Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

MILITARIZED NATION

Posted by strattof on November 1, 2012

What do Rider games have to do with the Canadian military? Not much, we hope. Why, then, are opening ceremonies at Rider games so frequently devoted to glorifying the military?

●MILITARY FLAG ESCORTS ●MEMBERS OF THE LEGION MARCHING ON THE FIELD ●IMAGES ON THE BIG SCREEN OF THE CANADIAN MILITARY IN ACTION ●SNOWBIRD FLYPASTS

This blending of sports and the military has the effect of making war acceptable. It also promotes our government’s war-making agenda.

But what about those fans who know war is mad destruction, a calamity for all touched by it? The promotion of the military at Rider games makes us very uncomfortable. Are we still welcome at Mosaic Stadium, we wonder?   

We will not be intimidated. We will keep cheering for the Riders and speaking out against war. As our t-shirts say, we are

R I D E R   F A N S   F O R   P E A C E !

PEACEABLE KINGDOM

Canada’s 14th Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, was awarded the Noble Peace in 1957 for helping to resolve the Suez Crisis by proposing the first United Nations peacekeeping force.  

Twice in recent history Canada has resisted pressure from the United States, its closest ally, to enter into war: ●Canada did not fight in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). ●Canada also refused to join the US in the second war against Iraq (2003-2011).

Instead, Canadian foreign policy emphasized peacekeeping. Indeed, Canada has participated in the majority of UN peacekeeping missions, including:

►1956–1967: Egypt

►1960–1964: Congo

►1964–present: Cyprus

►1978–present: Lebanon

►1989–1991: Angola

►1992–1995: Somalia

►1993–1996: Rwanda

►1995–2002: Bosnia and Herzegovina

But can we really say Canada was a peaceable kingdom over the period? 

  • We did participate in the first war against Iraq (1990–1991).
  • More recently, we engaged in military operations in Libya (2011).
  • Even now we have troops in Afghanistan (2001–2014).

TERM PEACEKEEPING FORCES AN OXYMORON

True peacekeepers would not be armed military personnel. Rather they would be unarmed civilians who have volunteered to risk their lives trying to stop opposing forces from using violence on one another. You cannot make peace with a gun.

Still, until recently, Canadians saw ourselves as peace-making people, an image that helped us to promote peace at home and abroad.

WARRIOR NATION

Now peace-making is being replaced by war-fighting as a key element in Canadian national identity. Since the early 2000s, our leaders have been promoting the use of force and violence as the way of advancing Canadian national interests.

Last month marked the 11th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. The current deadline for the withdrawal of all Canadian and NATO forces is 2014. Afghanistan is already the longest war Canada has ever engaged in – longer than World Wars I and II put together.

  • Last year, Canada was part of a coalition of western forces that, for seven months, bombed Libya.
  • Now, our government is preparing the ground for Canada’s involvement in a war against Iran. 
  • In the meantime, we are spending more and more money on our military forces. In 2011, our military spending was 18% higher than it was in 1952-53, the peak spending year of the Cold War. Currently, Canada is the 13th largest military spender in the world.

REWRITING CANADIAN HISTORY

In a bid to rebrand Canada as a warrior nation, the Harper government is rewriting Canadian history. Now it’s mainly about wars and heroic warriors. Ignoring all the horrors of war, this version of Canadian history, memorializes war as a glorious enterprise.      

  • In 2009, the Harper government put out a new version of the citizenship guidebook, Discover Canada. Unlike earlier versions, this one highlights military events and figures.
  • This past summer, the Harper government spent $30 million celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The government also has plans to build a monument on Parliament Hill to the War of 1812.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy? –Mahatma Gandhi

YOU ARE INVITED TO A PUBLIC LECTURE

BY JAMIE SWIFT, CO-AUTHOR OF

WARRIOR NATION: REBRANDING CANADA IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 21 2012

 7:30 – 9 pm

UNIVERSITY OF REGINA

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION AUDITORIUM (RIC 119)

EVERYONE IS WELCOME

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