Toronto CDPI AGM in NOW Magazine

April 14, 2008

I am a longtime member of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative (CDPI) and head of its new Brampton Chapter. We had our 2008 AGM in Toronto on the weekend of April 4-6. It was energizing and uplifting to see all our supporters, especially the following politicians: in my riding of Brampton-Springdale MP (Liberal) Dr. Ruby Dhalla, Etobicoke Centre MP (Liberal) Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Trinity-Spadina MP (NDP) Olivia Chow, and the Leader of the Green Party of Canada Elizabeth May. The empty chair on the stage at Friday evening’s opening meeting at The Church of the Holy Trinity for Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier was a stark symbol of the ruling Conservative Party’s lack of interest in our initiative. However, I just heard back from my colleague Rob Acheson of the Toronto CDPI chapter that he has met with Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation and CIDA, Colin Carrie (Oshawa), Mike Wallace (Burlington) and David Sweet (Hamilton). Rob is diligently working on meeting with more Conservative MPs and hopefully inroads will be made.

For more about our AGM, please read this article in NOW Magazine:

Getting past the petty

We can’t make peace our foreign policy till pols stop political blood sport
Andrew Cash

Loath as I am to admit it, music alone won’t change our war-making ways.

That’s why the April 4 all-party (except the governing one) panel kicking off a conference the next day promoting the idea of a Canadian Department of Peace at Friends House on Lowther is such a tonic.


Read rest of this article here.

Listen to these NOW audio clips:

Saul Arbess, National Co-Chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative talks about the mandate and the roll of a minister of peace:

Bill Bhaneja, National Co-Chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative talks about disarmament after the end of the Cold War:

Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj talks about the difficulties big tent national parties have in moving an agenda like this forward:

Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj talks further about the importance of speaking with MP’s who have made decisions, like supporting Afghanistan, and showing them ways of changing those decisions:


CTC Press Release: Sri Lanka: Complete Collapse of the Rule of Law

March 8, 2008

The situation in Sri Lanka is continuing to deteriorate, expectation among the community is high that Canada will come to the rescue.

Some links from yesterday’s news will give you some idea of the current situation facing Tamils in Sri Lanka.

http://www.national story.html? id=356494
Press Release

March 6, 2008.

Sri Lanka: Complete Collapse of the Rule of Law.

The international community is only now finding out what Tamils have known all along, that the Sri Lankan government is notorious for disappearances, abductions and extra judicial killings. Tamil Canadians are all too familiar with the findings that have been released in a report today by Human Rights Watch. The report by Human Rights Watch confirms what international non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International and the Asian Human Rights Commission have raised as serious
concerns about the Sri Lankan government’s ability and willingness to investigate killings and forced disappearances.

The report describes the alarming state of disappearances as a ‘national crisis’, however, Tamil Canadians believe the situation is an ‘international crisis’. “As an organization, we have had many individuals raise concerns over the safety and well being of family and friends in Sri Lanka. We have heard countless stories of abductions, disappearances, and killings by agents of the Sri Lankan government,” states David Poopalapillai national spokesperson for the Canadian Tamil Congress.

These disappearances, abductions and killings by the Sri Lankan government are evidence of the collapse of the rule of law taking place in Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka has turned into a lawless state and the situation will only get worse now that the ceasefire agreement has been broken by the Sri Lankan government and peace monitors have left” says Poopalapillai.

In fact, the state of impunity is so dire in Sri Lanka the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons, invited to monitor a government commission investigating human rights abuses, announced this week that it was resigning in frustration over the government’s lack of support. The Canadian appointee to the panel was Prof. Bruce Mathews. The panel stated,
“there has been and continues to be a lack of political and institutional will to investigate and inquire into the cases before the (government) commission.”

Within the last 24 hours another Tamil parliamentarian representing Jaffna District, Mr.K.Sivanesan has been killed by suspected Government operatives while he was returning to his constituency after attending the Parliamentary session in Colombo. Mr. Sivanesan has become one among the many Tamil MP’s assassinated for voicing the plight of Tamil people to the world.

The Sri Lankan government must be held accountable for these killings, disappearances and other serious human rights abuses occurring under its nose and in many cases with its complicity. As Tamil Canadians, we are deeply concerned for the safety and security of loved ones in Sri Lanka who live in constant fear. The Canadian Tamil Congress looks to the Canadian government to provide leadership in the international community to pressure Sri Lanka to conform to international human rights standards
and consider a United Nations Special Envoy to monitor the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the Canadian government should consider the recommendation from the HRW report and impose trade and aid restrictions on the Sri Lankan government if its human rights record does not improve.

– 30 –

For further information contact:

Canadian Tamil Congress
416 240 0078

Call for the withdrawal of Canadian combat troops from Afghanistan

November 24, 2007

Canadians who want to add their voice may sign the petition at the link below:

War is Bleeding the World:

Canada at war


Canadian troops have been involved in Afghanistan since October 2001. In February 2005, the military engagement to “maintain order” was transformed into a disturbing combat mission.

Many organisations across the country condemn the Canadian military presence in Afghanistan, which offers no constructive solution to the conflict.

Military attacks do not contribute to peace-keeping or to the fight against terrorism. The government should reduce its military spendings and increase funds for the work of organisations whose aim is to reduce poverty. The fight against poverty should be given priority.

There is no military solution to a political problem.
THEREFORE, I call for the withdrawal of Canadian combat troops from Afghanistan.

CBC video: Trolling for Troops

October 30, 2007
Operation Trolling for Troops

October 19, 2007 (Runs 14:30)

The Canadian Forces are working overtime to recruit visible minorities into careers with the military. So why won’t they sign up?

Harper at Council on Foreign Relations

October 3, 2007

Prime Minister Harper addresses Council on Foreign Relations

September 25, 2007

EXCERPT only: full text at link above.

All of us here believe in a world in which freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are paramount and pervasive.

But the reality in which we live is unfortunately otherwise.

And, therefore, the tasks before us are difficult and sometimes daunting.

Preventing terrorism from reaching our shores; stopping the spread of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; bolstering fragile states; helping rebuild societies shattered by chronic conflict, tackling climate change at the global level, sustaining and spreading economic growth and prosperity.

No country acting alone can successfully meet these challenges. They are too complex and too enduring to be addressed by even the world’s single most powerful nation.

So success, in this global environment, requires concerted effort among capable, committed, like-minded nations.

Success requires middle powers who can step up to the plate to do their part.

Canadian Bar Association Urges Harper to Act on Khadr

August 14, 2007

Finally! Mind you, it took the US bar association — and Omar Khadr’s American military counsel — to shame its Canadian counterpart into doing something about the inexorably long Gitmo imprisonment of this erstwhile Canadian ‘child soldier’:

Canada’s bar association wants Prime Minister to negotiate with U.S. on bringing detained terror suspect home

CALGARY–Canada’s largest legal organization is demanding Prime Minister Stephen Harper begin negotiating with the United States government to have 20-year-old Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr freed from a military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and returned to face justice at home.

It is not enough, the Canadian Bar Association says, for the federal government to accept the Bush administration’s assurances that due process is being followed at the U.S. naval base, described by Khadr’s own military lawyer as a “modern-day Devil’s Island.”

[…] Read this Toronto Star article here.

Upcoming Events: Oppose the SPP!

July 27, 2007

BUSH IS COMING to Montebello, Quebec


with HARPER and Mexican President CALDERON


Find out More about the SPP – A Plan for Continental Integration



Building an opposition to the Security and Prosperity

Partnership of North America


*Linda McQuaig – Author, Holding the Bully’s Coat: Canada and the US Empire

*Paloma Villegas – Organizer, Member of No One Is Illegal – Toronto

*Rogelio Cuevas – Mexican Activist, Member of OCAP

*Hassan Yussuf – Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

7:00 PM

Steelworkers Hall

25 Cecil Street (South of College, East of Spadina)


By Donation!

Toronto Stop the SPP Committee: a coalition of groups and individuals working together to raise awareness and to oppose the SPP summit in August 2007.


The public forum is a space in which Toronto residents can learn more about the Security and Prosperity Partnership and the implications of continental integration. The event is part of the mobilization against the SPP leading up to the tri-state summit in Montebello, Quebec on August 20-21.




August 19 and 20, 2007

Ottawa, Montebello, and locally

Get on the Bus!

To get on a bus from Toronto to Ottawa (August 19)


To get on a bus from Toronto to Ottawa and then travel on to Montebello

(August 19-21). Cost: $60-$90 sliding scale (with donations we hope to offer subsidies soon).

Contact: E-mail your name, phone number and e-mail address to Please specify whether you wish to go to only to the Ottawa demonstration on the 19th OR to Ottawa and then to Montebello or the day of action on the 20th.






What is the Security and Prosperity Partnership?


The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was established in March 2005, at a summit of the Heads of State of Canada, the US, and Mexico held in Cancun.

The SPP is not an official treaty; it is not a law that will be debated in the House of Commons. As such, it has been able to escape public scrutiny, and has been negotiated by business and government representatives at meetings from which the press are excluded.

The founding premise of the SPP is that an agenda of economic free trade and national security will result in prosperity.

But prosperity for who?

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1994, it has brought wealth only to corporations and to a slim business class, while increasing poverty and displacement for the vast majority of people.

In Mexico, NAFTA has created a 6 million job deficit, and is responsible for the displacement of millions of farmers who have left their homes to find work elsewhere in the borderland maquilas, and in the US and Canada.

Meanwhile, the ‘War on Terror’ and the beefed-up national security apparatus has exacerbated insecurity and brought terror on the lives of millions of people locally and globally through immigrant raids, border militarization, foreign troop occupations, and repression of civil liberties and resistance movements.

The SPP is backed by a number of large US and Canadian corporations that profit massively from the occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, as well as the war being fought against migrants on increasingly fortified, armed and surveilled borders.

The North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) was created in June 2006, one year after the SPP was launched so that corporate business leaders could advise government leaders of the three states and effectively direct the SPP process. The NACC ensures that the SPP process will carry on regardless of which political parties take power in Canada,

Mexico or the US. Harper appointed the Canadian members of the NACC in June 2006. They include the CEOs and Presidents of Home Depot; Scotiabank; Bell Canada Enterprises; Manulife Financial; Power Corporation of Canada; Ganong Bros. Limited; Suncor Energy Inc.; CN; Linamar Corporation; and Canfor Corporation.

US membership in the NACC includes the following corporations: Chevron; General Electric; Ford; General Motors; Lockheed Martin; Campbell Soup; Wal-Mart; FedEx; UPS; Merck and Co.; and Proctor & Gamble.

What does the SPP do?

The SPP uses the language of fear and terror to promote border militarization, the criminalization of migration, privatization and theft of indigenous land and resources, repression, impoverishment and displacement, and cooperation in wars and occupations that will further enrich these corporations.

Some of the initiatives being undertaken within the framework of the SPP include:

* The expansion of temporary worker programs to facilitate the exploitation of immigrant workers and drive down wages across the board.

* Adopting coordinated border surveillance technologies. Major contracts are given to military suppliers;

* Coordinating no-fly lists between the three countries;

* Increasing the use of biometric data, including digital fingerprinting to track refugee claimants across the three countries.

* Further integrating refugee policies. The Safe Third Country Agreement, implemented in December 2004 between the US and Canada, has resulted in at least a 40% decrease in refugee applications in Canada. Under the United

States-Mexico Voluntary Repatriation Program more than 35,000 persons have already been deported.

* Integrating US and Canadian military and police training exercises, and the expansion of The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) into a multiservice joint naval and land Defense Command.

* Harmonizing health and environmental regulations to lower standards and developing of a North American alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.

* Privatizing Mexico’s nationalized oil sector;

* Increasing production in Alberta’s oil sands five times over;

* Pushing for full exploitation of Canadian energy resources in areas where it is already being actively opposed by the Lubicon, Dene, and other indigenous communities.


Take Action to Oppose the SPP!


Demonstration in Ottawa

Sunday, August 19 @ 12:30PM

Demonstrations in Montebello

Sunday, August 19 @ 6PM

Monday, August 20 @ 12PM

Gather at the Chateau Montebello (or as close as possible)

And be on the look out for local actions

On the the National Day of Action against the SPP

Monday, August 20