Over the years I’ve recorded many events that Peace Alliance Winnipeg (PAW) has organized and/or co-sponsored. I’ve begun to put copies of these on the Peace Alliance Winnipeg YouTube Channel, which I encourage you to visit and to share.

Back in 2010, PAW hosted a huge public meeting with British political figure George Galloway, who visited Winnipeg near the end of his “Free Afghanistan, Free Palestine, Free Speech” Canadian tour. In those days, YouTube videos were restricted to being 10 minutes long, and so to present something like the Galloway event, I had to post it in segments. Happily long form videos have become the norm. And so, I re-edited the Galloway video and have posted it in its more complete form on PAW’s YouTube Channel.

Even though it is almost 13 years old, Galloway’s speech continues to be relevant. As well, he is one hell of an orator. Eloquent. Inspiring. A force of nature. I hope that you watch it and share it widely.

Canada has declared war on the environment. That is the only conclusion one can draw after viewing Tamara Lorincz’s presentation at the most recent annual meeting of Peace Alliance Winnipeg (of which I am a proud member).

In her talk, Tamara discusses the key lessons contained in three reports – the 6th Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Canada’s most recent federal government budget, and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) most recent report on the arms trade.

With the IPCC advising that the planet has to reduce green house gas emissions by almost half by 2030, it seems indisputable that Canada is on the wrong path. Over the past decade, Canadian military spending has increased by 70 per cent. We rank 13th in terms of military spending and Trudeau’s budget commits Canada to spending $55 billion on the military over the next 20 years. According to SIPRI, Canada is the 16th largest seller of arms on Earth.

This is not only a deadly misallocation of resources that could be better spend elsewhere, but war is bloody assault on Mother Earth and all living creatures that are caught in its path.

Tamara’s expertise is indisputable. Tamara is a member of the Canadian Pugwash Group, the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She is on the international board of Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space. Tamara was a co-founding member of the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network (now World Beyond War-Victoria).

Tamara has an LLB/JD and MBA specializing in environmental law and management from Dalhousie University. She is the former Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Environmental Network and co-founder of the East Coast Environmental Law Association. For several years she was on the national board of Ecojustice Canada and the Nova Scotia Minister’s Round Table on Environment and Sustainable Prosperity.

Her research interests are the military’s impacts on the environment and climate change, the intersection of security and peace, gender and international relations, Canadian defence and foreign policy, feminist foreign policy, disarmament, resistance to NATO, and military sexual violence.

Short story: she knows her stuff!

Now is not the time for Canada to increase military spending. We need to work for an end to the war in Ukraine, dial down the China bashing and work for a world in which nations share their wealth and lift each other up.

Please share Tamara’s report widely.

Free Speech for Peace was presented by Ethnorama News Winnipeg and Al Cafe and recorded at Winnipeg’s historic Ukrainian Labour Temple on March 31, 2023.

The event arose out of a need to raise money to sustain this alternative publication when key advertisers (local NDP Members of Parliament) opted to stop advertising because they disagreed with some of its content. (If you want to know more, watch the video.)

The Ukrainian Festival Choir

Speakers emphasized the need to support media that provide informed alternatives to the mainstream news media in their role as stenographers to the ruling class. But, of course we knew all of that; that’s why we were there. The evening was well attended, entertaining and informative — and featured excellent performances by the Ukrainian Festival Choir, the Quedel Dancers, Rodrigo Muñoz of Papa Mambo fame, and the ever popular Raging Grannies of Winnipeg.

At the close of the evening, journalist, lawyer and peace activist Dimitri Lascaris spoke to the audience in a pre-recorded video about his upcoming fact-finding mission to Russia and the ever-present need for people to find ways to speak with their adversaries.

Listening to Dimitri reminded me of how much better Canada’s Green Party’s politics would have developed had he succeeded in becoming party leader in 2020. Maybe the party would have continued to support nonviolence. But I digress . . .

Proceeds of the evening went to support the publication of Ethnorama News Winnipeg. Sponsors included Las Americas and Chilean Human Rights Council, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, Migrante Manitoba, Al Cafe, the Solidarity Committee for Ethiopian Political Prisoners, and Philippine Advancement through Arts and Culture.

The Raging Grannies of Winnipeg

Making sense of world events is always a challenge. Corporate media reports are usually superficial and misleading, lack historical perspective and are hobbled by ideological blinkers that prevent alternative, critical analyses from surfacing. While alternative voices exist, you won’t find them in the corporate-owned mainstream media because, as the late A.J. Liebling wryly observed in a 1960 article in the New Yorker, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

Liebling died before the Internet was a thing and hence can’t be blamed for not anticipating the explosion of low-cost publishing platforms that enable people of all persuasions to challenge official narratives. This. of course, introduces other challenges – who to listen to and where to find them, to name two. I don’t have a satisfying answer to these questions and propose only to add to the confusion. To paraphrase Orson Wells, “I don’t know anything about politics, but I know what I like.”

With that in mind, allow me to introduce a new. bi-weekly program I have been editing since very recently, entitled “The Geopolitical Economy Hour” that appears as a regular feature on Ben Norton’s YouTube Channel, the Geopolitical Economy Report.

The GEH features two of my favourite thinkers, Professor Radhika Desai, a co-founder of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group at the University of Manitoba and Professor Michael Hudson, President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends.

To date, we’ve produced five episodes and you can look forward to many more that promise to go beyond the headlines and reveal the root causes of the political, economic and social upheavals we are witnessing and experiencing.

I recommend that you add this program to your list of reputable sources of information and analysis.

Stop the War!

Posted: February 25, 2023 in Nibbling on The Empire, Peace, War

Joining with peace groups across Canada and around the world, Peace Alliance Winnipeg marked the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine with an information picket in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village. Here’s a bit of video I shot at that less-than-toasty-warm action.

Justice for Hassan Diab

Posted: February 18, 2023 in Human Rights

Professor Hassan Diab is a Canadian citizen and academic who is facing extradition to France to stand trial in connection with the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue.  This even though Diab was in Beirut, Lebanon at the time of the attack, writing university exams.

This is the second time France has tried to hang this crime on Professor Diab. In 2014, he was extradited to France and held for three years, mainly in solitary confinement, before a French judge ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to put him on trial. Professor Diab’s case is explored in detail at justiceforhassandiab.org. Among other things, it reveals serious flaws in Canada’s extradition system and France’s judicial system.

Roger Clark and Candice Bodnaruk discuss the case, Canada’s role in Mr. Diab’s extradition, and actions people can take now to prevent further injustices against Professor Diab.

Roger Clark is a former national Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada and has been active in Hassan Diab’s support group for the past seven years. He has led several human rights investigations, including research missions to Cambodia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nepal, Guatemala and Algeria. In 2001 he was awarded the Order of Canada for his human rights work, both in Canada and internationally.

Candice Bodnaruk is an executive member of Peace Alliance Winnipeg. She has been active in Palestinian Solidarity work for many years and is the Canadian Columnist for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine.

Winnipeg, January 21, 2023: Members of Peace Alliance Winnipeg distributed literature in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village calling for an immediate ceasefire and negotiated peace agreement to end the Ukraine War. Following is the statement they distributed. Please share widely.

More war and weapons are not the way to peace!

Statement of Peace Alliance Winnipeg, January 21, 2023

On January 18 NATO’s secretary general said “Weapons are the way to peace” in Ukraine and this was echoed by Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand as she announced Canada will send more weapons to Ukraine.

The world has been gripped by the dangers and repercussions of the war in Ukraine for almost one year. There have been disruptions to food and energy supplies and soaring inflation as a result of the war.

The cost of the war is mounting as Canada and NATO countries spend billions of dollars to fuel the war. Canada alone has spent $5 billion on this war, $1 billion of which has been for weapons. With NATO weapons and support for Ukraine there is the ever-present danger the war will escalate into a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.

As the war has progressed various facts have emerged and none of them support this war or pouring more Canadian supplied weapons into Ukraine.

First, a peaceful, united Ukraine is not the goal of Zelensky and the reactionary Ukrainian nationalist ideology that predominates in the Kyiv government. One year ago, the Kyiv government was engaged in an eight-year civil war with its population in the Donbas that killed 14,000 and forced one million to flee the region. That conflict stemmed from the 2014 Maidan coup organized by the US to ensure Ukraine would be in its sphere of influence.

Second, as recently revealed by Merkel, Poroshenko and Macron, the Minsk Agreements, signed in 2014 to end the civil war in eastern Ukraine were but a diplomatic ruse to prepare Ukraine for war with Russia. This war, though maybe not to the timing of NATO and the West, was long in the works.

Third, the Canadian government is not interested in peace in Ukraine. One year ago, Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland described the lead up to the war as a battle between ‘democracy and autocracy.’ Clearly, this war is motivated by the ideology of the Cold War. Ukraine is the proxy to wage that war. Thus, Canada continues to pour weapons into Ukraine with recent announcements of $400 million for a US missile defence system and $90 million for 200 armoured vehicles.

This war could have been averted. Time to say enough is enough, drop the cold war ideology and end the use of Ukraine as a US/NATO proxy. The urgent need is for a de-escalation of the conflict, a ceasefire and negotiations for peace.

Canadian MPs need to hear this message. We urge you to contact your MP and urge them to support a ceasefire and peace negotiations.

Winnipeg peace activists joined with their counterparts in several cities in Canada this weekend to reject the federal government’s plan to spend billions on new F-35 fighter jets at a time when citizens are struggling to afford food and shelter.

They distributed the following statement to passers-by.

No Fighter Jets Coalition calls on Trudeau Government to Drop the F35 Deal

While Canadians struggle with rising energy and food costs, extreme weather events, and economic strife this winter, the Trudeau government is trying to push through a $7 billion deal for 16 F-35 stealth fighter jets with American weapons giant Lockheed Martin. On December 22, Global News and La Presse reported that the Canadian government is planning on signing a contract with Lockheed Martin early in the new year. According to a leak by federal government officials, the Department of National Defence has received approval to buy the F-35s despite years of widespread opposition from Canadian citizens, celebrities and parliamentarians. The government is advertising the cost as $7 billion; however, that is only the cost of the initial buy-in for 16 F-35’s. Further, while the government is advertising the cost as $19 billion for the full order of 88 fighter jets, according to the No Fighter Jets campaign 2020 report, From Acquisition to Disposal: Uncovering the true cost of 88 new fighter jets, the lifecycle cost of buying 88 fighter jets is estimated to be at least $76.8 billion over 30 years.

Experts, including former procurement chief at National Defence Alan Williams, have denounced this procurement, because the total cost of this purchase has not been fully disclosed by the federal government. Williams said: “It is distressing to read information being made public regarding billion-dollar procurements that is so opaque and piecemeal rather than being transparent and comprehensive…(It) makes it appear the government is hiding the truth from Canadians.”

Our report Soaring: The Harms and Risks of Fighter Jets and Why Canada Must Not Buy a New Fleet details the many adverse financial, social and environmental impacts of fighter jets. Excessive operational and maintenance costs, air pollution, extreme noise and damaging air weapons training in and around Indigenous communities are some of the many harms of fighter jets. As the U.S. Government Accountability Office explains, the F-35 continues to be plagued with cost overruns and technical flaws. In its April 2022 study, the GAO found that the F-35 has over 900 open deficiencies.

A new fleet of fossil fuel-powered F-35s will lock Canada into decades of carbon intensive militarism and prevent us from decarbonizing. One F-35 releases more carbon emissions in one long-range flight than a car does in a year.

Moreover, the F-35 is a stealth fighter jet designed for first strike attack, meaning it is only effective as an offensive warplane used against other countries. It has also been designed to carry the B61-12 tactical nuclear weapon and will put Canada in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Fighter Jets are weapons of war and exacerbate global warming.

As winter sets in and Canadians struggle to make ends meet, it is irresponsible and unjust for the Trudeau government to spend public money on American warplanes. Instead, the federal government should invest in affordable housing, health care, education, economic assistance, and climate action. Canada’s planned F-35 procurement is unacceptable and immoral and must be canceled.

For more information on the campaign, visit the “No Fighter Jets” website. In Winnipeg, contact Peace Alliance Winnipeg.

Winnipeg, Oct. 28, 2022: Members of Peace Alliance Winnipeg picketed outside Winnipeg’s Delta Inn, site of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress conference, attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Anita Anand.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette at an October 5, 2022 news conference in Winnipeg. Photo: Paul S. Graham

I voted for Robert-Falcon Ouellette when he ran for mayor of Winnipeg in 2014. At the time, I wrote that Robert “offers the best combination of progressive ideas and personal characteristics of all the candidates. Having voted in every Winnipeg civic, provincial and federal election since the 1970s I’ll go even further – Robert is the most promising candidate for mayor (or any other office) we have seen in a generation.”

I remain convinced he is the best candidate for the job and that his election would mark a generational change for the better.

Winnipeg faces many serious challenges, including growing numbers of homeless citizens living along our river banks and in our bus shelters, drug addiction and violent crime, crumbling infrastructure, insufficient revenues, unsustainable urban sprawl and a decaying core — to name a few.

Of all the candidates I believe Robert is the best equipped to meet these challenges. His program is progressive and innovative and focussed on addressing root causes. I invite you to read it. If reading isn’t your thing, here’s some video I shot this morning outside of City Hall in which he presents his vision for Winnipeg.

If you are in Winnipeg tomorrow, I encourage you to help elect Robert-Falcon Ouellette as our next Mayor.