Paper of Record tells Tall Tale of Canada Pushing Democracy 

 Globe and Mail omissions enable its wild foreign policy claims. By failing to mention crucial history Canada’s ‘paper of record’ can claim the military spreads the “democratic gospel” in Africa.

A recent front page Globe story headlined “Honduran women risk death and imprisonment as they try to access reproductive care” discussed the plight of women in the Central American country. Adding political context the article noted, “In 2009, then-president Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a coup by Honduras’s army with the support of powerful political elites. Religious leaders took on prominent positions in politics and condemned emergency contraception — also known as the morning-after pill.”

Why did the story omit Ottawa’s backing of a military coup that it says worsened women’s rights? Before his 2009 ouster Canadian officials criticized Zelaya and afterwards condemned his attempts to return to the country. Failing to suspend its military training program with Honduras, Canada was also the only major donor to Honduras — the largest recipient of Canadian assistance in Central America — that failed to sever any aid to the military government. Six months after the coup, Ottawa endorsed an electoral farce and immediately recognized the new right-wing government.

While they refused to mention Ottawa’s active role in subverting an elected Honduran president, the next day the paper claimed the Canadian military preaches the “democratic gospel”. In a story the next day headlined “Niger coup casts doubt on Canada’s African strategy of spending millions on military training, development” Geoffrey York and Janice Dickson write, “This has left the country in the hands of military leaders who seem to have abandoned the democratic gospel the Canadians were preaching.”

Tell elected Peruvian president Pedro Castillo or Bolivian President Evo Morales about the democratic gospel the Trudeau government has spread in the Andes. As a former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide would probably also appreciate hearing about the democratic gospel that stirred Canadian troops which invaded Haiti to oust his government.

As I detail in Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation, there’s little to suggest Canada has promoted democracy or African interests. Rather, Canada has repeatedly exploited Africa and undermined the sovereignty of its people.

Thousands of Canadians helped Britain and the Belgian King conquer various parts of the continent. Hundreds of Canadians also administered British colonies, even rising to become governor in Ghana, Northern Nigeria and Kenya. Throughout the various stages of the European colonial project, Canada provided political, military, economic and moral support. Canadian officials also regularly condemned liberation movements for engaging in armed struggle while donating huge amounts of weaponry to European NATO countries as they suppressed independence movements.

Afterwards the Canadian military helped kill Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba and oust pan-African Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah. Since the mid-1980s Ottawa has pressed African countries to follow neoliberal economic prescriptions, funneling tens of millions of dollars of “aid” to promote International Monetary Fund structural adjustment policies. More recently, Ottawa has pushed African governments to sign Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements largely designed to protect Canadian mining companies from democratic oversight. Today Ottawa’s lead ally on the continent is Paul Kagame, a brutal three decade-long dictator who’s unleashed remarkable violence in the Congo.

Only someone ignorant of Canadian foreign policy or willfully seeking to confuse the public would claim the Canadian military was preaching the gospel of democracy in Niger.

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.