census, Canadian politics, media, Wikileaks, peace studies

The Census

I am not going to respond to the census request from Statistics Canada. My reason is that the census, for the first time, has been contracted out to Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest military companies in the world. This means that our tax dollars will be going into military coffers. It is time to challenge Canada’s role in the militarization of world economies. Our military exports are about $5 billion per year to over 100 countries, 80% going to the United States. (New Internationalist June 2011).

The same process with Lockheed Martin is happening in the UK, where protesters are active on this issue. There was no need to contract out the census, which our own civil servants have conducted properly for many years.

In Canada we seldom have the opportunity to engage in civil disobedience even as our country becomes more militarized. Nonviolent civil disobedience involves a refusal to cooperate in a process where it is believed our government should be held to a higher form of accountability.

“The very process of demilitarizing—by well-designed economic conversion —institutionalizes democratic decision-making and decentralization, reinforces productive life-serving values, and frees up the resources needed for every sort of improvement in quality of life.” (Seymour Melman, The Demilitarized Society).

Shirley Farlinger, Toronto

The Media’s Conflict of Interest

During the federal election campaign, with the exception of the Toronto Star (and perhaps the Globe and Mail), the mainstream news media, overall, tended to conveniently overlook Harper’s otherwise glaring flaws, especially those involving his three main election campaign goals: tens, if not hundreds, of billions of taxpayer dollars for fighter jets, new prisons and another corporate tax cut.

Maclean’s was/is particularly partial, with its pro-Harper bias particularly exposed by its year-end special edition’s cover being entirely consumed by an oh-so-hip Harper dancing on some stage, somewhere in the nation.

I consumed the news during the entire election campaign, and the bias in favor of Harper’s Conservatives sometimes bordered on blatancy; indeed, I read some supposed-to-be nonpartisan ‘news stories’ that came out in defence of the Harper Conservatives.

Thus, when came time for that news media to officially endorse a favored political party, the vast majority officially endorsed (guess who?) a majority Harper Conservative Party to form the next government of Canada—mostly in the name of fiscal prudence, while conveniently omitting Harper’s obsession with giving yet another corporate tax break, costing government coffers $6 billion a year.

Thus, the mainstream news-media, which is largely corporately owned was in a real conflict of interest with regard to performing the job of impartially covering a crucial election campaign.

Frank G. Sterle, White Rock, BC

Wikileaks on Harper

Thanks to Wikileaks, affinity between Harper and American political conservatism has been revealed in an excerpted statement by a former US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins. He stated that “Harper is committed to increasing spending on the armed forces and will do so, … keeping Canada in the game (my italics) in Afghanistan as the mission turns more difficult and possibly more bloody.”

Why would we Canadians want to align ourselves to the greatest military power on Earth, who sees bombs and bullets as the way to make the kind of peace they want? (And to do so, would use Canada.)

Leo Kurtenbach, Saskatoon

Study in Switzerland

The World Peace Academy and the Advanced Study Center at the University of Basel offer a 9-month full-time Master of Advanced Studies in Peace and Conflict Transformation every year from March to November. Students can begin the program either in March, June, or September. All courses are taught in English by leading specialists, including Johan Galtung, founder of the academic field of peace studies.

The curriculum combines theory with practice. The faculty includes some of the best teachers anywhere. Students come from around the world, including many conflict regions.

The program includes lectures, seminars, group activities, excursions, self-study, and library research. For a calendar and other information, visit http://www.world-peace-academy.ch.

Prof. Dr. Dietrich Fischer
Academic Director, World Peace Academy, Gueterstrasse 81, Ch 4053, Basel Switzerland.

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2011

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2011, page 5. Some rights reserved.

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