Canadian Wikileak sneak peek

Apr 30, 2011

Canadian Wikileak sneak peek

The following blog post was originally published by Macho Phillopovich on his blog, and is reposted here with his permission.

Wikileaks released 1800 cables about Canada yesterday, mostly sent from US consulates back to Washington. They give some idea of what the US is keeping tabs on. Here's a quick overview of some things you'll find.

As far as social justice organizing in Canada:

  • The US has monitored the work of the Halifax Peace Coalition.
  • 18 "situation reports" on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics were sent, covering a number of actions, from the Heart Attack march, a Critical Mass bike ride, the Mother's Day march, and more.
  • The US worried about public outrage around the closing of a Wal-Mart in Jonquière, Quebec, after workers tried to unionize it.
  • Cables repeatedly mention the 2009 demonstrations of Tamils in Canada, as well as the human rights situation they're protesting in Sri Lanka, where the Sri Lankan government was, for example, cluster-bombing a hospital that was in an area designated as a non-conflict zone. The cables give the impression that it's assumed most Canadian Tamils are terrorists, and one cable mentions consultation with Canada about an IMF loan to Sri Lanka at the exact time of the atrocities, that seems to have been approved.
  • The US is tracking critical discussion of its human rights record in Canadian universities.
  • There was interest in uranium mining in eastern Canada, but fear that popular protest may make it infeasible.
  • There's a report on a Winnipeg "Stop Sex with Kids" event, that also dealt with the epidemic of missing & murdered aboriginal women. The US seemed concerned that "[s]ome claimed that the problems of trafficking and prostitution are a result of the colonial legacy - one presenter referred to herself as an aboriginal woman living on occupied territory - as well as capitalism, poverty, and cultural oppression by mainstream society," and also that none of the blame was placed on "aboriginal leaders" or "aboriginal gangs," but still, they thought the event was "a good first start at getting the issue out."
  • The US is closely monitoring legal issues in CSIS's warrantless wiretapping, as well as preventive detention, and security certificates.
  • Following disputes in Akwesasne, the US is taking careful note of legalities around aboriginal title, self-government, and sovereignty.
  • They're also tracking the bio of at least one of the more progressive Members of Parliament, Megan Leslie, in Halifax.

In international treaties,

  • The US was scared that Canada might stop supporting its efforts to wipe the term "harm reduction" off of any UN General Assembly action plan or political statement in 2009. They complained the EU was on a "crusade" for harm reduction, but were confident in Colombia, Russia, and Japan's backing. The cable flatly states that "[t]he USG cannot accept including the specific term 'harm reduction' in any part of the action plan" and suggests actions to be taken to make that a reality.
  • The US said in 2007 that Canada shared its view that the OAS Indigenous Rights Declaration was "ill-conceived and is headed for a 'train-wreck.'" The implication being that Canada and the US would not accept any compromise and the declaration would fail.

On the world stage,

Many cables deal with Haiti, where Canada participated in a 2004 coup against a popular Haitian government.

  • In 2004 at the Montreal Conference with the Haiti Diaspora Canada was "upset with a band of persistent pro-Aristide supporters protesting outside the conference venue."
  • Who was represented at a 2005 Montreal conference on Haiti? The coup government, including the Haitian National Police, MINUSTAH, as well as "[t]he OAS, World Bank, IMF, [and] IDB." Generally it was felt that police forces needed to grow, and there was "a call for a better public information campaign... to bolster support for MINUSTAH." "[T]he police largely crumbled in February 2004, with many fleeing the force and taking their weapons with them. The current HNP has basically started from scratch to rebuild the force." As for Pierre Pettigrew, "a demonstrator attacked him with a red dye before he was pulled out by police.... The Pettigrew attacker was not a Haitian exile, but rather a failed student with a record of participation in violent demonstrations."
  • Quebec was still anxious to gain access to the spoils in 2005, beyond the policing and Hydro contracts it had already secured. Elections and other sectors were unavailable, since the Canadian federal government had won those. The US nixed Premier Charest's interest in visiting Haiti with Florida governor Jeb Bush.
  • In 2006, Canada imposed economic sanctions to restore democracy, "[f]rom a flawed election to the continued imprisonment of democratic supporters"... in Belarus. The approach in Haiti at the same time to the same conditions was quite a different story.
  • In 2007, Canada donated $20 million to to allow for an insurance policy "similar to business interruption insurance to provide immediate cash payments after a major earthquake or hurricane."
  • Canada was grateful to be allowed to attend the Haiti Key Players Meeting in New York, they sent Lawrence Cannon and Peter Kent.
  • It's noted that prior to the devastating 2010 earthquake that "some of the larger Canadian businesses operating there had been Gildan Activewear (textiles), Scotiabank and Desjardins Group (financial services), and Somine (mining)."
  • Earlier it was revealed that Canada's biggest fear at the time of the earthquake was popular democratic uprising, which may explain why their response was to send in the military.
  • Following the earthquake, "Canada's Joint Task Force Haiti was fully deployed with 2,046 soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel."
  • "As of February 11, [2010,] there were 1,979 [Canadian Forces] on the ground in Haiti."

I'm sure more detailed analyses will follow. I completely skipped a great number of cables on Afghanistan, the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), and many, many others. Michael Geist is already doing a tremendous job unpacking Canada's attempts to push through laws against internet freedom, especially around copyright and intellectual property.