Canada’s Corporate Terrorism?
There’s a pretty big discrepancy between Canada’s “brand” and the actual boots on the ground reality, not least when it comes to Canadian-based extractive industries in their operations around the globe.
That dissonance between the “brand” image and the reality, the good words and base deeds, was brought home by two articles that appeared in today’s Guardian that seem, ironically, very connected. The first is “Environmental defenders being killed in record numbers globally“, and the second, “The Canadian company mining hills of silver — and the people dying to stop it“, which is about Tahoe Resources’ mining operations in Guatemala. And this is not the first and only case of gross malfeasance by Canadian mining corporations in Latin America.
So, why haven’t successive Canadian governments, so eager to burnish and polish Canada’s “brand”, done anything, seemingly, to police the operations of Canadian-based extractive industries as regards their human rights violations overseas, despite clear and mounting evidence that some Canadian corporations are implicated in what can only be described as “corporate terrorism” against local populations. And how ironic it is that we all make a great show of outrage at Chinese capital and its links to human rights violations while we seemingly roll over and play dead when the shoe is on the other foot.
Looks duplicitous, doesn’t it? In fact, I put that question in an email today to Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after reading these articles in the Guardian. Maybe I’ll even get an answer.
You can bet that the Chinese government feels it has nothing to apologise for to Western governments about “human rights” when it sees that Westerners no more police the activities of their own corporations as regards those human rights than China does. It makes me think, sometimes, that there’s this tacit agreement among governments that public expressions of concern about justice and human rights and universal principles are simply pro forma and a lot of pretense for public consumption (but, privately and amongst us, we shall agree that it’s a non-issue). There’s some evidence that this is so — the tacit consensus amongst supposed competitors — or vultures — for the remains of the Earth.
The kind of “corporate terrorism” described by these articles doesn’t seem to make much of an impression — the terror that “dare not speak its name“, as it were. There seems to be a tacit agreement among the defenders of the “Death Economy” that the killing of environmental defenders and activists shall not be construed as “terrorism”. But that any attempts to actually stop “the Death Economy” — Lewis Mumford’s “Megamachine” — shall be so construed as “terrorism” or “eco-terrorism”.
And much of the corporate media is complicit in this ruse. I know that because I had a running battle with the conservative National Post about just this issue when the last global figures were released on the murder rate of environmental defenders and of defenders of the Commons against the encroachments of The Death Economy. By a strange twist of logic, it was the defenders were the “eco-terrorists”, not the death squads and other murderous hirelings.