Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for February, 2016


Posted by strattof on February 15, 2016

Last week, the Trudeau government announced its “holistic” approach to fighting ISIS. Kudos to the Liberals for keeping their election promise to pull Canada’s six fighter jets from the war.

Sadly, however, the Liberal government is not working for peace. In fact, it is expanding Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria.

  • Bombing mission: A Canadian refueling aircraft and two surveillance aircraft will remain in the region to assist with the bombing campaign = deputized bombing.
  • Boots on the ground: The size of the Canadian training mission will triple, increasing from 69 – 207. These are Canadian soldiers who will train Iraqi soldiers to kill.
  • Deadly weapons: Canada will, for the first time, provide Iraqi forces with weapons, including machine guns, and mortars.
  • Endless war: The mission has been officially extended until March 2017. However, it is not scheduled to be evaluated until 2018 and has been budgeted over a three-year period = 2019.

Although details are sketchy, the new Liberal plan also includes an increase in humanitarian aid and in diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated solution to the conflict.



ISIS is a direct result of the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. It developed out of an al-Qaida affiliate that came into existence in reaction to the American invasion. It includes former military leaders from Saddam Hussein’s army who lost their positions under the US military occupation.

Under Saddam, Sunnis held all key positions in the Iraqi government and military. After toppling Saddam, the US removed all Saddam appointees from power and replaced them with Shia politicians and military leaders. Then, after the 2006 elections, the US threw its support behind the Shia dominated government of Nouri al Malaki and its policy of Sunni marginalization. Owing to this policy, ISIS grew significantly.

Thanks also to the US, ISIS has very sophisticated weaponry. It captured hundreds of millions of dollars of US military equipment from the Iraqi Security Forces. It also has weapons supplied by the US to rebels in Syria trying to overthrow the Assad regime.


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

  • Descent into murderous chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya: Where is the promised freedom and democracy?
  • Immense human suffering: Thousands of civilians have been killed since the airstrikes began in September 2014. Many more have been injured. Whole cities have been reduced to rubble. Millions of people have become refugees.
  • Endless war in the whole Middle East region.
  • More violence, more death, more suffering, more refugees.


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

We in Canada also pay a price:

  • 162 Canadians lost their lives in Afghanistan.
  • 1 in 10 Canadian veterans of the war in Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD.
  • 62 veterans of the war in Afghanistan have committed suicide.
  • There are also financial costs to Canadians:
  • Afghanistan: $18 billion
  • Libya: $347 million
  • Iraq-Syria 2014 – 2015: $528 million
  • Iraq-Syria 2016 – 2019: $1.6 billion. (This figure includes both military and humanitarian operations.)

That’s a lot of money! It could have been spent instead on education, affordable housing, healthcare, and clean drinking water for all Canadians.


  • 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!


Let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau know you want Canada to work for peace in Iraq and Syria. Working for peace means not participating in war:

  • No bombing
  • No refueling
  • No surveilling
  • No boots on the ground
  • No supplying of weapons

Working for peace also means

  • Stopping selling military hardware to Middle Eastern countries.
  • Concentrating on diplomatic peace-making in Iraq and Syria.

Politicians respond to public pressure if there’s enough of it. Let’s all take action: or 613-992-4211.




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Posted by strattof on February 11, 2016

P   E   A   C   E 

All we are saying is give peace a chance.—John Lennon 

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 

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. —Albert Einstein 

Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.Harry Patch, Britain’s last surviving World War I veteran 

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.Martin Luther King 

You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace.Michael Franti

J   U   S   T I   C   E 

W E   A R E   T H E   9 9 %Occupy Movement

He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us.The Prophet Muhammad 

Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. House the homeless.from the Christian Corporal Works of Mercy 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.Martin Luther King  

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest.Nelson Mandela 

We must be the change we wish to see in the worldMahatma Gandhi 

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.Dr. Seuss

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.­Arundhati Roy


  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to work actively for peace in Iraq and Syria and to help negotiate a non-violent resolution to the conflict. That means: No bombing! No training! No boots on the ground! or 613-992-4211.
  • Make the implementation of the TRC recommendations a major issue in the upcoming provincial election.
  • Make affordable rental housing a major issue in the upcoming municipal election.

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Posted by strattof on February 5, 2016

Canada’s crime rate has been falling steadily for the past 24 years and is now at its lowest level since 1973. At the same time, the number of prisoners has, for the last decade, been steadily rising.

Why are more Canadians spending time in prison? It’s not because of an increase in violent crimes. Most of the increase in imprisonment has been for non-violent offences. Rather it is because:

  • More people are being sent to prison for offences that once were punished in other ways.
  • Sentences are longer.

Who are we putting behind bars? Mainly Indigenous people.


Indigenous people are vastly over-represented in Canada’s prison population.

  • Indigenous people make up only 4% of Canada’s population. They constitute 25% of the federal prison population.
  • Indigenous people make up 17% of the population of Saskatchewan. They constitute
  • 80% of the youth in Saskatchewan jails.
  • 80 – 90% of the men in Saskatchewan jails.
  • Up to 90% of the women in Saskatchewan jails.

Indigenous people

  • Are also over-represented in segregation.
  • Have lower parole rates.
  • Are more likely to return to prison on revocation of parole, often for administrative reasons, not criminal violations.


The over-representation of Indigenous people in Canadian prisons is directly linked to systemic racism against Indigenous peoples, which is itself rooted in settler colonialism. Almost everywhere in Canadian society, whiteness is an advantage and Indigenous identity a disadvantage.

For example:

  • There is 22% – 34% less funding for First Nations child welfare services—as confirmed last week by the release of a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that the federal government is racially discriminating against First Nations children.
  • A child who attends a First Nations school receives 33% – 50% less funding than a child in a provincial school.
  • The unemployment rate for Indigenous people aged 20 – 24 is 22.6%, compared to 14.4% for non-Indigenous people.


Bit by bit, the Wall government is privatizing provincial prisons.


In 2014, a contract was signed with Telmate, which turned prisoner-family phone contact into a for-profit enterprise.

A long distance call now costs $1 for the initial connection and 30 cents a minute. Many prisoners cannot afford to keep in contact with family and friends.

No prisoners should be cut off from family and community. It makes reintegration into society on release much more difficult and re-offense much more likely.

However, the Saskatchewan government’s privatization of prison phone services must also be seen in its particular cultural and historical context:

  1. The demographics of Saskatchewan’s prison population = 80% – 90% Indigenous.
  2. The relationship between the privatization of phone services and other white colonial settler society policies aimed at disrupting Indigenous families and communities: ►the residential school system ►the 60s scoop ►the underfunding of First Nations child and family services.
  3. The call of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for re-conciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.


Since the Wall government contracted out prison food services to Compass Group in August 2015, prisoners at Regina’s Correctional Centre have gone on three hunger strikes, citing concerns about food quality and quantity. This is not surprising. Compass Group’s business is to make as big a profit as possible.

Brad Wall’s response to the prisoners’ concerns? “If you really don’t like the prison food, there’s one way to avoid it, and that’s don’t go to prison.”

Brad Wall would be well advised to read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


  • Let Premier Brad Wall know you want his government to reverse its prison privatization policies. Also ask him to let you know how his government intends to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and remind him of recommendation #30—“Commit to eliminating the over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody”: or (306) 787-9433.
  • Make prison privatization an issue in the upcoming provincial election.

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”–Nelson Mandela

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