Brown Faces in White Places: The Imperialist’s Multicultural State


By: Nooria Alam

It has been over five months since the victory of Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau in the Canadian federal elections, ending Stephen Harper’s nine-year rule of tyranny in Parliament. Canadians rejoiced, thinking that there has finally been an end to the racist fear-mongering tactics of the Conservative party leader. But what has actually changed so far under the leadership of the Trudeau government?

Was the appointment of a “diverse” cabinet, one which supposedly “looks like Canada” according to Trudeau, but is only made up of people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, really worth celebrating?

The appointment of Harjit Sajjan as Minister of Defense made many celebrate the racial diversity of Trudeau’s new cabinet. Sajjan, a Sikh man from India was paraded around by media as a “badass” Canadian hero, earning his chops by being the biggest “Uncle Taj” in the Canadian military.

Working in a position of authority in the Canadian military intelligence body, he was aware of the ongoing torture of civilians but did nothing to address or stop it. Far from being a hero, his experience in the army shows that he is responsible for the deaths of many innocent civilians in the war in Afghanistan that can never be justified and continues to this very day.

G.I. Sajjan, A "Real Canadian Hero"

G.I. Sajjan, A “Real Canadian Hero” By: Jason A. Das

The appointment of an Afghan refugee, Maryam Monsef, to Minister of Democratic Institutions means that there will be no mention of the reason why she had to flee her country in the first place. Her swearing in is an oath of submission to the monarchy, and there will be no recognition of the attempts made by the British military to invade her country.

As the imperialist war against the Afghan people continues, Monsef is used as a tokenized tool of her own colonizers. Let us keep in mind that the Liberals voted for the “Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”, a racist law that specifically targets people who look just like Maryam Monsef.

So what do these Cabinet appointments mean for the people of Canada? Faces and policies may change but our material conditions remain the same; with poor housing, precarious work, and overall exploitation. As much as Trudeau might present himself as a Prime Minister of the people, when working class people continue to struggle to make enough to survive on a monthly basis, what difference does it make if our cabinet is more diverse?

While Trudeau’s public relations and media team distract us with people of colour in exploitative leadership positions, we cannot forget the programs that routinely exploit working class labour.

Let us not forget that the Liberal party was the one to create the Temporary Foreign Worker program, a form of labour exploitation that tears apart families and has people working many years in indentured servitude.

Real change will not come from a swap in power within a system built upon genocide and theft. That change can only come from the people themselves. The Liberal and Conservative parties of Canada are two sides of the same coin. It’s not just about stopping Harper or other Conservatives; it’s about collectively challenging systemic issues that are engrained in the very system that Canadians are celebrating because it includes some semblance of diversity.

The participation of minorities within a capitalist system, which seeks to exploit the very people it continually excludes, is not a solution. It is not “real change”, as much as Trudeau may like to throw those words around. The so-called lesser of evils is still evil.

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