Canada needs a unifying vision that is large enough to help us Canadians rise above the regional grievances that divide us. This vision should be Canada as peacemaker and peacebuilder of the world. For six years running, the United Nations has named Canada the best country in the world in which to live. This designation gives Canada the responsibility to share its good fortune with less fortunate countries. Peace can only be brought about by peaceful means.
Strength is universally admired. Canada’s strength as a military power is insignificant. Every general tries to convert weakness into strength, and this we can do. Because our military stature threatens no one, we are welcomed where no superpower can go. This gives us enormous potential as an international peacemaker and peacebuilder.
Canada is a young nation still in the process of defining itself. We are a nation becoming. Of all the nations, Canada has arguably the least militaristic history. Since Confederation, our only war was the sad and unnecessary Northwest Rebellion, which resulted in less than 130 deaths on all sides. Canada achieved nationhood by peaceful and lawful means. With the exception of 1885, Canadians have fought only in other people’s wars. We have had no wars of our own. We have changed from an officially racist, sexist, elitist country to a multicultural country with human rights for all, and we highly value the rule of law. Our political evolution should continue along the same path for which Lester Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. We should now move from peacekeeping to becoming the peacemaker and peacebuilder of the world. Peacekeeping depends on force and violence, peacemaking and peacebuilding rest on respect for the rule of law and human rights as the basis for international cooperation and development. Peacekeeping starts when bullets are flying. Peacemaking and peacebuilding try to keep the bullets from being fired.
Canada has repeatedly chosen to take as its own the enemies of its political allies. But these "enemies" do not pose the greatest challenge to our future security. People from other countries pose far less danger to our security than do the destruction of the environment, the endemic media violence that our children are becoming inured to, the possibility of technological advances like genetic research or computer viruses being used for malevolent ends, and the weakening of the mortar that holds together the bricks of the structure of our civil society. This mortar is the respect individual Canadians have for themselves, for each other, for the rule of law, and for the institutions of civility that we have built up over the last century. If we are concerned about our future security, we should begin to focus on the dangers that confront us rather than on other human beings, who share these same dangers.
The only violence that our government sanctions, condones, encourages and finances is the violence of the military. Legally, the government has a monopoly on violence. The violence of the military is the tap root of violence in our society. Violence and hate always accompany each other and hate transforms us into the object of our hate.
We become what we hate.
The laws of violence describe what afflicts our world. These laws are the law of continuity; the law of reciprocity; the law of sameness; the law of replication and the law of self-justification. Once an individual starts using violence, he continues to use violence; if someone uses violence, his enemies are justified in reciprocating violently; all violence is the same-- there is no such thing as good violence and bad violence; violence begets violence and nothing but violence; and those who are violent always try to justify their violence and this leads to all manner of lying, duplicity, deceit and hypocrisy.
These laws put the lie to the myth of redemptive violence which leads us to believe that good results will be achieved by bad means. We socialize our children into violence and then are surprised and distraught when they become violent. This dynamic is most visible in the military. Domestic violence is twice as prevalent among military personnel as it is among the general population. Misogyny goes back to the beginning of soldiering, is alive and well in the Canadian armed forces, and is at the root of the abuse women experience in the military. And the military likes young, impressionable people, who have not had the opportunity to mature as moral beings and who can be conditioned to become killers on command.
Military ideals include truth, duty , valor, honor, gallantry and sacrifice, but an examination of the Somalia Affair reveals that the values of the generals of the Canadian high command are evasion, lying, denial, hypocrisy, obfuscation, violence, hatred, ruthless authoritarianism, lawlessness, and the need for an enemy. The generals used tactics based on these values to defeat the Somalia Inquiry. This Inquiry was to discover and correct what went wrong, but because the Inquiry couldn’t complete its work, the afflictions of the high command persist. Like alcoholics, as long as the generals and the government are in denial of their condition, there can be no cure.
Canada could be defended by nonviolent means. The religion of most Canadians, who pray "God keep our land, glorious and free" every time we sing our national anthem, is a religion of peace. Christianity, Judaism, Gitchee Manitouism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam are all religions of peace, even if their adherents are not always peaceful. Nonviolent resistance and people power have a significant history of success and have sometimes made friends of enemies. The Norwegian national resistance to the Nazis during the Second World War was primarily nonviolent and when the Germans left, some of them had become collaborators. Under Gandhi, the people of India defeated the British Empire which had ruled India for two centuries. Despite British violence that killed one of every 40,000 Indians, the English and Indians separated in friendship. People power drove Ferdinand Marcos from office in the Philippines in a tense but bloodless revolution. Despite the willingness of the Pentagon to sacrifice 42,000,000 Americans as acceptable collateral damage in the first strike of a winnable nuclear war against the USSR, the Soviet Union was defeated and the Iron Curtain dismantled by nonviolent resisters beginning with the Czechs in 1968, continuing with the Solidarity movement in Poland in 1980, and culminating with the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the demise of Communism in Russia in 1991. Conversely, the French were driven out of Algeria at the cost of one of every ten Algerians dead. The enmity between French and Algerians persists.
A nonviolent defense strategy for Canada would be built on the successful examples of nonviolence in other parts of the world. It would be organized and people would be trained to be resist peacefully, but with courage and persistence. All the people of Canada could be involved, from senior citizens to children, men and women, the strong and the weak, the urban and the rural. All would refuse cooperation with an aggressor, and would rather suffer than cooperate. This would generate a great sense of solidarity among Canadians, which would further stiffen resistance to an aggressor. These defense strategies could be taught to all children in schools, and new Canadians would forswear violence when they became citizens. Canada would demobilize its military, disengage from offensive military alliances and become an international example of respect for the rule of law and human rights.
Canada’s police would fulfill their legislated and constitutional duties by becoming peace officers-- by returning to the duties and methods that are mandated in the Criminal Code of Canada. Policing would revert to the foundational understanding that policing is by the consent of the public--that the police are the public and the public are the police. Primary purposes of policing should be the prevention of crime and the maintenance of community order and these functions would assume a much larger roles in a country which was committed to nonviolence. Like the bobbies in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the police would be unarmed, and when it was necessary to subdue a criminal in the commission of a violent crime, the least amount of force possible would be used. A very deliberate effort would be made to eliminate military values from the police services, and policing itself would be demilitarized.
The costs of the military for our society are enormous. In dollar terms the military costs Canadians $10,300,000,000. And what does each citizen get for $335.00 a year? Nothing of value. However, the non-financial costs may well be larger than the money spent on soldiering. Who was morally culpable for the civilians killed in the terror bombing of Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The pilots? The ground crews? The high commands of the various countries who ordered the illegal bombing of civilians? The engineers who designed and manufactured the weapons? The elected officials who taxed the citizenry and ordered the bombing? The taxpayers who paid for it? All of them?
The fear which the military creates and the fifty years of nuclear terror that followed WWII has diminished us all. The brutalisation and desensitization of the human psyche that are the inevitable results of warmaking and training for war robs us all of some part of our humanity. The hatred and debasing of women by mysogynistic military training has long term affects on the way humans interact with each other. This debasement causes human beings to be ashamed of their race, to weep for what they and their race have become. Ultimately we are all victims of the madness and hubris that is the military. All of us—from the soldier who returns from the battlefield a physical and psychological wreck, to his wife who far more likely to be abused than her civilian counterparts, to their children who suffer disproportionately from abuse, to social services systems that must pick up the pieces of all this government induced dysfunctionality—become the victims.
The debasing of our collective memory continues when many accept war as an inevitable part of human existence and it is justified and glorified. The debasing continues in the way the military debases and cheapens human rights, arguing that to defend the human rights of one group of people, the human rights of another group of people must be violated. And so human rights become divisible and arbitrary and the violation of human rights justifiable. Finally, the military debases and corrupts our political system and our elected representatives. The cover-up of the Somalia Affair and abrogation of the Somalia Inquiry were clear violations of the rule of law by the Government of Canada. The actions of the members of the Canadian high command with respect to the Somalia Inquiry were unethical, illegal and a gross violation of the oaths these commissioned officers took when they accepted their commissions. This cover-up by the high command, the Department of National Defense and the ministers responsible for the military constitutes a betrayal of trust and an abdication of parliamentary responsibility. The fact that it is allowed to continue indicates that this cancer of corruption is still afflicting our political systems, our senior military personnel and the Department of Defense. Canadians are paying an incredibly high price for the military.
Finally, the military corrupts the charter rights of individual Canadians. The first of the rights the Charter guarantees Canadians is the freedom of conscience. Those of us who wish to live by the rule of law, who agree with the government’s prosecution of Ernst Zundel and James Keegstra for crimes of hate, are forced by this same government to contribute to the training of hate and violence by the military, violence that is sponsored, aided and abetted by the government.
Fast forward to 2049. Canada started off the new century with a debate about what kind of country it wanted to be in the new millennium, and decided, in the general election of 2010, to make peace a foundational value on which to build its future. Canada withdrew from offensive military alliances, and completed the demobilization of its armed forces in 2018. This freed up $10,300,000,000 to be used for securing Canada’s future by nonviolent means.
The old guard was deeply opposed to this change, and fought it every step of the way. However, an alliance of "new" Canadians, Quebecois, women, and environmentalists coalesced around a new vision for Canada—Canada as the peacemaker and peacebuilder for the world. Canada rediscovered multiculturalism and this became one of the driving forces for not only peacebuilding, but also for trade, diplomacy, and nation building. To replace the Department of Defense, Canada put into place the Canadian Service Corporation. This Corporation, headed by a Cabinet minister, had three main divisions—the Canadian Peace Corporation, the Canadian Environmental Corporation, and the Canadian Domestic Service Corporation. Each had a budget of about $3,400,000,000 annually.
The Canadian Peace Corporation developed a variety of programs that fostered world peace and development. Canadian Peacemaker Teams, consisting of volunteers with a high sensitivity to the people among whom they worked, were sent to regions of the world where war and conflict were imminent or where war was already in progress. These unarmed teams served in many different ways to promote peace and reconciliation. This was sometimes highly dangerous work and some of these peacemakers were killed. Another initiative was the Canadian Friendship Exchange Program, which enabled 60,000 young Canadians annually to visit other parts of the world, and paid for the return visit of 60,000 young people from other countries to visit Canada. The Canadian Peacemakers International Program enabled poor people in the developing world to become property owners and gain access to productive work. This helped address the structural economic problems that had generated conflict and war in these countries for many generations. This program also led to increased trade between these countries and Canada. Finally, the People to People Peacemaking Program enabled those at the front lines of trade disputes, like Newfoundland fisherfolk, to meet with their counterparts from other countries, like Spain, to see how to minimize problems that politicians tended to maximize.
To provide the education and knowledge for the people who staffed these programs, the Canadian Peace University was established in Winnipeg. CPU had connections to peace programs all over the world, and was staffed by scholars of international reputation from every part of the globe and every major religion. It had made a major contribution to international peace by researching such diverse subjects as the characteristics of a peacemaker, why undeserved suffering is redemptive, the dynamics of forgiveness, the anatomy of hate, and the economics of altruism. The Canadian Peace University was one of the contributing factors in the emergence of what the world knew as the Canadian Renaissance that had come into full flower in the 2040s.
The Canadian Environmental Corporation—Domestic Division was funded to hire 60,000 young people annually to preserve and enhance the environment. This corps did reforestation, cleaned up and restored many of Canada’s waterways, helped alleviate natural disasters like forest fires and the Manitoba Flood, and built and maintained Canada’s parks. The Canadian Environmental Corps—Overseas Division consisted of 10,000 Canadian ecologists who worked at environmental enhancement overseas. They worked on reforestation, water conservation, waste management, protection of biodiversity, and attenuation of air pollution in the developing world. In so doing they created huge markets for Canadian environmental technologies and helped Canada become the recognized leader in global environmental preservation and conservation.
The Canadian Domestic Services Corporation annually put 120,000 young Canadian s to work enhancing the quality of life of ordinary Canadians. These young people worked in health care, education, housing, agriculture, small business, elder care and the voluntary sector. Many of them devised their own jobs and/or programs. Their work was enormously beneficial to Canada, and gave the participants valuable experience and an entry into the workforce.
The work of the Canadian Service Corporation, especially the international work, gave Canada huge stature in the international community. One of our most prominent exports in the 21St century became Canada’s civil society. As Canada’s stature grew so did its moral authority. It was this stature, and the respect and esteem that others had for Canada, that became Canada’s security, and that helped Canada prevail against the right wing American ideologues who demanded that a "defenseless" Canada provide the U.S. with cheap water to alleviate the growing water crisis in the American southwest in the middle of the 21st century.
We Canadians have the opportunity to choose the kind of future we want. This choice could make Canada the leader in a peaceful world of tomorrow, or it could undergird the unstable status quo and rob the human family of an opportunity to benefit from what the we have collectively experienced in the 20th century of humanity’s appalling cruelty , violence, hate and greed, but also of the nobility, grandeur and even transcendence of the human spirit.
dave hubert, 12/11/99 Summary (eighth draft, 09/02/20)