• Blog
  • October 18th, 2016


The Liberal government is conducting an online consultation on national security as it moves toward amending the Anti-terrorism Act. See “Liberals identify 10 key national security issues for public consultations,” (CBC.ca, 8 September 2016).

This is a rare opportunity for Canadians to weigh in on critical issues like Bill C-51.

Here is what the B.C. Civil Liberties Association has to say about the government’s Green paper backgrounder to shape the consultations:

… in the main, it reads like it was drafted by a public relations firm tasked with selling the current state of extraordinary, unaccountable powers and if anything, laying the groundwork for extending those even further.

In response, the association has prepared its own series of Green Papers to help guide your online submission to the national security consultation before the December 1st deadline.

These are (1) The New No-Fly Regime;   (2) Terrorism Speech Offences; and (3) The New CSIS – a de facto secret police. Going to this link will provide a summary of the issues and recommended actions for each of the three topics. Clicking on the icon next to each topic will lead to a more detailed briefing.

Note that these briefings are also reprinted in an easy-to-read format in Canada’s groundbreaking online news source, The Tyee.ca.

More ways to have your say on Bill C-51:

OpenMedia is a Canadian non-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization working to encourage open and innovative communication systems within Canada and to ensure accountability in the Canadian government’s surveillance activities. They have launched an online petition calling for the complete repeal of Bill C-51. Click here to go to that petition.

This link also provides an array of further information including a detailed Privacy Plan and a consultation tool that provides guidance in responding to each of the 10 areas of the federal consultation, in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Plan.

Don’t forget to have your say before the December 1st deadline!


And CLICK on our LATEST UPDATE to our September 22nd blog post, Colombia peace deal shows power of mediation, following the historic referendum which narrowly rejected the peace deal.


Photo: Courtesy Sally T. Buck (sallybuck.com)

Read More
  • Blog
  • September 26th, 2016

Colombia peace deal shows power of mediation

unsc-approves-mission-to-monitor-peace-dealOn August 24, 2016 an historic peace deal was reached between the FARC rebels and the government of Colombia, after four years of secret negotiations.

The five-decade-long conflict, rooted in Colombia’s unique land distribution and political exclusion of large segments of the population, has killed at least 220,000 people and displaced millions.

Anna Maria Tremonti, host of CBC radio’s The Current, interviewed Norwegian diplomat Dag Nyland, who mediated those secret negotiations. Click on “Inside 4 years of secret negotiations to reach Colombia’s peace agreement” (21 September 2016) for the full interview.

One of the central parts of these peace talks was hearing from victims of the violence.

These were mothers and fathers who had lost their children. These were people that were maimed by anti-personnel mines. These were people that had been subject of kidnappings…. – Dag Nylander

The peace deal was signed by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on September 19th, and on October 2nd there will be a referendum on the deal.

Without the support of the Colombian population the peace agreement won’t work. – Dag Nylander

Like the decades long civil war in Colombia, the overwhelming majority of wars end in military stalemate with the underlying grievances still unresolved until they are settled at the negotiating table. Particularly important to successful talks will generally be the assistance of unbiased, expert mediators like Norway’s Dag Nylander.

For much more on “winning the peace”, see “Disarming Conflict: Why Peace Cannot be Won on the Battlefield” by famed peace activist Ernie Regehr (September 2015, Between the Lines publishers).

September 26, 2016 Update:  Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion announces further Canadian support for implementation of the Colombia peace accord.  See: Dion announces further Canadian support (Global Affairs Canada).

Photo credit: UN News photo showing Security Council approval of mission to monitor Colombia peace deal.

Read More
  • Blog
  • September 19th, 2016

Join in global efforts to abolish nuclear weapons

14192042_10155041930122069_1472098946174328510_nRideau Institute President Peggy Mason was honoured to speak at the international conference Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World  in Astana, Kazakhstan on August 30th.

She began her remarks, entitled, A-Canadian-Defence-Policy-that-moves-towards-Security-without-Nuclear-Weapons-or-War with:

Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev in his Manifesto of the World for the 21st Century set out a visionary, yet clear and practical programme for achieving security without reliance on nuclear weapons or war of any kind. He builds his plan on the central principles of the UN Charter: the peaceful resolution of disputes, the non-threat or use of force, the importance of human development and the common security of all states.

The conference brought together parliamentarians, NGOs, academic experts, UN representatives, and other diplomats to reaffirm the fervent desire of the vast majority of the peoples of the world to achieve nuclear abolition. The proceedings culminated with the adoption of The Astana Vision: From a Radioactive Haze to a Nuclear-Weapon-Free-World:

Deeply concerned for the future of all humanity, and encouraged by the example of Kazakhstan in the field of nuclear disarmament we affirm the possibility and necessity to achieve the peace and security of a nuclear-weapon-free world in our lifetimes. (Final paragraph of Declaration).

Following the conference, participants had the opportunity to visit the former Soviet nuclear test site of Semipalatinsk, where over a 40-year period a total of 456 nuclear bombs were detonated, 116 of which were above ground. The cumulative radiation inflicted on the Kazakh people was equivalent to 20,000 Hiroshima bombs.

The UN General Assembly, the forum where every one of the 193 UN member states has a vote, began its 71st session on 13 September. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has made clear the priority he hopes UN member states will give to the urgent goal of nuclear disarmament:

The consequences of any further use of nuclear weapons, whether intentional or by mistake, would be horrific. When it comes to our common objective of nuclear disarmament, we must not delay — we must act now.

The Liberal Cabinet is in the process of deciding how Canada will vote when the UN First Committee of the General Assembly considers the Geneva Report of the OEWG (discussed in our blog post of 26 August last: Canada Spurns UN Nuclear Disarmament Plan).

We call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ensure that Canada’s vote will be unambiguously in favour of this groundbreaking report, calling as it does for nuclear abolition negotiations to commence in 2017.

Let’s make 2017 the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.

Read More
  • Blog
  • September 7th, 2016

Peter Langille: UN peace operations need Canada’s expertise




In light of the Liberal government’s commitment to increase Canada’s participation in UN peacekeeping efforts and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s five-country tour in Africa, Peter Langille, a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria, wrote an article (Policy Options, 10 August 2016) discussing ways in which Canada can uniquely contribute to improving UN response capabilities.

Langille argues that besides Canada simply contributing further to the size of UN peacekeeping forces, it should also look at pushing for a “wider shift from war-fighting to providing prompt help and useful services” through UN reform.

One area that Langille identifies where Canada can contribute is the UN’s rapid deployment capabilities. He points out how slow UN responses to conflicts often are:

It frequently takes six months to a year or more to deploy a new operation. Many missions still remain under the strength required. With slow responses, conflicts tend to escalate and spread, and then they demand larger and longer operations at far higher costs.

Langille points out that a permanent base from which the UN can quickly deploy assistance into complex conflict zones has been a long-running policy objective which continues to elude UN officials. He argues that Canada has unique experience in that field. In 1992, the Canadian government ordered an intensive study into the potential requirements of a UN standing force. The proposal which emerged from this study is the United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS).

UNEPS would be designed to quickly and efficiently offer important services during the first crucial 6 months of a UN operation. While the initial cost of such a base would be quite high, it would ultimately save costs in the long run because it would help prevent conflicts from escalating.

Langille argues that Canada has unique advantages and skills which lend themselves well to hosting a permanent UN Emergency Peace Service:

Because it is a country that faces no direct military threat, Canada could help to encourage a specialization in rapid deployment to difficult UN peace operations. The Canadian Forces have recent experience with austere, high-threat environments, as well as with disciplined, cohesive formations with multipurpose combat capability, which are required in robust operations authorized under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Peter Langille concludes by calling for the government to commit to substantive UN reform:

We can throw good money after bad at high cost, but we also have a better option. The Canadian proposal for a permanent United Nations emergency peace service complements existing arrangements with a more rapid and reliable first responder.

For Peter Langille’s full article, see Re-engaging Canada in United Nations peace operations (Policy Options, 10 August 2016).

For the Rideau Institute report on Canadian peacekeeping training, see Unprepared for Peace? The Decline of Canadian Peacekeeping (And What to Do About It) (Rideau Institute and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, February 2016).

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Read More
  • Blog
  • August 26th, 2016

Canada spurns UN nuclear disarmament plan

Craters from previous underground nuclear test semiplasticik (2)

In an article which first appeared in Wednesday’s Hill Times, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament Doug Roche delivered a stinging rebuke to the Liberal government for its recent actions in the Geneva Conference on Disarmament. See Canada Turns Back on UN Nuclear Disarmament Plan (Douglas Roche, 24 August 2016).

The focus of his concern was the vote by Canada in the Geneva Open-ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament against nuclear disarmament negotiations. Writes former Ambassador Roche:

The government turned its back on an important nuclear disarmament initiative and sided with the nuclear weapons states that want to keep and modernize their nuclear arsenals for the rest of the 21st century.

Canadian Tariq Rauf, one of the world’s leading experts on nuclear disarmament and head of the Disarmament, Arms Control, and Non-proliferation Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, went even further, saying Trudeau “seems disengaged on nuclear arms control” and that the present government has “undermined” the nuclear disarmament work so valiantly championed by Pierre Trudeau.

This astounding action by Canada comes just as nuclear disarmament experts are gearing up for a conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, which will take place on 28-29 August.

In the words of  Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who will open the conference:

We hope to capitalize on the leadership Kazakhstan has been taking for a nuclear-weapon-free world. On August 29, 1991, I officially closed the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site (also known as “The Polygon”), which had been the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons.

This conference will bring together parliamentarians and mayors from around the world, along with a selection of religious leaders, government officials, disarmament experts, policy analysts, civil society campaigners, and representatives of international and regional organisations (UN, OSCE, ICRC, etc.) to build political will and traction for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

Among those in attendance will be Rideau Institute President and former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament Peggy Mason, who will make a presentation in Panel Session I: Security without nuclear weapons or war: “Manifesto of the World for the 21st Century”.


For those who have not yet signed it, please click here to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop undermining negotiations and, instead, begin to lead internationally on nuclear disarmament.

Read More