Vive Le Canada

Marching Orders
Date: Tuesday, November 21 2006

Received by email from

November 13, 2006
How Canada abandoned peacekeeping
and why the UN needs us more than ever

It is no accident that Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, delivers Canada-needs-to get-tough lines to journalists in a rapid succession of strategic sound-bites. The quotable general has been well trained to be a most effective advocate for building up the military to better fight terrorist “scumbags” around the world.

“We get public speaking training,” he revealed to Profit magazine recently. “When I was in Afghanistan, we had people from the BBC come in to help us create the right perceptions, because perception is reality.”

General Hillier is of course the mouthpiece for a defence lobby intent on perpetuating the notion that our military is, and must be, a war-fighting force and that peacekeeping is nothing but a quaint anachronism. But is this the truth?

I would like to tell you about a new report commissioned by The Council of Canadians that uncovers the military-industrial motivations behind this well-funded public relations campaign, a report that shows there’s not one shred of evidence to back this tough-talk up and plenty to refute it.

[You may download the report here:]

The report also decries the fact that we have spent more than $5 billion on the “war in Afghanistan”, a term the government now uses. Next year, we will spend $1.4 billion on the mission. Not to mention the cost in lives.

Canada has only 56 soldiers currently involved in UN missions in contrast to 1,149 in 1991. This is the antithesis of a global trend that has seen a marked rise in Blue Helmet activities by other, often more financially strapped countries. The stats don’t lie: despite the profitable climate of fear, these actions have resulted in more peaceful resolutions than ever before in history.

John Urquhart, Executive Director of The Council of Canadians, said his group is demanding a change of focus for Canada's military — back to peacekeeping and out of Afghanistan.

Urquhart wants this to be a defining issue in the next federal election.

“If Canada is to maintain its independence from the United States and the respect of other nations, and salvage its reputation as a peacekeeper internationally, it needs to change course now,” Urquhart said from Charlottetown.

Despite debate to the contrary, the evidence shows that UN missions are far more effective in resolving conflicts than U.S. missions, and the UN needs Canada now more than ever.

I urge you to read this report. While it exposes the back-room decisions that have landed us where we are today, it also contains a message of hope which proves that peace is achievable when hi-tech, expensive warmongering is shunned in favour of diplomacy and humanitarianism.

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