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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!

Canadian Leadership at the 2012 Arms Trade Treaty Diplomatic Conference is disappointing

Former Military Officer Urges Stronger Canadian Stance at the 2102 Arms Trade Treaty Diplomatic Conference

 Dear Mr Prime Minister;

In reading the opening  “STATEMENT BY CANADA AT THE OPENING OF THE ARMS TRADE TREATY DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE. JULY 2012”. I noted the Canadian delegation made the following statements:

Quote:  it is also important that the All recognize the legitimacy of the legal and responsible international trade in conventional weapons and that it respects the lawful ownership of firearms by responsible private citizens for personal and recreational uses, such as sport shooting, hunting and collecting.


 Quote:  Canada stresses the importance of the principle of national discretion and that the ATT should recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sport shooting, hunting and collecting. We stress that this should in no way result in any new burdens being placed on lawful firearms owners.

As a former military professional with 33 years service, and the former Director of DND Ethics, I am extremely discouraged and disheartened  that we are attempting to water down this treaty, to the point that we will be directly complicit in the deaths of many people.  The people of Canada expect our government to exercise world leadership on conflict reduction and that such leadership be guided by an uncompromising stance on humanitarian values.  We should be at this treaty negotiation with a view to making it as strong as possible.

Surely, the legitimate arms manufacturers, gun owners and the NRA would be willing to put up with some inconvenience when people, human beings, are suffering and dying every minute somewhere in the world from small arms. To imply that gunshot victims have less priority than “no new burdens on lawful firearm owners” is absolutely unbelievable.    I am truly ashamed of what Canada has become as a global citizen, when we attempt to put the arms trade in any form before human lives.

As a military professional, I can tell you that the most lethal weapons in use today, which causes the most killing every day, are small arms.  There should be no measures we should not be prepared take to reduce the human carnage every day caused by small arms.

I am sure you know that almost every weapons seizure from criminal, terrorist, insurgent, or drug trafficking elements contain non-military pattern weapons.  They use whatever they can get, no exceptions.  In the photo below, you can see that the entire back row of weapons of non-military pattern weapons would be exempt from this treaty.  This is beyond irresponsible.  I can assure you that criminals and terrorists simply want weapons, any weapons, that kill, and especially those that can be obtained legally or are unregulated to any extent.  The Canadian proposal creates a huge loophole to do this.  This is beyond belief.  This will spawn a surge and unregulated traffic in non-military pattern weapons that we will not be able to control.

Mr Prime Minister, this is an issue of human lives and human values.  I implore you to issue direction to your delegation to withdraw and strongly oppose any but the strongest restrictions on the global arms trade.  This is for the sake of we are as Canadians and as responsible human beings in a global community.

In the cause of peace

Paul Maillet

Colonel (retired)

Accredited Peace Professional, Civilian Peace Services Canada

Tel: 613.841.9216 Cell: 613.866.2503

Truckload Of Weapons Heading For Nigeria Seized In Ghana.  Posted by Information Nigeria in Home . Nigerian News

on January 11, 2012

2012 Peace Professional Accreditation Acceptance Speech

These remarks were made on the occasion of my being awarded a Peace Professional Accreditation from the Civilian Peace Services Canada at St Paul’s University 28 June 2012.

First I would like to thank you very much for your kind words of introduction.  I sincerely hope I can live up to the expectations of this award.  I would like also to thank the accreditation board of the Civilian Peace Services Canada (CPSC) for their time and patience and listening to me talk on and on.   Also to Jennifer Weibe and Gordon Breedyk for organizing the many interviews, meetings and submissions

I would like to especially thank my references for their time, support, and kind words in helping me – France Larouche, Sylvie Lemieux, Iman Ibrahim and Qais Ghanem.

I would also like to express my admiration for a most innovative approach to accreditation by this organization. It is so seldom we see values as prominent in accreditation criteria or hiring criteria in this way.  This is a leading edge approach that I hope serves as a good example of how we should value and select people in organizations and for positions of authority.

THERE IS A DESPERATE NEED HERE.     If anyone is looking for an exciting and rewarding career that makes a real difference, I would suggest that peace making and conflict management is an emerging and growing field in this world.

INTERNATIONALLY:  Since the end of the cold war, advances in technology, media, activism, the Arab Spring, human rights demands, ethnic tensions have conspired to create new power structures and an avalanche of conflict and violence.  This needs a better, more human response, than more violence as a response.  The utility and affordability of massive military intervention is coming to an end.  Trillion dollar military adventures such as the Iraq and Afghan wars are fast becoming obsolete.  No one can afford any more of those in the current global economic climate.

This begs for alternatives, creative alternatives, real alternatives that put the human rights of people first.  Perhaps the time has come for true peace operations as a mandated precursor to the laws of armed conflict and military intervention.  We need to invert the priorities of the laws of armed conflict which puts just cause and justice first, a defacto invocation of  the death penalty, with a plea to minimize or avoid collateral damage and civilian casualties somewhere down the list.  We need a robust codification of such as responsibility to protect (r2p) and peace operations that will serve to first prevent, stop or reduce conflict, with a first priority to stop the violence, and then care for victims, then peace talks and mediation, and finally reconciliation and justice.  This will need a new skill set and experienced practitioners in peace making or peace operations.

DOMESTICALLY this is about the relief of suffering and conflict resolution is such as those first nations, inner cities and those communities who are suffering today or plagued by social problems.  I recently attended a First Nations Chiefs of Ontario conference and noted the desperate needs and frustrations with the federal government, that are a cause of suffering today in our country.  This included needs as basic as social assistance that impact children.

THE RESPONSE.  There is no doubt that we must expand conflict management and peacemaking methodologies and approaches in response to these needs.  We need to have responses and people prepared in advance to deal with pre conflict, during conflict and post conflict situations.  We need people who can be sensitive to the ethic of care and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorders), and the social trauma of war.

We need a new and credible community of peace professionals, who have the capacity to be present in the conflict zones, crisis, or communities in need, who can be neutral parties, skilled in dialogue and mediation, and who have a strong bias for peace  and human rights.  People who can help rebuild communities.

 So here we are, a new generation of peacemakers, hopefully a growing alternative to the warriors.    The opportunity is huge.  CPSC is a growing association of peace professionals and this is just a beginning.  Hopefully, there many more will join and offer their skills, experience and compassion.  The peace professional community is still desperately small. Hopefully, and at some point, we can supplement this with a large group of  member level peace workers who shares a code of values that is oriented towards peace and non violence, and together with the peace professionals are willing to work towards peace.

CONCLUSION. Again my sincere thanks to you all and in the cause of peace, good luck to us all.

Paul Maillet

Canada responds to Libya

We need just peace tradition before just war tradition.   We need to develop a non-violent response to conflict as an alternative and  precursor to military responses.  R2P, Responsibility to Protect, needs a community of practice and legal framework similar to the laws of armed conflict.

There is no doubt that the recent Canadian decision to extend its mission represented a lost opportunity for Canada to seriously consider to discontinuing Canada’s involvement in the bombing and reshape our response to the better relief of suffering and to the reduction of conflict.   Where was Canadian leadership in the development of practices and response to the R2P “responsibility to protect” doctrine that better reflects the intent of the UN mandate.   It was a mandate to PROTECT, to stop the violence,  to care for those suffering.   This means neutrality, the creation of safe spaces and  eventual reconciliation or justice.  This means  soldiers and sharing the risk.   The care for others above all.

We need to reclaim our reputation for leadership in the world and the two Nobel peace prizes we share for peacekeeping.

Paul Maillet

Is the mid east in a human rights revolution? How can we help?

Anyone remember the 60’s.  The critical mass of an unpopular war, a civil rights movement that demanded rights, freedoms and reform, and that exploded through America.  If some version of this is emerging in the mid east, on the issues of political freedoms, basic democratic and human rights, and fuelled by social media, then we are in for some huge historic changes in the Mideast and it will not end with Egypt.

So what is an honest and helpful response from Canada on this?  From the global community, Canada, and its political parties?  So easy to jump right in and be righteous, and be politically opportunistic, side with the reform elements, and demand that leaders MUST GO NOW!  I would ask “why now” to publically hold such a position?  If we are in opposition to such governments, perhaps it would have been more honest to have a list of leaders who must go, and work to that end, and many, many undemocratic and oppressive regimes would be on the list.

If we believe in human rights, non-violence and peace, then perhaps our position should be constructive and helpful, and not reflexively take the side of one faction or another.  It should be solidly pro-peace, pro-democracy, pro-human rights and pro-non-violence.  Then the question is how to help the parties involved resolve differences in a way that respects such human values.  What does being in the “business of peace’ mean in such conflict?  Our initial response must be to stand strong in support of values and not necessarily factions. Then we must walk the talk.

We can stand and join the popular chorus or we can do something. Canadians like to think of themselves for being well respected for doing something constructive in conflict zones.  So by way of considering some general principles for action, perhaps we should define our support and voice in terms of standing for values and then:  first, offer to assist in  stopping or preventing violence or killing as a first priority, second, offer to assist in the care for the victims, third, offer to facilitate and create safe spaces for transition talks or diplomacy, fourth, offer to assist in strengthening or rebuilding governance where needed, fifth,  offer to assist in development of safe, healthy and socially responsible communities, sixth, offer to assist in reconstruction of economies and infrastructure and seventh, offer to assist to help the country enable truth, reconciliation and justice activity.

If this is clear to these countries in crisis, they can choose where they need help, and perhaps we will be well on the way to making some great new friends, and making a difference in this world.

Paul Maillet

* CANADA and AFGHANISTAN 2011 – Another decision, another mistake?

Once again, the practice of training and equipping foreign armies in unstable conflict zones is coming to the fore as our “solution” to peace in Afghanistan.   This seems to me like a nice neat political and dishonest way out of an impossible problem.  All this in the face of history that gives ample argument to the possibility that we may again face that training and weapons in the future, or that the armies created will be used to oppress the population we hope to save.  Remember, we in fact did train many Taliban to fight the Russians.  All the power of NATO and the US forces, with the most sophisticated weapons on the planet, could not defeat the Taliban, yet we are naive enough to think that the Afghan army will be able to do so.  If we cannot win, then how on earth do we think they can? Think of the suffering and the grim future to which we are condemning them.

 Perhaps it is time to face and correct the mistakes we made at the very beginning of all this.  It was so easy to respond to 911 with “war” and all the heavy weapons, death, collateral damage, fear and terrorist labels at our command.  It created an “enemy” which proceeded to justify itself in terms of fighting a war, and so attract recruits and money.  This is the power of language and the paths it takes us down.

  If we had responded in the language of criminality, courts and tribunals, invoking international law and policing, using all the investigative and arrest methods of INTERPOL and global police forces to pursue and apprehend such criminals and deal with drug operations, the whole tragic story may have been much different.  An international coalition of police forces already exists and cooperation would have light years easier than the path we went down. This is not to say that military forces would not be necessary from time to time, but in support of police forces to affect arrests or deal with large concentrations of such criminals. Think of the civilians that would be alive today.

 So Canada is again at a crossroads.  Perhaps we would make a better contribution in training police forces, strengthening governance, down to the municipal levels, so that the Afghans make a real difference themselves in their villages, rather than creating a huge arm of national political power that may be harder to control.  The war is not militarily winnable.  This is a fact.  Perhaps it is winnable locally, through policing, one village at a time, and globally through a consensus of international law and justice.  We have an opportunity here for the kind of real leadership that Canadians expect of their government.

 Paul Maillet, Colonel retired. Former DND Director of Defence Ethics