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Progressive Efflux?
by Kim Petersen
November 8, 2004

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“I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction.”


-- London’s mayor Ken Livingstone in 2003


“Your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn’t play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.”

 -- Osama bin Laden


After what must have been one of the most pathetic Democratic Party presidential campaigns ever, George Bush managed, legitimately or not, to snag a second term as president.


The mayor of Europe’s largest city seemed to consider Bush a threat as great to the planet as, supposedly, global warming, but then the anti-Kyoto Bush is just the person to accelerate a release of greenhouse gases. Osama bin Laden, for whatever minimal influence he has on the American electorate, and with a respectable dose of skepticism to the authenticity of any tapes and videos that purport to be from him, spoke a truism: at least to some extent Americans determine their security and fate at the ballot box. With all due skepticism to US election results, a significant number of Americans opted for warmongering.


Given the shenanigans ongoing in the US Empire it would not be too surprising that some disgruntled Americans would seek to emigrate. There are a few articles appearing in the Canadian media envisioning an influx of Americans fleeing the increasingly fundamentalist US.


Some see fit to poke fun at Americans. One left-leaning Canadian writer, Scott Piatkowski, speculated on a potential “progressive-minded” brain drain from the US to Canada. He found that when he did a Google search on the terms “Bush” + “I'm moving to Canada” that an “incredible 5,580 hits” were registered. Like disappearing ballots in the US, an identical search by myself came back with 1,550 hits -- maybe not so incredible but still maybe noteworthy.


Canada’s This Magazine beckoned to American progressives exasperated that an American president derided as a “moron” north of the border could squeak in for a second term. A spoof website was set up inviting Canadians to marry an American progressive to help them into Canada.


A few of the assumptions are questionable. Equating progressivism with brainpower is certainly one challengeable assumption. Second, the assumption that Canadians are much more enlightened than Americans come election time is also questionable.


This year’s federal election in Canada was depicted as a choice between the corporate duopoly: i.e., the lesser of two evils. The right-wing Conservative Party that is pro-war in Iraq, staunchly pro-Zionist, anti-gay marriage, pro-NAFTA, and is constantly having to silence bigoted views from its members made the biggest gain, adding 21 seats to its total from the previous election. The scandal-ridden ruling Liberal Party saw itself reduced to a minority government. This was due to a neoliberal agenda in which economic performance adversely affected most Canadians (the gap between the haves and have-nots continued to rise in the haves favor); the gay-marriage hot potato was juggled; the government sat on the fence prior to the invasion of Iraq; and it was sitting on the fence concerning Canadian participation in Bush’s ballistic missile defense.


The provinces of BC, Alberta, Ontario, and Newfoundland-Labrador are home to neoliberal regimes.


But to leave the impression that the political situation is identical with the US would be disingenuous. While the neoliberal Conservative Party saw a large increase in parliamentary seats, its share of the vote dropped from 37.7 percent in 2000 to 29.6 percent in 2004. The social democratic New Democratic Party saw its fortunes improve from 8.5 percent of the vote in 2000 to 15.6 percent this time around although it only managed to pick up six more seats for a total of 19.


Progressive views were expressed. Canadians prevented their government from overtly partaking in the invasion and occupation of Iraq (behind the scenes the Canadian government actively supported US aggression through logistical assistance, and freeing up US forces by sending Canadian troops to Afghanistan while Canadian firms supply the US war machine -- i.e., war profiteering). Canadians made increased funding for medical care a prominent election issue and forced it onto the government agenda.


Nonetheless it is rather ironic that some people would consider leaving the seat of empire to live in an adjunct of empire. Indeed, there is a big push by a section of corporate Canada for “deep integration” with the US whereby the economies would be further entwined, a move that threatens the sovereignty of much more lightly populated Canada.

An influx of US progressives would undoubtedly shore up the progressive front in Canada. But what then of empire? With fewer left to continue the struggle against fascism and imperialism in the US, the outside pressure will likely build on adjuncts of empire.

Kim Petersen is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at:

Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen

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* Putin's Sheath
* Staring into the Journalistic Abyss: Disinformation and Propaganda at the NY Times
* Progressivism and the Corporate Olympics
* The Futility of Revolving Warmonger Regimes
* The Deadly Contradiction of Being John Kerry
* The Path of Evil
* The Importance of Solidarity
* Lessons Not Learned
* A Tale of Two Ethnic Cleansings
* The Freedom Crusade (Part Three): Home of the Not-So-Free
* The Freedom Crusade (Part Two): The Four Freedoms
* The Freedom Crusade (Part One): Bush’s Mission

* The Progressive Paradox: Defining Viability
* The Shame
* The Wrong Direction
* The Pornography of War

* The Fairy Tale of Liberation
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