Canadas Role in the World

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 1415 .... May 16, 2017
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Canada’s Role in the World:
A Review of Tyler Shipley’s Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras

Tanner Mirrlees

Stories about Canada's role in the world define "who Canadians are" and "who they are not." The story that gets told most is a positive one. Canada, benign and benevolent, promotes free markets, democracy and multiculturalism while protecting peace, stability and human rights in each country it engages in or does business with.

Optimistic and confident, this glowing story about Canada in the world is packaged and sold, over and over again, year after year. It shows up in the speeches of Prime Ministers and in the press releases spun by the major parties; it circulates across the news media and in... popular cultural forms; it carries daily conversations.

However, this story of Canada the do-gooder abroad often deflects attention away from real social problems at home. Hard to consume social facts – class inequality, poverty and homelessness, racist and sexist oppression, the legacy of settler colonialism, and the rise of white Right extremism – are minimized if not denied in the story we tell about our "way of life" around the world. In a time when the Canadian State tries to sell a soft power-maximizing brand image of Canada to the world, the antagonistic bits and pieces of Canada's history and present get buried.

Nonetheless, the story of Canada abroad may get Canadians to think and feel themselves to be "global" subjects even when many are "local." Unlike diplomats and CEOs, most people cannot afford to be footloose. Bound to place by waged work, many Canadians do not have the money, time or privilege to "de-territorialize."

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