We must resist Canada’s descent into militarism

Address to the 2008 Annual Winnipeg Walk for Peace

by Howard Davidson

Howard Davidson addresses the 2008 Annual Walk for Peace in Winnipeg, June 14, 2008.What we are witnessing and resisting today is Canada’s descent into the pro-war, militarized society that has already occurred in the United States. At every opportunity, the right-wing hawks in Ottawa and on Bay Street are doing their utmost to support the Bushites and their agenda to create a Brave New World, no matter what the cost.

  • Today Canada leads the way in imposing embargoes and boycotts against Palestinians. We refused to join the international consensus against Israel’s atrocities in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza today.
  • We slavishly follow the US dictates on Afghanistan.
  • We lead the way in obstructing solutions to global warming and environmental degradation.
  • We actively participate in rendition.
  • We are closing our borders to those who refuse to kill, maim, and dehumanize Iraqi civilians as soldiers for the American occupation of Iraq.

Like tens of thousands of other Viet Nam war resistors, I benefited from a different Canada: a country that struggled to create its own identity internationally by distancing itself from US imperialism. We were by no means the peace loving nation we wanted to believe we were, but Canada was in Trudeau’s words a “refuge from militarism.” We are a refuge no more.

Following the horrors of World War II, as a direct international response to the atrocities of the Holocaust, the Nuremberg principles established that every soldier has a DUTY—not a choice—to refuse to carry out immoral orders. The UN Covenant on Civil and Political rights obligates states to provide protection for those who refuse such orders.

Citing this obligation, in January, the United Church of Canada, the Mennonite Central Committee and the Canadian Friends Service Committee signed a joint resolution calling on Canada “to allow conscientious objectors and their families who have refused or left military service to apply for permanent residency from within Canada.”

On June 2, a majority of our elected representatives in the Canadian Parliament essentially endorsed that joint resolution. But the Harper government has turned a deaf ear to Canadians.

This slavish government—the Bushites in Ottawa–can’t allow Americans a “refuge from militarism.” This is just another of those “growing pains” C. Rice referred to in creating the Brave New World.

Cory Glass along with Jeremy Hinzman, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Key, Ryan Johnson, Kimberly Rivera and the hundreds of other war resistors living underground in Canada must be sent back for the punishment the US will use to deter thousands of other Americans in the military from following their courageous example.

Listen to the stories of these war resistors: poor, working class men and women, with few decent job prospects, taught to believe in American righteousness, end up in Iraq. They witness for themselves the horrific face of US imperialism, and see their role in carrying it out.

If they say no, they go to prison. There is no safe haven in Canada. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of scientists and high paid technicians working on defense projects can choose to walk away from the war machine they were making. The rich can walk away, the poor get prison.

Cory Glass’s deportation order has been delayed. We have time to resist for the resistors.

We have time to be part of the movement here and abroad to support the Refusenicks from the US and that other occupying power, Israel.

The state is no friend of the people. The capitalist state is there to keep the capitalist system in power. Let’s have no illusions about this. The Harpers and Bushes of the world are not just mean, arrogant, religious fundamentalists with an extremist agenda.

Harper is not ignoring the Canadian Parliament and our history as a “refuge from militarism” because he is uninformed or mean spirited. This is not about one party or one leader. This is about imperialism.

This is about using militarism to control the massive social unrest and destitution being created around the world by skyrocketing oil and food prices. Cory Glass and his fellow war resistors are one part of this much wider agenda: closing any loopholes, any right to refuse; indeed, any protection of our hard won civil liberties that get in the way of imposing the New World Order.

Today we resist. Tomorrow we resist. And we have a duty—not a choice—to resist.

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