By Steve Lalla (originally published on OrinocoTribune.com)
A new nonprofit documentary film series, Truth to the Powerless: An Investigation into Canada’s Foreign Policy, examines Canada’s role in international affairs. Mainstream accounts present Canada as a docile, peace-loving nation with an altruistic foreign policy. However, numerous progressive media outlets and publications have begun to chip away at this façade, exposing Canada’s misdeeds as a servile appendage to US foreign policy and a nefarious actor in its own right. Orinoco Tribune recently spoke to Pitasanna Shanmugathas, co-director of the six-part documentary series, to learn about the film and his experiences researching the subject.
“We wanted a documentary on Canadian foreign policy that showed both sides of the issues, that showed the arguments by Canadian politicians, their reasoning and rationale for their foreign policies in these various different conflicts and countries,” said Shanmugathas. “But we also, then, wanted the perspective of Canadian activists and dissidents who are challenging that narrative, because the narrative that these politicians are presenting is a largely benevolent narrative. When we talk about Canada’s intervention in Libya, Canada’s intervention in Yugoslavia, Canada’s intervention in Afghanistan, the politicians that we interviewed … largely portrayed the rationale for their intervention as being humanitarian … and that has been the viewpoint echoed by mainstream media.”
“We wanted both sides of the issue,” Shanmugathas explained, “so it could be a really educational docuseries, and so that people don’t accuse us of only showing one side of the issue and not really seriously considering the full spectrum of the complexity that is Canada’s foreign policy.”
Through the series’ six films, each approximately one hour long, Shanmugathas and co-director Ryan Ellis explore various aspects of Canada’s foreign policy, both historically and recently. The film includes a particularly enlightening episode that examines the role played by finance in the country’s actions around the globe. The series also includes episodes covering Canada’s support for apartheid South Africa and apartheid Israel, Canada’s participation in the destruction of Libya and Yugoslavia by NATO, and Canada’s involvement in dismantling democracy in Haiti and the Americas, including a segment about the leading role played by Canada in the siege of Venezuela, which began with the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998 and has continued throughout the presidency of Nicolás Maduro.
“The Lima Group is premised on creating a peaceful resolution to the economic crisis in Venezuela,” said Shanmugathas. “But really, it’s a cover to oust Nicolás Maduro from power, painted in flowery language. Canada has been at the forefront of backing Juan Guaidó to replace Nicolás Maduro as the leader of Venezuela and has held several meetings bringing all these Latin American countries, like Chile, for example, but it has become largely a failure. Canada has not been successful, and the reason that Canada is backing Juan Guaidó is because Canada wants a Venezuela that will be more receptive to mining interests, that will be more receptive to Canadian and other Western-led companies exploiting Venezuela for its resources, and Nicolás Maduro is opposed to that. Canada’s opposition to Venezuela dates back to Hugo Chávez, who the Canadian establishment just branded as a dictator and a thug, although he had enormous popularity among the people.
“Canada has imposed sanctions on Venezuela,” noted Shanmugathas. “Canada has, within the Lima Group, sought to refer Venezuela to the International Criminal Court to face charges for alleged human rights abuses. Canada has very much exploited, and is responsible, partly, for Venezuela’s economic troubles.”
During the interview, which can be viewed in its entirety on Orinoco Tribune’s Youtube channel, Shanmugathas spoke at length about his inspiration for making the film, his experience producing and promoting it, and Canada’s foreign policy with regard to Haiti, apartheid Israel, Ukraine, and more.
The entire nonprofit documentary film series can be viewed, at no cost, on Vimeo and through the website truthtothepowerless.com.