McQuaig, Linda. HOLDING THE BULLY´S COAT: Canada and the U.S. Empire. 2007. Doubleday Canada, Toronto.

“… we are a player of some significance on the global stage, due to our reputation – partly deserved and partly undeserved – as a fair arbiter and promoter of just causes, as a decent sort of country. By lining ourselves up so uncritically with Washington, even as the Bush administration has become a renegade in the world and highly unpopular on its own home turf, the Canadian government has played a role in enabling a regime that is considered by many around the world to be the major obstacle to peace and security.” from the introduction

McQuaig is a good investigative journalist with a knack for pinning the tail right on the donkey every time she writes a book. In her latest, she zooms right in on Canada´s new role in the world wrought by our governments who uncritically, even fawningly, endorse the line of USA imperialism.

It is not a new role for Canada, in spite of our illusions of being a peaceable, tolerant and caring society; but our present government has swollen our complicity to new levels and hidden depths. From our diminishing social structures to our war on Afghanistan and an all time high military budget, our national character is drastically changing.

The rapid change has been wrought by a minority government Prime Minister who plans to increase our military spending to more than 50% above 2005 levels to $21.5 billion annually by 2010 with barely a public murmur or a boo from other parties. It is obvious there is little effective political choice left for Canadian voters. We are standing by as Canada becomes “one of the gang´ but always as a lesser member, fit to hold the bully´s coat – soon probably we´ll be waving his flag: ironically as the USA wallows in debt, fights no-win wars, becomes reviled around the world, Canada, seemingly oblivious to current history, is getter cozier and more complicit with the global bully. McQuaig says that corporate-Canada, its elitist “comprador class,” the Department of National Defense (DND), and the Canadian media which has always glamourized USA are the drivers behind our integration into the USA. Few are willing to say publicly that we are scrambling to climb on the Titanic.

McQuaig believes that Harper´s cooperation with Washington´s “war on terrorism” ´lies at the very heart of (his) agenda.´ Maintaining that close relationship with the USA matters more to Harper, the front for big capital in Canada, than citizens´ rights and our livelihoods. In late August, 2007, leaders of Canada, USA & Mexico meet in Quebec to promote the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). From what´s already known, SPP unmasked isn´t pretty. It´s a corporate–led coup d´etat against the sovereignty of three nations SPP in Quebec and to further consolidate USA´s global rule and corporate freedoms – a plan to allow USA based capital to control resources like water, minerals, energy and access through the continent and further diminish democratic and public control of our assets combined with a militaristic obsession about ´security´ which will further destroy our human rights and our sense of humanity.

In “Holding the Bully´s Coat,” McQuaig also shows how recent governments have forced globalization for corporate capital while whittling away at our tradition base of social equity and the universality and public ownership of health, education and utilities. Our laws about refugees and possible “terrorists” are copycats of USA laws while more and more decisions about our sovereignty and future are made outside parliament and behind a curtain of propaganda and deceit.

Canada has forgotten about international commitments to development and equality in order to enjoy basking in the reflected light of immoral and incompetent leaders, whose failings seem to be obvious to everyone except Canadian politicians. From Haiti to Afghanistan to our lack of environmental action we are mired in the toxic mud of the USA. In our apathy we may become truly one of the ´United States of America´, as someone once said sixty years ago, “The name is a program.” And calling the USA, just US, means we recognize that program as legitimate. We need McQuaig´s tough and punchy writing to wake up Canadians to the smell the gunpowder and profit – before it is too late. Read this book – get mad & get busy.

Filed under Book Reviews, Linda McQuaig