Wed, 07 Dec 2022

Many in Canada fear Trump re-election

(Op-ed) Jerome Irwin
10 Sep 2020, 02:35 GMT+10

The moment of truth fast approaches in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. Soon Canada and the rest of the world will learn whether it will be Donald Trump, his dynastic family, and their Law & Order Party who will continue to rule for yet another four years, eight years, twelve years, or perhaps even more years, with the same authoritarian, dictatorial hand as that of a fascist Putin in Russia or Xi Jinping in China.

2020 is a time of great stress and anxiety throughout the world in more ways than one, and especially for all democratic, freedom-loving Canadians and those new migrant Canadian citizens with hyphenated place names from all parts of the world who once dreamt of, or still dream of, coming to Canada in search of a better, freer, more hopeful way of life than they were able to find and enjoy in the troubled lands of their birth.

For many Canadian political observers, Donald Trumps shocking power grab of the U.S. Presidency over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Trumps many disparaging comments made ever since, in particular, about Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus humanistic leadership in the world, have signaled yet another contentious, less fruitful, threatening chapter in the history of Canadian-U.S. relations.

This is an old story. Many scholars who have studied Canada-U.S. history over the past four centuries would point to the Trump Presidency, like others before him, who have threatened to bring about the deterioration of certain basic Democratic principles and laws of government between the two countries. Trump in particular has called into question the viability of Canadas once sacrosanct relationships with the Americans.

Over the past four hundred years the threat of armed conflict between Canada and the United States has been a reality that periodically has come and gone over matters of commerce, national security and different interpretations of the international rule of law. In essence, Canada has long served for many as a symbolic safe haven against American aggression.

In the ensuing four years that have followed that brutal seizure of power, Trumps alarming budding-fascist rule over America and the world at large has continued the evolution of Trump from a ruthless right-wing tycoon to a politician who prefers to describe himself as the Law & Order President Who Will Dominate the Streets and make America not only Great Again but First in the World, with his armed forcesandthe Trump Familys Dynastic Convocation a dominate force firmly in charge. If there were any doubts before where this tycoon-turned-ruler philosophy will inevitably take America in the future there are none now after Trump & Family made their views abundantly clear during the recent Republican Partys 2020 Re-Election Convention.

As a result, huge shivers continue to tremble and rumble among Canadas governmental and non-government circles, not to mention others around the world. True patriots of democratic forms of government everywhere shudder over what this ultimately may mean for the life and death struggle of the principles of Democracy and for Democracy itself in the world in the unforeseeable future, not only in the United States and Canada but everywhere else. Some deem this time in history as not unlike yet another Nazi Germany Redux, ala 1935, and the fascist political and economic dynamics that led up to it.

A CASE IN POINT OF AGE-OLD TENSIONS IN CANADA-U.S. RELATIONS

Scholars of Canadian-U.S. history can recall the many military and political tensions that have erupted from time to time over the past four centuries all along the borders that separate the two countries.

Remarks floated in early 2020 by President Trump about the possibility of his placing 1,000 American troops within 25 kilometres of the Canadian border all along its 1,700 km length caused more than few jaws to drop in horror.

Canadian observers knew at once the degree of alarm and disdain this aroused in Canadas PM Justin Trudeau and his Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland when both their bodies stiffened, their faces grew sullen, eyes staring blankly into the camera, as they uttered in a terse, monotone tone, Any such proposal is dangerous to the relationship between our two countries, while they went on to deny the validity of the need for Trump to take such an unwarranted action, whether it be for: public health reasons to check for potential Corona virus pandemic carriers; illegal migrants attempting to cross the border into America from Canadas borders that already are closed to unauthorized travellers, or; NAFTA trade law violators when Canada already is a signatory of the new NAFTA treaty.

When Canada pressed Trump for further clarification for the need to deploy troops to Canadas borders, Trump cagily changed the rationale for issuing such an order, responding, I guess its about equal justice. A lot of things come from Canada. We have trade, some illegal trade we dont like. We dont like steel coming through our borders thats been dropped in Canada so they can avoid our tariff laws. PM Trudeau rebuffed Trump by calmly saying, The unprotected Canadian-US border has benefited both our countries for centuries. Its very much in both our interests for it to remain that way.

Bruce Heyman, the former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, expressed the belief that Trump seems to prey on Americas fears of spreading the COVID virus or destroying Americas Firstphilosophy. Everybody kind of expects, says Heyman, Radical,crazy things coming out of the Trump White House. But this, this is beyond anything I could have ever imagined or expected from Trump.

Ever since their mutual births as nations in the New World some four hundred years ago, Canada and the United States have often experienced difficult and contentious relationships, especially during the some seven brief quasi-wars that historically have ensued between them over various issues, some very contentious and others less so, not to mention the various times in history when escaped African slaves, Irish rebels and First Nations fled or sought to flee across Canadas borders in search of freedom and political asylum from persecution and aggression at the hands of hardnose, punitive American political, economic-and military forces.

More and more Canadians now wonder, given the close proximity of Canada and the United States borders, what conceivably could happen, not only to the future of the world but to their own more immediate well-being, were Trump, his dynastic family of sycophants and fanatical supporters among dangerous, unpredictable alt-right paramilitary groups, Christian evangelicals, anti-abortion radicals and Q-Anon conspiratorial fanatics, able to once again take firm hold of the reins of power.

COMING DARK THUNDEROUS STORM CLOUDS

Some political weather prognosticators characterize the epic period in which the world now finds itself as a time of, Coming Dark Thunderous Storm Clouds, similar to the violent turbulence that once swept throughout the world when Hitler, the Nazis and sympathetic axis powers in Italy, Japan and other lesser fascist governments throughout the world seized power in the 1930s.

Increasing numbers of Canadians now look upon their situation as not unlike that of countries like Belgium and France that bordered Germany and had what they thought was an impregnable defensive Maginot Line that, in the end, ultimately proved ineffectual and left them defenseless in the face of bald-faced German aggression.

This writer, as an ex-Pat American, is particularly reminded of the times, nearly fifty years ago, when he himself, in search of a better, safer, more humanistic way of life, chose to flee north to Canada in search of something more than the undemocratic, ruthless nation that America back in the late 1960s already was signaling its intent to fast become in the future.

Already revealed back then was President Richard Nixons conflicted roles in one of the most tumultuous primary election seasons in U.S. history, baring the current already ugly distasteful, leadup to the 2020 presidential election. Americas Tet Offensive War of aggression was then being launched by the U.S. military against the Vietnamese people. Senator Robert Kennedy, a Democratic candidate for the Presidency, already had been assassinated moments after his and the worlds hopeful victory in Californias presidential primary, and Hubert Humphreys Democratic convention in Chicago had been marred and riddled by Mayor Daleys violent, right-wing wake-up response to a new generation of young supporters still filled with the hope of progressive human causes. Martin Luther King Jrs assassination by mounting dark, ugly, right-wing forces in America, by then, also had caused American cities to erupt in fire and dissension, while decades of feverish political words, filled with hypocrisy, inflated by the rhetoric of politicians who offered little more than platitudes and idle, phoney promises they never could deliver, with too much angry rhetoric already fanning wholesale discontent that had turned into bitter hatred on both sides. The airways filled with too much shouting on all sides at once that offered too little quiet reflection to allow a sincere dialogue of voices and words to be clearly heard over the din caused by the gross immorality of too much secret B-52 carpet bombing of innocent North Vietnamese and Cambodians that already had killed between 50,00 and 150,000 civilians. While Pentagon Papers of death and destruction daily revealed the degree to which Nixon and his Republican cohorts duplicitously sought to cover it all up; in the midst of a Watergate Burglary Scandal that dragged on; capped by Nixons re-election to a second term as President that, like that of Donald Trumps potential re-election, sought to make such horrors an on-going reality in spite of so many similar flagrant impeachable offences.

Each despicable political-economic-military benchmark at the time played its seditious part as the proverbial straw that finally broke the camels back of this writers resolve, who had once tried, as a young, enthusiastic, hopeful American, to affect some positive changes to it all. First, by: actively campaigning door-to-door in California for the landmark Rumford Fair Housing Act for people of color to live wherever they so chose, before his own flesh-and-blood father, a card-carrying member of the John Birch Society ordered him out of the family home to find somewhere else to live other than with his own flesh-and-blood, which served as a wake-upcall that, in America, blood isnt always as thick as water. Then he volunteered to work for the CIA for a brief time to do something patriotic for his country, until he learned the truth of what it really means to live within the belly of the beast. Then there was an attempt to become a Peace Corp Volunteer among the people of the Truk Atoll in Micronesia who were then experiencing a lot of their own trouble in paradise. Until finally he became a VISTA Volunteer to America on the Crow Creek Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota where he learned still more bitter lessons of American racism and injustice towards all those who were different White America. In the end, he finally decided that he had no other real alternative but to flee North to Canada, like so many other oppressed, disillusioned ones who had come before him, in search of some greater political truth and destiny.

THUMBNAIL HISTORY OF TUMULTUOUS CANADIAN-AMERICAN BORDER RELATIONS

Soon learned, however, was the fact that Canada, for decades and centuries before, had long served as a similar hoped-for refuge by many other like-minded disgruntled patriots of all colors and kinds: American and Irish patriots; Native American tribal nations reeling from violent persecution by invaders and colonizers; as well as escaped, formerly-enslaved, Africans on Southern plantations who once upon a time had all had their fill at the hands of their brutal captors and overseers who sought the same refuge in the envisioned Heaven they dreamed Canada would be for them.

But the reality soon learned was that the United States hadnt yet even declared its historic independence from Great Britain when the American Continental Army, dreaming its own dreams of conquest, had launched an invasion of the neighboring British Colony of Canada in the summer of 1775.

In an attempt to seize Quebec City, aggressive U.S. patriots, into constant, endless territorial expansion, sought to gain a strategic location on the St. Lawrence River. US Colonel Benedict Arnold had marched his forces through the deep woods of Maine and joined with General Montgomerys forces on the outskirts of Quebec City and proceeded to seize Montreal. During the Battle of Quebec that ensued, Montgomery was killed and the American Continental Army eventually was forced to retreat from Canada back across to the American side of the border. In 1780, Benedict Arnold, notoriously branded by then as a traitor to the Americans, ultimately switched sides to join the British and after the war moved to St. Johns New Brunswick.

From 1773 to the 1860s the Underground Railroadcontinuedtooperate as a clandestine, anti-slavery freedom network of abolitionist who helped fugitive slaves escape enslavement in the American Souths plantation system to free Northern states and British North America (Canada).

Through the use of a host of coded railroad terms and symbols, used in mainstream press notices and political circles, facilitators and enablers on the railroad were called conductors and escaped slaves were referred to as passengers, cargo, packages and freight. These were delivered to stations and depots on various lines that led to safe houses under the protection of station masters scattered throughout the North and into Canada. While suppliers of one kind or another were stake holders and the final terminus was referred to as heaven or the promised land and the drinking gourd was the Big Dipper Constellation that always pointed to the North and the end of the line.

One particular notice that appeared in the newspapers of the day read, the train arrived on time yesterday with sixteen passengers, all in good condition. The number who started the journey was twenty-one. Five of them, however, stopped at way stations Those who arrived yesterday have been furnished with through tickets by various ticket agents. As a result, terminals that eventually became Black settlements, such as Elgin Settlersand Buxton Mission,or Queens Bush and Dawn Settlement near Dresden, Ontario, or Birchtown and Africville in Nova Scotia still flourish to this day.

In 1812, when the US declared war on Great Britain, the Americans launched a three-pronged invasion of Canada. Then President Thomas Jefferson wrote at the time, the acquisition of Canada will be a mere matter of marching, But rather than perceived as liberators, Canadians firmly resisted General William Hulls invasion across the Detroit River, forcing Hull to surrender his entire army and the town of Detroit without even firing a shot. While, when US Major General van Rensselaer crossed the Niagara River his army was thrashed at the Battle of Queenstown Heights and quickly sent packing.

Later, in 1827, during the Patriot War, so-called American insurgents again crossed the St. Lawrence River from New York State in another attempted invasion. In the Battle of the Windmill that ensued, U.S. Army and U.S Navy fought with Canadian militia and British infantry. The U.S. insurgents again landed a second invasion against the City of Windsor, Ontario before they, too, were eventually beaten back and forced to disband.

While, in 1838-1839, during the Pork & Bean War, or Aroostook River War, a boundary dispute between Maine and New Brunswick lumberjacks quickly erupted. The American President Martin Van Buren dispatched General Winfield Scott with a force of 50,000 men at his disposal. While the large force used effigies of Queen Victoria for target practice, Canadian and American military negotiations worked to diffuse tensions without any loss of life due to combat.

In 1859, the United States and Canada once again nearly went to war over, of all things, a dead hog. When an American farmer killed a black pig, owned by the British governments Hudsons Bay Company, for eating potatoes in his garden on San Juan Island in Washington States Puget Sound, British warships soon sailed to San Juan prepared for combat. But clear heads prevailed when the British Admiral refused to attack America, remarking it was ridiculous to engage, in a war involving two great nations over a squabble about a pig.

Yet after only a few years, in the wake of the United States Civil War, battle-hardened Irish-American veterans from both the Union and Confederate armies, belonging to the Irish Fenian Brotherhood, led a series of Irish Fenian Raids from 1866-1871 into Canada with the intent of invading the British Colony of Canada to capture Quebec, make it the seat of the Irish Republic in exile, and temporarily hold it hostage as a bargaining chip for the return of Irelands independence from Britain.

The United States, still angered by the Britains support of Americas Confederacy, and use of Canada as a safe haven by Confederate spies and raiders, turned a blind eye as thousands of battle-hardened Irish Fenian troops massed at various places along the Canadian border prepared to attack New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba. However, they ultimately were prevented from completing their attacks across the Canadian border by U.S. President Andrew Johnson and their former U.S. commander, General Ulysses S. Grant, and were forced to disband. Yet the actions by the Fenians, and especially their affiliations with Louis Riels French-Indian Metis, in the Northwest played an important part in ultimately forcing Canadas politicians to speed up their enactment of the Confederation of Canadian nationhood in 1867.

Again, in 1873, the Cypress Hills Massacreoccurred on the previously disputed Montana-Saskatchewan border territories when rogue American wolf hunters and whiskey traders killed a large party of Canadas Assiniboine Indians suspected of stealing their horses. The massacre led to the dispatch of the newly-formed Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP), known as The Mounties, and led to Canada quickly securing that portion of the border between Canada and the United States.

NATIVE AMERICANS SEEK THE DREAM OF PEACE ACROSS CANADAS BORDERS

In 1876,nearly a year after the infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn-or Battle of the Greasy Grass, more commonly called Custers Last Stand, between the combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapahoe against the U.S. Armys 7th Cavalry, the Lakota Chief Sitting Bull and his followers, in search of a refuge and safe haven from the persecution of a ruthless, avenging American government and its punitive military forces, crossed the Canadian border into Grandmothers Country (Canada)in Saskatchewan in search of refuge and a safe haven from the relentless pursuit of General Nelson Miles and his troops. Miles infamous epitaph was The Indian Fighter,who once exclaimed the only good Indian I ever met was a dead one. Miles later would go on to earn for himself the notoriously-contemptuous reputation, among even his own officers, as a reprehensible betrayer of the many promises he would make and then break to various captured Indian leaders, like the Apache leader Geronimo, and even Miles own Apache scouts who had helped to capture Geronimo, who were all ruthlessly exiled by Miles to Florida forever never to return to their Arizona homelands.

One year later, in 1877, the U.S. President Rutherford Hayes government likewise betrayed the promises he made to Chief Joseph and his people when he stole million of acres of the Nez Pearce nations tribal homelands in the then Oregon Territorys Wallowa Valley to accommodate the greed of American gold prospectors.

Opposed to their forced removal to a dismal reservation, and in search of political asylum alongside Sitting Bull and his Lakota people in Saskatchewan, Chief Joseph of the Nez Pearce, referred to as The Red Napoleon for his brilliant fighting retreat against the Americans, set out to lead his people on a 1,700 mile odyssey against 2,000 U.S. troops in a desperate attempt to cross the Bear Paw Mountains along the Montana-Saskatchewan border and escape into Canada and a hoped-for sanctuary in Grandmothers Lands.

But finally: Chief Joseph, his Nez Pearce people and their horses utterly fatigued by Miles dogged pursuit; their warriors and chiefs mostly dead or dying; men, women and children alike starving; they could fight and retreat no more and were stopped just 40 miles short of the Canadian border.

Chief Joseph and his people, for all their heroism, ultimately were transported under armed guard to inhospitable lands in Kansas and then to even more barren lands in Oklahoma. Chief Joseph never again saw his peoples tribal homelands in Oregon Territory nor did he see the hoped-for sanctuary he and his people, for so long, had dreamt existed for them on the Canadian side of the border.

FAST FORWARD TO THE 20TH CENTURY & AMERICAN VIETNAM DRAFT DODGERS

In the 1960;s, nearly a century later, during the United States war of aggression against the Vietnamese people, young Americans of draft age, who refused to participate in Americas continued unjust acts of aggression known as The Vietnam War, like native peoples before them, similarly fled to Canada in search of political sanctuary. Those peace-loving patriotic Americans made-up some of the largest, best-educated group that Canada up till then had ever received.

Canada generally, as a matter of policy, didnt openly criticize the United States as a whole. Politically, as well as physically, it was always too dangerous. Though Lester Pearson at the time was Canadas Prime Minister and he considered Canada a non-belligerent nation, Pearson attempted to appease the Americans during the Bomark Missile Crisis. He said the U.S. could put Bomark Anti-aircraft Missiles in the Arctic, even though Person was a key member of the UNs peace settlement negotiations and was openly critical of the United States policy in Vietnam because of the uselessness of the war and the horrors it was inflicting on innocent citizens.

When PM Pearson visited then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson on one occasion to try to resolve the tensions between their two nations, Johnson grabbed Pearson by the lapels of his suit, shook him and shouted, Youre Pissing On My Rug! Stay Out of US Affairs! Though it wasnt ever official Canadian policy to welcome US draft dodgers, Pearson and many Canadians were so opposed to the Vietnam War that they welcomed the young draft dodgers and the Canadian government simply refused to view them as criminals to be sent back to United States.

For close to a century, ever since President Roosevelt attempted to usher in his New Deal form of governance, that made a brief attempt to correct the American Republics many societal imbalances and inequalities that lay at its core, such as: institutionalized racism; systemic injustices in its legal/ jurisprudence systems; runaway capitalism that favoured the select few over the many, and; a social system ideologically opposed to egalitarian universal health care and social welfare.

The attempt to fundamentally change similar systems of apartheid in countries like South Africa and Israel is a piece of cake by comparison to what it will one day take to fundamentally change the American system as it has evolved over the centuries.

So, in the four centuries that the borders between Canada and the U.S. have existed, the many twists and turns that American aggression, in its myriad sundry forms and guises, has forever challenged and contested Canadas independent sense of itself. Yet in the 21st century Canada still nevertheless defiantly remains as a goad to the American conscience that another, better way always does exist.

Jerome Irwin is a Canadian-American writer who, for decades, has sought to call world attention to problems of environmental degradation and unsustainability caused by excessive mega-development and host of related environmental-ecological-spiritual issues that exist between the conflicting philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

Irwin is the author of the book, "The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey" (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com), a spiritual odyssey among the native peoples of North America that has led to numerous articles pertaining to: Ireland's Fenian Movement; native peoples Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Movement; AIPAC, Israel & the U.S. Congress anti-BDS Movement; the historic Battle for Palestine & Siege of Gaza, as well as; the many violations constantly being waged by industrial-corporate-military-propaganda interests against the World's Collective Soul

(Photo credit: The Canadian Press | Justin Tang).

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