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Europe, Canada and US

Democracy Canadian-style Part I: Abroad

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Canada's role in the postmodern imperial world is as a poster child for promoting formal electoral democracy -- at home and abroad. Internationally, instead of offering peacekeeping troops to the UN, as in days of yore, and promoting grassroots development in the third world, it takes orders directly from its US-Euro masters, helping them invade countries if necessary to set up the mechanisms for elections, and ignoring for the most part the real problems that the poor of the world face. It uses its foreign diplomatic service not to promote peace and social justice, but to support the needs of Canadian corporations abroad and facilitate their quest for profits.

This has been the strategy in Afghanistan, Libya and now Mali, the latter in cooperation with France, with Canada providing air transport of French military equipment. It is the mirror image of its treatment of Canada's native people, who are force-fed a similar formal role in Canada's political system, where formal equality -- as exemplified in Bill C-45 -- is touted in order to mask the real problems natives face, and -- as if by coincidence -- at the same time pave the way to take control of the natural resources that are the natives' heritage.

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Canada's First Nations: Expect resistance

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“Respect Existence or Expect Resistance”, chant native Canadians as a showdown 11 January loams with Prime Minister Harper.

Sparked by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike on tiny ‘Victoria’ Island near Ottawa's Parliament Hill, now in its third frigid week, the native uprising across Canada is in fact the latest manifestation of the world's colonized peoples trying to throw off the shackles of imperialism. An exciting moment, one of vital import for us all.

Their warrior path brings to mind Egyptian Muslims fighting their westernizers and Mubarakite old guard since the revolution in January 2011, or the struggle by Palestinian natives against Israeli theft of their land. It is a continuation of the Iranian people's struggle in the face of unrelenting subversion from the West. It’s no coincidence that Cairenes were some of the demonstrators at Canadian embassies, or that native activist-leader Terrance Nelson recently was offered support in Tehran for his efforts to gain a seat at the OPEC table for the real owners of Canada’s oil and gas resources.

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Human rights: the people vs the UN

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Even as the US government is re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Committee Against Torture hears a complaint against Bush, notes Eric Walberg

The recent death of Iranian dissident blogger Sattar Beheshti in police custody was a sad event. All human life is precious. “If anyone kills a person unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land – it is as if he kills all humanity,” states the Quran. An investigation by the Tehran prosecutor, the head of Tehran police and the head of Tehran prisons was ordered by Iranian parliament and Beheshti’s interrogators were hauled on the carpet.

At the same time, the US was elected to a second three-year term on the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). President Bush boycotted the HRC for criticizing Israel too much, but Obama joined in 2010 to ‘improve’ it. US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed Washington’s re-election this week, saying that the HRC “has delivered real results”, citing its criticism of Syria, though she criticized the rights council’s continued “excessive and unbalanced focus on Israel”.

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Canada-Iran: Looking for real democracy

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One Canadian leader looks for allies to develop our resources responsibly, while another looks for enemies where there are none, says Eric Walberg 

News that should warm the heart of any supporter of native rights and critic of Stephen Harper -- that native activists will finally get a voice at OPEC (however weak) -- has been greeted by the silence of the liberal lambs. Where are voices of reason? Where is the opposition in Canada's so-called democracy?

The only public response to former Roseau River chief Terrance Nelson's efforts to help his people -- Canada's First Nation (as opposed to the settlers who stole the land and who export and destroy our resources) -- is to accuse him of treason, of consorting with the enemy, the enemy being a nation which has never threatened Canada, the US or any other nation with aggression. A nation which is instead the victim of harsh sanctions and unrelenting subversion by Canada and its 'friends’.

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Canada's Muslim problem: Who’s demonizing who?

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The return of Omar Khadr from Guantanamo, Canadian Islamophobia, and a trip by a native leader to Iran make Harper’s human rights award an embarrassment, says Eric Walberg

After 10 years in Guantanamo, former child soldier Omar Khadr, the last Western national being held there, was finally repatriated last week after years of mistreatment. The illegality of the procedures used against Khadr from day one mean that the Canadian government faces a multi-million dollar law suit for damages. Various court cases against the government failed to convince it to expedite his return, until the US government finally pulled the plug, forcing the Canadian government to take him after his plea of guilty to various charges, clearly made as the only way to end his ordeal and give him hope of eventual release.

At the same time, Egyptian Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmud has issued arrest warrants for Canadian Egyptians Nader Fawzy Jacques Attalla of Montreal, claiming they were involved in the production of the film "Innocence of Muslims", which defames Islam and led to the death of dozens including the US ambassador to Libya, and the closing of Canada’s embassies in Egypt and Libya (since reopened). Of course, both Coptic Christian activists insist on their own "innocence". Attalla asked for police protection, claiming he and his family in Egypt are now targets of potential violence, calling the arrest warrant issued by the prosecutor general a "fatwa". As if to confirm his own guilt, Attalla said, "Egypt was exporting civilisation before and now it's exporting terrorism and killing and hatred." It will take some doing for the Conservatives to finesse this diplomatic tangle.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

Europe, Canada & USA

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html