Documents Collection: More WikiLeaks Cables Discuss Deep Integration, Conservative Plans for Canada’s Future
More WikiLeaks cables are now up, and I’ve nearly completed listing the Canadian cables now. The new selections feature reflections on English-speaking Conservative politicians resenting the promotion of their less numerous and supposedly less qualified Quebec colleagues, the embassy’s thoughts on free trade and deep integration, Canada’s plans to replace its “combat” force in Afghanistan with an exceptionally large “training” force (which apparently was being considered as early as 2009, when the government publicly was still saying the mission would be over by 2011), the Conservative government’s decision to abandon climate change reforms, and the documents which suggest that Canadian intelligence agencies are still routinely sharing data on Canadian citizens with their American counterparts, the sort of thing which should have stopped after the abduction and torture of Maher Arar and other citizens in 2002.
- English Conservatives “Chafing” at Promotion of Unskilled Quebec MPs — A couple years ago, Conservative insiders were reported to be resentful of the lack of competent politicians in the caucus from Quebec, leading a number of dubious unskilled individuals to get senior Cabinet posts. Even then, the embassy reported a sense that Harper recognized his prospects were “limited” in Quebec and that he was considering abandoning French-speaking Canada as a source for popular support. Of course, they also thought that Quebec was going to remain a Liberal-Bloc battleground for the “foreseeable future.” Oops.
- Embassy Cannot Establish Solid Economic Benefits of North American Integration, But Recommend Forward Anyways — First, this is a comprehensive outline of the ways in which our two governments want deep integration and the sell-off of Canada to proceed: incremental integration, a porous common border, etc. Second, and more importantly, it’s important because of the embassy’s self-admitted suspicions that deep integration provided no major benefits to Canada. Surprisingly, the embassy appears to feel that reduced transportation costs were more helpful than free trade in the post-NAFTA economic boom. Second, and even more interestingly, it found “little basis… to estimate the size of the “upside” gains from integration,” and suggested that politicians hoping to promote deep integration instead distract the public from the larger problem by highlighting the experiences of “individual firms, industries, or travelers.” In another memo, the embassy explained that there was now full agreement that Canada would be fully “integrated,” i.e. ceded, to the United States, with the only disagreement over whether there should be a single “big bang” elimination of Canadian sovereignty, or a step-by-step incrementalist approach.
- Canada’s deceptive military future in Afghanistan — Right now, we’re being told that Canada will be “withdrawing” its troops and leaving only a training team in Afghanistan. Two things are incredible about this blatant lie: we’re being told the Afghan army is just “starting” to be trained, despite the fact that’s been supposedly happening for eight years now; and we’re being told they need 950 “trainers” — a significant proportion of our current “combat” force. The WikiLeaks reveal that the Harper Government was already considering thus breaking its 2008 promise to leave Afghanistan this year as early as 2009, when they were apparently pondering a temporary one-year “withdrawal,” leaving trainers behind, after which we might send troops back in.
- US should support Harper government with friendly news stories — The U.S. embassy was cautiously ecstatic in 2006 when Harper was first elected. It noted that the Opposition parties were “more in line with most Canadians than the minority Conservative” government — but added that Harper himself had a real “affinity for America” (so much for Ignatieffbeing the Americanist…). Harper would have to convince the Canadian public that he was not “selling out,” so the embassy suggested giving him a token victory on some minor public issue while they pursued a “transformational agenda” behind closed doors.
- Conservatives “Do Not Intend to Mention Kyoto Anymore” — After John Baird became Environment Minister in 2007, one of his first stops was a chat with the Americans. He said he had been happy at the Treasury Board, overseeing cuts in what he called “stupid spending.” As Environment Minister, his priority would be to implement vaguely described new measures. He said that the Canadian government now recognized that the Kyoto Treaty had been “unworkable” and that his party did “not intend to mention Kyoto anymore.” Given that Kyoto was a first step in carbon emissions reductions, it’s hard to imagine how a supposedly less extreme replacement for it would be any better, but Baird did not go into details and the ambassador seemed happy not to press him on it.
- Harper tried to get American help to undermine Martin government — It’s important to recognize that the covert American support for Harper had strict limits, though. In 2005, Harper secretly visited Ambassador Paul Cellucci to impress the Americans with how much the Conservatives cared about missile defence and increasing the military budget, and get “solidarity in criticism of the Martin government.” Cellucci didn’t bite. He called out Harper for “playing politics with North American security” and demanded that both he and Paul Martin show the necessary “leadership,” i.e. ignore the opposition of the general public on missile defence. Still, later on, Cellucci asked the Raytheon corporation to quietly lobby Harper on his behalf, and said they could get their foot in the door if they “tell him I sent you.”
- Canadian Intelligence Still Sharing Data on Canadian Citizens — After September 11, the US government allowed embassies to put foreigners on American no-fly watchlists through a program codenamed VISAS VIPER. For instance, the “Toronto 18″ terrorists were all put on the list in 2009. The embassy was also given the names of nine other Canadians who were not arrested and charged, but were put on the watchlist anyways. Incredibly, one of the “suspect terrorists” was a former CSIS mole. In another case, various people associated with an Iranian-Canadian named Hiva Alizadeh were quietly put on the watchlist months before Alizadeh himself was arrested by police as an alleged terrorist. Canadian intelligence officials are apparently continuing to share information on Canadians with their American counterparts, as they did prior to the abduction and torture of Maher Arar.
- Canadian federalism is unravelling — The fact that we have an ardently anti-federalist prime minister with a majority (for the first time ever) is disturbing, to say the least, but the present situation has been a long time coming. In 2005 the embassy prepared this very interesting analysis of how provincial rights movements across the country — even if they weren’t outright separatist movements, as in Quebec — were placing increasing pressure on the federal government’s attempts to maintain national unity, and it speculated that the current government might be unable to maintain national unity in the face of such movements. Provinces said to be leading the charge against Canadian nationalism were first and foremost Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec.
- Canadian Government Lied About Participation in Iraq — This is coming last only because (a) it received a lot of news recently and (b) anyone who knew we had more ships in the Gulf in 2003 than during the actual Gulf War could already have guessed this. At this link is the key memo of March 17, 2003, in which political director Jim Wright visited American diplomats following Chretien’s announcement that Canada would not participate in the invasion of Iraq. Privately, Wright assured the embassy that Chretien had lied: “despite public statements that the Canadian assets in the Straits of Hormuz will… be discreetly useful to the military effort.” Ironically, this was the polar opposite of what the Bush administration wanted; it did not care whether Canada sent one hundred ships or just one man, so long as it made its support public.