Venezuela's collapse and the 'useful idiots' of the Canadian left -

Venezuela’s collapse and the ‘useful idiots’ of the Canadian left

Venezuela’s descent into chaos was obvious years ago, but that didn’t stop Canadian social democrats from praising Hugo Chavez’s experiment in anti-reality economics and his assault on freedom

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

One political curse from the twentieth century that continues in this one is the praise from self-described progressives for demagogues whose policies can, in advance, be predicted to hurt the poor and destroy their freedoms.

Such “useful idiots,” as Lenin described them, were thick on the ground in the last century. Walter Duranty, a New York Times reporter, covered the Soviet Union in the 1930s and parroted the official line about Stalin’s agricultural “reforms”. Duranty wrote his dispatches just as millions were dying from Stalin’s forced collectivization in Ukraine.

In Canada, the best example of left-wing praise for poverty-creating regimes was Pierre Trudeau. He lauded multiple communist governments—the Soviet Union, Mao’s China’s and Castro’s Cuba—before, during, and after his time as prime minister.

The curse continues. Recall radical praise for the late Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan autocrat who died in 2013 and whose anti-entrepreneur policies and attacks on civil society were obvious from the start. His destructive policies are again relevant given current Venezuelan protests against his successor, Nicolás Maduro, and the government-induced poverty and repression which stem from Chavez-era policies aped by Maduro.

To wit: In 2004, Linda McQuaig glowed in her picture with and praise for Chavez. Arguing he redirected “vast sums of national wealth to the swollen ranks of Venezuela’s poor,” McQuaig mourned his passing in 2013. She called it a “sad milestone.” Likewise, Naomi Klein approvingly re-tweeted the claim that Chavez left behind “the most democratic country in the Western hemisphere.” (No surprise there: Klein long demonstrated support for Latin America’s interventionist left. She was thrilled with the “pink tide” that swept Latin America in the early 2000s; in 2004, Klein added her name to an online petition whose signatories wrote “We would vote for Hugo Chavez.”) One current Alberta NDP MLA, Rod Loyola, pre-politics, praised Chavez. And in 2013, Loyola was listed by the Marxist Leninist Daily as the media contact for an Edmonton “tribute to Chavez”.

Reality check.

Chavez, who ruled from 1999 until his death, exacerbated Venezuela’s typical Latin American problems—poverty, corruption, graft and inefficiency, with assaults on institutions necessary for a free society: the media, opposition parties, an independent judiciary and non-government organizations.

Chavez also attacked the lifeblood necessary for poverty reduction: profit. That’s the “currency” that allows businesses to hire and pay employees and to create goods and services. It is profit that allows for reasonable taxes so government programs can be financed.

An example of Chavez’s economic policies: In 2010, the Venezuelan leader launched an “economic war on the bourgeoisie owners” of food distribution chains, flour mills and grocery stores. His war and the substitution of government agencies for private sector distribution led to tragic waste: that year, a state-owned subsidiary failed to transport food from the docks. The result was 80,000 tonnes of rotting food, including meat. The ensuing stench was described as akin to “100 dead dogs.”

The Maduro regime continues Chavez’s economic policies: Just last week, it declared bakeries to be “special contributors.” One Venezuelan baker translated the regime-speak: “We have to pay double in taxes while facing shortages of milk, eggs, cheese and deli products.” Indeed, in March, 80 per cent of Venezuela’s bakeries reported having no flour.

Venezuelans face continual tragedy: eight of 10 Venezuelans are poor; a critical lack of medical supplies and money for health care contributes to infant mortality rates that soared by 30 per cent in one year. Maternal mortality is up 66 per cent. Hyper-inflation has vaporized savings and purchasing power. One economist who tracks a common food, chicken, notes, “chicken inflation” runs at 700 per cent annually.

Some blame Venezuela’s crisis on the late-2014 collapse in the price of oil, a significant export. Wrong. Alberta and Newfoundland also suffered from that decline but three years on, store shelves in Calgary and St. John’s are not devoid of food. Chavez and Maduro turned Venezuela into the 21st-century version of East Germany; it was they who created Venezuela’s dire shortages.

That this was Venezuela’s end was obvious years ago, but Canadian social democrats praised Chavez and the newest experiment in anti-reality economics, and his assault on freedom.

In 2010, three years before McQuaig and Klein offered their gushing tribute and supportive tweet, Amnesty International wrote of the Venezuelan regime’s “attacks, harassment and intimidation of those critical of government policies, including journalists and human rights defenders, were widespread.”

Canada’s ideological left loved Chavez and his policies, the ones that destroyed a decent, second-world country. They forgot, or never learned or never cared, that granting widespread economic power to a government with existing, necessary political and military power leaves no power for citizens. That makes such regimes dangerous to core freedoms, in addition to the folly of political direction for an economy from the top down.

Or put another way: Canada’s hard left learned nothing from the twentieth century.

Mark Milke is an author and columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @MilkeMark.

CORRECTION: This commentary has been changed to reflect a mistaken tweet attributed to Naomi Klein.


Venezuela’s collapse and the ‘useful idiots’ of the Canadian left

  1. Not very professional, Milke.

    • Professional or not is your opinion only. What this author said is very true. I have been following the destruction of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Socialist Revolution for 15 years. and what Mike had to say is very true. The Canadian left, such as the NDP’s Socialist Caucus and the Leap Manifesto Movement have been strong supporters of Hugo Chavez and Maduro.

      • His comment is very unprofessional…..opinion has nothing to do with it.

        There are lots of successful socialists around.

        • EVERY SINGLE SOCIALISTS country has ended in hell, just like Venezuela. The former Soviet Union, the eastern European bloc, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Cambodia are just names of few. And as for the Scandinavian countries Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark that you lefties like to quote, all of them have conservative governments for years! Even when Bernie Sanders singled out Denmark as his example of Socialism, the Danish PM reply was “WE ARE NOT SOCIALISTS”. If you look at the list of the most free countries in the world, even single one of them are capitalist countries, and them most unfree are all Socialist Countries such as North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba!

          • LOL……where did YOU go to school?


            Now go take a cold shower

        • Thanks for showing me what a useless idiot is

  2. The EvilLoonyOne is correct: Not professional.
    A pro would tow the party line for cash. The truth does not seem as profitable in today’s heavily censored artificial reality. Which is why the narrative has shifted from “Socialist” to “Dictatorship,” now that Venezuela is circling the bowl. Any talk of the failure of the mandatory dogma is Verboten.
    Luckily, the Regressives are starting to go after each other with the crab-bucket philosophy.
    Gorgeous to watch.

    • I have followed Venezuela’s economic decline for the last 15 years, and predominantly from Venezuelan news sources in Spanish. There is absolutely no doubt that their decline is caused by socialism and socialism only. The only censorship that exist is not from the free western media (the ones that you called profitable), but in fact stems from all the government controlled media such as socialist Telesur, which is nothing but a propaganda mouthpiece from the Venezuelan government. The Venezuela government hated the free media so much, that they nationalized many opposition news sources claiming that they were artificial reality and instead replaced with their propaganda fake news. If you don’t believe, just read the comments section from every Venezuelans from Venezuela’s two largest newspapers El Nacional and Últimas Noticias. You can see the vast, vast majority of them side with CNN, and Western Media as reporter of REAL NEWS. The fake artificial reality news all stems from the socialist government mouthpiece Telesur, to the point where neighboring Argentina refuse to air anything from Telesur.

  3. Bravo for Mark Milke for exposing the truth! There are so many ignorant Canadians who believe the LEAP MANIFESTO is good for Canada, and yet they have NO IDEA that its creators and followers such as NAOMI KLEIN and LYNDA MCQUAIG are all admirers and followers of Venezuela’s BOLIVARIAN SOCIALIST REVOLUTION.

  4. When I think of “useful idiots” I usually think of the ones whom along with their overlord Harper, denied climate change and blocked any meaningful international efforts to combat global warming.

    • “Useful Idiots” is a well known term used in the former Soviet Union to describe Western Leftist who continue to support Lenin and Stalin despite the on-going atrocities that they commit. When you associate “useful idiots” with Harper, it makes you look extraordinarily ignorant as Harper is the former president of the National Citizen’s Coalition, an anti-socialist group that targeted and demoralized the real “useful idiots” in Canada such as the Communist Party of Canada and the NDP’s socialist caucus as described in this article.

      • Whatever nonsense you believe, that is not a professional remark of thugs it puts the author in a protest crowd shouting slogans

        • Damn board..the remark puts him in with a group of thugs shouting slogans in the street

          • “China, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Ireland.
            Now go take a cold shower”

            Your ignorance is astounding!

            First of all, China attributes CAPITALISM and the ABANDONMENT OF SOCIALISM is the reason 650M of its citizens got lifted out of poverty! Just last year, the Chinese government admitted that its Socialist Cultural Revolution is immoral an unethical and should never be repeated again!

            As for the Scandinavia countries “Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway” that every leftists likes to quote, every single one of them have a conservative government, some for nearly 2 decades! When Bernie Sanders quoted Denmark as a socialist country, their PM responded that “WE ARE NOT SOCIALIST”

            Ireland as socialist? Shows you lack the most basic economic knowledge! Ireland, which is often quoted as the Economic Tiger of Europe is known to be the MOST CAPITALIST country in all of Europe with the lowest taxes and the GREATEST economic freedom. The fact that you consider them socialist just knows your ignorance!

            Canada is now among the top MOST ECONOMICALLY FREE countries in the world according to renown Heritage Freedom Index! We are now the company of the most capitalist countries in the world surpassing the USA and in the same ranks as Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and Australia!

            Thanks for revealing your lack of education!

        • “Remark of Thugs”, oh yes for you socialists, freedom of speech needs to be protected through censorship from Thugs like us. And yet oddly, the biggest thugs in Venezuela are the the socialist government sponsored Collectivos gangs that murder and intimidate the citizens of Venezuela for not following their socialist agendas. Funny how the same thing happens in socialist North Korea, socialist Cuba, and socialist Zimbabwe. All over the world, the real thugs are ALWAYS the socialists!

          • So again you just shout your opinion, and expect me to agree with it.

            Sorry, no.

      • “So again you just shout your opinion, and expect me to agree with it. Sorry, no.”

        Difference is that my opinion is backed up with facts. Like a typical socialist, yours is backed up with hot air and no substance.

        • You don’t have any ‘facts’…..just hysteria.

          • After 15 years researching Venezuela, everything I said here is true. You can research it yourself as all the facts I stated are in public domain. Your “facts” on the other hand are so fake, that it makes you look like a fool. Amazing that you can consider China and Ireland socialist! The Chinese and Irish will laugh at your comment! Both countries stronlgy attributes capitalism and the abandonment of socialism as their keys to success. This is a well known published fact making your opinion obviously nothing more than hot air and plain ignorance.

        • 15 years of your opinion is still just your opinion.

          • Better than your 15 years of complete ignorance. You are an exemplary “Useful Idiot” in the West that Lenin and Stalin adored. While they murdered millions of people to defend socialism (just like socialist Hitler and socialist Pol Pot), you were the useful idiots of the West who continue make excuses for them to continue with their bloody devastation. Just like how millions of Venezuelans are now facing starvation. Same as what happened in the old Soviet Union, China during the Cultural Revolution, The khmer Rouge era of Cambodia’s Pol Pot, and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Doesn’t matter how many millions die in the hands of socialism, ignorant followers like you just assures it continues.

          • Focus dude.

            I said the phrase ‘useful idiots’ in a column is unprofessional. It is.

            I was not discussing ‘socialism’. You were.

            But since you insist….’socialism’ is a social-economic system used by many countries in the world… all it’s variations. Canada uses the ‘third way’.

            There is no truly capitalist system in the world or truly socialist one. All the old systems died in 1989. They went broke. Now everything is a mixture, and will be until we globalize

            If you weren’t a newbie you’d know I’m neither capitalist nor socialist,,,,,,the world is not black and white you know.

    • So, how much of Global Warming is man-made?

      • Socialism is not the answer to Global Warming. Venezuela is a perfect example of how their socialist ideologies make things worst, not better. While Americans drive more and more electric cars and are in the forefront of replacing the internal combustion engine, socialist Venezuela subsidized gasoline to just 1 cent per gallon so every Venezuelan can afford to drive. Hence all cars in Venezuela are the gas guzzling type because there is no incentive to be efficient. Due to socialism, Venezuelans don’t innovate or try to save the environment. They keep polluting because there is no incentive to improve.

      • Venezuelan oil tankers are so polluted and dirty, that many countries no longer allow them to enter their ports fearing they would be polluted. So much for socialism. They claim to be friends of the environment, where as in reality they are the foes because they are too poor to maintain their fleet of oil tankers.

      • All of it.

        The elephants didn’t do it ya know

        • Do you have a number, or just the usual Septuagenarian Feminist dogma?

          • You mean you really think elephants did it??

    • Carol Anne-are you aware that all of the planets are currently warming and it has everything to do with solar activity and nothing to do with man made CO2. Not a lot of SUVs running around Jupiter!!

  5. Venezuela is another case study on the deleterious effects of involvement with the IMF and US banking. Those two institutions have ‘done’ Venezuela – which at one time was on its way to ‘wealthy’ compared to others in the Southern Hemisphere. It shares a commonality – a failure to thrive- that technically its population and its natural resources should have negated.

    It looks like socialism may have ‘failed’ in Venezuela – but there also seem to be far more Venezuelans who are resisting its passing than ever stood-up for all the wealth the country had before Chavez. Let’s face it without significant public support, like Assad’s ‘tyranny’ in Syria, the current government in Venezuela would have been belly-up two years ago.

    It’s looking more and more like an intervention force from the OAS, and if need be a ‘humanitarian’ brigade of US Marines, may be ‘forced’ to ‘restore order’.

    • The Bolivarian Socialist Revolution is such a failure that over 80% of Venezuelans feel it is the root cause of their country’s collapse. Just read the comment sections of Venezuela’s two largest online newspapers El Nacional and Últimas Noticias (use Google translate from Spanish to English) and you will see that the vast, vast majority (over 95%) of everyday Venezuelans do not believe US interference has anything to do with it. Your comment that it’s caused by the US banking and IMF just reeks with ignorance to the point that average Venezuelans would consider your comment highly offensive. Did you know that the Venezuelan government has the third highest number of Swiss Bank accounts in the world, and Maduro even approached Wall Street merchants to finance its government activities? Mercosur, the Latin American trade body that has no affiliation with the US even kicked Venezuela out of its pack citing poor human rights in Venezuela. That’s in line with the report from the UN Commission of Human Rights that identified the Venezuelan socialist government as one of the worst abusers of Human Rights in the world, in line with the findings of Amnesty International of Human Rights Watch. You have absolutely NO IDEA what is happening inside Venezuela to make a statement like that.

  6. Doug,

    You are blaming socialism for human greed and other faults in human nature. What does socialism have to do with human rights abuses and Swiss Bank accounts? Sounds to me like the problem in Venezuala relates more to inadequate checks and balances in a democratic system that does not have centuries of experience behind it as in Canada, the U.K. and even the US. The faults of human nature are found in both socialist and capitalist countries. It is best exemplified in the capitalist system by corporations who have made those of us who work into the serfs of the 20th century. We have enough to keep living with food on our table and a roof over our head. We have some toys and a few vacation days so we are complacent and just lie down and take it until life gets bad in either socialist or capitalist countries. Then you see the type of protest that is happening today in Venezuela.

    • Your fallacy beings with the statement ” are best exemplified in the capitalist system”. A statement like this shows you have no understanding of what capitalism is. Capitalism represents the collective will of society and corporations is how society structures itself to produce what it needs and wants. People are not serfs of corporations, but is rather the other way around. If people were actually serfs as you suggested, then most people, if not everyone would be working minimum wage! In reality, only 5.8% of working Canadians make minimum wage which shows your statement about people being serfs is completely wrong.

      In fact, the faults of human nature is best exemplified by socialism as I stated. Although the intention of socialism is good (justice and equality for all), the reality is that socialism always achieves the exact opposite of its intention. The reason is that socialism strips the power individuals and gives it to the state (hence the term nanny state). This consolidation of power given to the state cannot end well as greed and other faults of human nature takes over. As Venezuela so clearly demonstrates, a powerful state rarely represents the interest of society, but rather the interest of itself. That is why capitalism is good, because it’s highly decentralized system that collectively represents the needs and wants of the people.

      If you don’t believe me, read this article from a Venezuelan who lived through the Chavez socialist nightmare:

  7. A few suggestions from someone who is not a fan of Chavez, but also not a fan of poor “journalism”:

    “One political curse from the twentieth century that continues in this one is the praise from self-described progressives for demagogues whose policies can, in advance, be predicted to hurt the poor and destroy their freedoms.”

    – This can also be said of self-described free market conservative demagogues during the twentieth century, as we have witnessed the gap between wealthy and poor on a global scale widen exponentially during a period when “socialist” experiments have turned to capitalism.

    – The Holodomir had roots in much more than economic/socialist policy, and Ukrainians have been clear in their view of this as a deliberate attempted genocide. Presenting it as nothing more than a failed experiment in socialism negates that view.

    – Maintaining ties with Cuba and China provided significant trade opportunities from which the non-socialists benefitted. This is where the demagogues of the right often lose their way in an analysis. You want China to buy our products? You want China to invest in our oilfields? You want Cuba to be an inexpensive tropical vacation spot for winter-weary Canadians? Then you maintain diplomatic and trade relations. Demagogues on the right often point to select statements, often ignoring context, instead of what politicians actually DO. So did Trudeau implement those policies for Canada? No, he did not. Did he praise Castro for his accomplishments after Castro’s overthrowing of the brutal dictatorship that preceded him (another piece of context usually left out by the demagogues of the right)? Likely – because to much of the world, and to many Cubans, Castro seemed to promise more freedoms after Batista. And notice that the demagogues blame Castro for the poverty – they do not mention the role played by the USA. They don’t mention that Cuba was a centre of drugs, gambling, prostitution and organized crime enjoyed by the USA, whose citizens might not have felt so comfortable acting that way around fellow Americans. Welcome to the kind of free market the demagogues of the right complain that Castro displaced – one that preys on the poor so the rich can have playground.

    – Leaders are expected to praise the accomplishments of the dead. They often do so despite their personal feelings or policies. Margaret Thatcher’s death triggered messages of appreciation even from Liberals – when people die, diplomats and politicians generally acknowledge the good and remain silent about the bad (about which nothing can be done at that point anyway).

    – Chavez’s nationalisation and subsidy policies were highly polarizing. They were completely rejected by much of the world, but it is interesting that Milke refers to anti-entrepreneur policies. The Venezuelan GDP rose by an average of 2.8% per year from 1999 to 2011. The decline from it’s place in the 1970s started in 1978 – and was REVERSED by Chavez during his first years in power. Canada’s for the same period of 1999-2011 was 2.5% (figures from the World Bank database). Venezuelans were paying one of the lowest rates in the world for gasoline and oil – and the demagogues on the right keep telling us that fossil fuel prices in North America, bloated by taxes, are killing small business and entrepreneurs. But essentially it meant that Venezuela took a loss on domestic sales to stimulate domestic economic growth during a time when Canada’s policy of permitting increasing costs meant more money for the wealthy corporations and the government, but the GDP suggests the Venezuelan policies were not without merit. Of course, right wing demagogues also don’t mention that Chavez wasn’t responsible for nationalising the oil industry – that happened more than 20 years before he took power. Curiously, he is criticised by the right for firing striking oil industry workers who had almost halted production for two months. Does it seem odd that the right wing, with their anti-union rhetoric and free market ideology, is against firing workers who were holding the economy to ransom? This is a common feature of right wing demagoguery: they are unclear about what their own policies look like when enacted by others.

    -The praise offered to Chavez in the years 2003-2007 was almost universal – because he had effected what seemed like an economic miracle, recovering from the previous government.

    – I am not interested in defending Chavez, because I don’t agree with everything he did, but note that corporatist Trump is doing many of the things Milke complains of: “corruption, graft and inefficiency, with assaults on institutions necessary for a free society: the media, opposition parties, an independent judiciary and non-government organizations.” This is not a left/right divide but an authoritarian/democratic divide, and we have seen these abuses in capitalist market societies too. So why does the author only paint them as Latin American problems?

    -There is no doubt Chavez mishandled the economy. But blanket condemnation ignores the facts: the raising of taxes included things like the introduction, in 2009, of taxes on alcohol and cigarettes – which even capitalist societies already had. In theory, currency devaluation post-gold-standard makes a country’s domestic production more affordable – and Venezuela needed that, given that manufacturing was only 17% of the GDP (oil and gas being 50%). When that failed, Chavez went for full nationalisation of food distribution – and that was a disaster. Note that the disaster was not about theory but about practice – the economic theories were the same as those espoused by capitalist nations.

    – Venezuela has to import a lot of goods, including a lot of food. This is in part because so much of Venezuela’s capital seems to have gone into developing the oil and gas sector at the expense of other sectors. 95% of Venezuela’s exports are related to the energy sector. This focus on the fossil fuel industry is a policy that seems to be embraced by the self-proclaimed united right wing in Alberta, but it’s a job-killer. Why? Because despite the contribution to the GDP, the sector employs relatively few people. So what we see here is not entirely the result of leftist policies, but the result of both left and right policies poorly applied.

    – the article would benefit from a little more context about that debt and inflation cycle. Venezuela’s national debt is held by corporations in other countries (notably, many billions to Russian interests). In fact, the interest that Venezuela pays is a result of the free market, not of socialism – and Venezuela wasn’t the only oil producer caught by the crisis of 2008/9 or the market flooding of 2015/6. So the inability to get ahead of that debt is a situation to be laid at the feet of both systems, because they are both perpetuating it.
    – Oil and gas as percentage of Canada’s GDP: 8%. As a percentage of Venezuela’s: 50%, and 95% of Venezuela’s exports are oil and gas, compared to Canada’s 14%. The Venezuela situation is so far removed from that of Alberta and Newfoundland that the comparison is meaningless – presenting it as if it is somehow proof of the superiority of any system suggests the author has put personal ideology ahead of good analysis, ignoring the inconvenience of the statistics. And, of course, the rest of Canada helps fund the social programs that keep those two provincial economies rolling.

    – I am curious about who praised an assault on freedom.

    – Historian economists have looked fairly extensively at Venezuela. Yes, it was a wealthy country. But the decline started in 1978; by the time Chavez took power, the country had already slipped dramatically – and continued to slip through to 2001. Then, under Chavez, it rallied for a few years. So the ideological right author is either unaware of the history or deliberately ignoring the pre-Chavez situation and presenting an unreliable view.

    – If Canada has a “hard left” it certainly isn’t evident to any significant degree in our current political sphere. The three main national parties are quite centrist, changing their positions on various social and economic policies with irritating frequency. In the most recent federal election, the NDP were largely seen as being to the right of the Liberals – and much was made of Mulcair’s praise for Thatcher. The Conservatives had trouble balancing their budgets and were caught wasting money on artificial lakes, phoney job programs, and supporting terrorism abroad.
    – Maclean’s should have provided Mr. Milke with more editorial support in terms of fact-checking and some substantive editing. Being an opinion writer shouldn’t mean one suspends journalistic ethics. By all means people should examine Chavez’s record critically – but use good informed argument, not rhetoric based on misrepresentation of fact.

    • A lengthy and thoughtful post……thank you for taking the time and effort to further the discussion.

    • I consider myself an expert on Venezuelan affairs and find your analysis completely inaccurate. In the highest level, I sense you are trying to make a balanced analysis for the sake of perceived impartiality and not being portrayed as either left or right. To me, that’s like trying to write a balanced article about Hitler or Pol Pot! You are doing an injustice to the world by promoting the myths and temporary successes of the Bolivarian Socialist Revolution and downplaying the major deplorable effects it has on Venezuela. Here is an article from a Venezuelan who lived through Chavez and you can see his views are very different than yours:

      • Please note, nowhere did I suggest support for Chavez. My concern is for honesty in journalism, and my post was supported by economic data from non-Venezuelan sources. Venezuelans have every right to be angry now – but they were not angry with him when they elected Chavez, and the accusations of fraud in the 2004 recall attempt (which was defeated by a 58% vote) were solidly rejected by impartial observers. These facts and the ones above regarding the bad comparison between Venezuela and Alberta/Nfld are a matter of public record – they are not myths. Anyone can claim to be an expert (I do not claim to be an expert) but if their assertions run counter to confirmed historical fact, they might find their credibility is suspect.

        • You are correct that Venezuelans were not angry at Chavez when they first elected him. Venezuelans may regret their decision now, but Chavez did fairly win the election as Venezuela has very strong democratic roots just like Canada. However, it is honest journalism for Mark Milke to point out that Canada’s left such as Naomi Klein, Lynda McQuaig, and Rod Loyola are strong supporters of Chavez. I have followed the Canadian left and have known for years that they are supporters of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Socialist Revolution (in fact, the Leap Manifesto is inspired by it). Unfortunately this is not common knowledge to the Canadian public, and hence Mark Milke is doing honest, journalistic justice by exposing it.

          • I am not sure what you are saying, Mr. Peng. You would have preferred Venezuela to continue under a dictatorship as before the socialists? Under the military post-coup? You are thinking Chavez should be blamed for everything? Milke’s invoking of Venezuela and his poor comparisons with Canada do not do justice to either the history or reality of Venezuela, and they are seriously misleading when applied to Canada’s political or economic situation – which is nothing like Venezuela’s. His use of derogatory terms is highly unprofessional, and his dismissal of economic statistics (presumably because they don’t support his argument) is not ethical. Honest? I’m sorry, but you have not been able to refute any of the fact corrections I made in my original post, so I fail; to see how you can uphold the original opinion piece as being honest.

            I like this one:


        • “You would have preferred Venezuela to continue under a dictatorship as before the socialists? Under the military post-coup? ” Venezuela was NEVER a dictatorship before Chavez! As one of the strongest democracies in the world, Venezuela two presidents prior to Chavez (Rafael Caldera and Ramón José Velásquez) were also fairly elected to power just like Chavez!

          Milke’s comparison of Venezuela’s economy to Alberta’s economy due to the collapse of oil prices was indeed justified. The Canadian left defends Venezuelan socialism by suggesting that Venezuela’s poor economic situation is due solely to the collapse of oil prices. Given that Venezuela and Alberta both suffered from the same global oil price collapse, the Canadian left never explains why Alberta doesn’t suffer from the same starvation and economic collapse felt in Venezuela. That’s because the Canadian left doesn’t want to admit that Venezuelan socialist policies such as nationalization of industries, expropriation of private businesses and property, limiting profits, implementing price controls, and increasing social assistance to the poor (i.e. free housing, free education, free healthcare, free public transportation) that didn’t happen in Alberta all contributed to the downfall of Venezuela.

          • Mr. Peng, 1948 saw Venezuela turn to a military dictatorship that lasted much of 10 years. You claim this dictatorship never existed, that Venezuela was never a dictatorship before Chavez. You seem to be wrong about that.

            While I cannot answer for the “Canadian left”, I did explain why the situations of Canada and Venezuela are different with respect to the effect of low commodity prices: completely different levels of reliance on oil and gas as percentage of GDP. You continue to ignore this, although it is readily accessible statistical information.

            Since none of Canada’s main parties or current or past leadership are proposing the sweeping socialist reforms that were brought in to Venezuela, there is no comparison to be made.

            If you wish to embrace a position that is not based on fact or history but rather on an ideology, you are entitled to do so. Your argument does not substantially address any of my criticisms of the original article, so I remain unconvinced.

          • I never said a dictatorship never existed in Venezuela, what I said is that Venezuelan has been a strong democracy for a long time, well before Chavez was elected. Secondly, Milke did not compare Canada’s main political parties to Venezuela’s socialism (I don’t know why you would, because that was not the intent of his article), but rather stated that Canada’s left (more specifically Niaomi Klien, Lynda McQuaig, Rod Loyola and the LEAP Manifesto supporters) do STRONGLY support Venezuela’s version of socialism. This is truthful and honest journalism that should be exposed to the Canadian public who are not aware of this. If these Canadian “Useful Idiots” continue with their ideals of socialism, Canadian can fall for the same Chavez trap as Venezuela as so many of us are clueless, just like the Chavistas in Venezuela.

  8. Young Trudeau is just like his father and has us on a path to bankruptcy.