Marie-Danielle Smith, writing for Embassy News, discusses the lack of attention given to the issue of defence procurement in the Canadian election thus far. (“Defence procurement an elephant in the war room”, Embassy News, 26 August 2015). Though it may seem to have been ignored up to now, it won’t be long before it gets the attention it deserves at The Munk Foreign affairs debate on Sept 28.
Peggy Mason, president of the Rideau Institute, said in an interview: “I don’t know how much of an issue defence procurement is going to be. But it most definitely should be.”
It’s hard to find the words to describe the extraordinary mismanagement by the Harper government of the defence file,” she said, listing areas where government has underspent funds or avoided awarding contracts….
They talk a very big line on how important the military is. But when it comes to the reality of putting the necessary support behind it, we see a different story.”
Ms. Mason said an example of this is the “apocalyptic language” that the government has used to describe ISIS—and the reason for Canada’s participation in an airstrike coalition against them—despite staging what she calls a comparatively “modest and token response.”
Though Smith has approached the political parties to understand their position on the file, we have yet to receive the party platforms on the issue. The Rideau Institute recently approached opposition parties asking for a commitment to move away from NATO-led military initiatives and towards UN-sanctioned peacekeeping missions.
The NDP and Green Party both agreed on that direction, but the Liberals wouldn’t commit, Ms. Mason said, despite a return to peacekeeping being a bullet point in their 2011 election platform.
Read the full article here: “Defence procurement an elephant in the war room” (Embassy News, 26 August 2015)
UN National Assembly in New York.
Strengthening Multilateral Cooperation: The United Nations at 70
Ever since the statement issued by the original 78 signatories in November 1981, the hallmark of the Group of 78 has been to promote the three inter-related objectives of peace, equitable development, and strengthening the United Nations as the pre-eminent forum through which world problems can be addressed and solved. Seventy years after the birth of the UN, these objectives seem as compelling as ever, but their achievement remains daunting.
The Group of 78’s 2015 Annual Conference will focus on the critical importance of the UN, assessing its performance and its prospects for effectiveness in the future, particularly in the spheres of peace and equitable development.
Speakers and participants at the conference will examine the following questions and develop policy recommendations to guide Canadian foreign policy:
- How can we strengthen the United Nations in carrying out its mandate to halt conflict and support economic and social development? What part of this mandate does it do well, and how could it do better?
- How can the UN’s support for equitable development and for peace and security be made more mutually reinforcing? What are the prospects for the new sustainable development goals in this regard?
- On which issues and by what actions should Canada provide leadership or take significant initiatives for peace building and on economic and social development through the United Nations system?
Peggy Mason, former UN Ambassador for Disarmament and President of the Rideau Institute, will be giving the luncheon address titled “A Canadian Security and Defence Policy for the 21st century: Role of the UN.”
To attend the conference, please register online at: Group of 78 Annual Policy Conference tickets
For more information on the Group of 78 and the conference program click on the image below:
Here are highlights from the program:
- Fulfilling the UN’s role as the pre-eminent forum for multilateral co-operation.
- Strengthening the UN’s role in conflict prevention and resolution.
- Equitable development and sustainable peace: reinforcing the synergies.
- A Canadian Security and Defence Policy for the 21st century: Role of the UN
- Canada and the UN system: renewing our multilateral commitments.
For our election coverage, check out Canada Election Watch 2015 on Ceasefire.ca.
Here are direct links to Election Analysis, Daily Duffs and Election Humour.
Image credit: United Nations Photo, Flickr
Harsha Walia, writing for TelesurTV, examines the realities of the Canadian immigration system, and calls upon the major political parties to move forward recommendations that would be committed to upholding Canadian values. (Three things about Canada’s Election and Immigration”, TelesurTV 18 August 2015).
The Canadian federal government has been described as a world leader in the ideology of multiculturalism because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.
However, Walia identifies the politicians’ claims of “record number of immigrants” and “fairer and more efficient system” as tired clichés which stand in sharp contrast to the harsh reality:
More than half of migrants to Canada are temporary
“Federal governments always boast about ‘record levels of immigration’ but a growing number of migrants are coming on a temporary basis.”
More migrants arrive through migrant worker programs that grant temporary status than via avenues that grant permanent residence. Furthermore they are hired as indentured labourers and paid low wages with no guarantee of social services or labour protections let alone permanent residency. The temporary foreign worker program as it stands now treats people as disposable.
Politicians don’t care about our families
“All federal parties love appealing to ‘family values,’ but the number of family-class immigrants has dropped by 14, 000 people or 20 percent.”
We have witnessed draconian changes in family-class immigrants since the Conservatives have been in power— increasing the minimum income for eligibility in sponsorship, doubling the sponsorship period and excluding children over the age of 19 — that make it almost impossible for many Canadians to sponsor their parents, grandparents and siblings. By justifying the change as an economic imperative, the government is implying that an immigrant’s worth to this country should be measured only by the amount of tax they pay, and not by the other contributions they make, such as community volunteer work or enrichment of Canada’s multicultural fabric.
Migrants are increasingly incarcerated, deported and surveillanced
“For the first time since records are available, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention strongly chastised the Canadian immigration detention system in 2014.”
The federal government’s ‘tough on terror agenda’ is a sorry excuse for immigrants and refugees to be torn apart from their loved ones, forced to endure indefinite detention under often brutal conditions, and facing deportation for minor offences or for being alleged security risks on scanty evidence.
To read the full article, click here: “Three things aboutCanada’s Election and Immigration”, (Harsha Walia, TelesurTV, 18 August 2015).
To purchase Wali’a book, click here: “Undoing Border Imperialism” Amazon.com
Since mid-May of 2015 Ceasefire.ca has been calling for all federal party leaders to commit to a full public defence and security policy review. Of particular importance will be a reassessment of the disastrous and utterly counterproductive “war on terror” launched by then President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Yet as we approach the second decade of war there is precious little evidence of a rethinking of policies.
There is no more trenchant critic of this misguided approach than Paul Rogers, OpenDemocracy’s international security editor. In his latest article in a long series on this topic entitled “Blowback: Iraq war to Islamic State”(Opendemocracy.net, 13 August 2015), Rogers argues that:
A direct line connects the United States-led campaign against Iraqi insurgents in 2004-07 and the war being fought today.
Read the full article here: “Blowback: Iraq war to Islamic State” (OpenDemocracy.net, 13 August 2015)
Check out our new feature on www.ceasefire.ca: Canada Election Watch 2015
Daniel Schwartz writing for CBC News catalogues the increasing use of drones against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and previews three books that address drone proliferation and the era of remote warfare. (“One year on, drone attacks against ISIS increasing“, CBC News 8 August 2015).
Drones appear to have an expanding role in the fight against Islamic State, although it’s unclear what direct impact they are having on the war itself.
The author of the forthcoming book Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know, Sarah Kreps, advises that drones should be deployed as part of a broader strategy, something the U.S. and its allies including Canada seem to be lacking in their war against Islamic State. British academic Paul Rogers believes that Islamic State is able to adapt pretty rapidly to this level of air war, noting they still retain a strong hold on power and continue to make gains in Syria despite very heavy use of drones by coalition forces. In his forthcoming book Irregular War: Islamic State and Revolts from the Margins, Rogers says:
We’re right at the start of the proliferation of drones and since there are no arms control measures at all to handle them [their use] is more or less unlimited.
Ann Rogers, a professor at Royal Roads University and author of the 2014 book, Unmanned: Drone Warfare and Global Security, highlights the huge human toll wreaked by drones in conflict zones other than Iraq and Syria:
In other theatres where drones have been used extensively, there have been huge social, economic and psychological problems created for the [local] population, and … these wars don’t end with a clear victory, they end with a damaged and fragmented society.
And with respect to the coalition effort against Islamic State, she concludes that all air power has done is to enable the U.S. and its allies to continue the war without success but also without tangible losses by the allies.
Read the full article here: “One year on, drone attacks against ISIS increasing”. (CBC news , 8 August 2015)
Image credit: MarsRover