What he was talking about when he talked about colonialism

The Prime Minister’s Office offers its interpretation of what the Prime Minister meant when he said in Pittsburgh that Canada has “no history of colonialism.”

“It was in response to a question from Reuters about Canada’s voice and role in the international financial market. Basically, the prime minister was giving some context and saying that unlike past global empires, Canada does not have a history of colonialism with respect to the financial market,” said spokeswoman Sara MacIntyre. “Past global empires have implemented policies that are colonial in nature. It was really focused on the international financial scene … I think it has been misunderstood and the prime minister stands behind his apology that was made last year.”

Footage of the Prime Minister’s press conference at the end of the G20 is here, the question in question coming nearer the end of his availability (about a third of the way through that video). The Reuters reporter wondered whether the Prime Minister was concerned Canada’s voice would be “diluted” as the G20 supplants the G8. The applicable portion of the Prime Minister’s response reads as follows.

You ask about Canada’s voice and Canada’s role. Will Canada’s voice and Canada’s role be diluted? Well, look, in a, it’d be crazy for me to deny that, to some degree. Obviously if you’re one of 20, instead of one of eight, it’s a different dynamic.

That said, Canada remains in a very special place in the world. First of all, just in terms of the immediate crisis, we are the one, major, developed country that no one thinks has any responsibility for this crisis. In fact, on the contrary, they look at our policies as a solution to the crisis. Everybody, we’re the one country in the room, everybody would like to be. They would like to be an advanced, developed economy, with all the benefits that conveys to its citizens, and at the same time not have been the source or have any of the domestic problems that created this crisis in the first place.

Secondly, Canada has broader assets. We should not, you know we’re so, we’re so, humble isn’t the word, but we’re so self-effacing as Canadians that we sometimes forget the assets we do have that other people see. We are a very large country, with a well-established, you know, we have one of the longest-standing democratic regimes, unbroken democratic regimes, in history. We are one of the most stabile regimes in history. There are very few countries that can say for nearly 150 years they’ve had the same political system without any social breakdown, political upheaval or invasion. We are unique in that regard. We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers, but none of the things that threaten or bother them about the great powers.

We also are a country, obviously beginning with our two major cultures, but also a country formed by people from all over the world that is able to speak cross-culturally in a way few other countries are able to do at international forums.

All of these things mean, and I’ve said this before, it’s kind of a bit of a joke, but it’s absolutely true, Canada is big enough to make a difference, but not big enough to threaten anybody. And that is a huge asset if it’s properly used. And I think, if we build on it, as I say, I think the country has a great future, and if we build on these things and if we remain appropriately humble, while not denigrating ourselves, then we can build on these assets.

In related news, Conservative Rod Bruinooge is calling on anyone willing to debate Canada’s historical ties to British and French colonialism.

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