Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on April 10, 2015


Last week, the Harper government passed a motion to extend Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another 12 months and to expand it into Syria. Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens all voted against the motion, expressing concern about mission creep, the safety of Canadian soldiers, the support the mission might offer Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, the lack of UN or NATO authorization, and the lack of an exit strategy.

At no point did either side of the House express concern for Iraqi or Syrian civilians. Living in countries already afflicted by the nightmare of never-ending war, how will they be affected by western airstrikes?

Here are figures taken from Body Count, a new report published in the US by Physicians for Social Responsibility: In the first 12 years of the so-called “war on terror,”

  • about a million people were killed in Iraq, and
  • 220,000 people in Afghanistan.

The Canadian government should have considered this report before extending and expanding Canada’s military mission.

T H E   C O S T S   O F   W A R

The costs paid by the people in the war zone are horrendous: death, injury, bereavement, displacement, destabilization, trauma, poverty.

We in Canada also pay a cost:

  • 162 Canadians lost their lives in Afghanistan.
  • Many more have returned with wounds visible and invisible and are not getting the help they need from veteran’s services.
  • One Canadian solider has already been killed in Iraq.
  • The war in Afghanistan cost Canadians at least $18 billion. This is money that could have been spent on education, affordable housing, and healthcare.
  • According to the Harper government, the war in Iraq and Syria will cost Canadians at least $528 million.


Will western military operations against ISIS bring about any good outcome? Have the first 13 years of the so-called “war on terror” had a beneficial outcome?

  • Descent into chaos and violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya: Where is the promised freedom and democracy?
  • The emergence of ISIS in Iraq, a direct result of the 2003 US-led occupation of Iraq.
  • Endless war in the whole Middle East region.
  • Violence in western countries, including Canada ‒ which should not surprise us: To inflict violence on other countries is to invite retaliation. How many Muslim countries has Canada inflicted violence on recently? 

“War begets violence and hatred that only begets more violence and hatred.”—Archbishop Desmond Tutu


  • War is big business. It is very profitable for Canadian arms manufacturers, making them $12.6 billion in annual revenues, approximately 50% of which comes from international sales. 
  • There is an all-too-cozy mutually beneficial relationship between governments and armaments industries, a relationship that includes donations to political parties, on the one hand, and approval of military spending, on the other. 
  • Who loses? Ordinary citizens everywhere. 

“We ask for peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who earn their living with the blood of men and women.”—Pope Francis

M A K I N G   W A R

The Harper government likes war.

  • It celebrates every war anniversary it can get its hands on: the War of 1812, the Boer War, each and every World War I and II battle Canadians engaged in.
  • Rather than remembering the horror and misery of war, the Harper government speaks of war’s honour and glory. Only people who have not fought in a war think war is glorious.
  • All too eagerly, the Harper government marches us off to war, justifying military action by demonizing one of the combatants (ISIS in the case of Iraq and Syria).
  • Double standards are another of the Harper government’s tactics. For example, what it labels “terrorism” has killed a miniscule number of Canadians. How many Afghans, Libyans, Iraqis, and Syrians have our guns and bombs killed?

M A K I N G   P E A C E

Many Canadians, including Canadians in uniform, know that there is no honour or glory in war and that war is a catastrophe for everyone who experiences it.

What can we do for peace?

  • We can tell the Harper government to get Canada out of the Middle East.
  • We can also tell the Harper government that we want Canada to seek non-violent negotiated resolutions to conflicts.
  • On an on-going basis, we must work to avoid being swayed in irrational directions by the warmongers.
  • We must also ensure that our definition of “terrorism” includes the atrocities committed by the west.

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