Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

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.

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

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

Most Canadians imagine Canada to be a force for good on the world stage. Polite, reasonable, peace-loving and progressive. At least, that is how we like to imagine ourselves.

Winnipeg, July 20, 2019: Dr. Maria Páez Victor at the 14th Forum, World Association of Political Economy. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Sadly, it’s a myth. We helped oust the democratically elected Haitian government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. We helped turn Libya into a failed state. We helped invade Afghanistan and occupied part of it for over a decade. And these are just a few examples of Canada’s backwards foreign policy in this century.

And now, we’re meddling in Venezuela, where our government has joined with the United States to destabilize, undermine and crush the democratically elected, socialist government of Nicholas Maduro and the popular movement that supports it. Yves Engler has written several well researched articles on Canada’s attacks on Venezuela that I recommend you read. Yves’ articles are an effective antidote to the bullshit being passed of as news and analysis in our mainstream media, as is a recent speech by Dr. Maria Páez Victor.

Dr. Páez Victor is a Toronto-based, Venezuelan-born sociologist and activist on the board of the Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean Policy Centre. She speaks with authority and passion about what is at stake in the country of her birth. I recorded her presentation at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, held at the University of Manitoba in July.

Returning to the title of this post, why should you care? Simply put, if you want Canada to be a force for good on the world stage, our government’s policies and actions must change. And if you allow our government to continue along its reactionary path without challenging it, you are complicit.

It’s election time in Canada. Ask your candidates where they stand on issues such as this. Make your support for them conditional on their support for a foreign policy that is peaceful, cooperative and supportive of international law. It’s not too much to ask.

Aug. 6, 2019: Winnipeggers gather in the shadow of the Manitoba Legislative Building to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945. Lanterns for Peace is a ceremony that is held annually in Winnipeg and hundreds of cities worldwide. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Picking fights with Russia and China, backing fascists in Ukraine, arming murderers in Saudi Arabia, undermining democracy in Latin America — the Trudeau junta has a lot to answer for in the foreign policy realm. Trudeau the younger is not any worse than his predecessors (Liberal and Conservative) in this regard, but he appears to have given up trying to conform to that image of Canada the peacemaker and honest broker on the world stage. (It is a reputation Canada does not deserve, as my friend Yves Engler has demonstrated in many books and articles on the topic. I highly recommend a visit to his website.)

While I fully support the Green Party of Canada in its campaign to make climate change the defining issue of this election, there is another existential threat to human existence that deserves equal attention and that is the threat of nuclear war. Yes, global warming has the capacity to bring our civilization to an end, but so does the nuclear winter that would devastate world food production in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

Most of the world’s nations recognize this and two years ago approved the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the July 7, 2017 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Canada’s position is shameful. According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “Canada did not participate in the negotiation of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It voted against the UN General Assembly resolution in 2016 that established the mandate for nations to negotiate the treaty. It claims that US nuclear weapons are essential for its security.”

While 122 nations voted for the treaty, countries with nuclear weapons either abstained, voted against or declined to participate in the negotiation of the treaty, as did Canada’s fellow members of NATO.

So, if you share this concern, perhaps you can ask the candidates who want your vote if they would join with the saner members of the human race in adopting this treaty and work for world peace.

All of this is a longish introduction to a video I recorded this August 6th of the Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace Ceremony. We do this every year — gather somewhere close to water, construct floating lanterns that we launch as the sun goes down, and commemorate the first victims of the nuclear age — the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — who were either incinerated or permanently scarred by the atomic bombings of their cities on August 6 and 9, 1945. This commemoration never fails to move me.

2018 was not my most prolific year in terms of video output, but it provided, nonetheless, some interesting and useful insights into the struggle for peace and human rights in various parts of the world. Here is a rundown of the past 12 months and as we like to say in YouTubeLand, if you enjoy any of these, please click the “like” icon and subscribe.

Steve Ellner: What is really happening in Venezuela: The Winnipeg Venezuela Peace Committee held a public forum on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 entitled “What is really happening in Venezuela?” The forum featured Steve Ellner, professor of economics at the University of Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Watch.

Yves Engler on Canada’s Left & its Foreign Policy Failures: Yves Engler discusses his latest book, “Left, Right — Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada.” The book details the failure of Canada’s Left parties, institutions and intellectuals to confront Canada’s support of empire and promotion of corporate interests abroad. Watch.

Niranjan Takle: Journalism under Hindutav Fascist India: Indian journalist Niranjan Takle recounts how the mainstream media in India ignored or refused to publish his report on the suspicious death of Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. Watch.

Israel Palestine International Law Symposium: An impressive line-up of experts on human rights and international law gathered in Winnipeg for a weekend to explore various legal aspects of the Israel-Palestine situation. I recorded all of the sessions.

  • Introduction: Symposium coordinator David Kattenburg explains the origins and purpose of the symposium.
  • Human rights: Rhetoric vs Reality: Lawyer and journalist Dimitri Lascaris describes the failure of western governments to uphold the human rights of Palestinians.
  • Keynote Address: Michael Lynk, who is the United Nations Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, explains how international law has largely been ignored or broken by Israel over the past several decades of its occupation of the Palestinian Territory.
  • Israeli Rights and Obligations:  Michael Lynk and Dimitri Lascaris explore different aspects of Israeli’s legal rights and obligations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
  • One State or Two?: Professors Michael Lynk and Virginia Tilley speak to this issue.
  • Palestinian Rights & Obligations: In this clip, we hear from human rights advocates Suha Jarrar and Jonathan Kuttab.
  • Palestinian Rights to Resources: Suha Jarrar, a Palestinian human rights researcher and advocate, and currently the Environmental and Gender Policy Researcher at Al-Haq human rights organization in Ramallah, Palestine explains how Israeli companies illegally exploit resources in the Occupied Territories.
  • Is Israel an Apartheid State?: In this clip, Virginia Tilley argues that Israel meets the legal definition of an apartheid state.
  • Dueling Perspectives: In this clip, David Matas defends Israeli practices and policies with regard to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Michael Lynk argues that Matas’s arguments are not supported by international law.
  • Canada’s Rights and Obligations: Dimitri Lascaris explains how Canada has not lived up to its obligations under international law.
  • Concluding Remarks: In this final clip from the symposium, we hear from David Kattenburg, Mark Golden and Dean Peachey, key organizers of the event. The symposium was sponsored by (alphabetical order): Independent Jewish Voices Canada, Mennonite Church Manitoba Working Group on Palestine-Israel, Palestinian Canadian Congress, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, United Jewish People’s Order (Winnipeg) and the Winnipeg Centre Federal Green Party Association. Additional information, including Power Point presentations and other documents will be made available at the conference web site.

Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace 2018: Every August, Winnipeggers commemorate the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9) with a Lantern Ceremony in Memorial Park. We believe it is important to keep the memory of those horrible events alive so that current generations understand we must never allow nuclear weapons to be used again. Watch.

St. Boniface By-election 2018 – Elizabeth May and Françoise Therrien Vrignon: Françoise Therrien Vrignon was the Green Party of Manitoba candidate in the July 17th Manitoba by-election in St. Boniface. With her in this video is Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May. Their discussion took place at La Maison des artistes visuels. Watch.

Winnipeg Rally for Refuge: The Canadians Care Coalition in association with Amnesty International, Menno Simons Students Association and the Global College Students Association held a rally entitled “Rally for Refuge: Rescind the safe third country agreement.” The coalition demanded that the Canadian Government rescind the designation of ‘Safe Third Country’ that is applied to the United States because the US is demonstrably unsafe for refugees. The Safe Third Country Agreement denies refugee claimants access to the Canadian refugee determination system if they have come from the United States to the Canadian border. Watch.

Winnipeg Walk for Peace 2018: Winnipeggers held their 37th Annual Winnipeg Walk for Peace. Sponsors: Peace Alliance Winnipeg and the Winnipeg chapter of the Council of Canadians. Watch.

Michel Chossudovsky – The Globalization of War: The Regina Peace Council played host to Professor Michel Chossudovsky, who spoke on the growing dangers of world war and the need to revitalize the peace movement. Professor Chossudovsky is the founder and director of Global Research. Watch.

Al Nakba 70 in Winnipeg: Winnipeggers marked the 70th anniversary of the forcible expulsion of Palestinians from their land and expressed solidarity with the people of Gaza who are under Israeli siege. Watch.

Make Poverty History in Winnipeg: Make Poverty History Manitoba released a comprehensive report on the poverty that affects one in ten Winnipeggers and called on the city’s mayor, Brian Bowman, to take the lead in developing a poverty reduction strategy for the city. Watch.

MFL Day of Mourning 2018: Manitoba’s labour movement held its annual observance in memory of injured and killed workers. Hundreds attended the march from the Union Centre to Memorial Park and the future site of the Firefighters, Peace Officers and Workers Memorial. Watch.

7th Generation Walk for Mother Earth 2018: Winnipeggers marked 15 years of taking to the streets with grassroots land and water defenders.The 7th Generation Walk is alternative to Earth Day, recognizing the resistance and resilience of Indigenous community led campaigns for social and environmental justice. Watch.

Mobilize against the war: Just hours before the United States launched missile attacks on Damascus and Homs, peace activists rallied outside the building housing the US Consulate to speak out against the war and Trump’s declared plan to expand it. The picket was organized by the Manitoba Peace Council. Watch.

Democracy and Elections in Cuba: Two Cuban government representatives visited Winnipeg to discuss Cuba’s electoral system and other issues of interest. The forum was sponsored by the Manitoba-Cuba Solidarity Committee. Watch.

My Jerusalem – Responding to the U.S. Embassy Announcement: Panelists representing Judaism, Christianity and Islam, share their personal reflections on what Jerusalem means to them and the implications of the US announcement to move it’s embassy there. Watch.

Winnipeg Commemorates Quebec Mosque Massacre: Winnipeggers gathered at the Manitoba Legislature to honour the victims of the terrorist attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. Watch.

Winnipeg Kurdish Solidarity: In Winnipeg, the Kurdish community rallied at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in defense of Kurds under Turkish attack in Afrin, Syria. Watch.

North Korea and The United States at a Dangerous Nuclear Crossroads: Michel Chossudovsky is professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa and founder of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He spoke at the University of Manitoba on the history of the United States’ conflict with North Korea and the prospects for nuclear war. Watch. As well, he spoke at the University of Winnipeg. Watch.

Arnold August – Cuba-US Relations from Obama to Trump: On a national tour to promote his book “Cuba-US Relations: Obama and Beyond,” Arnold August spoke at McNally Robinson Books on developments in the two countries relations since the election of Donald Trump. Watch.

That’s it for 2018. Happy New Year, all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Ellner

Professor Steve Ellner. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Mainstream media and government sources in Canada and the United States have provided an extremely unbalanced picture of Venezuela, portraying it as a dictatorship when in fact the governing party has won re-election consistently over the past (almost) 20 years in contests deemed fair and democratic by international observers. Through crippling economic sanctions, financial support to anti-government forces, and public musings about the desirability of regime change, the US government has made it clear it wants to put a more reliable puppet in power in Venezuela. With its long history of overthrowing governments it cannot control, the US destabilization campaign is par for the course. As is usually the case, the Canadian government has been an enthusiastic partner.

Doing its part to address the one-sidedness of this situation, the Winnipeg Venezuela Peace Committee held a very well attended public forum on Oct. 19, 2018 entitled What is really happening in Venezuela? The forum featured Steve Ellner, professor of economics at the University of Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela and Carlos Ron, Venezuelas Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, responsible for North America, who participated via Skype.

Regrettably, the Skype connection was so poor that Ron’s presentation was largely incoherent. While I recorded the entire event, I have not included the Skype portion because of terrible audio quality.

On a more positive note, Professor Ellner provided a detailed, highly informative description of conditions in Venezuela and an accessible analysis of how the country arrived at the state it is in.

He is more than qualified to talk about this country. Ellner earned his Ph.D. in Latin American history at the University of New Mexico in 1980. Since 1977 he has taught economic history and political science at the Universidad de Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela and for ten years taught in the graduate school of law and political science of the Universidad Central de Venezuela. He has been a visiting professor at numerous schools in the United States and Latin America.

As Professor Ellner underlined, more than once, the problems faced by the Venezuelan people are complex and challenging; the situation is complicated and difficult to understand without considering many factors.

Opposition to the Chavistas by the Venezuelan oligarchs and their foreign backers began as soon as Hugo Chavez was elected in 1999. By fomenting coup attempts, violence and economic instability, these forces have undermined Chavista attempts to alleviate widespread poverty and have magnified the suffering of the Venezuelan people.

Not everyone in the audience would agree with the last paragraph; some were very critical of the Maduro government. Nonetheless, the discussion was wide ranging, open to all perspectives, respectful and civil.

Here is my video report.

Slim Pickens on the set of Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Last year, the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to abolish nuclear weapons. On July 7, 2017, 122 member countries voted to approve the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Opponents of the treaty declined to participate in the vote. These included the nine countries that are known to possess nuclear arms and some of their allies. Sadly, Canada was one of the countries that refused to support the treaty.

Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove.

What gives? Have Canadians lost their minds. Have we become a nation of Dr. Strangeloves and “learned how to stop worrying and love The Bomb.”

No. Not in the least. The truth is, our government has let us down on this issue (and many others, but let’s not digress). Polling conducted by Environics in 2008 indicated that almost 90 percent of Canadians support the abolition of nuclear weapons. Research reported by Environics in 2018 shows that Canadian opposition to nuclear weapons remains high.

Not surprisingly, there is an international campaign to promote the treaty. You can track the progress and access many educational resources at the website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

ICAN has drafted a Parliamentary Pledge, and encourages citizens of countries that have not yet approved and ratified the treaty to get their Members of Parliament to sign on. To date, only 13 Canadian MPs have signed: Daniel Blaikie, Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, François Choquette, Don Davies, Linda Duncan, Cheryl Hardcastle, Carol Hughes, Gord Johns, Hélène Laverdière, Sheila Malcolmson, Irene Mathyssen, Elizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair. Clearly we have a lot of work to do.

As always, for every cause you can find an online petition. Clicktivism has become an automatic response. Here’s one on the Parliamentary petition web site that gleaned 1451 signatures. By itself,  this will have little impact. I think we need to have a concerted lobbying campaign that makes it clear to each MP that nuclear disarmament is an election issue.

We can’t afford to delay. There are too many “trouble spots” where a miscalculation by one or another of the major powers could lead to world war and a nuclear holocaust.

If not now, then when. If not you, then who?

If you are unsure of how to contact your MP, start here.