Canadian Peace Bulletin
▪ Defeating the Harper Conservatives: The peace movement and the coming federal election
▪ Anti-imperialism at the Peoples' Social Forum
▪ Canada’s Russian Sanctions and the Matrix of Empire
▪ World Peace Council Executive Committee Meeting in Goa, India
▪ Iran: Nuclear “Deal” a Timid, Imperfect Step in a Better Direction
▪ Regina Peace Council Opposes Military Training in High Schools
▪ 70th Anniversary of the Victory over Fascism
▪ Peace Congress Petition Campaign Opposes Interference in Venezuela
▪ Join the Canadian Peace Congress!
▪ Support the Canadian Peace Congress!
Defeating the Harper Conservatives: The peace movement and the coming federal election
Dave McKee, Canadian Peace Congress President
The upcoming federal election is a critical opportunity for the people of Canada to defeat the Harper Conservative government and its reactionary, pro-war agenda. The election is legally scheduled for October 2015, but the government may choose to go to the polls earlier. It is important that the peace movements in Canada begin work now to play a strong role in shaping the public policy debate.
Foreign policy matters do not normally play a defining role in Canadian federal elections, and it appears that this election may be one of the rare cases in which issues of peace, security, militarism and international policy are an important part of the public debate.
The Harper government itself has tried to maintain a high public profile for certain aspects of its foreign policy, under the recurring pretext of fighting terrorism at home (through Bill C-51) and abroad (through the expanding war in Iraq and Syria.) This is partly an effort to shore up the Conservatives’ political base. It is also an attempt to draw public attention away from the ongoing and deepening economic crisis, which has attracted increasing public anger to the Harper Tories, and toward foreign policy issues, where the Conservatives can differentiate themselves from opposition parties whose positions generally present weak alternatives.
Of course, the two issues of economic crisis and war are closely related and should not be counter-posed to one another. The Canadian Peace Congress put it this way at our 2011 Convention:
As the global, systemic economic crisis continues and deepens, competition for resources, markets, influence and profits has grown much more fierce and desperate. Capitalist governments have moved quickly to attack social and labour rights and impose severe austerity measures that will impoverish and marginalize masses of working people, at the same time that they are prosecuting wars and increasing military budgets.
The role of the peace movement is to draw attention to this relationship, to highlight the disastrous foreign policy record of the Harper Tories, and to identify the danger of continuing those policies. In the process, we must project the importance of a new, independent foreign policy of peace, international cooperation and solidarity. And we must insist that such a new foreign policy will work hand-in-hand with progressive, democratic domestic policies that serve the needs of the majority of the people in Canada.
Among peace and progressive groups, there are different proposals for how to approach the federal election. Some argue that the singular focus should be on defeating the Harper government. Others argue the broad foreign and military policies of the main parties are so similar that the tasks before the peace movement lie far beyond the scope of a single election.
The Canadian Peace Congress takes a different approach, one that includes both the immediate goals and the necessity of fundamental policy change. Our two-part proposal is that the Harper Conservatives must be defeated, and also that we need to build a mass movement that demands of all governments a foreign policy of peace.
It is very true that the main arena for peace and anti-war activism is “extra-parliamentary” – in workplaces, communities, schools and the streets. This is where we encounter interested, engaged people whose commitment and energy provides the backbone for the kind of mass movement we need to build. A strong and united movement, in action, can project a peace program for Canada that no government can afford to ignore or distort.
At the same time, however, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has pursued the most aggressive and dangerous foreign and military policies in memory. Under the Harper Conservative government:
▪ Canadian military spending has soared, so that Canada is now the sixth largest military spender among NATO’s 28 members, and the 16th largest military spender globally.
▪ Canada has deeply embedded its foreign policies into those of the United States and NATO, to the extent that key economic policy is dictated by the military priorities of NATO and the US.
▪ Canada has promoted foreign intervention and participated in wars of aggression against sovereign states, including Libya, Syria, North Korea, Yemen, Brazil, Honduras, Venezuela and Ukraine.
Will defeating the Conservatives bring about a fundamental change in foreign policy? No, it won’t. But it will remove the biggest immediate barrier to that change. Defeating Harper is key.
The Canadian Peace Congress Executive is developing the strategy for its federal election campaign, which will be launched soon.
Elements of the campaign will likely include:
▪ Window signs with messages that highlight the Harper government’s record on war and militarism and call on people to “vote for peace”
▪ A series of fact sheets and videos about foreign policy, militarism and war, and the importance of these issues in this election
▪ A speaking and organizing tour, to local groups across Canada, to draw together activists and identify ways cooperate in an effort to get foreign policy into the election discussion
We invite all members, supporters and friends to help with this campaign. If you want to get involved, or have ideas to share, please let us know.
Anti-imperialism at the Peoples' Social Forum
Darrell Rankin, Manitoba Peace Council
The Canadian Peace Congress sponsored a workshop on building the anti-imperialist peace movement at the Peoples' Social Forum in August. It was one of several about the peace movement during the forum (among about 500 workshops in total), which attracted about 5,000 people from across Canada.
The workshop consisted of a presentation followed by a good discussion with people who attended from across Canada. We covered the nature of imperialism, the growing aggressiveness of imperialism today, and perspectives on the ability of the peace movement to block a major war.
About stopping another war between the major capitalist countries, we noted this this was possible with a powerful and broad response to the war danger. Two problems confront the peace movement - people's understanding of the threat, and their understanding of the peace movement and the impact that it can have.
The dismantling of the Soviet Union twenty years ago eliminated a strong pillar of the anti-imperialist peace movement, and it effectively took disarmament out of public political discussion. The peace movement was transformed into an anti-war movement and pushed into a defensive pattern of blocking one small war after another.
In the last five to ten years, there has emerged a realistic threat of another major global war. The great inter-imperialist peace that prevailed since 1945 is ending. Evidence for this is the U.S. nuclear 'pivot to Asia,' the renewal of Western-inspired hostilities in the Middle East and, perhaps most importantly, the opening of a new Eastern Front by imperialism aimed at Russia.
After Russia's successful diplomatic defence of Syria from direct attack by the United States in 2013, Western imperialism made Russia a main economic, political and (through NATO) military target.
Canada has deepened its political and military alignment with the United States, a process that has accelerated under the Harper Conservatives. In recent years the two countries have worked closely together in the role of bulwark of global reaction and aggression, with help from Israel, Japan and Australia.
Alongside this, some countries in Europe are vulnerable to massive anti-war feelings and movements, and this reveals a potential for a split in the imperialist camp on important peace-related issues. For this reason, for example, Britain did not support Obama's threats against Syria and France is muting its aggressive policy on Ukraine.
This shows that there is a potential for an effective anti-war response, built around on the unity of the peoples of the world and non-imperialist nations. This includes oppressed nations in Canada. Imperialism’s drive to war includes targeting the peoples’ movements for international solidarity, peace and a better world.
In Canada, people are resisting the drive towards war and reaction, but there are also attempts to block activity and stifle people's anti-war feelings. This is especially true in the trade union movement, which is a critical ground for building the anti-imperialist peace movement in Canada. Help in this effort is coming from new immigrant communities with a history of anti-imperialist struggle.
The discussion at the workshop covered the low level of organization in the overall peace movement, the strategic role of the labour movement, renewing alliances that have disintegrated, and the dismal positions of the main parliamentary parties. Participants noted that there have been few effective mobilizations since the 2003 and 2004 efforts to keep Canada out of the war with Iraq and the U.S missile defence program.
There were other peace-related activities at the Social Forum. Near the end of the forum, about 90 people participated in a Peace Assembly that included many other peace groups, such as the Canadian Peace Alliance, Ceasefire and Echec a la guerre.
One notable workshop was on Ukraine's coup and civil war. This was attended by about 50 people, and will hopefully be a step toward building but an effective cross-Canada network of activists opposed to fascism and war in Ukraine.
Canada’s Russian Sanctions and the Matrix of Empire
Christopher Black, Toronto Association for Peace and Solidarity
Canada, once again playing the role of court jester to America’s imperial throne, has announced the same set of new sanctions against Russia that were announced by the EU and the USA a day after the Minsk agreement was signed. To add salt to the wound, this action was taken on the same day that the UN Security Council passed the Russian resolution supporting the Minsk agreement. Once again, the unctuous Canadian prime minister provided no justification for this illegal action except to parrot President Obama’s mantra of “Russian aggression.”
The Russian foreign ministry correctly stated in response that it was a “lame attempt” to prevent implementation of the ceasefire agreement. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, stated on February 18th that “Canada’s bet on sanctions will be definitely answered. However we hope that Ottawa will think about the consequences of its actions, which in fact fuel the further armed standoff in Ukraine, and realize that pressing Russia with sanctions has no perspectives”
The Canadian action is illegal under international law since Chapter VII, Article 41, of the UN Charter states that the power to impose sanctions rests solely with the UN Security Council. Further, Article 103 of Chapter XVI states that a member’s obligations under the UN Charter override their obligations under any other treaty and this includes the North Atlantic Treaty that created NATO. The Canadian government states that it relies for its action on the Special Economic Measures Act of 1992, but that law has to be applied so that it is not in violation of the UN Charter. Since it is obvious that the Harper government did not base its action on a resolution of the UN, the Canadian sanctions are illegal both under Canadian and international law.
This legal problem has not been raised by the Canadian press, or the major opposition parties, and the Canadian government completely ignores it. But then Canada, like the other NATO governments, has no respect for laws or morality when it serves the interests of the masters in the White House and the corporations hoping to descend like vultures onto the carcass of a prostrate Russia.
The hypocrisy of Canada’s action is highlighted by the revelation that Canada was involved in the plot to overthrow the government of Venezuela just the week before. On February 13 the president of Venezuela’s national assembly presented evidence of a right-wing plot to overthrow the Bolivarian government and stated that a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, attached to the Canadian embassy, was involved in trying to determine the security situation at the airport in Valencia. The officer was named as Nancy Birbeck, who according to a report in the Canadian press in 2009, was a sergeant in the RCMP and at that time was involved in investigations with the American FBI.
This would not be the first time Canada has been involved in attempting to overthrow governments. In 1999 Canada played a significant role in the aggression against Yugoslavia and supplied the war crimes prosecutor Louise Arbour to lay false charges against President Milosevic. In 1994 Canada, through Canadian general Romeo Dallaire, was involved in helping Paul Kagame’s RPF forces murder the two Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and launch its final offensive resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. In 2004 Canadian commando units secured the airport for the American marines when they put a pistol to President Aristide’s head, kidnapped him and transported him in chains to Africa. The Canadians were useful idiots for the Americans since they speak French. Canada thereafter helped impose a dictatorial regime in Haiti and its federal police, the RCMP, were involved in arbitrary arrests of hundreds of political opponents of the US–Canadian installed regime. The Canadian role in the destruction of Libya is well known as is its role in the aggression against Afghanistan, and its current bombing of Iraq. Its oppression and cultural genocide of the First Nations Aboriginal peoples of Canada is a world scandal.
The role played by Canada in the Ukraine crisis is primarily a propaganda one. Its military forces, while well trained, effective and useful to the Americans in particular scenarios, are too small to matter on any meaningful scale. But its propaganda role is useful because Canada has portrayed itself over the years as a neutral, peaceful country full of nice, friendly people who would never offend anyone. So its actions against Russia serve to fool the naïve into thinking that if Canada is taking action then it must be justified.
But that is not the only reason it is involved. Canadian mining companies, many owned by American shareholders, are involved all over the world in searching for opportunities to grab what they can at the cheapest possible price come what may, from Asia to Africa, from Latin America to the Arctic. Now they have their eyes on the vast resources of Russia. They had hoped to exploit them freely when the government of the Soviet Union was replaced by the walking catastrophe that was Boris Yeltsin. But since the rise of the new leadership in Russia, once again aware of Russia’s potential, and its ability to defend its interests instead of selling them to the lowest bidder, the Canadian opportunists find those resources more difficult to access and are eager for the current Russian government to be replaced with one more easily controlled.
One of the prime examples of the types of people involved is the Canadian, Lenna Koszarney, a founding partner and chief financial officer of Horizon Capital that has its headquarters in Kiev. The other founding partner of Horizon Capital and its chief executive officer is Natalie Jaresko, the US imposed American finance minister of Ukraine. Horizon Capital manages the assets of Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF) a company created by the CIA front US Agency for International Development (USAID).
WNISEF received 150 million dollars from USAID to do “business” in the Ukraine. Ms. Koszarney was chief financial officer of WNISEF before Horizon Capital was formed. Since much of the USAID money cannot be accounted for one can conclude that it was used to fund the coup against President Yanukovich and related purposes.
Koszarney is also head of the Kiev chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, a right wing organisation that claims to represent all 1.2 million Ukrainians living in Canada but really speaks for the far right of the Ukrainian population. This leads us to another reason for Harper’s criminal sanctions against Russia, votes. Harper relies on the votes of those Ukrainians, many of them in key voting districts in the west of Canada where the majority of them live, to get elected.
Koszarney has been very active and on November 30th 2014 she was filmed handing out Canadian military uniforms to members of the Kiev forces including members of the Aidar battalion and earlier that year she attended a meeting of the Atlantic Council, the elite US government and NATO connected think tank that is funded by major US, Canadian and European industrial, financial and weapons corporations as well as the US military. Koszarney, along with Jaresko, was at the meeting to push for the integration of Ukraine into Europe.
The interlocking system of political leverage that is being used was clearly revealed when the President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Paul Grod, who is on the Russian list of prohibited persons, stated recently that,
“We’ve been pushing the Canadian government and I think they are responding in a very acceptable manner, in terms of what they have been providing. I think the key is to ensure that they’re in lockstep with the Americans, depending on how things work out in Minsk.”
He then referred to and echoed the February 2nd report by the Atlantic Council that calls for “decisive sectoral economic sanctions against Russia’s financial, defense and energy sectors” including removing Russia from the SWIFT bank transfer payment system, the further political isolation of President Putin by excluding Russia from the FIFA World Cup in 2018, the cancellation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act and Russia’s exclusion from the G20.
The report also calls for Canada and its allies to provide lethal military assistance and ends with a demand that the Donbass republics be labelled terrorist groups and Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. This fits in with the Canadian government’s proposed new law Bill C51 that further limits freedom of speech and association in Canada, widens the powers of the state security services and would make this writer subject to arrest for providing support to “terrorists” for writing this article.
Both the February 9th Briefing Note to the Canadian Parliament that details these demands and the Atlantic Council report which it echoes are found here and here. Both are worth reading because they indicate where things are heading and what we must be prepared for if the Minsk ceasefire breaks down which looks increasingly likely.
The conclusion to be drawn from these facts is that Canada is locked into the matrix of the imperial power system and cannot act independently as a sovereign nation and in the best interests of its peoples because the state machinery has been co-opted by agents of the US imperial power which have vested political and financial interests in the continued aggression against Russia.
We must wait to see how Russia responds to the Canadian action but whatever that response is it remains for the Canadian people to realise the jeopardy that the Harper regime is putting them in and to demand that the aggression against Russia be stopped, that the support for fascists in Kiev be stopped and that Canada withdraw from NATO and all other military alliances and for once live up to its undeserved reputation as a nation dedicated to peace and the peaceful resolution of disputes between nations.
This article originally appeared in the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.
World Peace Council Executive Committee Meeting in Goa, India
The World Peace Council Executive Committee met in November in Goa, India. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, the Canadian Peace Congress was unable to participate. This report is based on information sent from Henry Lowendorf of the United States Peace Council.
The Executive Committee of the World Peace Council meeting involved participants from 21 countries across the planet - Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East - hosted by the All India Peace and Solidarity Organization (AIPSO). The EC heard extensive reports from the WPC President, Socorro Gomes from Brazil, and its General Secretary, Athanasios Pafilis of Greece. They covered the global state of peace and war, the actions of imperialism and the great efforts of the peoples’ movements for justice and development around the world to combat it. There was a spirited discussion on the content of the reports leading to formulated resolutions and actions. In particular, delegates urged the WPC to accelerate initiatives in opposing the various wars and to create common and concerted actions by the various national peace councils in 90 countries. These included a resolution calling for participation in the nuclear weapons abolition conference and march being planned for this April during the UN Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Executive Committee meeting was immediately followed by a conference on Palestine solidarity. India has strong historical ties to Palestine, but the country is also Israel’s largest customer for military weapons and is allowing Israel to build weapons factories in India.
Prabir Purkaystha, leader of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, noted that India in 1948 voted against partition in historic Palestine. When Indians talk about Palestine, they aren’t just looking at Jewish nationalism. They are looking at themselves: what kind of state India wanted to build, how Indians defined themselves. India saw a parallel between its own struggle in ending British colonialism and that in Palestine. The important question at that time was whether India was a nation of all, or just of Hindus? If the latter, then Muslims wanted their own nation. The position of progressives was that an Indian nation was a state that belonged equally to all groups that lived in the territory, an inclusive Indian state. Hindu national forces saw it differently. They wanted a coalition of Hindus, Christians and Jews against Muslims and Communists, based on religious identity. Progressive Indians also saw Palestine not as a state based on Jewish identity; it belonged to all who lived there. They consider Palestine the last occupied colonial state, occupied no longer by the British but by the Israeli Jews.
Sitaram Yechury, Member of Parliament and Presidium Member of AIPSO, also spoke. He stated that US imperialism wants to establish undisputed control of the Middle East. Palestine is the linchpin. US control of the Middle East is only possible as long as the Palestinian situation is not resolved. For those who desire peace in Israel/Palestine the fight is not only for a Palestinian state but against US imperialism. The fight is between a unipolar world and world of multipolarity. In the Indian Parliament, friends of Israel ask: doesn’t Israel have the right to self-defense? Yechury replies: I would be the first one to support Israel if it vacates all Palestinian lands, if it allows a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. We would be the first to support Israel… If Israel prevents Palestinians from having their own land, we can show no solidarity for Israel. India should stop buying Israeli arms. All profits Israel makes go into oppressing Palestinians. Today India and Israel are going deeply into joint war production. India is allowing Israel to set up factories. The party currently controlling India has a strong ideological connection with Israel. It wants to mimic Israel’s formula of colonizing the West Bank as a means of controlling Kashmir by settling Hindus in Kashmir. These Hindu nationalists are determined to break India’s historic ties to Palestine.
Akel Taqaz, from the Palestine Committee for Peace & Solidarity, noted that Israel says there will be no peace with Palestinians until the US and its allies win the various wars – ISIS, Iraq, Syria, Iran. This places peace 40 years or more into the future. Israel waged its third war in 5 years against Gaza, claiming it was a fight against terrorism, and caused unprecedented destruction. There is no value in negotiations that don’t get to a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with a specific timetable. The Palestinian Committee calls for grassroots organizations to support the campaign to ban trade with Israel, to boycott all products from the occupied territory and to support Palestinian human rights.
The EC meeting was a very positive step forward for the World Peace Council, which has member organizations in 100 countries.
For the complete text of the final declaration from the World Peace Council Executive Committee meeting, please visit www.canadianpeacecongress.ca.
Iran: Nuclear “Deal” a Timid, Imperfect Step in a Better Direction
65 year-old “Stockholm Appeal” still points the way: Abolish all nuclear weapons!
The recently-concluded Joint Plan of Action (JPA) nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries (US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) represents a positive step on a number of levels. At the same time, however, the agreement is extremely limited and fails to address many key issues. It is crucial that the peace movement renew its longstanding effort to achieve global, comprehensive nuclear disarmament and the abolition of all nuclear weapons, as a key factor in building genuine and lasting peace.
The Iran/P5+1 deal demonstrates that an effort based on diplomacy and transparency can achieve positive results. This stands in obvious contrast to the longstanding approach taken by the US and its allies in NATO and Israel – military buildup, provocation, interference and outright aggression – which have only yielded death, destruction and instability.
The JPA helps to defuse regional tensions and relieve Iran’s isolation within much of the international community. Of immediate importance for the Iranian people, the deal promises to eliminate many of the harsh, decade-long economic sanctions that have helped cripple their country’s economy.
Significantly, the negotiations and outcome have drawn increased international attention to the question of nuclear disarmament. This is an important, and hopefully lasting, development. Since the end of the Cold War, the focus on disarmament has severely diminished. Furthermore, much of the ongoing discussion has been dominated by a sweeping mish mash of analysis that lumps all states as having equal responsibility with the US and NATO for nuclear proliferation. As the JPA continues to be analyzed, it is possible – even likely – that clearer, anti-imperialist positions will attract more attention, and this will help the broad peace movement to develop strategies for stronger disarmament campaigning.
With all of this in mind, it is critical to note that the Joint Plan of Action remains a timid and imperfect step that will quickly fail to live up to its promise if it is left to its own devices. The deal is scheduled to be in effect for 6 months, while the parties negotiate a “comprehensive agreement” on Iran’s nuclear program. However, there is no guaranteed timeline for the elimination of sanctions, nor a clear agreement on which sanctions will be lifted and which may be continued. The fact that officials from Iran and the US are referencing and circulating different versions of the agreement indicates that they remain far apart on what the JPA allows and requires.
Far from setting the stage for a comprehensive agreement, the JPA avoids the key issues that drive instability, militarization and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East region. There is no discussion of the role of Israel, an aggressive ally of the US that possesses nuclear weapons but has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is rather perverse, given that the JPA’s focus – Iran – is a signatory to the NPT and does not, in fact, possess a nuclear weapon.
Similarly, the JPA does not discuss the issues of military buildup in the region by the US and its allies, foreign interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, or any of the main aspects of imperialism’s New Middle East strategy. As a result, the JPA avoids engaging the fundamentals of the overall confrontation between the US and Iran. In so doing, the agreement actually allows these key issues to continue to build and become a greater threat to Iran, the region and beyond.
To emphasize this point, only one month after inking the Joint Plan of Action the US unveiled a Missile Defence Strategy for the Gulf Cooperation Council. Under this agreement, the Gulf monarchies would receive a flood of missile defence (MD) technology from the US, as well as streamlined weapon sales and increased joint military exercises, with the express purpose of protecting them against Iran. Deploying MD, which is a vital aspect of the US first-strike strategy, is an enormously provocative action that immediately undermines the JPA and risks escalating tensions further.
The pretext used by the US and its allies to justify the sanctions against Iran was that the country’s program for the peaceful development of nuclear technology was cover for a nuclear weapons program. Many countries all over the world, including Canada, have nuclear energy and nuclear medicine programs; but only a few of these countries are identified as targets for sanctions. There is more clear evidence, for example, to argue the case that Canada’s nuclear industry is linked to the nuclear arms industry (of the United States), than there is for the case of Iran. Recently, the Harper government agreed to sell uranium to India, a nuclear weapons state that has not signed the NPT. Furthermore, by virtue of its NATO membership, Canada is unquestioningly part of a military organization that possesses nuclear weapons and maintains a first-use strategy. Yet, Iran is singled out for sanctions and harassment, while Canada continues to participate in nuclear arms development.
This selective treatment must end. A truly comprehensive agreement would explicitly defend a country’s right to develop peaceful nuclear technology. It would also clearly enforce a prohibition on nuclear weapons development and use by all countries, regardless of economic or political status.
Nuclear disarmament – indeed, all disarmament – is a critical issue that must be achieved if humanity is to survive. To effectively pursue this goal, the countries of the world must commit to comprehensive, universal disarmament – of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons –not single, one-off agreements that are tentative, fluid and fleeting.
In March 1950, following the end of World War II, the international peace movement founded the World Peace Council and launched the Stockholm Appeal for Peace. The Appeal was signed by over 270 million people around the world, and called for nuclear weapons to be abolished.
Now, 65 years later, the text of the Stockholm Appeal still points the way forward for nuclear disarmament:
“We demand the outlawing of atomic weapons as instruments of intimidation and mass murder of peoples. We demand strict international control to enforce this measure.
“We believe that any government which first uses atomic weapons against any other country whatsoever will be committing a crime against humanity and should be dealt with as a war criminal.
“We call on all men and women of good will throughout the world to sign this appeal.”
In the spirit of Stockholm, peace activists and groups in Canada need to call on the government to reorient its foreign policy away from provocation, interference, aggression and war. Canada needs a new, independent foreign policy based on peace. This country can and should disengage from the imperialist camp, including withdrawing from NATO and halting its military trade with the United States and NATO countries. Canada should normalize relations with Iran and end all sanctions. The Canadian government should become a voice promoting comprehensive disarmament.
Regina Peace Council Opposes Military Training in High Schools
Ed Lehman, Regina Peace Council
In its last newsletter (Saskatchewan Peace News, October 2014) the Regina Peace Council reported on the campaign against military training and for peace studies in Saskatchewan high schools. Since then there have been many letters-to-the-editor published in newspapers in Regina and Saskatoon; motions at meetings of the ratepayers of the Regina Public and Regina Catholic School Boards (the motion at the Regina Catholic Board was passed), more media interviews; and the delivery of the petition "No Military Training in Saskatchewan High Schools" to the Saskatchewan government.
On February 9, a very cold and blustery day, thirty plus peace supporters gathered outside of the Saskatchewan legislature to sing "Study War No More" accompanied by a recording of the song by Pete Seeger and led by the very capable Singers of the Sacred Web. After singing for about 15 minutes the group assembled inside the legislature where four peace workers spoke briefly and then presented the petitions from 98 communities across Saskatchewan and containing 2,047 names to Mr. Greg Lawrence, MLA for Moose Jaw-Wakamow. Mr. Lawrence responded with a note from the premier which stated: "Thank you for presenting your petition. Our government respectfully but strongly disagrees with your petition."
On February 23, the four sponsoring organizations of the peace petition, Making Peace Vigil, PeaceQuest Regina, Regina Peace Council, and Saskatoon Peace Coalition, responded to the note from the premier Mr. Wall (see excerpts below) which reiterated the call for military training to be taken out of Saskatchewan high schools and for peace education instead.
“[W]e serve our country best when we find the path to peace through something other than the destruction of war. …Most people are outraged by child soldiers in Somalia, Sierra Leone, and elsewhere. These teenagers are learning the wrong lessons about resolving conflict. ...[What is] the future of these ten Regina teenagers now that Canada is engaged in two more foreign wars in Iraq and Ukraine?
“Our message remains “Study war no more”. We respectfully urge you to end military training in Saskatchewan high schools. …Our high schools should be teaching our young people how to resolve conflicts in a non-violent-manner; not offering $2,000 to be trained in war. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘If we are to reach real peace in the world, if we are to declare war on war, we must start with the children.’ ”
Clearly, more lobbying is needed to compel the Saskatchewan government to change direction.
If you require more information or would like to become involved please contact: Ed Lehman; 306-723-0031; [email protected].
70th Anniversary of the Victory over Fascism
International Democratic Organizations Call for Renewed Vigilance
We, the representatives of international democratic organizations – the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), the World Peace Council (WPC), the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) , the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), the International Federation of Resistance Fighters – Association of Anti-Fascists (FIR), who have gathered in Moscow for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Victory over Fascism, hereby declare:
It is 70 years since our great common victory over fascism, under the banner of Victory, progressive, anti-imperialist, anti-fascist forces of the world have united for joint actions to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that carried away tens of millions of lives by fighting together against the root causes of war and oppression.
The victory over world fascism and militarism gave a powerful impetus to the spread of the ideas of social justice and national equality. The year 1945 saw an upsurge of the movement for national liberation of many countries from the dominance of imperialism and colonialism as well as universal social transformations aimed at solving acute social problems and democratization of social and political life along with creating new societies. The lessons from the Victory over fascism as well from the causes which have led to the war are present today in a period of growing imperialist aggressiveness, occupation and threats to the sovereignty of the peoples, in a period of deep global economic crisis of capitalism. We declare our vehement opposition and denounce under this light the role of NATO, the armed wing of imperialism which is committing for more than 66 years crimes against humanity under old and new pretexts. We condemn likewise the efforts for the further militarization of the EU, with the plans to establish a permanent EU army.
The activities of our international organizations over the seven decades of their existence contributed greatly to the preservation of world peace, to the achievement of national independence by many countries, to social and political progress of humankind. The relevance of our experience is particularly evident in our day in the year of the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory. The events of recent years have shown that peace has not grown stronger. Wars are raging in various regions, neo-fascists and extremists are rearing their heads, and efforts are being made to pervert the history of the Second World War and rehabilitate fascism. The forces which at the end of 1945 were hiding like cowards in European forests or were secretly harboring their evil designs now openly take to the streets of European cities perpetrating barbaric acts of violence with regard to the civilian population. In some countries of the world medieval customs and procedures are being revived that violate the social and political rights, especially of women. The call “People, Be Vigilant” is relevant again. There is greater need for joint actions by all the progressive forces.
We condemn all efforts of re-writing and falsification of history, including the one of the 9th May and call upon all people to denounce and condemn the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism and xenophobia.
We, the representatives of international organizations, are launching an appeal to defend historical memory. We call for a decisive end to the propaganda of the ideas of racism and genocide. We are sure that the experience of seven decades of the struggle against fascism and war, for peace and democracy, for social and political rights may once again provide a powerful impetus to protecting humanity from new threats to its existence.
We bow our heads in memory of those who gave their lives in the struggle for our freedom. We bow our heads to the courage and the heroic feat of the Soviet people who have made the decisive contribution to Victory. We remember the names of the best sons and daughters of European peoples who fought in the Resistance units. We call on the peoples of the world to make their historic contribution to the struggle for peace, for freedom from tyranny, for a world where the peoples will be the masters of their fortunes, without imperialist domination and exploitation.
Moscow, May 7, 2015
Peace Congress Petition Campaign Opposes Interference in Venezuela
wpc poster on venezuela
On April 19, World Peace Council members and friends in all countries mobilized a Global Day of Action in Solidarity with the People of Venezuela. This action was taken in response to the Executive Order of US President Obama, which escalated imperialist provocation against Venezuela by declaring it to be a threat to US security.
As part of this global action, the Canadian Peace Congress launched a petition campaign aimed at the Canadian government’s aggressive policies toward Venezuela. The Congress is urging all of its members and friends to collect signatures in their area. Copies of the petition are available in English and French, and can be downloaded at www.canadianpeacecongress.ca and are also available from the Peace Congress office: 125 Brandon Avenue, Toronto, ON M6H 2E2.
Please download the petition and ask your friends and contacts to sign it!
Join the Canadian Peace Congress!
The Canadian Peace Congress is an open, democratic, independent and self-governing organization that is dedicated to making peace a material force and determining factor in human affairs. The Congress and its members adhere to the vision, mission and goals of the World Peace Council and conduct affairs according to the following principles:
1. Peaceful Co-existence Among States
Prohibition of all weapons of mass destruction
Ending of arms races and militarization of economies
Prohibition of weapons in outer space
Abolition of foreign military bases
Total and universal disarmament under effective international control
Respect for the territorial integrity of states
Non-interference in the internal affairs of states
Negotiation and non-use of force in the settlement of disputes
Trade and cultural relations based upon respect, mutual benefit and friendship
2. Freedom of People
Elimination of all forms of colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination
Right of states to choose their path of development
Respect for the full rights and self-determination of all nations and peoples
Right of people to food and the benefits of economic and social development
Preservation of the environment and ecological integrity
Solidarity, cooperation and unity among those supporting peace, social justice and environmental/ecological preservation.
To join please click here.
Support the Canadian Peace Congress!
header for support
We do a lot. But much more needs to be done. And to meet that challenge, the Canadian Peace Congress needs your financial assistance.
With your help, we can continue our country-wide campaign calling for Canada to withdraw from NATO. We can launch an effective campaign to highlight issues of foreign policy and militarism during the upcoming federal election. We can produce resource materials about Canada’s ballooning military spending. We can continue to expose the link between new fighter jets and nuclear weapons. We can prepare outreach campaigns to mobilize opposition to the war against Syria and Iraq. We can continue to promote the need for an independent foreign policy based on peace, international cooperation and solidarity.
We can do all of this and more, but we need your financial donation.
The Harper government continues to push the country toward more military spending, more aggression and more war. Will the Canadian peace movement achieve the level of unity and organization necessary to confront the challenges ahead? The answer, of course, is that we must – through your assistance, the Canadian Peace Congress will continue its work toward that goal.
Please click here to donate online by PayPal or by credit card.
Please mail your donation to:
Canadian Peace Congress
125 Brandon Avenue
Toronto ON, M6H 2E2