Canadian Left Sinks to a New Low During Biden Visit

What a state we’re in! The lowest point of the left since the 1950s. The Joe Biden visit proves it.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May gave the US president chocolate. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and MP Charlie Angus labeled him a working-class hero. Unifor President Lana Payne wrote that “Pro-equality” POTUS deserved a “Standing O” while the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Roseanne Archibald declared “him to be amiable, empathetic, and thoughtful.”

To the extent, dissent was registered it came from those playing to their Trumpian base. Conservative party leader Pierre Polievre flip-flopped over attending a dinner honoring the US president while some Conservative MPs refused to stand when Biden pointed out that he and Trudeau both had cabinets that were 50% women.

Biden’s visit to Ottawa highlights the grim state of Canadian politics. Enthralled by NATO’s proxy war and an anti-China frenzy, the left end of official politics cheers on the head of the US Empire because at least he’s not Donald Trump.

The outpouring of support for Biden came just days after he approved a massive climate-disrupting oil project in Alaska and three months after he legislated railway workers back to work. But, even if you accept that Biden has pursued more ecologically and socially justice-minded policies than many progressives expected, what about his stewardship of US imperialism?

A day earlier Biden okayed airstrikes that killed at least 11 in Syria. Nine hundred US troops and many more “contractors” (when they work for Russia the media calls them mercenaries) illegally occupy part of that country and steal Syria’s oil.

Three months ago, the Biden administration backed the ouster of Peru’s elected president and has failed to remove Trump’s cruel restrictions against Cuba. Aside from pressing for greater Canadian military spending, the US president was in Ottawa partly to push Canada to deepen its grip over Haiti. (In 1994 Biden infamously said, “If Haiti just quietly sunk into the Caribbean, or rose up 300 feet, it wouldn’t matter a whole lot in terms of our interests.”) Biden has bombed Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. More than 20 years later 2,500 US troops remain in that country (Biden was a staunch advocate of the 2003 invasion of Iraq). Biden continues to underwrite Israeli apartheid and regional violence.

Under Biden the US has ramped up Donald Trump’s economic war against China. He’s also made multiple comments and moves that have increased the possibility of a full-blown shooting war over Taiwan.

Biden has significant responsibility for the ongoing horrors in Ukraine. He led the Obama administration’s aggressively interventionist policy and one of his top foreign policy officials, Victoria Nuland, was a central character in the 2014 ouster of elected president Viktor Yanukovich, which sparked the war in the Donbass. Signed 3 ½ months before Russia’s invasion, the U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership was highly provocative. Washington also undermined steps towards a negotiated solution soon after Russia’s illegal invasion.

But the official left not only ignored all this, it appeared to cheer for more.

Decades ago, there was at least one MP willing to challenge a US president. During Ronald Reagan’s 1987 speech to parliament NDP MP Svend Robinson heckled the US president on three occasions. Afterwards he told the media his comments reflected the views of Canadians opposed to US support for the Contras’ war on Nicaragua and Washington’s Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars).

Before Biden’s visit, I considered initiating an email campaign to call on NDP MPs to stay seated during any standing ovation for Biden. It seemed like the best that could be expected in these grim political times. But we didn’t get even that.

Yves Engler’s latest book is Stand on Guard for Whom?: A People’s History of the Canadian Military.