2016 Canada Defence Review – What Canada can do for peace in the world!

The opportunity of the 2016 Canada Defence Review

 In the cause of international peace and stability. We may be few and only few, but we will not refuse to do what a few can do.


The opportunity to contribute to the 2016 Defence Review is welcome. I believe a serious defence review is both timely and of critical importance to the future of Canada. I firmly believe that Canada can make a difference if it is willing to think in new ways, to show courage and exercise leadership. If anything, this may serve to set a much needed example of leadership for peace to the international community.

 One of the difficulties of a consultation of this type is a tendency to structure lines of inquiry and dialogue in such a manner that traditional or desired responses are validated or maximized; or that assumptions and responses will validate “more threats” and thus “more defence”.   To be credible, the consultation should be willing to challenge all assumptions and be open to a “clean sheet” discussion of issues. Structuring this consultation around a DND version of its geo-military world view, for Canadians to validate and tinker with, is somewhat risky in my view.

The consultation framework seems to assert that we want to see the world in terms of threats and fear. It is argued that, in order to succeed, DND needs to be a threat based organization, with related roles, funding, structure, resources and capabilities. Perhaps, we need to rethink this.   Perhaps, it is time to look at the world as an opportunity and obligation to advance peace, rather than of facing threats and fear. Perhaps it is time to explore and redefine DND as part of a larger “peace and security” response to both the world and our domestic affairs.

Canadian Interests

It is instructive to begin with Canada’s deep interests, both expressed and implied, in relation to DND. Although we may have many formal lists around; implicit in any such lists is the understanding that:

  • The threat of nuclear annihilation of the cold war has pretty well passed. Canada faces no current existential threats.  Life in Canada, if compared to much of the world, is extremely fortunate.
  •  From a military perspective, we are blessed by geography, three oceans, and a relatively benign neighbor to the south.       We may have geography, but not the population, economic resources or military capacity to defend ourselves militarily from most military powers in the world. Certainly insurgents and radicals can emerge anywhere, and war and suffering breaks out in the world with depressing frequency; but generally this does not reach our shores with any ongoing or serious consequences.
  • From an economic perspective, we are an export nation and depend on global economic health for our economic wellbeing.  However, the world is shrinking in terms of military and economic reach. The world is connecting itself exponentially. Effects once occurring far away can now have immediate effects for us. Falling oil prices were seen to trigger an adverse effect on Canada.
  • It is clear that Canada depends on the world for prosperity and security. Therefore, the number one factor for our survival and wellbeing is the security and economic prosperity of the global community. As the world goes, so does Canada.
  •  Therefore, it is in our overriding national interest that Canada creates a military with a focus on contributing to international peace and stability as a matter of priority. From this, it follows that a second interest is contributing directly to peace and stability of Canada.

Military Intervention and the Security Environment

Our existence, in terms of our international and domestic interests, encompasses both security issues and a legal and moral framework from which to respond to these issues. Embedded in the security environment are the laws of armed conflict and ”just war” tradition. The Laws of Armed Conflict do state that they are to be invoked only as a very last resort.   However, if it is the only resort that is adequately funded, then it becomes the only course of action.   The time is now to rethink the place of the laws of armed conflict in our response to international conflict.   Why do we resist creating federal institutions of peace or other alternatives to military intervention?  Where is the comparable and robust body of laws for peace operations, peacemaking and “just peace” tradition?  Perhaps it is time to assert that the ethic of peace and care has at least equal weight, if not greater, to the ethic of war or justice in conflict situations.  It is time to develop effective legal framework, practices and capacities regarding the responsibility to protect.  It is time to explore how laws of peace operations could be codified as a strict obligation for dealing with conflict in pre-conflict stages, conflict stages, and post-conflict stages by the international community. It is time to provide strict obligations for states or transnational parties with differences that have potential for violence, to pursue credible peace operations before military operations.

Currently the Laws of Armed Conflict basically involve:

  • The use of lethal force and violence with a just cause.
  • Justification of defence against armed attack, prevention of significant harm, or significant threats to international peace.
  • Aim of peace, stability, security. Good achieved is greater than harm done. 
  • Last resort and reasonable hope of success.
  • Appropriate force levels. Limits to weapons and combatants. Prohibits torture or unnecessary harm.
  • Mandates non-combatant immunity and protection: POWs, refugees, civilians.
  • Minimize collateral damage to non combatants and property.

At its core, our present military is primarily a small, lethal, force-based capacity in the tradition of Clausewitz, who defined war as “an extension of politics by other means”. Perhaps peace operations can also be “an extension of politics by other means.”

The drumbeat of “threats”: In this consultation format, is the fundamental assertion of threats (and challenges) and an implicit agreement to all the roles, force structure, equipment and funding that goes with this. Certainly we have threats, real, perceived and imagined. However, threats imply enemies. Are we in the business of naming enemies, and thus possibly creating enemies? Is this what we need to justify a military?   If we do not accept having enemies, is a military just a case of “insurance” or deterrence against unforeseen and future domestic or global armed conflict events?  Or is our military much more than enemies and capacities for violence?

There is a big difference in seeing threats in terms of “present and ongoing” (clear intentions and hostile behaviours); or as “possible” threats (given analysis of motivation and/or capacity); or as “imagined” threats (what if they became a threat, or how is everyone else a threat). There are threats that directly target or impact Canada,, and threats between other international states or actors. There are also threats to the general peace and stability of the world.

Threats are advocated as multilevel. At one level, some are asserting that former cold war adversaries are rebuilding and modernizing their military forces and once again becoming a destabilizing factor in geo-politics. At another level, there is the assertion of threats is from some combination of ethnic driven insurgencies, radicals and trans-national terrorism.

There is absolutely no doubt that small hostile forces have learned how to fight superpowers, taking advantage of the laws of armed conflict by melting into cities and areas, homes or buildings inhabited by civilians and non combatants, by using global social media, international financial strategies and cyber warfare. Certainly the tactics of insurgents, radicals, or terrorists are to hide in civilian areas. This presents a serious moral dilemma for nations purporting to value human rights and the sanctity of human life, especially when they have the advantage of complete air superiority and rely on it heavily. What does one do, when one cannot help, without making it worse?   Whatever you do, you do not sacrifice innocent people who do not consent to be sacrificed. Collateral damage and civilian casualties, although may be unintended, are 100% foreseeable with the use of air bombing and heavy indirect fire weapons. This is a serious moral problem.

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless,   whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?“ Mahatma Gandhi

Responses to the Security Environment:   In response to the fear and threats as they are perceived, the world is staggering under unsustainable defence expenditures and related debt. We need to re-examine cold war thinking, large and fixed armies, solutions involving heavy weapons and bombing campaigns. These tactics are of declining value in ethnic or insurgency warfare. Trillion dollar wars are unsustainable. The current trajectory of western foreign policy, and increasing debt related to conflict and war, is reaching points of military and economic overstretch that are not sustainable. The current US debt trajectory is a case in point.

Against such a world view of threats, we have in the past decade, focused on issues of military or confrontative response, issues of funding viability, and related equipment acquisition, training and capacity development and deployment.  Prior to 2001, Canada was a cold warrior (until the late 1980s) and a peacekeeping nation. Since 2001, the military Pearson Peacekeeping Training Center was closed, and the resultant NGO, the Pearson Peace center, was soon defunded by the government and also closed its doors. Canadian physical peacekeeping presence plummeted, and the era of 60s peacekeeping was declared obsolete by military sources and sympathetic academia. We elected to send money to fund UN peace operations, and a little foreign training to pacify critics. We devalued the two Nobel peace prizes we share for peace keeping.

The Voice of Canadians: A realistic policy analysis should be mindful of such direct and indirect expressions of Canadians. It is clear that:

  • After Canadian bombing in Libya, bombing ISIS in Iraq/Syria, and ground operations in Afghanistan, the public has made it very clear that it has no appetite for offensive air bombing campaigns or offensive ground operations. The misjudgements of western military interventions in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan are historic.

Military realities: There are certain military realities regarding Canada that we should understand.

  • We do not have foreseeable military requirements in the borders of Canada that need close air support (CAS), air bombing capacities, or main battle tank armies.
  • We do have a need for a limited fighter air to air capacity to control possible airspace violations, or sovereignty incursions. We are not in the range of foreign armed fighter aircraft.
  • We do have a need for Intelligence, monitoring and surveillance assets (possibly leveraging space based and drone technologies).
  • We do have a need for strategic air transport and helicopter assets, mobile land force units, and maritime security capacities.

Perhaps in considering the DND mandate and Canadian expectations; possible actionable policy directions lead us to peace operations.

The Peace Operations Environment

The threat conversation is only one side of the coin, the other perhaps is the peace making conversation in the face of the reality of suffering and conflict in the world. Perhaps we should discuss a defence policy foundation in terms of what we want our military to do in response to advancing world peace and global wellbeing, and how to develop a balanced capacity to help.

A new ethic for Peace Operations. First, recall that we need a mandated, viable and funded precursor to the laws of armed conflict.   Possibilities for a model for Laws of Peace Operations could involve principles such as:

  • Stop or prevent violence or killing as a first priority.
  • Care for the victims and refugees.
  • Create safe spaces for peace talks or diplomacy. Conduct relentless diplomacy.
  • Strengthen or rebuild governance at all levels.
  • Make efforts to create safe, healthy and socially responsible communities.
  • Reconstruction of economies and infrastructure.
  • Enable truth, reconciliation and justice activity.

We must change our language:  Language is so important here. Language choices irrevocably shape responses.  The language of threats and enemies creates a fear based response and a spending of our humanity on creating capacities for offensive military operations and killing. The language of peace and humanity creates another response, based on mitigating “possible, emerging or existing” conflicts, by contributing protection capacities, stopping violence, conflict prevention and peace building operations.

  • To those we call enemies means responding with military options: sanctions, war, killing and death. The operative paradigm is “search and destroy”.
  • To those we call criminals invoke a constabulary (policing) response. The paradigm shifts to “apprehend and prosecute, serve and protect”. This invokes due process, incarceration, rehabilitation. This may involve police training, governance ethics and anti corruption assistance.
  • To those which we call oppressors, with serious disregard for human rights, religious freedom, democratic values; invokes a response of conflict prevention, relentless diplomacy, and possible targeted sanctions. The operative paradigm becomes one of “engagement with non-indifference”. This may imply relations that encompass non-military economic trade, diplomatic relations, democratic governance building assistance, but not remain indifferent to human rights abuses, suffering or other transgressions.
  • To those belligerents threatening or waging war against others or against ethnic groups. This should first invoke a peace response and consideration of peace operations options. This implies a paradigm of “peace operations”, that includes impartiality, negotiation, mediation, transactional and relational solutions, reconstruction, justice and reconciliation activity.

This suggests DND exercise extreme care in labelling peoples or nations. Calling others enemies or threats is a form of violent communication and implies violence-based responses. It often results in the cessation of contact, dialogue or relations, and always risks causing suffering and harm to civilians, destroying infrastructure and crippling their economies. There is no doubt that “civilized people talk”. This is foundational to conflict resolution and no avenues of communication should ever be shut down.

Rethinking our response to conflict:   We must face the fact that often there are no military or political solutions readily available in modern conflict. When   military or political solutions fail or become intractable, we are surprised that all our power, money and human sacrifice did not prevail over “enemies”.   In the absence of “relational” solutions or peace oriented activity , we should not be surprised.   In the current mid east example, we need to acknowledge that in 2016, there are no current military or political solutions to the numerous mid east crises underway, in all their unbelievable complexities.   Belligerent states or insurgents will change or stop violence when the readiness and willingness for peace arises. It is tragic that this usually happens when they hurt enough, or when they love their children enough”. If we cannot help, we should not make it worse

We need to think beyond traditional conflict models.   Traditional models of conflict involve discussion of pre-conflict stages, during-conflict stage and post-conflict stages. From a military perspective, this means buildup of forces, war operations, and then a military outcome and reconstruction in favor of the victor. This rarely works as planned or desired. The other alternative is peace operations, which paints a different picture of response to this model.   In the conflict stages involved, it means peace building, conflict resolution, peacemaking, humanitarian and civilian security operations, and peace keeping and reconstruction and justice and reconciliation.

It is clear that, in the cause of peace, we can and should be present in international crises and with those suffering. We should not refuse to do what we can do. We can demonstrate a strong commitment to the values of peace, non-violence, compassion, and respect. Perhaps this is a question of an impartial, even handed and consistent response to conflict.

A renewed peace strategy could encompass all the possibilities of peace building, peacemaking, peace keeping, in pre-conflict, during conflict and post conflict situations in the world, and could be practically applied in such as:

Peace Building

  • We can confront (or not be indifferent to) all countries regarding violations of human rights, international law, or the laws of armed conflict, no matter who they are.
  • We can be a relentless voice for diplomacy, truth, mediation, reconciliation and conflict resolution. We can be a voice for dialogue and consular activity.
  • We can stop pouring billions of dollars of weapons or arms into conflict zones or regions.
  • We can promote principled non-military economic trade and development that can contribute to international peace and stability. We can promote trade and relationships that benefit people.
  • We provide economic and governance development assistance to strengthen ethics and reduce corruption.
  • We can advocate and support the building of institutions for peace operations and conflict management.

Peace Making

  • We can create and protect safe havens. We can protect civilian populations and refugees. We can welcome and provide for immigration of refugees.
  • We can increase the provision of humanitarian aid.
  • We can assert that we do not contribute to the killing. We can believe that policing, “serve and protect” and “apprehend and prosecute”, is better than military “search and destroy” practices.
  • We enable the provision of safe spaces, ongoing contact and communication for negotiated peace processes. We can be impartial and talk to all sides. We can have a commitment to relentless peace diplomacy.


  • We can negotiate or monitor cease fire agreements.
  • We can train constabulary police forces to enforce the rule of law at village, provincial and national levels.
  • We can contribute to reconstruction and nation building.
  • Eventually and given readiness and willingness, we work to enable truth, justice and reconciliation activity.

No matter how intractable the crisis, there is always something positive we can do. The over 500 million dollars we have spent on bombing in the anti ISIS campaign up to 2015, could have gone a very long way to saving countless lives with a peace operations approach. It is time we rebuild institutions for peace operations in Canada. It is time to again earn the two Nobel peace prizes we have for peacekeeping. We can become a leader in next generation peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace building operations and practices. We can regain our place in the world as a country for peace. This is only a question of courage and values.

Evolution of Peace Operations: There are more peacekeeping forces in the field today than ever in history. The issue is that this has become for many countries a source of revenue, and mounting allegations of sexual abuse, questionable quality and professionalism, and corruption by some peacekeeping forces. Certainly what is needed is not only better training and stronger ethics from the troops of some countries, but also a strong example in the field from high quality forces such as from Canada.

Canada can provide a neutrality and impartiality that would greatly benefit many peace operations. As an example, in Norway’s Peace engagement in Sri Lanka, it was instructive that the peace makers were selected on the basis of criteria such as “coming from far away, no imperial or economic interests, a lightweight power.” No big power involvement was welcome, and no conflict of interest. This uniquely positions Canada for such missions, particularly as an honest broker for peace operations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The opportunity here for Canada is huge. We can seize the opportunity to reframe how Canada and the world deals with conflict and conflict zones. However, no one seems to be thinking in this direction. I would suggest we might frame debate and consultations around the following key elements.

  • To assert a general obligation to deal with pre conflict, conflict and post conflict situations in a much different way, to adopt a non-violent peace operations approach as a precursor to armed intervention. “To give non-violence a chance”.
  • To assert a policy of neutrality or impartiality.
  • To assert initial obligations to conflict of “serve and protect’ through a constabulary or policing response (even using defensive military forces if necessary), before the “search and destroy” response so reflexively in use today.
  • To assert the primacy of diplomacy in facilitating talks, mediation and negotiations and ultimately justice and reconciliation in post conflict responses.
  • To assert Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a legal requirement to establish neutral safe havens, where people are actually protected from violence and belligerents from both sides. This means caring for victims.
  • To assert the need for the legal codification of peace operations in conflict zones as a counterweight to the laws of armed conflict.
  • To sponsor a UN convention on this, similar to the land mines or child soldier conventions.

Canadian Political Alignment:   In that DND acts in response to foreign policy, this may be an opportunity to strengthen linkages between DND and foreign affairs. Perhaps a linked and peace centered response to international peace and security may involve such as:

  • Presence principle: The need for Canada to be present in international crisis should be an overriding expression of our values and interests. We assert that Canada’s peace and security depends on international peace and security.
  • Impartiality principle: Canada should respond to international crises with a posture of impartiality between conflicted parties and in conflict zones, with a view to facilitating readiness for dialogue and negotiation.
  • Bias for peace principle: Canada’s presence in conflict zones be based on a strong predisposition for non violence, human rights, dialogue and peace.
  • Peace operations/Dialogue principle: Canada strongly support the UN as a space for dialogue and voice as an precursor and alternative to conflict. Canada should advocate the principle that members are accountable for their behavior to the global community.
  • Peace engagement principle: Canada should reject the militarization of foreign policy, and support a response based on values of non-violence, conflict resolution and peace support. Canada as a middle power should not refuse to do what Canada can do in support of peace, conflict resolution and the relief of suffering.

Recall that the laws of armed conflict assert that military intervention must be a last resort.   This means we need to develop viable alternate responses as a precursor to military responses.   Perhaps it is time to stop talking about ways that peace operations will not work, and how we can make peace operations work. The 60s model of first generation peacekeeping is certainly passé, but third and fourth generation peace operations such as peacekeeping, peacemaking, peace building, peace operations, merit serious attention. Perhaps it is time to take peace seriously and think about a federal institution of peace, or a civilian peace service with professionals in conflict resolution and peace operations. With the world class professionalism of our diplomatic corps and our military, Canada can lead here. If we have the courage, we have so much to offer.

DND Mandated Roles and Responsibilities

From this view of the global human security environment, a formal and informal sense of Canadian interests and values, and of traditional departmental interests, the challenge is for elected politicians make policy decisions and economic tradeoffs. This is often done in a climate of uncertain and conflicting information. The current government has begun this process in their mandate letters to departments.

Mandate letters clearly express the political will and the expectations of DND. The task at hand is “to get on with it!. This is not negotiable. Clearly expressed priorities cannot be minimized. The public expects no less. This consultation is a “clean sheet” opportunity to reflect the political will of a new government. So what are these clearly expressed priorities relating to DND? These include:

“As Minister of National Defence, your overarching goal will be to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces are prepared, to protect Canadian sovereignty, defend North America, provide disaster relief, conduct search and rescue, support United Nations peace operations, and contribute to the security of our allies and to allied and coalition operations abroad. “

  • Ensure a close link between defence policy, foreign policy, and national security.
  • Ensure a seamless transition for Canadian Forces members to the programs and services of Veterans Affairs.
  • Work to end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq and Syria, refocusing Canada’s efforts in the region on the training of local forces and humanitarian support.
  • Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to renew Canada’s commitment to United Nations peace operations. This includes making Canada’s specialized capabilities – from mobile medical teams, to engineering support, to aircraft that can carry supplies and personnel;
  • Working to help the United Nations respond more quickly to emerging and escalating conflicts and providing well-trained personnel to international initiatives that can be quickly deployed; and leading an international effort to improve and expand the training of military and civilian personnel deployed on peace operations,
  • Conduct an open and transparent review process to create a new defence strategy for Canada, replacing the now-outdated Canada First Defence Strategy.
  • Work to establish and maintain a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.
  • Work with the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence to develop a suicide prevention strategy for Canadian Armed Forces personnel and veterans.

Responding to the DND mandate – thinking beyond the mindset

It is the task of the military to get on with this, to not tinker with the status quo and simply seek to validate what it wants to do, such as in the “e-workbook” offered to Canadian. This is an extremely biased listing that serves to limit the conversation. The answers are implicitly contained in the questions. The questions bypass inquiry into underlying assumptions. It frames the discussion around validating “more and more”.

This review seems to be structured towards a very traditional approach to defence. In the last 50 years or so, the list has always been some version of priorities such as:

  • Sovereignty protection.
  • Contributing to defence of North America in NORAD.
  • Contributing to collective alliances such as NATO.
  • Contributing to UN operations.
  • Aid to civil power, such as disaster response, search and rescue, drug interdiction assistance.

The review lays out the assumptions, and fundamental areas of inquiry and consultation, from which such a list is inescapable.   The lines of inquiry almost write the outcome.   As previously noted, the military threat is assumed and fear based. Over and over the war drums beat; an emerging hostile Russia, a re-emergent cold war, perhaps a “China rising”, almost the entire mid east, insurgencies, terrorists and radicals. We point to ISIS, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria, perhaps eastern Europe ie Ukraine.   All this is overlaid by organized crime, human trafficking, drug trafficking, cyber crime, the arms trade control, financial corruption, youth radicalization, nuclear weapons proliferation, human rights abuses. In this we are told to live in a state of perpetual war and perpetual fear.

Certainly the emerging and current conflicts, with the attendant death and suffering, is beyond tragic. Perhaps this begs for a different and reasoned moral response.   Regardless of the causes, if we cannot solve the problems, at least we should not make them worse. The Canadian public has made it clear that bombing and killing is not the response we want to make.

Defence planning has become an exercise in balancing threats with force structure, equipment, manpower and training and funding. The equipment and capabilities well is bottomless. Affordability imposes hard decisions between heavy traditional forces with smaller “niche capabilities”. We cannot begin to have a full spectrum military force.   The issue of military and associated economic overstretch is even beginning to make itself felt in the USA. Canada cannot afford, nor do we want, unbelievably expensive carrier fleets, nuclear weapons, long range missile systems, billion dollar strategic bombers, nuclear attack submarines, massive attack drone fleets, main battle tanks in the thousands, or significant numbers of the most expensive and modern fighters in the world. This is not who we are.

We want to reassert peace interests and renew our response to peace interests. Given globalization, we want to contribute who we are as a country, and have a respected place in the global community. We have to be much bigger than such a list. Are we a country of selfish interests or global interests? Do we believe in a response of military solutions or peaceful political solutions as a way forward?

New infrastructures and capabilities for peace operations: It is a deeply held principle in Canada of civil control of the military through its elected members. The military creates policy in response to civil authority directions. From the current government, the civil direction is clear and expressed in no uncertain terms in Ministerial mandate letters from the prime minister.

The world has changed and this needs some debate and rethinking. It is clear that Canadian do not want to bomb people as a response to conflict and want the military to “FIND OTHER WAYS”, and always “more of the same” is no longer acceptable.

In an ideal sense, this begins with aligning Foreign Affairs and DND policy. This could be followed by the creation of institutions or infrastructures of peace. Even a fraction of the funding spent on defence, would make a significant contribution towards having a real peace operations capacity, and having a significant precursor to military intervention.   Such an infrastructure, could offer a leading edge capacity for peace operations consistent with deep Canadian values. It may be our opportunity to regain leadership in peace advancement in the world. 

Ideally, this would include such as a federal Department of Peace, or also include an Office of Peace, Violence Prevention, Mediation, and Reconciliation within DND or Foreign Affairs.  It could include creating a DND ADM Peace Operations and Training. It could reopen the Pearson Peace Center for training and peace services. It could include the provision of a Canadian professional Civilian Peace Service, in addition to military peace operations professionals.

At the level of DND, this could mean a robust military force-based constabulary response. This could mean “boots on the ground” that are not afraid to share the risk and sacrifice of those non combatants not able to protect themselves. Canadian soldiers are trained and equipped to survive in conflict zones, whereas non-combatants are not. So why do we resist putting our forces in harm’s way for humanitarian reasons?

This could mean the development of a military-based constabulary capability designed to “serve and protect”, refugees, civilians and non combatants. This capability could also protect and support humanitarian operations, disaster response and enable diplomatic and justice and reconciliation activities.

This could mean a force structure with a capacity for mission protection, surveillance and monitoring (with such as drone assets), for strategic and helicopter air transport, global communications, providing trained peace keeping troops, and maritime patrol and security activities. In this regard, traditional foreign war fighting contributions becomes a dual use application of a peace operations infrastructure.

Renewed Defence Policy Priorities

I believe in order to contribute to inextricably linked global and Canadian interests, we need to be bold. This now defines sovereignty for us. In this regard, DND should develop and maintain capacities against two primary roles:

Contributing to international peace and stability:

    1. Provision of a robust capacity suitable to employment to international pre-conflict, during conflict and post conflict zones. To include air transport (strategic and in-theatre) and surveillance capacities, maritime security operations, land force constabulary capacities, and mission deployment protection.
    2. Maintain a full spectrum capacity for peace operations (peace operations training, peace building, conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacekeeping.)
    3. Provision of direct support to UN peace operations, refugee protection, safe havens, and disaster response and humanitarian operations.
    4. Provision of direct support to Canadian international development, diplomatic, mediation and conflict resolution missions.
    5. Contributing peace operational capacities to collective alliances, such as NORAD and NATO, through provision of niche dual use capacities such a strategic transport, air surveillance, land force constabulary missions, naval security operations, ( ie, arms trafficking, medical support, anti piracy, refugee protection, safe havens.)

Contributing to domestic peace and stability: 

  1.  Provision of sufficient airspace, land force, and maritime capacities and operations to ensure surveillance and integrity of Canadian national borders.
  2. Provision of aid to the civil power, for such as disaster and climate change response, support to police force operations (such as anti terrorism, crime or drug interdiction).
  3. Contribute to training and operations of Canadian federal institutions of peace building and peacekeeping.
  4. Provision of trained, equipped and resilient service members capable of dealing with the physical and mental challenges and traumatic stresses associated with service roles and responsibilities, and as veterans following service.
  5. Provision of departmental and CAF workplace cultures that are fair, healthy, safe and respectful.

Way forward

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron“.   April 16, 1953. General Dwight Eisenhower

 Let us reject this cross of iron and this fear. It is time for a historic change of world view and mindset towards how we task, fund, train and employ our military. DND has been clearly directed to “renew Canada’s commitment to United Nations peace operations”. There is so much good we can do in the world, with a little courage and political will.  Good luck to us all.

In the cause of peace;

Paul Maillet

Colonel retired

Former DND Director of Defence Ethics

Accredited Peace Professional, Civilian Peace Services Canada (CPSC)

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada



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Time to reclaim our secret ballot during elections

You have a legal and fundamental right to a secret ballot, enshrined in the elections act.  There is a good reason for a secret ballot, to prevent everything from reprisals, to intimidation, to the use of your vote to manipulate politics.  Perhaps it is high time the parties and pollsters respect your right to a secret ballot, to cease attempting to circumvent your right to a secret ballot.  This should be unlawful.  Parties use your vote before  elections, to attack opponents, to manipulate your attitudes, to making you a fundraising target, a directed advertising target,  or to even attempt to suppress voter turnout. Perhaps it is high time that WE REFUSE TO DIVULGE OUR VOTE to pollsters or parties, and tell them they are attempting to infringe on our legal right to a secret ballot by even asking.  Tell them you find the question offensive and undermining of basic democratic rights,  and refuse to answer their question.  REFUSE TO DIVULGE YOUR VOTE! PROTECT YOUR VOTE!

2015 Elections, Peace building and the art of questions

During elections voices are heard.  Questions teach. Questions open doors to learning and discovery for both the one who asks and those to whom the question is directed.  Ask your candidates when they come around, speak up at debates, send them an email or letter. Be informed. Vote for honest politicians.

This is how I see the issues and questions. Use what you wish. Good luck to us all.

I have an interest in international foreign policy and peace. I believe we need a country and a government of honest ethical MPs that understand national wellbeing, namely:

  • Good honest governance (Ethical, respectful, and not corrupt)
  • Meets security needs (Domestic and for international peace and stability)
  • Meets social needs (Health, education, housing, human rights)
  • Meets economic needs (Jobs and livelihood)

Governance questions:

  • Q. Foreign policy: Canada is an export nation and does not have the population or GDP to defend itself. (We depend on oceans, neighbors and alliances)   The security and prosperity of the world is the security and prosperity of Canada. Canada had a strong peacemaking tradition, now has a militant foreign policy with a military intervention predisposition   How best do you think we can contribute to international peace security and stability?  What would you do?
  • Q. Canadian history shares in two Nobel peace prizes. Now Canada shockingly  lost a security council seat, cannot be trusted to be impartial by the global community, and is more often than not is an outlier on international issues.  Would you support a department of peace, as a precursor to military intervention and DND?
  • Q. The government has a Federal Accountability Act for elected members and a PSDPA Public disclosure protection ac for public servants, and yet suffers ethical lapses.  Decorum in parliament and between parties in public is disgraceful.  The people want honest government not bickering, insults and power obsessions.   Decorum can be seen as courtesy, compromise, collaboration and cooperation”.  Canadians deserve no less.  What are your views on this and how will you conduct yourself if elected?

Security questions:

  • Q. The true cost of war.  In the Iraq Afghan wars.  US 5800 dead/51000 wounded/ over a thousand suicides/20% PTSD.  Canada 158 dead/1859 Wounded/28% PTSD/160 suicides serving members (2004-2014).  What about veteran suicides?  Why are only serving member suicides being reported?   The causalities of this war are far from over.  What would you do about this? About the truth and honoring and reporting PTSD and all suicide names as the true cost of this war.
  • Q.  P5+1 and Iran nuclear agreement.  Canada refuses to support the agreement and has adopted a wait and see approach, preferring to be on the sidelines.  What would you propose Canada do?
  • Q. Civilized people talk.  As a result of the p5+1 agreement, the UK recently reopened its embassy in Iran.  Canada refuses to do so or relax sanctions.  What would you to?
  • Q.  Russia and the Ukraine. The Canadian response is to promote sanctions and a confrontative approach, and fuels risks of another version of the cold war.  Who speaks for peace and diplomacy with Russia? How do you think Canada can best contribute to a peaceful resolution of this crisis other than confrontation and violent language?
  • Q. Electoral reform.  We live with an electoral system where 30% to 40% of the vote can result in 100% of the power.  How can we achieve a system where the country is governed by a true majority of people  and representative of the demographics of Canada and our first nations.  What are your views on this?

Social needs questions:

  • Q. Youth radicalization. At a series of interfaith meetings on this subject the message about youth was loud and clear –  “pay attention to youth”.  It became apparent that the problems of radicalization are not best solved by policing but by meaningful jobs, hope, a supportive family and community social environment, and the creation of a positive identity and future.  What are your views?
  • Q. We are a nation of a rule of law.  We expect Canadians to obey the law.  We expect Canada to honor agreements and treaties. This includes treaties with our first nations.  What are your views regarding FN treaties, their land and right to respecting their consent?
  • Q. We are a nation of growing ethnic and religious diversity. We have a government trafficking in the politics of fear regarding terrorism and risking creating undercurrents of intolerance.    Two terrorism fatalities in Canada in recent years  pales in comparison with 172 gun homicides in 2012.  Death by terrorism in Canada is less by far than most other risks of death by violence.  What are your views on this?

Economic needs questions:

  • Q.  As the price of oil falls, the consequences of becoming a petro economy is becoming apparent, namely as we are in a recession or heading into one.  What would you propose?
  • Q. Canadian aid and development policy in Africa has become highly connected with the interests of Canadian mining companies and protecting mineral and mining profits when prices rise. Some reports put well over twice as much wealth is extracted than our foreign aid given. This is hospitals, education, and much of the future of these countries taken by this industry.  What are your views on this?  Do you agree or disagree?

2015 Time to truly honor and bring closure to our veterans

If you want true closure for veterans of Canadian military intervention in the since 911, it begins with honoring all who served or suffered, and continue to die and suffer.

Closure begins with the truth, the good we did, the sacrifice we made, and the harm we did.   Both soldiers and innocent people died as a result of Canadian intervention, and our soldiers continue to die through taking their own lives.  True closure begins with speaking and accepting the truth, the mistakes we made, the collateral damage, accepting responsibility for the truth, making restitution and all being satisfied with the outcome.  This means the soldiers, the government, Canadian society, and those innocent civilians and families we harmed in the countries we conducted combat operations.

The truth in honoring veterans means not only listing war dead, but also naming those who subsequently took their lives from PTSD, those physically wounded and those currently suffering from PTSD.  If not names, then numbers.  This is a call to our Prime Minister and DND to do so!

It is beyond unacceptable that the government does not track veteran suicides.

That the department or government does not track veteran suicides is an affront to all veterans and serving members.  Every veteran taking his or her own life is a cause for national awareness and mourning.

Apologies do not suffice.  Words are hollow.  To truly honor veterans is to care for veterans.   We are directly responsible for what happened to them and need to show that we owe them and their families a “duty of loyalty and care” for the rest of their lives.

To honor veterans is also to make a good faith effort to make restitution for the harm we have done in our wars abroad.   To truly honor veterans is to build strong institutions for peace.   It is to give us better options to make war a truly last resort.  We should be a nation of peace, not a nation of war, in the global community!

Paul Maillet

Colonel retired

Former Director of Defence Ethics

The question of ending violence against women

“If you cannot do something, then say something; if you cannot say something, then feel something.  The least you can do is feel something.” anon

 In 2012, I attended a university session on violence against women and could not help but reflect on the tone of anger, confrontation, trauma and demands for justice as a response to the tragedies of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada. Certainly the response was very understandable given the magnitude of this tragedy. Individual stories were heart rending.

 I wondered if non-violent communication (NVC) and the ethic of care is possible as a larger part of the way forward. I even wondered about the readiness to think about such approaches given the high levels of emotion present. Perhaps there are other questions, dialogue or ideas to think about in quieter moments. For example:

  • Can we better balance language, the ethic of care and justice as a response to such an issue? To what extent does justice define sufficiency for those suffering the pain of having loved ones as victims, or of being a survivor? What does the ethics of care mean here, and is it worth a greater level of effort than the demands for justice? What is the best balance? Is healing better dealt with by the individual or the responsibility of others, or some balanced combination of both? Society as a whole also needs to heal from this tragedy? How can we do this?

What alternatives or additions are possible?  Perhaps:

  • In the cases of a heavy predisposition for confrontation, to consider reorienting the primacy of justice as a demand, to one of giving some balance to NVC and the ethic of care. I.e. to better entitle as “The Tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada”, vice “Justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women”.
  • This states the fact at hand and the feeling of suffering, and offers an invitation for everyone to reflect and respond how they can.
  • Perhaps another line below stating “The need for compassion, care, voice, reconciliation, healing and justice”. In this way everyone should be able to find themselves in one of these responses and offers broader possibilities for engagement, even if only of feeling deeply for these women and for those suffering today as a result. These possibilities are greater than the overwhelming emotions of confrontation and anger, however justified. There is always time for love and compassion as a first response.

 In addition, the living, who are survivors or continue to be victims of violence, deserve as much attention as those killed. For all of us, memories can continue to victimize, and never go away. The question of how to have a healthy response to the suffering attached to these memories when they arise, is important.  The heart level conversation for awareness and understanding is as important as the mind level conversation to debate and decide on social activism and engagement.

 In the cause of compassion and peace.

Surely Canada can do better for peace than shutting down embassies

It is not understandable how the recent decision to expel Iranian consular staff from Canada and withdraw Canadian consular staffs from Iran, will contribute to peace in the Mideast, and may in fact make prospects worse.      It is a shame how the current government has decided to approach foreign affairs with politics of confrontation, accusation, blame and militarization.  The war drums are growing louder and Canada does not have to have a hand in this insanity.

Where is the objective and international leadership of Canada for peace in this region?  What happened to the two Nobel peace prizes we shared for peacekeeping and that we were so proud of?

Now there is no doubt that serious issues of persecution, human rights, nuclear proliferation, participative democracy and fomenting violence and conflict, exist in Iran and many many other countries in the Mideast. This is tragic.  However, what we can control is our response to this suffering.

Perhaps the challenge is not to be pro-anybody, nor to take sides, but to be simply pro-peace and act in a manner that will reduce the anger and hate and the terrible risk for war that  the region is headed toward.  A regional war will make the existing conflicts seem tame in comparison.

Let us be Canadians, and act according to our former cherished values and reputation for peace.  Our response should be one of taking leadership in stopping the violence, caring for victims, being a neutral space for dialogue, negotiations and conflict resolution, being a source of aid and rebuilding, and providing assistance in reconciliation and justice.  To do this means consular avenues of communication.  It means being present in the crisis, exercising international leadership, being trusted for neutrality, being a place for dialogue, and above all, having a strong bias for human rights of all persons.  Surely Canada can do much better than a policy of shouting and accusation and such punitive measures as shutting down communication.  CIVILIZED PEOPLE TALK!