Little in the world of publishing bugs me more than persons moved to make a public statement somehow wishing to do so anonymously. In my newspaper editing days, reporters bringing requests for anonymity with their stories had to make a solid case before their efforts made it into print. While there are legitimate cases that call for protecting the identity of a source or author (legal ramifications, the threat of dramatic personal loss or even personal safety considerations), those are rare. And the story had better be good!
And here I am, then, commenting on a political story on the Vancouver-based Common Ground website anonymously.
I swear, it came about as a result of a technical shortcoming (an unseen switch or two in the posting mechanism) and not a desire to distance myself from statements I would make in the political sphere. To prove it, here is the exact text of what I had to say in response to a story by former national PC leadership contender David Orchard:
David Orchard is absolutely right in pointing out how Canada appeased foreign interests in agreeing to unfavourable terms in the original NAFTA. It’s not unlike how the politicians negotiating on our behalf in the mercifully pre-empted TPP arrangement appeared to trade in global citizenship points ahead of economic principle. There is a trend here, and guilt for the sins of NAFTA should not be placed solely at the feet of former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien; it belongs hung around the necks of the Canadian people, who have shown a maddening propensity to give away the house, the car, the kids and the vegetable garden in exchange for a flattering word about our highly valued “generous” nature.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comes by his infatuation with the selfie honestly. We are a nation willing to surrender any part of self (and our neighbour’s self too) just to feed our unseemly addiction to world praise. Bad things can happen to a nation whose people are distracted by addiction. We are vulnerable to the advance of predatory interests, where even our strongest guardians might misread vulturine intent as gestures of friendship. A desire to be liked, especially when allowed to become a cultural obsession, promotes a need that presents like blood in the water in boardrooms where cutthroat deals are forged. I believe that is the dynamic at the root of Canadian losses vis-à-vis NAFTA. That and the lack of accountability demanded of politicians and negotiators by the people.
Canadians seldom exhibit outrage at the erosion of Canadian-centric values. Or acreage. Or wealth. We save our outrage for perceived threats to the projected persona we believe the world admires in us.
Where was the outrage in the early 1990s when NAFTA handcuffed Canadian enterprise in broad daylight? Where was it when national symbols began vanishing at an alarming rate? Where in the Stephen Harper era, when China came calling for control of Canadian resources and the highly restrictive and binding TPP was being put in place behind everybody’s back? Where is it now, when Trudeau’s entire agenda appears to be about solidifying citizenship in the globalism framework, no matter the dismantling of traditional Canadian values, legacy and resources required to achieve it?
As a nation that has demonstrated it values selfies and applause over economic and national sovereignty, on whom could we possibly call for protection when President Donald Trump comes to fetch our lunch? Those who will be renegotiating NAFTA on behalf of the U.S. are graduates of the doctrine of corporate might, as Trump’s cabinet picks illustrate, and no amount of “sunny ways” hugs-and-smiles philosophy sung by Trudeau’s covenant seekers will carry appreciable currency. Nor should we expect to find the will to survive all that much stronger among the low-energy suits in the running for leadership of the Conservative party, all of whom are distinguishable from Trudeau in only two ways: 1) a polite aversion to selfies, and 2) owning only half as much charisma. Canadians are wont to commiserate about our plight when we come up half a fistful short, but there is never a demand for strength, or even better, in any decent measure of plurality — except in how our image might increase in contrast to that of the U.S.
Perhaps the interloper in the Conservative leadership race, Kevin O’Leary, will rise up and cause the spirit of nationalism to coalesce around him, as Trump succeeded in doing in the U.S., and the until-now-obediently-silent Canadians who still value national identity will find their voices. O’Leary, however, runs the risk of coming across as Trump-lite. Perceived wannabes seldom succeed in igniting populist fires.
The thing to remember, however, is that Americans didn’t vote for Trump as much as they voted to reject globalism. They recognized the local impoverishment that goes hand in hand with the weakening of individual nations (the grim reality of political power centralizing somewhere else and beholden to other agendas) for what it was and sprang into action. Brexit achieved pushback also through will of the people, but without need for a galvanizing figure like Trump to lead the cause. Canadians who realize now that NAFTA represented a mini-globalization effect, and recognize as well that Trump’s proposed teardown does not have the best interest of Canadians in mind, need to find a touchstone of our own — sooner rather than later.