A Call To Action!

By Anabel Cathral

Startling information emerging from Canadian participation in the Persian Gulf war includes the following:

  1. 1 Canadian law contains no provision to exempt conscientious objectors from combat duty.
  2. 2 The decision to go to war without any formal declaration can be made by the federal government alone. No vote in parliament is required.

One wonders if Canadians would like to remedy the first and change the second.

The Spicer Commission on the Future of Canada affords us an opportunity to find out. It wants citizens from local groups of people to conduct workshops and send the results to the commission. The workshops are guided by 14 questions including:

These questions are adequate to cover issues of war, peace and government decision making powers. The results on all the other questions will probably range across the whole spectrum of Canadian opinion. But if, on the war issue, there is a strong message for peace from coast to coast it will have be acknowledged in Spicer's final report.

Why use the Spicer Commission at all? Because it has the funding and organization already in place and it is doubtful the entire peace movement could muster such resources at any time, let alone in time to affect the government's next move on the constitution. Also because a commitment to a peaceful stance in the world, if that is what Canadians want, would need more than a new defence White Paper, it would require an amendment to the constitution to be credible and binding.

The Commission has prepared a kit containing 14 questions and information on conducting workshops and presenting the results. The kit can be obtained by phoning 1-800-66FORUM. We urge readers to order kits and convene workshops soon. The Commission has to complete its report by July '91.

Anabel Cathrall is an engineer who teaches Buddhist Meditation.

Peace Magazine Mar-Apr 1991

Peace Magazine Mar-Apr 1991, page 30. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by Anabel Cathral here

Peace Magazine homepage