Appeasement Doesn't Work

World War II showed us that a policy of appeasement simply encourages bullies to further excess. Why, then, are so many countries intent on a policy of appeasement regarding a foreign country’s laws, namely FATCA?
Canada didn’t pursue a policy of appeasement in 1812 – we just kicked the butt of the United States right out of our country. Perhaps the reason for that was territorial – the US was invading Canada’s physical territory, which alarmed and angered both the government and Canada’s citizens. If the US invaded Canada physically today, to gain access to our fresh water, our oil, our vast kilometres of forest and resources, not only would Canada fight back, but the US would be censured the world over. However, unfortunately for us, two hundred years later, the US has learned an important lesson – economic pressure can win where brute force cannot.
Canada has a long history of economic entanglement with the United States and for just as long many of our leaders, and indeed, many of us regular folks, have been concerned about limiting the influence of the United States on Canada; the very concern that created the CBC. However, despite the misgivings of private citizens, many of our leaders have pushed for closer ties to the US.
What is the relationship between Canada and the US today? From the Government of Canada website, under Canada-US relations,

“Canada and the United States: No two nations closer

Canada and the United States enjoy a bilateral relationship unique in the world. It is forged by shared geography, similar values, common interests, deep social connections and powerful, multi-layered economic ties. The result is a long-standing, deep and enviable partnership.”

From a leaked document on Canada’s foreign policy (according to the CBC),

Despite all the focus on joining the global gold rush to bourgeoning markets in Asia, South America and Africa, the new foreign policy embraces a continuing close relationship with the U.S., regardless of its deeply troubled economy.

“We conclude that the U.S. will remain our bedrock partner,” the document states in bold letters for emphasis.”

How about the historical relationship? Well, there’s this, for example,

“On October 24, 1935, the very day he assumed power, (Mackenzie) King told the American minister that he wanted to travel the “American road” and pursue closer economic relations. He insisted on completing an agreement by Remembrance Day, November 11, and with the support of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt that goal was achieved. Because of King’s haste the agreement was not as favourable to Canada as it might have been, but it was widely popular nonetheless.“

A lecture on Canadian foreign policy, by Allan Gotlieb, back in 1991 is quite interesting reading. Did Allan Gotlieb perhaps see something like FATCA coming? He concludes his lecture with,

“But multilateralism will no longer be a strategy for limiting the influence of the U.S. over our nationhood and our lives. It seems that history at this time has dictated the inevitability of the second option – closer economic integration with the United States.

If we are to survive and flourish as a nation in the coming 60 years, we will have to look to ourselves as a strong, united and prosperous economic power, to strengthened bilateral institutions for dispute settlement, to the development of a common law of international commerce and to an effective voice in an expanding and perhaps deepening North American economic space.” (emphasis is mine)

However, our government also has some history of standing up to the United States:

  • War of 1812
  • Canadian sovereignty over the Northwest Passage
  • Machias Seal Island
  • The softwood lumber dispute
  • The Iraq ‘war’

I’m guessing that our government doesn’t feel that FATCA is worth taking a stand on. Is the economic impact this will have on our country too small when viewed against all of the other financial ties we have with the US? How large does the negative impact have to be on Canada’s economy before our government draws the line in the sand?
If we consider Bill C-45, which I feel is mainly about throwing Canada to the big business and profits wolves, it shows that our current government values industrial development – i.e. economics – over protecting our environment. Given that, I don’t think they’ll fight the US over a such a ‘little issue’ as Canadian citizens right to privacy in order to protect the close economic ties with the US.
This is one of those times, Canada, when we need to stand up to the United States. Our government needs to grow a backbone and disagree with the US. Stop this policy of appeasement. Set an example around the world. Tell the US that our banks will not violate Canadian law to comply with the laws of a foreign country at the expense of Canadian citizens’ rights.
If the United States is successful in forcing all the countries in the world to accept and implement the laws of the US, what happens then? Consider the history around the policy of appeasement.
What is the next encroachment by the United States that we can look forward to? I’m worried about what that might be – why isn’t our government?
(also posted on

7 thoughts on “Appeasement Doesn't Work

  1. Great post, and Happy New Year.
    If our present government doesn’t grow a spine and a pair, then it’s time to get serious about voting them out and someone else in, someone who will stand up to the US when it’s called for. As did Sir Isaac Brock, Tecumseh, Charles de Salaberry, and Laura Secord, in 1812. It would be pathetic if our current federal government were to be supporting commemoration of the War of 1812 (they are) and our Mint were issuing special coins to commemorate those four heroes of that war (they are) but then to cave in on FATCA. Pathetic, hypocritical, and cynical. But so far they haven’t caved, in spite of media rumours they are about to do so. Keep the pressure on them and on your MP!
    Remember Laura Secord, especially. She was born in the US, her father was a solider in Washington’s army during the rebellion against the British, but after the war her family moved to southern Ontario. In 1812 Laura warned the British and Canadian forces the Americans had crossed the Niagara River, and thanks to her, the Americans were repelled. A perfect historical role model of a relinquished expat “former US person” helping to stop American imperialism and extraterritoriality in its tracks.

  2. Reluctantly, after trying to forget about this whole matter (aside from lurking to keep up to date on what’s going on) I’ve decided that one of my resolutions for 2013 is to start being more active about joining in the fight against this encroachment on Canadian sovereignty. I did send a submission to Kevin Shoom about the situation of accidental Americans and got what was (rather insultingly obviously) a boilerplate response. Not that I expect a busy civil servant is going to respond to me personally, but I do expect that he could at least have crafted variants of the standard letter to suit different constituents. In part because of that, I’m even less optimistic than before about the Harper government’s willingness to protect Canadians who have lived in good faith as single citizens of this country for many years but whom the U.S. claims, because of birth or parentage, as “U.S. persons.”
    Appeasement doesn’t work. Thanks for saying this. We need to tell our government to be a government and take the responsibility of protecting the interests of its citizens.

  3. @Janeb, welcome back. I say that with mixed feelings, glad you’re back and contributing, but not glad that you’re caught up in this mess and have to be back.
    Yes, I also got a boilerplate response. I can only hope that the someone is actually reading and hearing what we have to say, and is feeling our pain. I’m not optimistic either, I so hope schubert is correct and it’s not decided that Canada will cave, but I don’t hold out much hope.
    Appease a bully by giving him your apple, then he wants your entire lunch and then he wants your weekly allowance. The US will be no different, if someone doesn’t put a stop to this!

  4. I agree, appeasement is a good way to gradually give up an inch, another inch, until somebody takes a mile. Remember Neville Chamberlain jumping out of the plane, waving his scrap and paper and making a little speech about “peace in our time”? Well, the same thing is happening to Switzerland, and could happen to Canada and other nations as well. If we don’t push back now, we could find ourselves being occupied.

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