In the News June 2
What to Expect from the Next Ontario Government
Oppose Ontario’s Integration into the U.S. War Economy!
At the time the “Freedom Convoy” blockaded the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit in February, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) President Stephen Laskowski said that the OTA would be working with the Ontario government to permanently enshrine measures “so these illegal acts can be dealt with in the future without having to declare emergency measures.”
Similar calls were given in unison during the blockade by various parties, including a number of point people of the Canadian state to make the emergency powers for securing critical infrastructure permanent. No measures are ever taken to protect people’s freedom of speech or participation in decision-making but when it comes to the suppression of rights, those who represent narrow private interests and the cabal of cartel parties are eager to pass legislation in the name of high ideals.
In this vein, the President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Perrin Beatty, said on February 16: “We may very well see across the country, including potentially in Windsor, more measures being taken to ensure that small groups aren’t able to put down critical infrastructure.”
“We should have never had a situation where it was possible to blockade the road to and from the bridge and so it’s having the resources there to ensure these critical elements of infrastructure are able to be maintained,” Beatty added.
The Chamber issued a public letter calling on all levels of government to act to end the blockade, telling them to “urgently enact measures to protect critical infrastructure to ensure further closures do not take place elsewhere in the country in the days ahead.”
Beatty’s calls for action are significant, given that he is the head of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce which represents the global monopolies in Canada. He has recently also been calling for Canada to serve the U.S. as a safe and reliable source of critical minerals to counter the U.S. reliance on China for these minerals. In a recent article in Policy Magazine, Beatty wrote:
“We need to find ways to break out from the pack and secure a greater market share of American decision-makers’ attention. One way that can be done is by supporting American ambitions related to critical minerals. In the June 2021 supply chain review, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) underscored its concern with the current critical mineral supply chain: these supply chains are at serious risk of disruption — from natural disasters or force majeure events, for example — and are rife with political intervention and distortionary trade practices, including the use of forced labour. Contrary to a common belief, this risk is more than a military vulnerability; it impacts the entire U.S. economy and our values.
“Unlike China, Canada is a reliable partner and can help allay the DoD’s concerns related to the supply chain risks identified for critical minerals. In fact, Canada gets an explicit call-out in the report and the DoD highlights in their assessment that Canada has resource potential in twenty-three products. Although Canada and the U.S. have started engagement through the Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, we need to make greater strides domestically in order to bring something to the table.”
The something to bring to the table is literally the secure supply of critical raw materials and other goods for the U.S. without any threat from blockades, protests or even governments which may seek to take Canada in a direction different from integration into the U.S. war machine. This is what the North American monopolies want from Canada. It appears that the “freedom” blockade, which was allowed to go on for almost a week at the border, provided the justification for the new powers to be put in place in Ontario to make this a reality.
Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, in making application for the injunction to end the Ambassador Bridge blockade, said that 95 per cent of the Canadian auto industry is located along a 400-kilometre corridor from Windsor to just east of the Greater Toronto Area and that “virtually all imports and exports critical to Canada-U.S. vehicle assembly lines flow across the [Ambassador] bridge.” The mention of the 400-kilometre corridor is of note here because it references not just the bridge but the entire stretch of the 401 and 403 highways, which connects the bridge to Toronto and the ports in Hamilton and Niagara.
On February 14, Windsor City Council passed a motion calling on the federal and provincial governments to partner on developing a new permanent model to protect and secure international crossings in Windsor, as well as providing funding for all the costs incurred during the blockade and into the future as enhanced security measures continue. Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse has also called for a more permanent arrangement moving forward for securing the bridge.
The U.S. owner of the Ambassador Bridge, whose family controls a trucking empire based in Michigan, issued a statement calling for the same thing when the bridge finally reopened for business after being shut down for a week.
Also on the U.S. side, Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer said on February 14, speaking to the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce: “No matter what the cause or what the substance of the ‘debate’ is, if you’re going to unlawfully block international trade, it will not stand.” She added, “This was, I think, a lesson to the world and, frankly, I think some in DC didn’t appreciate in the first days how serious the consequences were going to be for our nation but for our state, in particular,” she said. “One week was a loss of $51 million, and that was just in the auto sector jobs alone.”
Around the same time, Michigan Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin commented on Twitter, “The longer they can simply block a border crossing when they want, the more likely it is that this will become a regular occurrence in the future. … We can’t be this reliant on parts coming from foreign countries. The one thing that couldn’t be more clear is that we have to bring American manufacturing back home.” Later she tweeted: “The Canadian government needs to end the blockade. Then we need to continue the work that Michiganders have been pushing for over the last 30 years: bringing manufacturing of critical items back to the U.S. so we’re not dependent on others for our economic security.”
Slotkin’s comments are interesting in that Canada routinely calls for production facilities on Canadian soil to be considered part of the U.S. homeland, and it is precisely the placement of U.S. security agencies in Canada which is presented as proof of Canada’s loyalty to U.S. imperialism. Of note is the way Canada tries to claim that the facilities of “our monopolies” in Canada should be permitted to get in on various handouts or deals in the U.S. Also of note is that Slotkin is considered a “progressive Democrat” and is a “former” CIA analyst and Department of Defense Official.
It must be remembered in all of this that another $5.7 billion international bridge is now being built further west of the Ambassador Bridge, financed by the Canadian federal government for all developments on both sides. The main towers of the bridge on either side of the Detroit River have been erected and construction has begun on the ports of entry.
Now is the time when establishing new security arrangements in the approaches to that bridge, the bridge itself and highways on both sides will likely start being presented as ways to protect jobs, attract investment, etc. Another feature is sure to involve placing more U.S. security agencies on Canadian soil, and for production facilities in Canada to pre-clear goods and people based on U.S. imperialist definitions of security and rights.
This new bridge was conceived following 9/11 as a necessary backup to protect against terrorist attacks in North America at that time from “Muslim extremists.” Now, in the name of protecting critical infrastructure from attacks by “violent extremists” and “terrorists,” new powers for police agencies to protect the functioning of the North American monopolies are being put in place.
For their part the major trade unions representing workers in the automotive sector, which very much relies on the movement of parts and vehicles both ways on the Ambassador Bridge, have not been among those who jumped on the bandwagon calling for permanent new emergency measures. The auto unions have mainly pointed out that the arbitrary nature of production is such that headquarters in the U.S. make decisions to use product from Canada as it suits them and to stop production as it suits them. They have explained that their production systems are so reliant on the just-in-time movement of goods across the border, that even when they have product, if they haven’t yet got the racks back that fit the U.S. assembly lines, to move it, they cannot ship their product or receive their parts.
This irrational situation causes great uncertainty for the workers. This is important as it reveals the irrational nature of the way production is organized in the current setup, and the necessity for more stable and integrated facilities that are not subject to all the uncertainties of the choke points in what is called the North American supply chain.
However, it also reveals that the working class of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico is in many respects fully integrated through the various aspects of modern production they carry out. It is often said, for example, that by the time a car is finished being assembled, its parts have gone back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border six or seven times. This integrated nature of production brings forward the integrated nature of the working class in North America, with its contingents in different countries depending and relying on one another — without any political control over the way that inter-dependency is organized or used.
Thus a much warranted conclusion is the necessity for the working class to organize as one international working class, rather than getting caught up in making deals for handouts with an arm of a global monopoly that employs them. There are many other warranted conclusions to be drawn as we discuss what is being revealed and how to take up our social responsibilities under the circumstances.
1. Stephen Laskowski is a member of the Trudeau government’s COVID-19 Supply Council established in May of 2020. In 2004 he was a participant in the U.S. State Department’s “Leadership Exchange Program.”
2. Perrin Beatty is a member of the Privy Council of Canada based on the various cabinet positions he held in the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, among them Solicitor General and Minister of Defence. In fact it was Beatty who in 1987 as Minister of Defence introduced the Emergencies Act that was invoked for the first time in February of this year since it was passed in 1988. Beatty is also a member of the Trudeau Government’s COVID-19 Supply Council.
Ontario Political Forum, posted June 2, 2022.