Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for April, 2016


Posted by strattof on April 17, 2016


  • Canada has been almost continuously at war in Muslim countries since 2003: Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria.
  • In 2014, mere months after bringing the last soldiers home from Afghanistan, the Harper government committed Canada to military action in Iraq.
  • In April 2015, the Harper government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another 12 months, until March 2016, and expanded it into Syria.
  • In March 2016, the Trudeau government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria for another 12 months, until March 2017, and budgeted it over a three year period to 2019.




Dehumanization is the representation of the enemy as not one of “us,” as lacking full humanity, as inferior, barbaric, or even evil—in which case it is called demonization. It also involves the representation of our side as superior, civilized, and/or good.

These strategies are the reason we in the west do not readily identify with the suffering of Muslims, Arabs, Iraqis or Syrians. It makes us see them as inferior, barbaric, and/or evil and hence not worthy of our sympathy, thus justifying their slaughter and making their lives ungrievable.

These strategies are frequently employed by the power elite: politicians, military leaders, CEOs of corporations, media pundits. First they made al-Qaeda “our” enemy. Then it was the Taliban. Now it’s Daesh, also known as ISIS. Who will it be tomorrow?


War is a disaster for everyone it touches.

  • Soldiers are killed, maimed, traumatized.
  • Civilians in the war zone pay a tremendous price: death, injury, bereavement, displacement, trauma.
  • Civilians of countries engaged in war elsewhere also pay a price: Dead or injured loved ones. Money that could have been spent on education, affordable housing, and healthcare.


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

  • Descent into murderous chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Where is the promised freedom and democracy?
  • The emergence of Daesh in Iraq, a direct result of the 2003 US-led occupation of Iraq.
  • Violence in western countries, including Canada—which should not surprise us: How many Muslim countries has Canada inflicted violence on recently? Maybe we should eliminate the incentive for people to want to kill us!

“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.
  • Who loses? Ordinary citizens everywhere. 


What can we do for peace?

  1. First, we need to learn to resist the strategies of war employed by the power elite. Here are some tips:
  2. Pay attention to the alternative media, for example, Briarpatch, Democracy Now! The Real News Network.
  3. Think critically. Question our own assumptions. For example: Do I object more to the deaths caused by suicide bombing than I do to the deaths caused by aerial bombing? If so, why? Is one mode of killing, in fact, more barbaric than the other?
  4. Next, we need to let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau know we want Canada to stop making war in Iraq and Syria and to start making diplomatic peacemaking its top international priority: or 613-992-4211.

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Posted by strattof on April 7, 2016

The violence in Israel and Palestine continues. Every week there is news of more killing. What can be done to end the bloodshed and bring a lasting peace to the region?

The Harper government, rather than working for peace, chose to side with one of the combatants, Israel, with Prime Minister Harper going so far as to tell the Israel parliament that “Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”

Will the Trudeau government be more even-handed? Regrettably, the record indicates otherwise. Most tellingly, Canada’s votes on Israel-Palestine matters at the UN, shortly after the federal election, were unchanged from previous years, continuing a pattern of unconditional support for Israel.

By failing to be even-handed, Canada has made itself complicit in the bloodshed on both sides of the conflict.


  1. In 1948, in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust which saw the murder of six million European Jews, Israel was founded as an independent Jewish state. The UN plan also called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
  2. Like Canada, Israel was founded on land that was already occupied, its creation causing the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians. Many of them, along with their descendants, continue to live in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
  3. Israel’s Law of Return entitles any Jewish person, from any part of the world, to immediate Israeli citizenship, whereas Palestinians whose families were expelled in 1948 have no right of return.
  4. 1 million Palestinians live in Israel where they are second class citizens.
  5. Since 1967, Gaza and the West Bank have been under Israeli military occupation.
  6. In 2005, Israel withdrew its soldiers from Gaza. However, it has maintained an air, land, and sea blockade, preventing people and goods from entering or leaving and creating a humanitarian catastrophe.
  7. In the West Bank, the Israeli army has complete control. Palestinians are subject to Israeli military justice, under which torture, mass arrests, detention without trial, harsh restrictions on movement, and house demolitions are legal.
  8. Since the 1970s, Israel has been confiscating Palestinian land in the West Bank and establishing Israeli settlements. Today, about 350,000 Israeli settlers live in these settlements, which are illegal under international law.
  9. Israel is building a separation wall in the West Bank. The wall will be 700 km on completion and is putting prime land into Israeli hands and further restricting the movement of Palestinians.
  10. Israel has the most powerful military in the Middle East and one of the most powerful militaries in the world. In addition to conventional weapons, it has an undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons. Unlike Iran, Israel has not signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty.


Why has the Canadian government adopted such a one-sided, war-promoting approach to Israel and Palestine?

  • Canadian companies have lucrative contracts with the Israeli government.
  • Canada and Israel are both colonial settler states founded on the dispossession and impoverishment of Indigenous peoples.


We call on the Canadian government to work with other nations to create a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Some of the conditions required for a just and lasting peace:

  • Both sides to renounce violence
  • Palestinians to recognize the right of Israel to exist
  • Israel to recognize the right of Palestine to exist as a state
  • Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territory and withdraw to the legally recognized 1967 borders
  • Israel to dismantle the separation wall
  • Israel to recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees


SUNDAY APRIL 10, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm

St James United Church, 4506 Sherwood Drive

306-543-2626 – 

MONDAY APRIL 11, 7 pm – 9 pm

Knox-Met United Church, 2340 Victoria Avenue

306-525-9128 –  

Presenters Kathy Bergan and Jan McIntyre will share information from their experience as Christians who have been part of peace efforts in Palestine and Israel.

They will

  • Provide information not readily available in the mainstream media
  • Briefly explain the history of the conflict
  • Talk about the role of International Humanitarian Law and UN Resolutions in this conflict
  • Share personal stories of Israelis and Palestinians working for a just peace
  • Discuss some of the barriers that prevent people from speaking out and becoming involved in peacemaking

Sponsored by United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel, a United Church related network:


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Posted by strattof on April 2, 2016

  1. How does your party intend to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

Many of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission include provincial governments in the calls to action. Here are three of them:

#1: Reduce the number of Indigenous children in care.

#30: Eliminate the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody.

#62: Make teaching about residential schools and Indigenous history mandatory in the public education system, K – 12.

All Canadians must make a firm and lasting commitment to reconciliation to ensure that Canada is a country where our children and grandchildren can thrive.”—TRC 364

  1. Does your party think prairie pastures should remain in public hands?


1935: In order to stop soil erosion, the federal government established the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) Community Pasture Program. This program gave protection to .7 million acres of community pasture land in Manitoba and 1.8 million acres in Saskatchewan, rehabilitating them from near desert conditions to natural grassland.

2012: The Harper government cancelled this program and transferred the management of the PFRA pasture lands to provincial authorities.


Manitoba has committed to keeping the land under public ownership. Saskatchewan may choose to privatize the land. 


  • First Nations and Métis sacred and ceremonial sites
  • The livelihood of small ranchers who use the pastures for grazing
  • The prairie grasslands themselves
  • The survival of many plant and animal species, including song birds that rely on the grasslands during migration
  1. What are your party’s plans to expand quality affordable rental housing?

Rents in Saskatchewan doubled between 2006 and 2014. They are still increasing.

As a result:

  • Our province has a growing population of homeless people.
  • Many Saskatchewan residents have to choose between paying the rent and buying food.

Buying homeless people a one-way bus ticket to Vancouver is not an acceptable remedy for homelessness. What we need are more truly affordable (social) rental housing units!

  1. If elected, will your party ban the police practice of carding?

Carding—also known as street checks—is the police practice of randomly stopping people for questioning in order to collect information.


  • Statistics show that so-called “random” stops end up targeting racialized and marginalized people. In Regina, the practice is an excuse for harassing Indigenous people.
  • The information collected is entered on a data base where it becomes the basis for further police harassment.

Because of these problems, Ontario is banning carding.

  1. What action will your party take on climate change?

At the 2015 Paris climate conference, Canada pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Will Saskatchewan do its part to help Canada keep this promise?

  • Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
  • Between 1990 & 2013, Saskatchewan emissions grew by 66%.
  • The oil. gas, and mining industries account for 34% of Saskatchewan emissions; electricity generation for 21%; transportation for 21%; and agriculture for 16%.

TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, which cuts right through Saskatchewan, is also an environmental hazard. Its purpose is to expand Canadian tar sands, production—the main cause of increasing emissions in Canada.

To avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate change, a global rise in average temperature of 2° must be prevented. The effects in Saskatchewan of breeching this limit will include devastating droughts, heatwaves, and forest fires. February 2016 was the hottest February in recorded history.

  1. Will your party ban the mining of uranium?

Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of uranium. Saskatchewan is the principal source of Canada’s uranium.

  • Uranium mining has taken a serious toll on the environment and human health in northern Saskatchewan.
  • Saskatchewan uranium supplies nuclear reactors both in Canada and abroad. Nuclear reactors release cancer-causing radiation into the air, land, and water and produce ever-accumulating radioactive wastes as spent fuel that will have to be managed for millennia.
  • Saskatchewan uranium is exported to nuclear-weapons states, including the United States, India, and China. Nuclear weapons constitute a catastrophic global risk, with the potential to wipe out human life.

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