Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been compelled to break his silence on American President Donald Trump’s repeated statements that the only legitimate outcome of the November 3 US presidential election is his re-election and that he will not countenance a peaceful transfer of power, whatever the vote tally.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters from the roof of the Canadian Embassy in Washington [Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite]
These statements are Trump’s public call to arms for a coup d’état, already set in motion by the White House and aimed at establishing a presidential dictatorship. Trump is conspiring to overturn his all but certain defeat at the polls by mobilizing sections of the military-police apparatus and his fascist supporters to unleash violence and mayhem, and through intrigues involving the unelected Supreme Court and the anti-democratic Electoral College (see: “Trump’s Operation Dictatorship: What the debate exposed”).
Asked at a media event Thursday about the US political crisis, Trudeau refused to condemn Trump for his flouting of the most basic democratic norms and his lies about the integrity of mailed ballots, let alone for plotting to overthrow American democracy.
“We are certainly all hoping,” said Trudeau “for a smooth transition or a clear result from the election, like many people around the world.
“If it is less clear, there may be some disruptions and we need to be ready for any outcomes. That’s what Canadians would expect of their government, and we’re certainly reflecting on that.”
As in early June, when Trudeau visibly groped for a response when asked about Trump’s attempt to illegally deploy the military against the mass protests over the police murder of George Floyd, Canada’s prime minister went on to say he wouldn’t “comment or weigh in on American political processes.”
Trudeau’s remarks and not for attribution statements by various senior government officials indicate that he, his inner circle, and Canada’s military-intelligence apparatus are fully aware of what is now unfolding in America, and carefully calculating their response based on the two principal concerns of the Canadian ruling class. These are: maintaining Canadian imperialism’s longstanding and ever more pivotal economic and military-security partnership with Washington and Wall Street; and limiting, as best they can, the political crisis in the US from further destabilizing class relations in Canada, which have already been rendered fraught by rampant social inequality, the decades-long assault on public services and worker rights, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a Reuters’ report, published later Thursday, the Canadian government is in consultations with the principal European imperialist powers, and likely also Japan, about how they will respond to a Trump coup.
“Canada’s foreign ministry,” wrote Reuters, “is gaming out scenarios for the US election and what the implications could be, especially if the aftermath is unpredictable, five sources familiar with the matter said.
“Ottawa,” continued the Reuters report, “is talking to other members of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations who are working on similar initiatives that plan out responses to various election outcomes, one source said.
“The sources said officials were looking at scenarios ranging from a straightforward win by either Republican President Donald Trump or Democratic opponent Joe Biden to more complicated outcomes where the result is contested or delayed.”
Just hours after Trudeau spoke of his government’s concern about the crisis in the United States, the extent of the coup plot was starkly revealed when news broke of the arrest of over a dozen right-wing militiamen in Michigan on charges of plotting to kidnap and kill Governor Gretchen Whitmer—a frequent target of Trump’s tirades. They also planned to seize the state legislature and violently overthrow the state government.
Trump, subsequently, refused to denounce the conspiracy against Whitmer’s life and the constitutional order, and instead railed against her on Fox News for “complaining” about the plot and implementing COVID-19 restrictions.
In his remarks Thursday, Trudeau, just before speaking about possible post-election “disruptions,” referred to the election outcome’s “potential impact on the Canadian economy.”
The Reuters report similarly cited Ottawa “insiders” concerns about the adverse impact events in the US could have on “highly integrated” Canada-US “supply chains, especially for the auto industry.”
This has been interpreted by the media as a reference to the possible disruption of Canada-US trade due to White House orders to close the border or restrict cross-border commerce, similar to those George W. Bush issued following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Left unsaid is another even more significant scenario: an explosion of working class opposition to Trump’s coup in the form of mass protests and strikes that could shut down the auto industry and all or much of the US economy.
The Toronto Star also published a report Thursday citing a “senior government source” who “agreed to lay out Ottawa’s contingency planning on the condition the Star withheld their name.”
According to the Star, their source “downplayed” one of the government’s “scenarios”—“that a disputed” election outcome leads “to widespread civil unrest and protests, with Trump refusing to leave office and discrediting the election results.”
The Star report said the government is bracing itself for the next stage of the US political crisis by focusing on reaching out to US “powerbrokers,” just as it did when Trump repudiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was ultimately replaced by a more expressly US-led continental trade war bloc. The Trudeau government’s NAFTA response, as the Star article notes, saw Ottawa court leading Congressional representatives and state governors, as well as key figures in Trump’s inner circle, including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and the fascist ideologue Steve Bannon.
The Reuter’s report suggests that Canada’s US ambassador, Kirsten Hillman, a career civil servant, “is playing a central role” in the current reconnoitring mission.
All of these reports should be viewed critically. Trudeau and his Liberals have very close connections to the Democratic Party, and were on the best of terms with the Obama-Biden administration. As such, the highest levels of Canada’s government are no doubt fully informed as to the Democrats’ response to Trump’s coup plot.
As highlighted by the refusal of Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, to answer a question in Wednesday’s vice presidential debate about what the Democrats would do if Trump refused to leave office, the Democrats are desperately seeking to downplay Trump’s coup threat.
It is the growing of social opposition in the working class that is the greatest fear of the Democrats and of the sections of the US financial oligarchy and military-intelligence apparatus for which they speak. They are determined to keep the American political crisis within the corridors of power and aim to thwart Trump’s coup plot, not by an appeal to the American people, but by convincing the military and intelligence agencies that his attempt to overturn the results of the election will provoke mass opposition thereby imperilling bourgeois rule. A Biden-Harris administration, they are arguing, is the “safer, better” bet to uphold US imperialist interests at home and abroad.
Trudeau, his government, and the broad sections of the Canadian ruling class that oppose Trump are similarly determined to downplay the threat represented by Trump’s coup plot, and for like reasons.
First, because any serious examination of the breakdown of US democracy would quickly reveal that the same fundamental processes—rooted in the ruling elite’s monopolization of wealth, promotion of war and militarism, and cultivation of reaction—are at work in all the imperialist countries.
Second, because they share the Democrats’ mortal fear of an upsurge of the American working class and the galvanizing impact that it would have on the class struggle in Canada.
And finally, because much as they consider Trump a liability to North American imperialist interests, should he prevail the basic economic and geopolitical interests of Canadian capital will require that they work out a modus vivendi with America’s führer president—just as they have for the past four years.
The preparations for a coup in Washington and the Canadian ruling elite’s complicit response must serve as a call to action. Opposition to the growing threat of dictatorship and the imperialist Canada-US military-strategic partnership requires uniting Canadian and American workers in a common struggle and on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program.