Anti-Globalization 1999-A Canadian Perspective


Morgan Duchesney: 1999


This paper is a critical examination of the anti-globalization movement in the Canadian context. The recent Summit of the Americas held in Quebec City on April 20, 21 and 23 will be also be examined. This event presents a classic example of the generally antagonistic relationship that has developed between supporters and opponents of the forces of globalization and the corporatization of the world. Various sources will be used: mainstream print media, alternative print media, Internet resources and books. The topic is relevant to development because the global corporate agenda poses a genuine danger to everyone on earth because rampant ‘productivity’ requires a callous disregard for the environment. It has been posited that the developed (industrialized) world’s wealth depends on the continuing impoverishment of the developing world where environmental protection is often sacrificed to satisfy bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Of course, trade deals always have their supporters in high places: people who have privileged access to the media and a consistent pro-free trade message. According to Thomas d’Aquino, president of the Business Council on National Issues (BCNI), a powerful Canadian business lobby group,

“There has been a fair amount of beating of the anti-free trade drum over the last two months. I’m encouraged to see that common-sense people out there recognize that Canadians are benefiting from it.” (1: National Post, April 16, 2001, pg. A2.)

Comments like this are to be expected from d’Aquino, who also enjoys access to Paul Martin, the Finance Minister. It is interesting to note that he failed to mention what is happening in the developing world while Canadians are benefiting from free trade. The Canadians he refers to are probably shareholders in Canadian companies doing business in repressive states like Chile or Peru, or else they are ignorant of the facts.

Everything done by Canadian corporations in other nations reflects on all of us. A good example of this is the involvement of Alberta's Talisman Oil in war-torn Sudan. This barren central African country has suffered civil war for the last 30 years and its government is using Talisman’s airfields to launch helicopter gunship raids on rebel positions. Shell Oil’s involvement in Nigeria is another case where Canadian corporations are co-operating with repressive governments to increase their profit margin. In order to operate unheeded in heavily militarized areas like these it is necessary for businesses to develop financial relationships with those government officials who control the host country’s finances and external relations. The profits go to Talisman and Shell; Sudanese and Nigerian beauracrats and the poor people of these countries continue to suffer. I mention these two cases because they foreshadow what is likely to happen in the near future in North, Central and South America under the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA) recently signed in Quebec. Canadian companies will now follow the U.S. lead in exploiting people from Chile to Mexico City. Unionized workers in Canada will also suffer as Canadian companies move operations in countries like El Salvador where labour is cheap and employers don’t need to bother with such niceties as unions, fair wages or health benefits.


Now that Canada has signed the FTAA and is committed to following through on its terms, the government has a useful and practical new excuse to vacillate on the issues of progressive labour law reform, environmental protection, social housing, healthcare, education and just about every other aspect of life that Canadians have traditionally taken for granted. The government can now claim to require approval from its 33 ‘partners’ before it can act on significant issues. Presently this is not the case, but Canadian democracy will be weakened by our participation in the FTAA and the other global institutions and agreements because we will now be held to the same low standards as the vast majority of the other signatory countries. The government can now claim that it must maintain policy solidarity with the other 33 countries. In other words, we have now entered the arena where the lowest common denominator of governance, environmental protection and social services dominates. No longer can Canada dictate its own policies and set a good example for the world. For the sake of trade and business we have compromised our national integrity and our humanity. This is essentially what Canadian anti-globalization protest is about.

The following is a description of how the paper will be organized:
-What is Globalization?
-Canada on the World Stage
-Canada in the Shadow of the U.S.
-The Case for Increasing Canada’s Independence from the U.S.
-Canada and NAFTA
-Canada and the FTAA
-The Canadian Government’s Position on Globalization
-The Summit of the Americas and the FTAA
-Protestors and Activists
-Security Concerns


It has been argued that the phenomenon of globalization began thousands of years ago when people first built boats and set out to brave the unknown oceans to seek riches and trading partners. The seafaring Phoenicians are an example along with the intrepid land explorer Marco Polo. These ancient individuals and others like them started the expansive process which has led to the phenomenon today known as globalization. The common modern interpretation of globalization involves the idea that information and computer technology has so speeded communication that the world has seemingly shrunk. While the ancient Phoenicians sought to expand their world of possibilities by seeking a larger world, we moderns, seeking the same goal, have actually made our world smaller. I say our world because this phenomenon mainly affects those who dwell in the industrialized Northern Hemisphere where access to computers, cellular phones and television is taken for granted. Some people talk of disappearing borders and a community of mankind but what has really been freed by globalization is capital, sometimes with catastrophic results. The Asian Financial Crisis caused by excessive currency speculation is a good example of this problem. Too much money changing hands at once totally de-stabilized the economies of all the major powers in Southeast Asia more surely than a short but bloody war. Globalization also re-organizes societies, for better or worse, into haves and have-nots in a process of stratification. The following quote helps to explain this:

“Globalization transforms the organization, distribution and exercise of power. In this respect, globalization in different epochs may be associated with distinctive patterns of global stratification…. In this context stratification has both a social and spatial dimension: hierarchy and unevenness, respectively (see Falk 1990: 2-12)…. These categories provide a mechanism for identifying the distinctive relationships of global domination and control in different historical periods.” ( 2: Held, McGrew, Goldblatt and Perraton, 2000, pg. 59.)

This idea of hierarchy and control leads me to propose that globalization as we know it is merely an extension of imperialism. The imperial continuum is as follows: the Greeks, the Romans, The Turks, The Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and French, the British and finally the Russians and the U.S. All of these powers specialized in controlling other peoples and territories for their own benefit, usually at the expense of the dominated or conquered people. These peoples, for instance, the Vietnamese during the 1960’s, are often force-fed a diet of consumerism, capitalism and ‘democracy’ all in the name of the struggle against communism or some other real or imagined threat. The underlying purpose of America’s violent activities in Southeast Asia was to protect U.S. business interests in this contested region. Whether it is the Romans in Ancient Judea, the British in Northern Ireland or the U.S. in South Vietnam or Chile the formula is the same. It is an endless process of expansion: control and repression of the subject people, profit or benefit to the dominant people and the co-opting of both domestic and subject state media outlets. The fact the information technology makes all of this easier and more effective does not change the essential nature of globalization. The developed world needs to continue dominating the developing world inn order to maintain the privileged but wasteful and destructive lifestyle that it seems to feel it is entitled to continue enjoying. Agreements like the FTAA will only make this type of exploitation easier. Of course, we in the industrialized world are shielded from the consequences of the agreements our political and business leaders sign. Neo-conservative publications like the National Post are quick to publish the findings of their so-called ‘polls’, although they don’t go to the trouble of indicating the methodology employed. This in itself is suspect but the real problem is that average Canadians have no idea of the deeper issues involved in globalization and free trade agreements. Perhaps if Canadians were better informed about the consequences of the secretive trade deals entered into by their government, the following quote would not be as suspect. As it stands, the questions asked by the pollster were leading in that they were too general in nature and failed to mention the key issues of environmental protection, human rights and social programs.

“Most Canadians support free trade and want to see progress toward an Americas-wide agreement, according to a National Post poll, but a significant number have lingering doubts about who exactly will profit from the deal…The survey also found that many Canadians are sympathetic to the message of anti-globalization protestors, even if they do not agree with that message.” (3: National Post, April 16, 2001, pg. A2.)

The reporting of such generalities by the National Post is no surprise but the findings are probably close to the truth in spite of the author’s failure to specify the polling methodology. Since most people are too busy to fully investigate the issue it is natural that the National Post can confidently report that most Canadians support free trade. This is so because they do support what they have been led to perceive as free trade: a benevolent state of affairs where widespread economic and social injustices will finally be eliminated by efficient business practices. Unfortunately, Canadians have so far been relatively unaffected by globalization and free trade practices, at least in comparison to the poor in the developing world. We are, however, beginning to reap the environmental reward of our profligate lifestyle as we witness climatic change. The role of fossil fuel consumption and its environmental destructiveness in the process of imperialism/globalization cannot be underestimated but there are many in positions of great power and authority who are doing just that. The matter of U.S. President George W. Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto Accords and his insistence on oil development in the high Arctic is a good indication of the U.S. administration’s commitment to continued fossil fuel consumption. The Canadian government voiced a quiet protest and inevitably surrendered to the bad example set by its dominant neighbor.


In this age of globalization Canada is in a bind. The nation is trying to continue its role as the world’s foremost peacekeeper while forcing the troops at the sharp end to ‘do more with less’. Unfortunately, this trend has led to serious morale and logistical problems in the once proud and briskly professional Canadian Armed Forces. The problems are particularly telling in the infantry units, who are called upon do most of the messy and dangerous peacekeeping. I believe that the slow dissipation of the Canadian Armed forces is a good indicator of Canada’s new image on the world stage. This is so because the military has suffered under the Federal government’s fanatical obsession with cost-cutting and deficit reduction. This search for so-called ‘efficiencies’ has negatively affected the Canadian military because combined with the ruthless funding cuts was a greater civilian role in Canada’s military affairs. This relates to globalization because the Canadian government is now more accountable to international money markets and bodies like the WTO, WB and IMF than it is to its own citizens. Our image as changed dramatically as our military has weakened. According to writer Richard Saunders:

“The belief that Canada is a major force for world peace forms the basis for a powerful myth integral to our culture. This image shapes the image we have constructed of ourselves and moulds the way others see us. Like all myths it has little basis in reality.”
(4: Saunders, Richard, Ottawa Citizen, August 8, 2000, pg. A13.)

Saunder’s contention is that Canada is as guilty as any other major power in terms of supplying arms to combative nations and rubber-stamping the overt military acts of the U.S. We operate behind the scenes to maintain to status quo of industrialized countries dominating the world. We have sacrificed our independence for the expensive and tenuous security provided by the U.S. military.


Not since the Trudeau years has any Canadian government shown any real willingness to deviate from a course of slavishly following the U.S. lead. Mulroney’s Conservatives ushered in The FTA and NAFTA and Chretien’s Liberals soon changed their antagonistic stance towards these deals once they assumed office. As I mentioned in the previous section, Canada depends almost totally on the U.S. and sells 85 per cent of its goods and services to the American market. Since the end of the Korean War we have been slowly abdicating our defense responsibilities to the U.S. military with disastrous consequences. It didn’t have to be this way but the Canadian government bought into NATO’s nuclear deterrence strategy right along with all the European members with the exception of France, which has always a reluctant NATO member. I must reiterate that using the military example is a relevant method for tracing Canada’ s place in the new global economy. By failing to insist on military self-sufficiency as NATO members, we counted on the U.S. to carry us, safe in the knowledge that they were obligated to defend us in the course of defending themselves. In doing so, we also allowed them to dictate our economic policy to us. Some evidence of this situation is that the Ontario government has taken most of its policy cues from the U.S. Republican party and the Federal government is anxious to please President Bush by adopting his economic policies.

Canada, rather than succumbing to the false gospel of globalization, should seek greater independence from its U.S. neighbor before it is too late. We are already talking about a common currency: the U.S. dollar, naturally. This ill-advised course will further weaken our already shaky sovereignty and weaken us on the world stage. At the end of WWII Canada possessed one of the most formidable militaries in the world and put it to work on UN peacekeeping duties. This made Canada special because, unlike the U.S., France and Britain, we were not forcing military solutions on other nations or subjecting them to imperialism for our good rather than theirs. Canada refused to arm itself with nuclear weapons and while it was a member of NATO and officially supported NATO’s nuclear deterrence policies, the only time nuclear weapons have been on Canadian soil was during the Deifenbaker years. Prime Minister Deifenbaker was apparently unaware that the U.S. jets at leased air bases in Newfoundland were armed with atomic bombs.

If Canada were to take a more independent stand and openly oppose U.S. actions like bombing Iraq and Kosovo, it would increase our prestige internationally and would mark a return to Canada’s proud past. In the past we were a valued partner to our allies, rather than a poor cousin, hoping for a place under the U.S. and NATO umbrella. This would require more political will than the Chretien government currently possesses so Canada continues to be at risk of becoming the 51st state.


Thanks to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Canada is a signatory to NAFTA. By creating an area of limited free trade between Canada and the U.S., Mulroney opened the door to the situation we now must deal with. NAFTA has not brought increased prosperity to the average people of Canada or the U.S. As Canadian author Naomi Klein writes:
“What we know is this: there is nothing magic abort trade in and of itself… Knowing this, a country in charge of its destiny would not be stuck in a pro or anti-trade debate. It would develop, in co-operation with other nations facing these (globalization) pressures, policies that generate exports and protect workers and communities from the volatility of trade. It would develop policies that attract investment and do not barter away its social safety net and culture. “
(5: Klein, Naomi, Globe and Mail, October 18, 2000, pg. A17.)

Rather, corporate globalization deals like NAFTA have been instrumental in increasing the gap between the rich and poor in both countries by damaging unions and encouraging the transfer of the tax burden from the wealthy and corporations and shifting it to the middle class. These people then transfer their resentment to the poor and those who receive social services. Most supporters of Canada’s fully embracing globalization are of the opinion that culture and the social safety net are vastly over-rated and that the social safety net in particular is an impediment to the prosperity of Canada’s citizens. They believe that democratic socialism discourages individual initiative and is not in keeping with a philosophy that is growing popular: libertarianism. Libertarianism proposes that the state play a minor a role as possible and that people prosper or fail on their own.


Canada is a signatory to the agreements governing the WTO and is represented in Geneva by Sergio Marchi, a Chretien loyalist of dubious ability but great predictability. Corporate Canada in the form of the BCNI exerted tremendous pressure on the government to join the WTO. Canada has not always enjoyed a happy relationship with the WTO in light of Canada’s recent beef war with Brazil, the fuel additive scandal and Canada’s challenge to the WTO’s ban on asbestos exports. This challenge is ironic in light of the fact that the Canadian government lost a WTO case against the U.S. fuel exporter Ethyl Corp. who had complained to the WTO that Canada’s ban on the fuel additive MMT in their gasoline was a trade barrier. They won and Canada paid $23 million to Ethyl and began importing their poison gasoline again. In truth, part of the problem was the weakness of Canada’s slipshod case. The federal government wrongly assumed that simply erecting an import ban would suffice.

On September 18, 1998, a WTO panel ruled that a French ban on asbestos imports from Canada was legal. This ruling was particularly ironic because European Union (EU) members suspected that Canada was making the asbestos case mainly to placate Quebec, Canada’s main producer of the carcinogen and a chronic separatist threat.

“The WTO ruling is the first of its kind, allowing a country to set up trade barriers in order to protect human health. The decision is welcomed in Europe, where 15 EU members states already had a unilateral ban on chrysolite asbestos…. Foreign Affairs representative Andre Lemay says, ‘if we start backing down on any form of trade obstacle, there’s nothing to tell us that its not going to start spreading to other areas.’”
(6: Larsen, E., Peace and Environment News, February, 2001, pg.4.)

What Canada is discovering about the WTO is not what they had hoped to discover. On the one hand we are forced to import questionable U.S. gasoline against our will while at the same time we are not allowed to export carcinogens to the EU.


The FTAA has been signed by 34 countries in North, Central and South America. Cuba, technically not a democracy, has been excluded but most of Central and South America’s police states are technically democracies so they are included. Many of the details have yet to be worked out and it will be a few years until the deal is finalized. This deal is really a logical outgrowth of 1989’s NAFTA trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

This deal will create a free trade zone extending from Canada to Chile and will involve over 800 million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $11 trillion. The deal will provide mechanisms for free trade and will include safeguards ostensibly designed to protect social programs, the environment and culture. A meeting of government leaders in Panama City in 1956 is widely seen as the starting point for continental solidarity. According to a National Post web site there are four basic arguments both for and against the FTAA. They are as follows:

-The FTAA promotes democracy.
-The FTAA promotes prosperity.
-The FTAA promotes social justice.
-The FTAA promotes environmentalism.
-The FTAA profits corporations and weakens governments.
-The FTAA has been conducted in secret.
-The FTAA hampers poor countries.
-The FTAA promotes business at the expense of the environment.”
( 7: Glover, D., April, 2001, National Post Online.)

I do not intend to provide a detailed discussion of Canada’s role in the FTAA because there is not enough space in this paper to cover the topic properly. Suffice to say that the opponents and supporters of this agreement are polarized along traditional lines. The Liberal government, the BCNI and the corporate sector and their supporters are arrayed against students, leftist academics, environmentalists and various protest groups. Unfortunately, the pro-FTAA group have the RCMP, CSIS and various other security/intelligence agencies to help them avoid discussing the issues with anyone not in the business or government elite.


The attitude of the Canadian government toward globalization is generally one of total support of something that they consider inevitable. They believe that globalization is basically a great thing and that Canada should play an active role in the process. Our welcoming of dictators like China’s Premier Jiang and Suharto of Indonesia at 1999’s Asia Pacific (APEC) Summit is a good indication of where the Federal government stands on anti-globalization protest. Protest in Canada has now become dangerous with police often outnumbering protestors by a ratio of four to one. Prime Minister Chretien has openly joked about pepper spray and mused aloud that the APEC protestors were lucky that they hadn’t been clubbed with baseball bats.

Canada is a member of the WTO, IMF and has a representative at the WB. Fortunately, we are a prosperous country so we are not as beholden to these bodies as a nation like Ghana, which had to totally re-organize its economy through IMF structural adjustments. The unofficial, self-imposed structural adjustments ocurring in Canada are more subtle than the official ones imposed on poor African nation but they are still repressive. I am referring to policies like the Liberal government’s massive Health and Sicial Transfer cuts. These cuts pleased international financial markets. Also, the fact that we signed NAFTA, the FTA and the FTAA indicates that Canada definitely supports globalization.

Export Development Canada is a federal crown corporation that lends money to Canadian firms to wish to operate overseas. The loan terms are generous and the body has recently had its credibility called into question over the Prime Minister’s role in loan arrangements for his friends. This is a good example of the Prime Minister’s political philosophy in action since he says, “Politics is a game of friends.”

The Chretien government has never been too supportive of serious environmental protection because it is hurtful to business and unhealthy businesses can’t make political donations. However, the government’s attitude to globalization is more complex and insidious than that. We are buying into the idea that government ought to be run like a business and as a nation we must be flexible to international trends in handling pollution, bribery and structural adjustment. By flexible, I mean that we must be willing to do whatever it takes to encourage wealthy foreigners to invest in Canada. With Lloyd Axworthy gone from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and John Manley firmly in control we are going in the direction indicated by the following quote from Shrinking the State:

“… the logic of neo-liberalism (or neo-conservatism) dictates that the welfare state be transformed into the competitive state. Labour, environmental and consumer regulations must be relaxed to accommodate a lower global standard. Similarly, tax rates must be downwardly harmonized to ensure that the tax regime does not represent a disincentive to investment and the wealthy. (8: Shields, J., and Evans, B. M., 1998, pg. 126.)

We have seen all of this happen in Canada. The traditional excuse for the Canadian government’s embrace of neo-liberalism has been deficit reduction and it is easy to trace the erosion of our social programs since the election of Brian Mulroney in 1987. His massive funding cuts were equaled or matched by Chretien’s Liberals in 1993 and subsequently very little of the money has been returned to the social programs from which it was taken. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is the fact that federally and in Ontario both levels of government provide zero dollars to affordable social housing.
The Canadian government is finding out that following the U.S. lead on most issues has placed it in a position from which it will be very hard to retreat.


The April, 20001 Summit of the Americas held in Quebec City will live in infamy among those who reject the negative aspects of globalization and so-called free trade. The controversy began over the text of the agreement, when Pierre Pettigrew, the Canadian Cabinet Minister mainly responsible for our part in the Summit, refused to publicize it until he received the approval of his 33 counterparts. A copy of the text was eventually released to the public but the chances of it being complete or accurate are faint. His refusal set the tone for the unpleasantness that occurred at the Summit. I will not offer a verbatim account of the proceedings but I feel obligated to mention that Canada now seems more concerned with the rights of wealthy foreigners than it does with respecting the rights of Canadians. The fact that many Canadians are not actively opposed to globalization and free trade can be explained by the fact that they are mostly too busy to investigate the issues deeply enough to be worried. Another reason could be the fact that we have been seduced by American consumer culture and we cannot get past our sense of entitlement. Also, our political leaders are conditioned offer instant gratification. As Brian Lee Crowley recently wrote in the Ottawa Citizen:

“…politicians get elected for making people feel good today, not for taking care of tomorrow….Walkerton and North Battleford are only the most obvious manifestations of a political system that allows politicians to reward voters today is at the expense of voters tomorrow. (9: Crowley, B, L., Ottawa Citizen, May 14, 2001, pg. A13.)

I mention this type of myopic thinking because while those responsible for agreements like the FTAA and the MAI talk a great deal about responsible planning, in reality they are operating on the assumption that the world is an infinite cornucopia of natural resources. To say otherwise would be very bad for one’s chances at the polls in societies like ours that have become conditioned to the heavy consumption of energy and consumer goods. It is this type of endless consumption that is the real danger to our species.

The globalization-inspired damage which is occurring in Canada and the U.S. is so gradual that people really don’t notice it or if they do it is considered inevitable or the price of progress. The process is one of whittling away at social, cultural and political institutions that have taken Canadians decades to develop and foster. I am referring to Medicare, the Canadian Armed Forces, foreign aid programs and other Canadian triumphs. All these and more will soon be on the negotiating table as our leaders scramble to make the American continents safe for business.

Unlike the de-railed 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle, the Summit of the Americas was an organizational success, due in large part to the massive security fence and the enormous police/security presence. I will address the security concerns shortly.


I will now turn to an examination of the major anti-globalization activist groups operating in Canada. The First is Operation SAAMI, which originated in Montreal in 1998. This citizen-based group was originally formed to protest the Multilateral Agreement on Trade (MAI). It is a non-violent group that uses direct action, conferences and does a great deal of networking with unions and other protest groups. They were active at the Summit of the Americas and their philosophy is to help the poor and oppose globalization.

The Anti-Capitalist Convergence was formed in Montreal in 2000 and is a citizen-based group. It relies on ‘non-violent civil disobedience’ to deliver its message. This group was also active at the Summit.
The Summit of the America Welcoming Committee (CASA) was formed in Quebec City in 2000 and is a citizen’s group that operates on a democratic model. They reject violence but do carry out direct action. They are generally opposed to what they perceive as the negative effects of globalization.

The Hemisphere Social Alliance (HAS), was organized in Brazil in 1997 and is unique in that it consistently holds ‘counter-summits’ to coincide with official WTO or other government trade events. This citizen’s group is opposed to all free trade agreements and insists instead on ‘fair’ trade. Of course, they are actively opposed to the FTAA as are Stop the Free Trade of the Americas (STFTAA) and Occupation Quebec Printemps (OQP2001) who finish the list of major organizations who were active at the Summit of the Americas.

The violent protestors like the Blac Bloc are actually an impediment to the anti-globalization movement because every time they throw a brick or smash a Starbucks window, they give the security forces an excuse to use force. It is this police use of force combined with exaggerations of protestor violence that captures the attention of the media and the public and discredits the protest movement as a whole.

Perhaps the most interesting activist development in recent years is the emergence of the ‘New Left’ or the social democratic movement outside of Canadian politics. This unofficial movement grew out of the dissatisfaction of prominent activists like Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club and the new darling of the anti-globalization movement: Naomi Klein. This movement seeks to mobilize public opinion outside of the political arena in a sort of grass-roots peoples’ movement. They feel that the government and the establishment have been so co-opted by financial issues and the concerns of Canada’s corporations and its wealthiest citizens that the political process is impotent and will not help the Canadian people. The federal NDP party sent representatives to the Quebec Summit but unlike the delegates, they were not allowed inside the perimeter. Like the rest of the protestors, they were left to breathe tear gas and wonder what was being decided behind closed doors.


The willingness of the Canadian government to adopt a heavy-handed approach to security at protests is of great concern to me and many other Canadians. The technology used in crowd dispersal is becoming more sophisticated and the police are not hesitant about using thousands of canisters of tear gas at a major demonstration. The U.S. Marine Corps is now testing a microwave crowd-dispersal device (weapon) and it is only a matter of time before such tools are used in Canada. Canada, as I mentioned before, is more likely than ever to imitate our dominant U.S. neighbors in the methods it uses to control dissenters. Fortunately, no one has been shot yet in Canada but pepper spray can certainly kill if misused. It is often misused, as are ‘rubber’ bullets, tear gas, water cannon and tasers. I have often wondered why science can send us to Mars but cannot or will not produce a crowd-control device that isn’t potentially harmful. It seems every device is potentially lethal if used against the frail, the ill or the elderly. I believe it is possible to create safe devices but that the authorities take advantage of the fear factor generated by the use of modern crowd control devices. Since all of the above devices were employed to great effect at the Quebec Summit (with the exception of Tasers), I will now quote from an account of the Seattle Anti-WTO event regarding the effects of such tools.

“Pepper spray (oleoresin capsicum) has a nasty history. In Seattle the cops were using a 10 per cent solution…Pepper spray this potent has been linked to more than 100 fatalities in the United States and Canada, often from allergic reactions or suffocation of the victim after being sprayed, tackled and cuffed. Despite this, law enforcement agencies have done almost no scientific studies on the effects of the toxin on human health.” (10: Cockburn, A., St. Clair, J., Sekula, A., 2000, pg. 27.)

The ‘police state’ mentality has invaded our culture and almost marks a return to the anti-Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s in terms of the authoritarian stance of the government, intelligence services like CSIS, the RCMP, various police forces and even the military. Protest against free trade and globalization has been criminalized and those who protest are being marginalized. It has been said that protest at Seattle was fine with the authorities until it started to become effective. Then it had to be stopped. The Canadian experience in Quebec was less traumatic and violent but the tone was the same.


It is easy to see where we are heading as a nation. We are compromising most of what we have traditionally held dear. The things that defined Canada were tolerance, humanity and multi-culturalism. All of these excellent things are being shoved aside as we rush towards our dubious future. Soon we will be indistinguishable from the U.S. It doesn’t have to be this way and a part of me believes that the process of Canada’s thoughtless embrace of the new global economy can be moderated and tempered so it does not forever alter the fundamental essence of this nation.

1. Globe and Mail, Thompson, Toronto, Canada.
2. Ottawa Citizen, Southam, Ottawa, Canada.
3. National Post, Global/Canwest. Toronto, Canada.
4. Peace and Environment News. Peace and Environment Resource Center, Ottawa, Canada.
5. Voice of Youth, Communist Party of Canada, Toronto, Canada.
Internet Sources:
1. A Citizen’s Guide to the World Trade Organization:
1. Hawkin, Paul. Journal of the Uninvited. Whole Earth Magazine. April, 2000.
2. Montegue, Peter. Making Sense of the World Trade Organization, Prevailing Winds.
3. Gordon, Mary. Out of Order., February, 2001.
1. Cockburn, A., St. Clair, J., Sekula, A. 5 Days that Shook the World, 2000, Verso, London.
2. Held, D., McGrew A., The Global Transformations Reader, 2000, Polity Press. Cambridge.
3. Shields, J., Evans, E.B., Shrinking the State, 1998, Fernwood, Halifax.
4. Shrybman, S., A Citizen’s Guide: The World Trade Organization, 1999, The Canadian Center For Policy Alternatives, Ottawa.