By David Swanson and Robert Fantina
Oh Canada, to thine own self be true, not to thine heavily militarized neighbor. Robin Williams called you a nice apartment over a meth lab for a reason, and now you’re bringing the drugs upstairs.
We write to you as two U.S. citizens, one of whom moved to Canada when George W. Bush became U.S. president. Every wise observer in Texas had warned this country about their Governor Bush, but the message hadn’t gotten through.
We need the message to reach you now before you follow the United States down a path it has been on since its creation, a path that used to include regular invasions of your land, a path impeded a little by your generous sanctuary for those refusing war participation, and a path that now invites you to ruin yourself along with us. Misery and addiction and illegality love company, Canada. Alone they wither, but with aiders and abettors they flourish.
At the end of 2013 Gallup polls asked Canadians what nation they’d most like to move to, and zero of the Canadians polled said the United States, while people in the United States picked Canada as their most desired destination. Should the more desirable nation be imitating the less desirable, or the other way around?
In the same poll almost every nation of the 65 surveyed said the United States was the greatest threat to peace in the world. In the United States, bizarrely, people said Iran was the greatest threat — despite Iran spending less than 1% of what the United States does on militarism. In Canada, Iran and the United States tied for first place. You seem to be of two minds, Canada, one of them thoughtful, the other breathing the fumes of your downstairs neighbor.
At the end of 2014 Gallup asked people if they would fight for their country in a war. In many nations 60% to 70% said no, while 10% to 20% said yes. In Canada 45% said no, but 30% said yes. In the United States 44% said yes and 30% no. Of course they’re all lying, thank goodness. The United States always has several wars running, and everyone is free to sign up; almost none of the professed willing fighters do. But as a measure of support for war and approval of war participation, the U.S. numbers tell you where Canada is headed if it follows its southern friends.
A recent poll in Canada indicates that a majority of Canadians support going to war in Iraq and Syria, with support being highest, as might be expected, among Conservatives, with members of the NDP and Liberal parties offering less, but still significant, support. All this may be part of the Islamophobia that is sweeping much of North America and Europe. But, take it from us, the support is soon replaced with regret — and the wars do not end when the public turns against them. A majority of the U.S. public has believed the 2001 and 2003 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should never have been begun for the majority of those wars’ existence. Once begun, however, the wars roll on, in the absence of serious public pressure to halt them.
Recent polling in Canada also indicates that while over 50% of respondents feel uncomfortable with someone wearing a hijab or abaya, over 60% of respondents support their right to wear it. That’s stunning and praiseworthy. To accept discomfort out of respect for others is a top qualifying characteristic of a peacemaker, not a warmaker. Follow that inclination, Canada!
The Canadian government, like the U.S. government, uses fear-mongering to implement its war policies. But again, there is cause for some limited optimism. A recently-proposed anti-terror bill, that legal experts have decried as depriving Canada of some basic rights, has received significant opposition, and is being amended. Unlike the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, which sailed through Congress with little if any opposition, Canadian bill C-51 which, among other things, would stifle dissent, has been widely opposed both in Parliament and in the streets.
Build on that resistance to every evil justified by war, Canada. Resist the degradation of morality, the erosion of civil liberties, the drain to the economy, the environmental destruction, the tendency toward oligarchic rule and rogue illegality. Resist, in fact, the root problem, namely war.
It has been several years since the U.S. media regularly showed pictures of flag-draped coffins arriving on U.S. soil from far-flung war zones. And most of the victims of U.S. wars — those living where the wars are fought — are shown hardly at all. But Canada’s media may do better. You may literally see the evil of your wars. But will you see your way clear to getting out of them? It is far easier to not launch them. It is far easier still to not plan and prepare for them.
We remember the lead you took, Canada, in banning land mines. The United States sells flying land mines called cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, which attacks its neighbors. The United States uses those cluster bombs on its own war victims. Is this the path you want to follow? Do you imagine, like some Las Vegas tiger tamer, that you’ll civilize the wars you join? Not to put too fine a point on it, Canada, you will not. Murder will not be civilized. It can, however, be ended — if you help us.
I totally agree with Swanson and Fantina’s viewpoint. We are losing the Canada people through the centuries have fought to establish: a participatory democracy with deep commitment to a world governed by law.
Let’s preserve that!
Yes, Canada needs to take back its traditional role as peacemaker, not war-monger. Hopefully, my fellow Canadians will soon wake up.
Canada needs a complete ideological overhaul. We have much to learn from our more peaceful peers: New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Ecuador, and Greenland.
Mind you several of these places do participate militarily. But they work harder in the diplomatic sphere than we tend to – at least at peace, environmentalism, and humanism.
I agree with the perspective of Swanson and Fantina. Canada is turning towards becoming Bushistan North.
I agree with this statement very much. Canada is turning towards becoming a police-state and fully aligned with the US Imperial agenda in the Ukraine and elsewhere.
there are many people opposed to war in Canada and we are actively trying to educate the public and build peace. But it\s a big job. Sadly. the American invasion into Canada happened silently with out leader’s consent. We are working hard to unseat the bloodless Coup.
One of my protest songs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JpDlFlYRQU I hope it helps
thank you – standing for peace
Did you see that we made your lyrics into a graphic and posted it on Facebook and Twitter and our graphics page?
I was so surprised to find your comment (and your graphic). Thank you, I will share it.
Thank you for the link. Yes, I too will work to unseat the current government in the next election.
It’s a bit of a stretch to claim a desire to fight ISIS comes from Islamophobia since the crime they’re most guilty of is killing other Muslims.
The title of your article gives away a prejudice of your own, though. What makes you think Canadians are ‘following’ Americans in this war? Have we got a conscience of our own? Yes, I think so.
You seem to believe that there is no just war. There have been some. WWII might qualify as one in some respects.
You also put your own bias right out in front when you mention female head coverings. You seem to believe that Islamophobia, again, is the root of our motivation if we are ‘uncomfortable’. What about feminism? What about the healthy ‘protestantism’ born in Germany that permits a Westerner to openly question (big R) Religion, even mock it! You would have us hush, bow our heads out of ‘respect’, and play along with Patriarchy as long as he feels like toying with our human rights.
Any ‘thoughtful’ Canadian would have none of it. And we’d tell you so openly and with no shame. You’re trying to shame those who don’t view ‘tolerance’ with the same wimpishness as you view it. We need not tolerate all cultural practices, especially those that degrade based on race, sex, sexuality, etc. But you have entirely missed that point, and the other one about freedom of speech.
These rights and freedoms are what makes the west one of the best things in this world. Without our fighting spirit and willingness to die to defend others, we would be much less than we are. And the world would be subject to wimps like you and tyrants like ISIS. There seems to be no caring at all in your world.
Some good points there.
If you’d like a different look at WWII, here are some places to start:
Although you raise some interesting points, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that people should be able to follow their religious beliefs, as long as they don’t interfere with others. If a woman sincerely believes she should keep her head covered, she should, in my view, be allowed to do so. Canada traditionally gives her that choice.
The courts have fixed what the conservative government attempted to do. The Canadian courts are pretty fair. They require removal of head covering for identification, reading a person’s facial expressions when they’re giving sworn testimony, etc. But they don’t tend to infringe on those rights when there’s no clear need to.
But what I was referring to above was just the right to debate it and to take the side ‘against’ if one has valid, non-racist, reasons.
The freedom to debate is something we all need, as long as we’re respectful.
Now I left a great deal out of my last reply. In the main, I truly agree with your cause. But it must have its limits.
The Vietnam War was wrong. They had voted democratically. The Syrian War is wrong. They voted democratically. There are countless wars that were truly wrong. But can you say that there is no just war? I think that would be a stretch.
If the goal is to break up a fight, sometimes one must do it while holding (or even using) a weapon. If the goal is to save innocents from torture, war crimes, or a future of subservience and poverty, one must weigh the alternatives carefully.
Police are not wrong or unethical for keeping the peace, yet they are armed. A school teacher who breaks up a school yard fight may have to do so with physical contact. But that is not wrong. It is right. And sometimes it is brave or even heroic.
You need to temper what you say about the current fighting throughout the Middle East with a little knowledge of the hard realities people there are facing.
Looking the other way is not an option. And our diplomacy would surely be ignored by ISIS, a mercenary army of sadistic killers.
What to do about ISIS:
One of the main problems is that the U.S. arms rebels fighting against regimes it doesn’t like, and then eventually has to fight the very people it armed. There is a better way. The link above is an excellent source.