Monday, February 18, 2013

Dear Prime Minister Harper: A Note

Dear Honourable Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper:

Forgive me for intruding on your busy day. It's not for me to get all political by any means, that's your job. We have a great country with a splendid record and we've weathered the economic crisis better than most and for that I thank you and the agencies responsible. But since I was a teen and aware of world events, I've longed for world peace.

Lester B. Person
Canadians have a grand history in the establishment of world peace initiatives. When a ceasefire was declared in 1957 in the Suez Crisis of 1956, (a war between the alliance of the United Kingdom, France and Israel, and Egypt, which was supported by other Arab nations), Canadian diplomat (and future Prime Minister) Lester Bowles Pearson suggested that the United Nations station a peacekeeping force in the Suez in order to ensure that the ceasefire was honored by both sides. Pearson would win the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize for this, and he is today considered a father of modern peacekeeping.

In more recent years, the role of Canadians in peace support operations has expanded to include the delivery of humanitarian aid, the supervision of elections, the repatriation of refugees, the disarming of warring factions and the restoration of shattered landscapes through the clearing of mines, helping nurture human rights and the training of police forces and the judiciary. This is a diplomatic expertise to be profoundly proud of.

Canada is one of only a handful of countries to which the international community has regularly turned to obtain expert advice on peace support issues. Tens of thousands of Canadians have served in more than 40 international peace support operations around the world.

A Canadian led the way in promoting peacekeeping as a tool to help end conflicts and Canadians have long had an international reputation for putting themselves out to support peace. Now, we're in a new age of discord. And we've slipped in the world's recognition of our traditional role as leaders in the peace movement. We've gotten caught up in other things. We've taken sides over matters to appease other countries. And peacemakers don't pick sides. Maybe it's a good time to revisit this aspect of being Canadian and step it up. Listening Mr. Prime Minister? There is an economic aspect to this. People and nations getting along, sharing expertise and resources. Sounds good, doesn't it? How can it not?

But because of alliances and various reasons, we've slipped in world opinion as peacekeepers. Now, with conflict raging in countries all over the world, some think it time to get back to concentrating on earning back the respect that our country has historically garnered throughout the world to be leaders in bringing more peace and harmony to our world.
"Given the escalation of violent conflict, the increased threat of nuclear annihilation and lawlessness across our world today, there has never been greater urgency or a better window of opportunity to promote this initiative in Canada. ... advance an agenda for a new architecture of peace by supporting and establishing activities that promote a culture of peace and assertive non-violence in Canada and the world... In pursuing this initiative, we recognize that the crisis facing humanity is not only social, political, economic and environmental, but also spiritual in nature. We believe that creating a culture of peace is an ongoing and long term process but it is our intention to turn the tide in our generation working closely with Canadian youth." ~ Campaign to establish a Canadian Department of Peace
The time seems to be right to move from an image of past-tense peacekeeper to a world leading, non-violent peacemaker.

Just a thought. Let me know what you think.

4 comments:

  1. You go Rand! Despite recent wartime alliances I think that all-in-all Canada does a damn fine job of being a world leader in peace. I wish USA's history is more like Canada's, and sure hope Canada does not follow America's lead too much when it comes to international engagements.

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    1. Thank you my friend. Urging of friends has seen me submit this today to several Letters To Editors of Canadian newspapers. Am encouraged by all the responses I've gotten from my humble thoughts. Be interesting to see if we can get some excitement generated...

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  2. Must have missed this one when it was first posted... This is great! Y'know, it saddens me to see the changes in the way our country engages the rest of the world in recent years. The hard-fought-for advances in areas of social justice both at home and abroad (including peace keeping) over the past century-and-a-half have left an imprint on our national psyche. It has become a part of our identity as Canadians, and I think it is at odds with our current direction. Definitely time to get this ship back on course!

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    1. Thanks Raymond. Never too late... Thanks for the good thoughts.

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