The lack of any discussion of Canadian foreign policy during this election is shocking and shameful — almost as shameful as Canada’s foreign policy itself. Take the case of Venezuela. For the past two decades the United States has been waging a war of sanctions and other dirty tricks to overthrow the democratically elected socialist governments of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro. Ever Washington’s poodle, Ottawa has joined in with disgusting enthusiasm. Liberal governments or Conservative ones — it has made no difference.

María Páez Victor

To gain a deeper understanding of Canada’s foreign policy, Peace Alliance Winnipeg (of which I am a member) has organized a series of webinars that, so far, have looked at Canada’s international mining industry, Canada’s military deployments since 1867 and Canada’s policies with regard to Palestine.

Yesterday, Peace Alliance Winnipeg turned its attention to Venezuela by hosting a webinar with Venezuelan-born, Canadian scholar and activist María Páez Victor. Dr. Victor is a sociologist, educated in Caracas, New York, Mexico City, and Canada who taught the sociology of health and medicine as well as health and environmental policies at the University of Toronto for many years. Now retired from teaching, she writes and is a frequent commentator on Latin American history and politics. As well, she has her own weekly radio program about Venezuela in the Spanish language community radio of Toronto.

Here is video of the webinar.

UPDATE, Sept. 16, 2021: In an article published on Sept. 16, 2021 by Peace Alliance Winnipeg, María Páez Victor reports on positive developments in the peace negotiations being held in Mexico between the Venezuelan government and the major opposition parties. The opposition has agreed recognize the Venezuelan State, political institutions, and the legitimacy of President Nicolás Maduro and to work with the government to have the United States rescind the devastating economic sanctions that have caused such misery throughout the country.

Dimitri Lascaris is an accomplished lawyer, journalist and activist. Among his many achievements, Dimitri ran for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada in 2020, finishing second out of eight candidates and demonstrating that there at least 10,000 eco-socialists in the Green Party of Canada.

Dimitri spoke at the Sept. 7, 2021 launch of “Through Pluripolarity to Socialism – A Manifesto.” He chose to focus on the struggle of Wikileaks leader and political prisoner Julian Assange, who continues to be imprisoned and oppressed by the British government (at the behest of the American state.)

Sept. 5, 2021: Dimitri Lascaris speaking at the online launch of “Through Pluripolarity to Socialism: A Manifesto.”

The launch itself was live-streamed and can be watched here. You can read and sign the manifesto here.

Thanks for the melodies

Posted: August 25, 2021 in Miscellany, Winnipeg
Tags:

JS Bach in 1746

This afternoon, while bicycling to Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park, I was listening on my smartphone to a recording by John Williams – Bach: The Four Lute Suites (delighting would be more a more accurate description), when I decided to try and imagine, if not calculate, the number of people I had to thank for the musical experience I was having. While doing so I was reminded of Carl Sagan who famously quipped that if you wanted to make an apple pie from scratch you would first have to invent the universe. Not wanting to credit everything and everyone that has happened since the Big Bang, I decided to put some boundaries around where to place my gratitude.

So, let’s begin with thank-yous to the parents of Johann Sebastian Bach and John Williams. Had they not found each other and raised such musically accomplished offspring, the world (and my music collection) would be much poorer.

But wait, there’s more. In no particular order:

  • the countless musicians, scribes and publishers who maintained the sheet music of Bach’s prodigious output down through the centuries (to say nothing of the inventors of the paper, ink and pens that made this physical record possible)
  • the inventors and makers of the musical instruments for which Bach composed (organs, harpsichords, lutes, etc) and of course all who were involved in the production of the raw materials that these instruments were fashioned from
  • the inventors of the numerous technologies that were necessary to allow the recording of the album in 1986 and subsequent reissues
  • The manufacturers of said technologies, and the producers of the raw materials from which these tools were fashioned; there must be hundreds of thousands involved here
  • the inventors and maintainers of the Android operating system (again too numerous to count), the software that plays my music and my smartphone which, I am told, has at least 300 parts, each of which must be dug from the earth, refined and transformed into electronic components, assembled in a Taiwanese factory and shipped across the world to my door; countless thousands of people here to thank, as you can imagine

I’m sure that I’m leaving out many, many more categories and hence thousands of people, but by now you get the point — I have many people to thank, across time and space, for the joy that this music brings. We are dependent upon one another in ways we can only dimly imagine. (Oh darn, I forgot to thank the multitudes for the bicycle I was riding, the road upon which I travelled and the folks who had the foresight to place a park at the end of it. Another day!)

On Friday, August 6th, Winnipeggers joined in a Lanterns for Peace Ceremony to mark the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These ceremonies are held each year to help keep alive the memory of these attacks so that current generations understand we must never allow nuclear weapons to be used again.

This year, the focus was on the role of youth in the global campaign for nuclear weapons abolition, with speeches from the young activists responsible for convincing Winnipeg City Council to support the United Nations nuclear weapons ban.

Speakers included Avinashpall Singh and Rooj Ali who, in June, succeeded in persuading the City of Winnipeg to support the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as part of the youth-led International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Cities Appeal.

Winnipeg is now one of 15 Canadian cities to support the ban. Thus far, 86 countries have signed the treaty; Canada’s federal government refuses to support it.

Winnipeg Lanterns For Peace was sponsored by

  • Peace Alliance Winnipeg
  • Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba
  • Council of Canadians-Winnipeg Chapter
  • Winnipeg Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Speakers at Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace 2021 (l-r): Yuhito Adachi, Yūko Nozoe, Junko Bailey, Terra Rybuck, Rooj Ali, Avinashpall Singh, Shiven Srivastava, (missing: Denanie Ashley Persaud) Photo: Paul S. Graham

There are many parallels between the struggles of Palestinians and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Chandni Desai and Ali Abunimah reflect on some of these in this presentation.

Chandni Desai teaches at the University of Toronto. Her research and writing focus on Palestinian resistance culture and the politics of internationalism. A community organizer who works for justice in Palestine, she hosts the Liberation Pedagogy Podcast.

Ali Abunimah is director of The Electronic Intifada, an independent nonprofit publication focusing on Palestine. He is the author of “One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse” and “The Battle for Justice in Palestine.”

This presentation is part of a longer discussion in a webinar sponsored by the International Manifesto Group entitled “Palestine, Unifier of All Struggles” that was held July 11, 2021. Video of the entire webinar will be available at the YouTube channel of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group.

Canadian mining companies dominate the sector in many parts of the world. Largely unregulated, they are able to profit from weak protection for the environment, workers, indigenous peoples and human rights in many countries.

Two-thirds of the value of Canadian mining assets is overseas, in 96 countries, and the Toronto Stock Exchange is home to almost half of the world’s mining corporations. Despite the efforts of activists in Canada and around the world, some of Canada’s best known companies are implicated in environmental destruction and shocking human rights abuses.

In this webinar, hosted by Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Catherine Coumans, of Mining Watch Canada, talks about the struggle to make Canadian mining companies accountable.

Ban Killer Drones

Posted: May 2, 2021 in Peace, War
Tags: ,

Peace Activists in the United States have launched a campaign they hope will result in an international ban on weaponized drones. Their new website will tell you more than you want to know about the deployment and lethal effects of these airborne killing machines. It also has suggestions for action and a petition you can sign that calls on the US government, the United Nations, and all the countries of the world to act on this issue.

There is a tendency among Canadian peace activists to see this as primarily a US problem, given that country’s well publicized drone assassination campaign that has resulted in at least 16,901 people killed and 3,922 wounded in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen in recent years.

However, according to Project Ploughshares, as many as 102 countries use drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and 35 have weaponized drones. Drones are not only deployed to spy on or kill “enemies” but are also often used against dissidents within their respective countries.

Canada has two models of drone aircraft that it uses for surveillance and is planning to acquire weaponized drones in the next couple of years.

Having observed Canada’s sorry record as Washington’s poodle and willing participant in US and NATO military campaigns in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, I have no doubt that these new weapons will not be used to defend Canada. Arguably, Canada’s armed forces were last used in the defence of the country in 1945 and barring a couple of peacekeeping missions, our wars since then have been aggressive ones fought to extend the reach of western capital.

So, please join the international campaign in whatever way makes sense to you, but as well, cast a critical gaze on your own country’s military programs and speak out however you can.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has embarked on a dangerous plan to expand its reach and military strength by the year 2030. Not only does this increase the risk of world war, it promises to rob even more of the precious resources that member states would have available for social programs (or mitigating climate change, or heavens, tax cuts for working people!)

Speaking at a recent webinar organized by Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Tamara Lorincz detailed the magnitude of NATO’s plans and explained what this means for Canada. She also described some of the ways Canada’s peace movement is resisting increased military spending and other toxic aspects of Canada’s foreign policy.

Tamara is a PhD candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School for International Affairs (Wilfrid Laurier University). She is on the board of directors of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and on the international advisory committee of the No to NATO Network. She is a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

On Feb. 27. 2021, Peace Alliance Winnipeg hosted a webinar entitled “The New Cold War, Canadian Foreign Policy and Canada’s Peace Movement.”

It featured presentations by:

Radhika Desai, a Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. She is the author of Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire and numerous other books and articles on political and geopolitical economy and world affairs.

Yves Engler, a Montréal-based activist and author who has published 11 books on various aspects of Canadian foreign policy. His latest book is titled House of Mirrors — Justin Trudeau’s Foreign Policy.

Tamara Lorincz, a PhD candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School for International Affairs (Wilfrid Laurier University). She is on the board of directors of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and on the international advisory committee of the No to NATO Network. She is a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

The webinar was moderated by Glenn Michalchuk, chair of Peace Alliance Winnipeg.

While the quality of the presentations was first rate, the audio quality of Radhika Desai’s presentation was less than optimal. Don’t let that dissuade you from listening. What she has to say makes it well worth the effort.

GET INVOLVED

If you feel inspired to get involved in changing Canada’s foreign policy for the better, here are some organizations that could use your energy.

Peace Alliance Winnipeg

Geopolitical Economy Research Group

New Cold War

World Beyond War

“Personal message from Norman Cohn, president and co-founder with Zacharias Kunuk of Kunuk Cohn Productions, co-founder of Isuma Distribution International and IDI’s website IsumaTV.”

This Saturday, one day before 120 million viewers will watch the SuperBowl live from Tampa, another live television event will unfold in Pond Inlet in the Canadian arctic that maybe a few thousand people worldwide will be lucky enough to watch.

All day, from 9 in the morning until 9 at night, with short breaks for coffee, lunch and dinner, a continuous stream of Inuit men and women, elders and youth, unilingual and bilingual, will step up to a microphone to say what they think and feel about being bulldozed – by the gigantic multinational Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, their own Canadian government, their own Nunavut government and their own Inuit Organizations – to surrender their land, wildlife, culture and human rights in order that those bulldozers make an uncountable profit at their personal expense.

Production still from Ataatama Nunanga (My Father’s Land).

I have seen something like this before and can tell you, without hyperbole, that you should not miss it. Unforgettable testimonies at similar hearings in 2012 are among the most astounding scenes in a film we made in 2014 called Ataatama Nunanga (My Father’s Land), another show only a few thousand people worldwide ever have seen. This film is on iTunes in thirty countries subtitled in six different languages if you want to preview Saturday’s show in a ‘historical context.’

But this Saturday’s show WILL BE LIVE, happening while and if you watch, from a hamlet in the arctic wilderness to wherever you are; and on Live Television as dramatic and compelling as the Senate Watergate Hearings were live in 1973, as other-worldly and surreal as the Moon Landing live in 1969 and as hypnotically horrifying as the Twin Towers hit, burning and finally collapsing Live on Television the morning of September 11, 2001.

Ugavut TV: “the world’s newest, smallest and most obscure TV network”

Instead of being hyped like Sunday’s Super Bowl by weeks of advertising before being televised by networks around the globe, this Saturday’s Pond Inlet Testimony will appear on Uvagut TV, the world’s newest, smallest and most obscure TV network, launched just two weeks ago with no outside funding by a small Inuit non-profit, Nunavut Independent Television Network (NITV), and the Inuit media arts collective ISUMA, both operating out of Igloolik, Nunavut for the past thirty years. And no advertising. The only way people will know they can watch this is if we tell them. I’m telling you now so you can pass it on.

Uvagut TV is Live on Shaw Direct satellite channel 267 nationally; Co-op cable channel 240 in Nunavut and NWT; FCNQ cable channel 308 in Nunavut, northern Quebec; and online with English or Inuktitut audio feeds.

Links

www.uvagut.tv
www.isuma.tv
www.isuma.tv/nirb-audio-feed
http://www.isuma.tv/uvagut-tv-media-info