On September 16, 2018, the Unitarian Church of Montréal’s Social and Environmental Committee (SECC), the World Federalists, and the CUSJ Québec chapter hosted author Yves Engler, at the first stop on his cross-Canada book tour. Yves has just completed his tenth book: Left Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada.
The book shows how the people and entities that we traditionally think of as pillars of the political Left behave like embedded journalists in a war zone, adjusting their narrative to the dictates of Imperialism. Engler gave myriad examples, from unions, to political parties, to ostensibly left-leaning think tanks, to high-profile intellectuals and activists.
He started by exposing the cracks in the soothing image that we, as Canadians, have of our own country as a peace-making nation, pointing out that Canada has eagerly participated with other Imperialist nations in various military invasions and political meddling, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, the assassination of Congolese indépendantiste leader Patrice Lumumba, or the Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1966 (the weapons used were bought from Canada).
Unions like UNIFOR, Engler pointed out, are known for their political active in social justice causes such as the fight for Basic Income. However, there is a thunderous silence when it comes to speaking out about foreign policy. Similarly, he gave examples of how the NDP, perceived as Canada’s party of the Left, has historically aligned itself with corporate interests.
Finally, Engler gave many examples of activists and NGOs whose left-of-center public image is belied by their activities. For example, Walter Dorn, who served as the UN Representative of Science for Peace, a Canadian NGO, is known in left-leaning circles for his support of disarmament–however, Dorn also supported the UN Mission to Haiti, in which Haiti’s democratically-elected president was kidnapped and removed from the country, and soldiers threw waste into a river used for drinking water, creating a cholera epidemic that killed thousands of Haitians. Dorn also white-washed the Korean War in his portrayal of it, according to Engler, who went on to provide many other dismaying examples of inconsistencies between the public image and actual policies of various “progressive” activists and organizations.
Engler’s message seems to be that Canada should recognize that it has a privileged place in the (unfortunately) hierarchical world economy. The only hope for humanity in the face of the climate change crisis is a new world order, where countries like Canada replace old-style foreign policy (a.k.a. military strategy) with an other-focused perspective and a sincere will to work peacefully towards a common goal, that of cooling our planet and saving the natural world and ourselves.
If you would like to hear Engler speak, click here for a list of tour dates and locations.