Why the Media Silence about Trudeau’s Worst Foreign Policy Failure

Imagine if Nicolás Maduro’s vice president quit and called for his government to be disbanded. Or if Venezuela’s opposition won a landslide in regional elections or if 90% of member states voted against the government’s UN credentials. The Canadian media would have splashed this news on front pages, but the shoe was on “our guy’s” foot so they’ve been silent.

The dominant media has all but ignored the collapse of Canada’s unprecedented bid to create an international coalition to support a parallel Venezuelan government. It’s quite a turnaround from when the media published puff pieces about Ottawa’s central role in Juan Guaidó’s rise and CTV News’ Don Martin asked foreign minister Chrystia Freeland whether Maduro was “any step closer to being kicked out of office as a result of this meeting today?”

A search of major Canadian media found almost no mention of the following developments over the past month:

  • Two weeks ago Julio Borges resigned as Guaidó’s “foreign minister” and called for his parallel government to “disappear completely”. That Borges abandoned a sinking ship is embarrassing for the Trudeau government because he’s been close to Canadian officials. Borges met foreign minister Chrystia Freeland on multiple occasions and Canadian officials facilitated a meeting for him with Caribbean community officials. Borges is listed in several press releases on Global Affairs website. In one of them the Canadian-sponsored Lima Group “recognizes the work that Julio Borges has been doing to restore democracy in Venezuela” and said his appointment as Guaidó’s ‘foreign minister’ “will result in an increase in international support for the end of the usurpation of the presidency and the beginning of a peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela.” Borges is one of three individuals cited in the Canadian Press article Quiet Canadian diplomacy helped Guaidó’s anti-Maduro movement in Venezuela”. The January 2019 story details Ottawa’s role in rallying international forces and the Venezuelan opposition behind Guaidó’s move to declare himself president in a Caracas park.
  • On December 6 the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize the credentials of the Maduro government as the legitimate representative of Venezuela. While the US and Canada were previously able to marshal nearly 60 UN member states against Maduro, only 16 of 193 countries voted against Caracas this time.
  • Another story that warranted coverage was the November 21 regional and municipal elections. Maduro’s PSUV party won at least 212 of 335 mayoralties and 19 of 23 governorships. The opposition’s inability to unite behind joint candidates contributed to their poor showing. So did some opposition figures support for Guaidó and devastating international sanctions against their country. Canada adopted four rounds of sanctions against Venezuela and is a leading promoter of Guaidó.

Borges’ resignation is a special blow to Ottawa’s policy and definitely worthy of coverage by any sort of truly independent media. Instead, our corporate-owned newspapers, TV and radio either cheerlead for this country’s foreign policy or criticize it from the right.

The media has largely gone silent on Venezuela since it became clear Canada’s campaign to oust the government was a failure. This includes ignoring the withdrawal of Lima from the Lima Group of countries seeking to overthrow Venezuela’s government. In August a new Peruvian government’s foreign minister said, “the Lima Group must be the most disastrous thing we have done in international politics in the history of Perú.”

In fact, the Lima Group has lost other members and is now dormant. Where are the columnists analyzing this demise as yet another blow to Trudeau’s foreign policy? Ottawa founded Lima Group with Peru in 2017 as a structure outside of the Organization of American States largely because that organization’s members refused to back Washington and Ottawa’s bid to interfere in Venezuelan affairs, which they believed defied the OAS’ charter. The media previously reported glowingly about these Trudeau government policies.

But now that the American bull and the Canadian steer have ravaged the South American china shop yet again, there’s no mention of the destruction caused in Venezuela and elsewhere by the blatant interference in other countries’ internal affairs. Or even of the failure of a major Trudeau/Freeland foreign policy plank.

It’s time the media pressed the Liberals to drop their Juan Guaidó charade.

Yves Engler is the author of 12 books. His latest book is Stand on Guard for Whom?: A People's History of the Canadian Military . Read other articles by Yves.