corrupt state institutions allied with the cartels—but life for people on the move into and through Mexico—in large part to escape worse drug violence and economic stagnation in their own Central American countries­—is staggeringly brutish.

The persistent criminalization of migrants has helped create a situation in which they are vulnerable to abuse by both agents of the state and criminal gangs (often one and the same). NAFTA-land Security, it seems, does not extend to the ordinary person within its perimeters.

Paul Ashby is a PhD candidate in International Relations at the University of Kent in the UK. His research focuses on the Mérida Initiative, Mexico’s security crisis, and U.S. attempts to further integrate North America’s political economy and security apparatus. He has taught courses on ethics and international relations (IR), IR theory, and the UN system. Follow him on Twitter at@pash84.

Canada now considering mission in Syria

by N4tR

November 22, 2014


In a move to that should surprise no one possessing even the most rudimentary critical thinking skills, the Harper government is now taking steps to join the United States in its illegal war of aggression against the Syrian government under the pretext of fighting ISIS.

According to the CBC:

“Canadian officials are working feverishly to prepare for Canadian jets to strike targets inside Syria, CBC News has learned. 

Sources have told CBC that Canada is close to clearing away “the legal hurdles” that stand in the way of extending the combat mission from Iraq into Syria, should the government decide to expand the mission.

The legal case is critical, because, unlike Iraq, whose government invited Canada and its coalition partners to join the fight against ISIS, Syria under its leader Bashar al-Assad is considered an enemy. The U.S. has laws that allow it to engage in pre-emptive strikes in a sovereign nation, but Canada does not.”

This comes only a little more than a month after Harper had said Canada would only participate in bombing missions in Syria if requested to do so by the government of Bashar al-Assad,

“We will strike ISIL where, and only where, Canada has the clear support of the government of that country,” Harper said. “At present, this is only true in Iraq. If it were to become the case in Syria, then we will participate in air strikes against ISIL in that country also.”

But that was back when Harper was still trying to sell the Canadian people on the bogus humanitarian bombing mission in Iraq, a mission that was mandated to last only 6 months.

What’s most offensive is that our government and media continue to perpetuate the lie that our involvement has anything to do with fighting ISIS. There is ample evidence to show that the IS is a creation of Western intelligence for the purpose of destabilizing Syria, Iran and Iraq.

If the West had the slightest interest in stopping ISIS they would be backing Assad and his secular government, who just happen to be one of the primary targets of the IS. But the fact is, overthrowing Assad is at the top of the things-to-do-in-the-Middle-East-list for the US and its regional client states, and has been for some time.

Syria is an important ally of both Russia and Iran, two long-time adversaries of America, who are also being targeted by the US for regime change. As well, Syria is an important geographical piece of the Middle Eastern puzzle that America, Saudi Arabia and Israel would all like to have under US control.

Of course none of this will ever be told to the Canadian people by our duplicitous leaders or  lap dog corporate media. After all, they want to sell us on their illegal invasion and the inevitable war crimes resulting from their bombing missions against the Syrian people.

Despite the growing tide of Islamophobia in Canada that our government and media have gone to great lengths to nurture, and despite the irrational fear of ISIS that our government and media have also cultivated, it is still highly unlikely that the Canadian people will be receptive to the idea of our military participating in this proposed bombing mission.

This poses some problems for Harper. The next federal election is rapidly approaching, and committing Canada to more unpopular wars will definitely hurt him at the polls. So this begs the question, how will he sell this to the Canadian people?

More than likely “news” stories will start coming out of Syria detailing the atrocities being perpetrated by both ISIS and the Syrian government against innocent civilians. But even that might not be enough to sway a public still fatigued from our senseless involvement in the Afghanistan war, that came at the heavy cost of 157 Canadian lives and countless more physically and psychologically injured.

This raises the possibility that Canada might once again become the target of an “attack” carried out by a marginalized, mentally unstable, recent-convert-to-Islam-lone wolf-terrorist with alleged links to ISIS, in order to stir up the necessary sense of nationalism and a knee-jerk reaction of a fear and anger related desire for revenge.

Time will tell, but the onus is on us to not fall for their lies. We must stand up against this blatant military aggression in the name of freedom and democracy, our own and for the Syrian people. We must not allow our government to participate in this illegal war.











Economic Plunder. The Comprehensive Economic And Trade Agreement (CETA), The Transatlantic Trade And Investment Partnership (TTIP): Don’t Let Them Get Away With It