Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on August 20, 2015

Rather than working for peace, Canada is now engaging in a military first foreign policy.

  • Since 2003, Canada has been endlessly at war: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq-Syria: Canada has been or is there making war.
  • Today, Canada is directly involved in two international wars—Iraq-Syria and Ukraine—and indirectly in at least one other—Palestine-Israel.
  • Earlier this week, Prime Minister Harper promised to boost the number of military reservists from 24,000 to 30,000 if his party is reelected.
  • Canada has refused to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, a treaty aimed at restricting the global arms trade. The US has signed the treaty, as have 127 other countries.

War is not a natural calamity like a tempest or an earthquake; war is man-made and man can prevent it.”—James Endicott (1898 – 1993) Canadian church and peace movement leader

S T R A T E G I E S   O F   W A R 

DEMONIZATION: the identification with evil of the people your side is intent on slaughtering

  • In each of the conflicts in which Canada is involved, our government has demonized one of the combatants: Islamic State in the case of Iraq-Syria, Palestine in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and Russia in Ukraine. In the case of Russia, Prime Minister Harper has even gone so far as to compare Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to Hitler.
  • At the same time, our government has idealized “our side,” identifying the west with freedom and democracy.
  • In fact, there are few, if any, totally good guys or bad guys in any of these conflicts, just many varying shades of gray.
  • For example, according to the Canadian government, the crisis in Ukraine was precipitated by Russian aggression in Crimea in 2014. Left out of this version of events is the role of NATO in initiating the crisis. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO began to court former Soviet republics to join the western military alliance. Many have already done so, including Hungary, Poland, Latvia, and Estonia. Currently Canada is campaigning for Ukrainian membership in NATO.
  • Simplistic notions of good and evil lay the groundwork for war by creating a culture of hate and fear. Demonization also makes the lives of whole populations disposable. 

FEAR-MONGERING: deliberately arousing public fear about a particular group of people.

  • The Harper government never tires of telling Canadians that “Jihadi terrorists are threatening Canada.” In fact, the risk to our personal safety from a terrorist attack is statistically in-significant. We accept a much higher risk when we drive a car.
  • The government used fear-mongering to promote its anti-terror legislation, expanding the powers of CSIS and putting the privacy and freedom of speech of Canadians at risk.
  • The politics of fear are also aimed at scaring people into supporting wars against Muslim countries.
  • By stoking fear of Muslims, the Harper government also provides justification for anti-Muslim hate crimes in Canada. Such crimes have more than doubled since 2012.

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, trauma, bereavement, displacement, destabilization, poverty.

We in Canada also pay a price:

  • 162 Canadians lost their lives in Afghanistan.
  • Many more are struggling with physical or mental injuries and not getting the help they need from veterans’ services.
  • There are also financial costs to Canadians: Afghanistan: $18 billion; Libya: $347 million; Iraq-Syria: $528 million for the first year; Ukraine: $16 million for the first year.

That’s a lot of money! It could have been spent instead on education, affordable housing, and healthcare.


  • War is big business. It is very profitable for Canadian arms producing companies, 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!


  1. Visit the Peace Garden on Victoria Avenue and Lorne Street. A joint project of Knox-Met United Church and PeaceQuest Regina, the Peace Garden reminds us of the possibility of peace: Inner peace. Peace in our families and communities. Peace in our city. Peace within and between nations. Peace with the planet and all that dwell on it. 
  2. See Testament of Youth, a powerful story of love, war and remembrance, based on the First World War memoir by Vera Brittain, which has become the classic testimony of that war from a woman’s point of view. Showing at Regina Public Library Film Theatre, Thursday August 20 – Sunday August 23: 7 pm Thursday and Saturday; 9 pm Friday and Sunday; 2 pm Saturday. 
  3. Read the Kellogg-Briand Pact, available online. Signed in 1928 by most of the world’s nations, including Canada, the pact renounces war as a means of resolving disputes and calls for the use of diplomacy to mediate between opposing forces. 
  4. Ask candidates in the federal election if the leader of their party will be a Prime Minister for peace. Remind them of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

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