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I just got an email from Jason Kenney entitled Conservatives and Liberals Help Defeat Military Deserter Law. For the uninitiated, he is referring to a humanitarian bill introduced by Liberal Gerrard Kennedy and seconded by NDPer Bill Siksay to amend the refugee act to enable conscientious objectors to seek refuge in Canada, aka, C-440.

I’m not sure if he is delusional or dishonest? You decide.

Here is his email . . .

On 05/10/2010 1:56 PM, wrote:

You have all emailed or written me at some point to express your views on the issue of US military deserters and recent legislation to give them a special pathway for permanent residency.

As you may know, with bipartisan support from Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal Party caucus, the government succeeded in defeating the Bill. Here is a YouTube video of a question I answered during Question Period on the subject.

Yours sincerely,


And my response

Mr. Minister, are you a congenital liar? “Bipartisan support from Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal Party caucus”? Most members in the Liberal Caucus voted in support of Bill C-440. In fact, in case it didn’t register, you almost lost the vote.

Party Yeas Nays Absent
LIBERALS 57 1 18
TOTALS 136 143 26
% 44.5% 46.8% 8.52%
Grand  Total 305

Source: How’d They Vote?

Polling indicates that 64 per cent of Canadians support allowing American war resisters to seek refuge here.

You are on the wrong side of this issue and so many others. You will pay the price at the next election.

That said, thank you for writing and making it absolutely clear how out of touch with reality you and your party have become.


Paul Graham
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Daniel Ellsberg has been a hero of mine for close to 40 years. He’s the whistle-blower who destroyed the tissue of lies surrounding the U.S. war against the people of Vietnam, and what he uncovered has much to teach us about the origins of today’s wars.

The Academy-Award-nominated documentary about Daniel Ellsberg, “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” will be premiering on PBS on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. Check your local listings for details. If you live in Winnipeg and get KGFE (Prairie Public Television, Grand Forks, ND) the program starts at 8:30 p.m.

PBS Synopsis

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a leading Vietnam War strategist, concludes that America’s role in the war is based on decades of lies. He leaks 7,000 pages of top-secret documents to The New York Times, a daring act of conscience that leads directly to Watergate, President Nixon’s resignation and the end of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg and a who’s-who of Vietnam-era movers and shakers give a riveting account of those world-changing events in POV’s The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers by award-winning filmmakers Judith Ehrlich (The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It) and Rick Goldsmith (Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press). A co-production of ITVS in association with American Documentary/POV. (90 minutes)

Read the full film description »

Who killed Bill C-440, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to permit war resisters to remain in Canada?  Well the numbers are in and the culprit is Michael Ignatieff and 17 of his colleagues who voted with their feet and left the House prior to the vote.  Here are the numbers.

Party Yeas Nays Absent
LIBERALS 57 1 18
TOTALS 136 143 26
% 44.5% 46.8% 8.52%
Grand  Total 305

Source: How’d They Vote?

C-440 was sponsored by Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy and supported by the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and a huge majority of Liberals. It should have been a slam-dunk; previously, two Parliamentary resolutions supporting war resisters had been passed by the House of Commons. However, it lost by 7 votes, an avoidable defeat if Ifgnatieff had remained true to the words he had uttered two days before the crucial vote when he said:

“Canada has a tradition that goes back to Mr. Pearson and Mr. Trudeau of accepting people that come to Canada with conscientious objection to military service.”

Ignatieff had to have known that the absence of 18 Liberal MPs would doom the bill. If he didn’t want to support the bill, he could have at least emulated Liberal Alan Tonks (York South-Weston), who had the guts to stay in the House and vote against it.

Once more, Iggy fails to appear even remotely Trudeauesque — incapable of channeling the peace-‘n-love-Pierre or the  more resolute War-Measures-Act-Trudeau.

On a related theme, for those who hope a vote for the Liberals is enough to get us out of Afghanistan next year, think again. In June, Ignatieff announced the Liberals support remaining in Afghanistan until 2014 to train Afghan troops and police, creating a military training institute in Kabul, much like the Royal Military College in Kingston. Dishonestly, in a war where the Taliban have been able to strike in Kabul at will, he says this is not a combat mission.

Michael Ignatieff has betrayed war resisters. More fundamentally, he has betrayed the majority of Canadians who want to end Canada’s military intervention in Afghanistan and to welcome American war resisters into our country.

Bill C-440, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (war resisters) failed to make it through second reading Wednesday evening by a vote of 143-136. The bill would have allowed conscientious objectors to non-UN sanctioned wars to seek refuge in Canada on humanitarian or compassionate grounds. Clearly, a majority of the MPs present lack humanity and compassion.

I was surprised that this bill didn’t pass. On two previous occasions, a majority of MPs voted to support non-binding resolutions in support of allowing war resisters to remain in Canada. With a reported 64 per cent of Canadians supporting war resisters, I thought the bill had a pretty good chance for success. Silly me.

This is not the Canada I grew up in and this is not the Canada I wish for my children and grandchildren. An ugly shadow is creeping across the land; mean-spirited and fearful men and women are undermining our rights and freedoms and transforming our country into a cog in the U.S. imperial machine.

Shame on them!

And shame on us if we allow this set-back to weaken our resolve to work for peace and to support war resisters who seek refuge here.

If you haven’t already done so, go to the War Resisters Support Campaign web site and see what you can do to help out. We must not let this go without a fight.

If it weren’t for blogs like Creekside or Dawg’s Blog (and many others) we would not have heard that the Combating Terrorism Act passed second reading in Parliament and is well on its way to being another nail in the coffin of Canadian democracy.

The mainstream media almost completely ignored this important story. A Google News Search of “Combating Terrorism Act” reveals only one reference to the bill — an annoyingly brainless one at that — in an article by Chris Malette in the Bellville Intelligencer (sic), where he writes:

“Bill C-17: Combating Terrorism. (Oooh. Kickin’ in doors and swingin’ clubs, eh? Not really — it’s all about imposing court provisions to force people to testify if their neighbour who looks suspiciously Arabic buys fertilizer.)”

That’s it.  Our mainstream media is pathetic at best, criminally irresponsible at worst.

Bill C-17 is a victory of sorts for those who want to make the Magna Carta history. Under the banner of “combating terrorism” the act will make warrantless arrests possible and provides for 12-month preventive imprisonment of people suspected of planning terrorist acts.

It is not too late to try and stop this outrage, but it will be difficult to overcome the Tory-Liberal bloc that voted for it.

Contact information for MPs is available here. Go get ‘em!

Might I also suggest that we start writing to our local purveyors of news and tell them to wake up and start covering news that matters. (And send some kudos to the afore-mentioned bloggers — they deserve them.)

More than 250 Winnipeggers signed a petition yesterday afternoon calling on the Canadian Parliament to withdraw all Canadian troops from Afghanistan and to “not extend the military mission in any way, shape or form including training of local forces.”

Yesterday’s two-hour information picket in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village marked the beginning of a Peace Alliance Winnipeg campaign to help our fellow citizens express their opposition to Canada’s continued participation in the occupation of Afghanistan.

In addition to collecting signatures on the petition, PAW members distributed several hundred postcards produced by the Canadian Peace Alliance for communicating with Members of Parliament (Get yours here.) as well as several hundred copies of an information bulletin entitled Ten Reasons to Bring Canada’s Troops Home from Afghanistan.

Please help collect signatures for the petition.You can download it here. (Please mail completed copies to Peace Alliance Winnipeg, P.O. Box 1, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 2G1).

Additionally, you can sign the petition online, and encourage everyone else you know to do likewise.

And don’t forget to get in touch with your Member of Parliament. Let them know we appreciate it when our troops stay home and defend us where we really need them, such as Newfoundland, where they are helping Canadians cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Igor.

Contact information for MPs is available here. Go get ‘em!

Paul Jay, of the Real News Network, argues that Canada’s rich elite, whose wealth grows in tandem with the rise in both unemployment and the federal deficit, has a special responsibility. Their decisions created the economic mess we’re in; they should pay for it. Right on! Are you listening, Stephen Harper?

With the American Empire assembling its forces for a nuclear assault on Iran, and children being born horribly deformed by the effects of depleted uranium in Iraq and Serbia, it was heartening to participate in the annual Lantern Ceremony in Winnipeg and hear MP Bill Siksay (NDP, Burnaby-Douglas) talk about the private  members bill he and Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough-Agincourt) introduced last September calling for a Canadian Department of Peace.

Even if passed, this bill will not result in a Peace Ministry because private members’ bills cannot compel the government to spend money. That said, debating  Bill C-447 could be educational; passing it would be highly symbolic of the desire that Canadians have expressed repeatedly for a government that promotes peace.

According to Bill Siksay, a major benefit of having a federal peace department would be the presence of a cabinet minister whose job would be to speak for peace at the cabinet table. While a little voice keeps telling me that we have environment ministers who don’t seem to care for the environment, health ministers who preside poorly over the nation’s health care system, and labour ministers who don’t give a damn about the working class, I still see his point. In our imperfect democracy, we need someone in government to utter the P-Word, forcefully and often. Watch the video and get some good talking points — then write your MP.

“Peace, Freedom and Democracy” was the theme of this year’s annual Winnipeg Walk for Peace.

In its 29th year, the Walk for Peace is a shadow of its former self. In the 1980s, under the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation at the hands of competing super powers, thousands of Winnipeggers felt motivated to participate. The end of the Cold War changed all that, and today, the event is kept alive by a stubborn handful of activists who continue to insist that a peaceful world is possible and necessary.

This year’s walk drew about 150 people. While small in comparison to the marches of the 1980s, it was larger than those held in the last few years, and I sensed a more positive mood. While the mood may have been the result of  the sunshine and the melodies of Winnipeg’s beloved Flaming Trolleys marching band, I think something else is affoot.

A broader range of organizations turned out for the walk, expressing their concerns about domestic and international threats to peace and human rights. Supporters of freedom for Gaza marched along side activists against police brutality in Winnipeg; opponents to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq accompanied activists in solidarity with the Haitian people. And so on.

Notably, the Peace Walk was sandwiched between a World Refugee Day “Rally for Refugees” and a conference about the prospects for peace in Sudan called “Eyes on Sudan.” The organizers of all these events worked together, along with Peace Alliance Winnipeg, to promote these events to their respective members.

It’s too early to say if this cooperation points toward a renewed peace movement in Winnipeg but the signs are all positive at this point.

My alter ego packed his video camera. Grab some popcorn and join me in wishing a long life to the Flaming Trolleys marching band.

This just in from Labour Start:

Some of you will remember the jailed Iranian trade unionist Farzad Kamangar. He was the subject of a LabourStart campaign more than a year ago.

Kamangar was accused by the regime of “endangering national security” and “enmity against God”. He was convicted in a sham trial that lasted less than five minutes, sent to prison and tortured.

Teachers’ unions around the world campaigned for his release, backed by the labour movement and human rights groups like Amnesty International.

Last weekend, the Iranian regime executed Farzad together with several other prisoners. He was hanged secretly, without his family being informed, in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

As the one-year anniversary of Iran’s fraudulent Presidential elections approaches, we have reason to fear that the regime will become even more brutal in its crackdown. Other trade unionists languishing in Iranian jails now fear for their lives too.

We must act now to send a loud and clear message to Tehran — no more executions! Please take a minute and send off your message.

And afterwards, please make sure to spread the word in your union. We must act quickly to save the lives of our fellow trade unionists. At a time like this, we cannot remain silent.

Thank you.

Eric Lee