Major turning points in history are usually only visible in retrospect, with the benefit of hindsight and the passage of time.

But the Jan. 6 committee hearings taking place in Washington this week are a rare and notable exception — one to which Canadians should be paying particularly close attention. If they fail to capture the attention of the United States and put some nails in Donald Trump’s political coffin once and for all, we could be collateral damage from the fallout.

It’s tempting to think the hearings, which are being held in prime time and covered by all the major TV networks (except, of course, Fox News), will finally break the hold Trump has exerted over the Republican Party and its various media proxies. The new evidence that’s already been presented, which includes previously unseen bodycam footage, makes it clear that what happened was terrorism through and through.

By all rights, and with any luck, this will be the moment where Trumpism and its core elements — deceit, fear, nationalism and violence — are driven back into the shadows of American public life.

But as Michael Fanone, a former Washington, D.C., metropolitan police officer who was injured during the attack, noted in a recent Axios piece, “I think most of the people in this country are indifferent toward what happened on Jan. 6, and everyone else is pretty well encamped in their side of the political aisle."

The fact that Fox News and the rest of the Trumpworld media ecosystem refuse to cover the hearings practically guarantees that encampment remains intact.

Anyone with even a passing interest in democracy and freedom should find the Republican Party’s collective shoulder shrug here alarming. As security analyst (and “never Trump” Republican) Kristofer Goldsmith told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace last year: “Every failed coup is just practice.”

The fact that people in former president Trump’s orbit failed to pull it off in 2021 won’t preclude them from trying again — that is, if they even need to. As it stands, the Republican Party seems poised to take back the House of Representatives in the fall midterms, and it’s easy to imagine Trump winning back the presidency in 2024.

Even if he doesn’t — maybe especially if he doesn’t — it’s increasingly clear America is flirting with a cultural civil war that’s becoming more violent with each passing day. When judges are being murdered, gun sales continue to skyrocket and large swathes of the law enforcement community have become disconnected from facts and reality, you have a combustible mix just looking for a spark.

Opinion: Canada needs to build protections from economic and cultural aggression coming from the United States. @maxfawcett writes for @natobserver. #cdnpoli #January6thCommitteeHearings #StormingTheCapitol

That’s why it’s time for Canadians to prepare for the worst. Ironically, we might want to take a page out of Trump’s own book and start building our own wall along the 49th parallel. Not a literal wall, mind you, since that wouldn’t do much to slow American military forces if they ever decided to cross. But a metaphorical wall to protect Canada from any economic and cultural aggression coming from the south is both long overdue and desperately needed.

We got a sneak preview of what that aggression might look like earlier this year when millions of dollars flowed across the border from Trump-supporting Republicans backing the anti-government convoy that occupied Ottawa. (Trump himself also threw his weight behind the protesters.) Tucker Carlson used his massive media platform to compare Canada under Justin Trudeau to a “Stalinist dictatorship,” while Candace Owens suggested America should invade Canada in order to help the truckers.

It’s not hard to see how this sort of rhetoric could have ended much more badly than it did — or what it portends for the future.

As a recent report from a group of former Canadian Security Intelligence Service directors and national security advisers noted, “This may not have represented foreign interference in the conventional sense, since it was not the result of actions of a foreign government. But it did represent, arguably, a greater threat to Canadian democracy than the actions of any state other than the United States.”

That’s why we should be investing heavily in our democratic institutions, both through electoral reform and a more robust and deliberate campaign against misinformation and those who spread it. We must diversify our trade relationships as much as we can and shorten our supply chains in areas critical to our health and safety. We should enhance our cultural independence and expand the capacity of Canadian journalists to tell Canadian stories. And yes, we should spend more on our own military defence, if only so we aren’t forced to rely so obviously on the United States.

None of this would threaten the geopolitical friendship with our southern neighbour that has underwritten much of Canada’s prosperity over the last half-century. America may yet turn away from the darkness that nearly consumed it on Jan. 6 and come back towards the light.

But we can’t afford to assume that will happen or wait around to find out if it does. We need to prepare. We need to build that metaphorical wall between ourselves and our increasingly volatile neighbour. And we need to do it before it’s too late.

Keep reading

>> By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.

We mustn’t dismiss these possibilities just because they seem ludicrous or too horrible to imagine. In 2014, the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck nearly everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and the horrible commonplace.

Leading American academics are now actively addressing the prospect of a fatal weakening of U.S. democracy. <<

These are the opening paragraphs of a very troubling and well thought out essay published in the Globe & Mail last December by Thomas Homer Dixon, one of Canada's premier intellectuals. It's a long read, but well worth it. Some of Dixon's recommendations line up with Fawcett's, but with a lot more research and analysis backing them up.

I especially like Dixon's take on renewables, specifically deep geothermal power that has the potential to become Canada's most powerful energy source, both domestically and for export to the US, should trade still be possible in a second Trump administration. Dixon also talks about strengthening our ties with other non-US democracies.

I was surprised not to see mention of what is to me the greatest argument for a wall--gun control.

We've seen the tone in our country become increasingly red-neck over the last couple of decades, and that's contagion from the deterioration of the USA--it's values, beliefs, behaviours.

We've seen thugs and hooligans contaminating Canadian beliefs and behaviours--more and more. The appalling decline of their education system, and their core values as a split society, endangers our own.

There are many different types of wall--digital, physical, economic, etc.

And they are more and more necessary to our health, and perhaps our survival, as an independent country.

I can't remember the name of the most recent US pol who dismissed our country as "just the 51st state", but that's not a new belief, and, terrifyingly, it's become more and more obvious through the anti-vaxxers' proclamations, that there are Canadians who think we already are.

No. Never. No.

And we know that the NRA is covertly helping to fund Canada's NFA, and other gun advocacy groups.

No argument from me when blaming the educational system: it's a bit important though to not get all smug-ish about it: Canadian educational systems have been in decline for a long time. And every right-wing government and its cousin wants to make everything completely standardized, measured, "efficient" ... but only in terms of east of delivery of curriculum: not in terms of students' actual learning facts (which it is becoming increasingly apparent *are* important) ... much less in students' learning to observe and to think.
I'm pretty sure Canadians know we're not the US. But they never learned how our system of governance works, or even that there are different systems: Hey: the US is capitalist, we're capitalist, capitalist-means-democracy, and democracy is Us and US. So everything about all our systems must be identical.

US expansionism has been aimed at Canada for over 225 years: our kids don't learn about *that* in school, either!

And as far as the red-necks goes, they've always been there. They're just more obvious, because they've been emboldened by government, police, industry ... and they're not hampered by economics because largely they all work for by the Big Polluter Industries. The biggest piece in their obviousness, though, is media itself.

So what's news in the US is also news here, and the success of the digitizing and distribution of social, economic and political propaganda as news has reached dizzying heights, since its obvious ascendancy during the past small number of decades.

And then there's the commentary. Don't let me get started.

When it comes to military spending, what we need is not so much to spend MORE, as to re-envision what we're doing with the money we do spend. So for instance, F-35s are incredibly expensive, and they are ONLY useful for the purpose of helping the US bomb defenseless countries or go to war with China or such. And their use is extremely integrated with US forces; it's like we're an adjunct of the US air force.

So, for that much money, how many anti-aircraft missiles could we buy? How much arctic/coast patrol stuff, sea and air? What would we spend money on, if we were to think of the Canadian armed forces as a force for protection of sovereignty and defence of the country, rather than a sub-imperialist force for pacifying countries the US doesn't like? No doubt we could never stop the US from marching their armed forces into Canada--but if Afghanistan can stop them from holding their country, so can we. What kind of army could mount that insurgency struggle?

why not a serious enlargement of the reserve forces we have? Is there any reason why every city and town large enough to justify establishing a unit. These forces could receive a lot more resources and training than they currently get. The training in a distributed command structure that Canada gave to Ukrainian forces would serve such forces well. They could also be well positioned to aid civil authority.
As for the F35 the cost to purchase and operate these things constitutes a restraint on developing forces that serve the country better and in more dimensions. We could be something more than an aid American adventurism.
A recent publication coming from security experts at the University of Ottawa welcomed the decision to buy the F35 seems darkly ironical when in the same paper they com[plain that the government "has not produced a strategic threat assessment since 2005."
In other words the function of these aircraft in Canada's defense is at best unclear.
The same paper expresses concern about the rise of anti-democratic forces in the USA constituting a threat to Canada.
All the questions you ask, and more, desperately need to be answered. We've seen how relatively cheap armaments can destroy very expensive aircraft, tanks and ships. So why would we buy such hardware if the objective is defense?
There is an old saying that generals are always well prepared to fight the last war. Not a good position in times like these. What would be wrong with a serious threat assessment leading to a better defense policy?
We could get it of advice from the Ukraine and, (don't laugh), maybe even the Taliban. They seem to have been pretty good at wrangling with invading forces. F35s, submarines (ho ho ho!), high-tech frigates and other expensive, complicated, failure-prone equipment might turn into the bit-coin of military investments.

Max Fawcett Quote
"Canada needs to build protections from economic and cultural aggression coming from the United States. "
When I read this and listen to Western Truckers Convoy participants asking police to protect their "American Constitutional Rights", it's time to know our institutions let alone protect them. Here in Alberta our ultra conservative neoliberal UCP government is amending education to emphasize citizens have to be consumers and entrepreneurs.  Where are the facts on how our various levels of government work? Certainly not here.
Then we have P squared running for Prime Minister in a country with a parliamentary system. And seems to be attacking all Canadian institutions as gatekeepers when he himself is a gatekeeper. And like Americans we have 20 % of our population who actually believe in these conspiracy theories, so much so, they will be flim flammed by Pollievre.
It appears we don't take this move to extreme views seriously enough. This P squared politician and so many others are a threat to our democracy and our freedom. It took 40 years for religious zealots in the US to stack their Supreme Court. The long game is happening here too.
I was lucky enough to participate in the Youth Parliament of Manitoba while in high school. Then work for municipal and regional governments for 25 years. There's an education in democracy!

Our best hope is to unite our progressives while we still have the luxury to do so, and then enact all of the measures that would distinguish us, differentiate us, and put us more in league with progressive Europeans who, now in direct proximity to fascist aggression, have their backs to the wall sufficiently to finally give the needed perspective.

I send excellent, true and timely articles like this to the Prime Minister's Office but, regrettably, I doubt they pay any attention at all. How do we get this message to pierce the bureaucratic armor?

When Trump suggested that a wall should be built along the Canadian/USA border I thought by God I would help him build it, but not for his reasons..I definitely want to keep American influences and wild conspiracy theories out. The USA has hardly spent any time at peace, first there were wars between immigrants and the indigenous people, then the revolution, the Civil war, Spanish-American War, the two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan. I truly believe the next war will be fought on the streets of their cities. Democracy is a precious and yet a somewhat fragile entity and we must do all we can to uphold it. Let the Americans go to hell in a handbasket if they want to, we need to stay clear of their very right wing bigoted conservatism.

So, belying the headline, it's really just a cultural wall: sad click-bait from the NO. Instead of this mental masturbation, Canada needs to think about shifting to resource conservation and sustainable development, and sharing our oil, gas, and water - yes, 'our' water - only with countries that also have similar commitments. only by being pro-active and charting a new path can we avoid US desperation.

Unfortunately, without doubt, the U.S. is comfortably secure with air-tight signed agreements from Canada granting the U.S. all kinds of liberal access to our water and electricity at laughable rates. Not a very good security blanket there.

Yes on electricity; no on water. And security from this raucous nation to our South will come from goodwill, not bravado.

I am amazed. A Max Fawcett opinion that I wholeheartedly agree with and share. C'est totalement du jamais vu!