Canada Votes: War or Peace?

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War or Peace?
by Catherine Whelan Costen
March 13, 2008 Canadian MP’s will vote on whether to extend Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan to 2011. Of course we know that our MP’s represent the people of the nation, so their vote is our vote. How can they know our desires when we are so uninformed regarding this issue?
Canadians would respond better to the situation if we knew more about what is really going on. Canadians and people all over the world are seeking peace. Historically speaking though, peace is ever as profitable as war. So, is peace really desirable? Are we on a peace mission? Are we aspiring to create peace?

Many Canadians believe Canada’s soldiers are peacekeepers, however as long as there is no peace, they have nothing to ‘keep’. Soldiers are trained to kill, as General Hillier was quoted as saying. Canadians by virtue of our government, have sent our young men and women to Afghanistan to kill or be killed. They
have gone to war. What they do in Afghanistan, they do for us, in our name.
Whether we like it or not we live in a democracy. Whether we vote or not, we the people of Canada determine who has control over our foreign affairs, internal affairs, arms deals and direction the country takes towards war or peace.

Many Canadians support our troops, but not the war. We know that our soldiers are doing what the nation has asked them to do. They do it well. They are excellent soldiers and we know we are asking them to do something many of us could not do. Many of us would not do and many of us, have never been asked to do. Many of those making the decision have never seen war, never followed orders to kill, never slept with strangers in a foreign country, eating rations, exposing their bodies to the elements, or hearing the screams of anguish in the victims of their wrath.
Most Canadians do not know war. We do not desire war for us, or for anyone else.

Many Canadians simply ignore the issue completely. It doesn’t affect them personally so they are not aware. Some are aware, don’t like it, but feel helpless to stop it. Some Canadians turn away or refuse to accept their responsibility in these affairs.
Whether we point fingers at those in charge or not, the truth is we allow it. We allow, whatever we accept without taking a stand against. Politicians have a vested interest in gaining acceptance from Canadians if they want to keep their jobs.

We cannot send soldiers with tanks, guns and other weapons into a country and tell them to make peace. That is not their job. It is our job to make peace and then they can help keep it. We need to send a very strong message to our representatives, our elected members of Parliament, to make peace if that is what we want.

Making peace is difficult but not impossible. It must be desirable in order to be on the agenda. Violence and war missions are escalating in the Middle East and around the world. Why? The media and propaganda machines are constantly telling us we have much to fear. They also tell us that Canada is playing an important role. Fear and pride are great contributors to the path to war, they are not the tools for peace.

Every member of the House of Commons has a responsibility to consider all aspects of Canada’s military role in the world. Canadians declare they want peace, so why are our sons and daughters sent to war? The current government of Canada has passed several bills, budgets etc. that may or may not be in the best interest of Canadians, but very little debate or discussion has occurred around them. Most have passed without a whimper or suggestion of protest due to several political parties’ fear of their own election readiness. Politicians who put their careers ahead of the lives of Canadian soldiers, are sending a very clear message to Canadians.

It is time for Canadians to have clarity on this issue, as well as others. We need to know why we are in Afghanistan? Is there a plan for peace? We need the truth.

If Canada is in Afghanistan to clean up the military mess the U.S. 
made while chasing the illusive bin Laden, then Canadians deserve to have a clear explanation of this mission? Many have suggested that Canada was relieving the US in Afghanistan so they could go into Iraq, which they did. Now we have two countries destroyed by war and the entire Middle East destabilized. We have some corporations making great profits from these decisions.

Canadian mothers, fathers, spouses and siblings of our military men and women, deserve to know that we are at war, which appears to be the case. Politicians need to put their fear of losing a job aside, while we discuss and contemplate the lives of Canadians on the front lines, the lives of Afghanistan’s people who are living in peril, the future of the Middle East and the future of Canada. Is Canada supporting the US’s desire to build an empire, where Canada plays a subservient role? Is our role in Afghanistan part of the new North American Union, where Canadian lives are controlled by a new corporate ‘ruler’?
If power and greed are behind this mission, we need to be clear. Some people embrace the lust for war, power and greed, but most Canadians do not subscribe to that ideology. Does the Canadian government have a plan for peace, or are we simply following  
orders from another country or power?

These questions need answers. This may be seen as a 'confidence' vote in Parliament, however it is also a crucial decision on which countless lives are in jeopardy. Canada can become a leader in peaceful initiatives globally. We can aspire to it. Politicians who refuse to discuss our military role with the Canadian people, selfishly deny the democratic process for their own gain.

We need heroes for peace, not more caskets with lifeless bodies. 
Canadians live in a democracy and by that definition we are responsible for the decisions made by our elected representatives. If Canadians are going to support our troops in their missions on our behalf, we need to know what that entails. We need our  
representatives to speak the truth to us, now!
Our representatives need to know what we desire and that can only happen with an open truthful discussion.

Catherine Whelan Costen

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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