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!
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.
11 November 2011
Dear Madame Lemay;
We attended your presentation at the National Archives on 8 Nov 2011 and certainly appreciated your leadership and personal interest in offering such an open invitation to participate in our future. What a great example of participatory democracy. You have our sincere thanks and best wishes. We believe that together we can make a difference.
As decisions and directions will have far reaching consequences in our lives, we consider it important to contribute our voice and support. In accepting your invitation, we suggest taking a page from our First Nations. Of all possibilities, we may wish to ask ourselves what are the four directions that have the most heart for us and might yield the most benefit. This may well involve directions towards becoming a vibrant international city, a city of community, a capital city, and a city of strong values. We want to be a city that sets an example for Canadians and the world.
We believe that becoming a community is more than roads, development, green spaces and festivals. We are more than tulips, the canal and Winterlude. We are more often people who relate to the NCC in terms of expectations and demands and who often insist that the NCC provide for their interests and needs. At the level of residents, we believe community should be about respect, harmony and caring for one another. It is about fostering the dignity of an amazing diversity of cultures and religions in Ottawa and about all residents being able to live well in the company of others. It is about a healthy partnership and relationship with government.
Perhaps our approach to dialogue, understanding, consultation, conflict resolution, consensus, or decision making needs to reflect a broader and more participative relationship. We suggest that leading edge community development would engage its residents around three questions:
- What do you need?
- What can you do for yourselves?
- What help do you need from others? (such as from the NCC)
At this presentation, needs were expressed from Victoria island, Lansdowne, Marsh Highlands and the cost to use cross country ski trails. The result seemed certainly a one way conversation to NCC who were pressed to respond to what are often no-win and multi jurisdictional issues, and in a future of declining funding resources.
For example, on the ski trails issue, what if the NCC had suggested that if resident groups could maintain the trails, it can be no cost or low-cost to them. NCC could provide the space and access at no cost, and save on maintenance costs. Now we have a partnership. On the Victoria Island issue, if the cost of a healing center on Victoria Island is prohibitive, what if we provide the First Nations the free use, or acknowledge their ownership, of Victoria Island? Could they fundraise and build whatever structures they need? I’m sure they could.
We believe that for people to be a real community that we need to be able to connect, meet and talk. The contributions of NCC may be to provide the public square, where open and responsible expression can occur, where elected officials can comfortably participate, and where all are taken seriously. We need to be a city where such occurrences as “Occupy Ottawa”, can be in the context of normal, peaceful, responsible and constructive dialogue.
Becoming an international city is an initiative in which we feel NCC has touched our cherished values and needs for making a difference in the world. We believe this is a tremendous opportunity and you have our complete support. This aspiration speaks to our deepest values. We noted the slide in your presentation of the monument that had inscribed “In the service of peace.” This we feel is what this city is uniquely positioned to represent and offer to the world. We can be a place where the global community can meet and talk in a safe and respectful community. The challenge will be more than assertions or aspirations; it will require engagement and involvement. We believe that this is worthy of what a capital city should mean.
We believe that activities relating to the reduction of conflict and the relief of suffering are cherished by Canadians. We are a city reflecting a Nobel peace prize for peacekeeping and peace building, a city with a tradition of voice and volunteerism in the cause of peace. We are a city where the international community and its embassies are already in Ottawa. We are a city of many peace groups, of many peace building NGOs and civil society groups, university conflict centers, the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, an emerging Civilian Peace Service among many others. We are a city with First Nations contributing strong traditions of peace, land and spirituality. What if we engage the world by creating a Peace Centre, where dialogue, peace and conflict resolution conferences and events can be held? On Parliament Hill, we have a Peace Tower and we have an annual Mayoral proclamation of Ottawa being a City of Peace. This should mean something concrete to our city and the world.
To summarize, we believe that the current relationship with residents, municipal and regional government and the world would benefit from such a sense of identity and balance in our city.
We are prepared to put our time and skills to the great possibilities that are before us. We are prepared to offer our assistance to you in the cause of our shared future. If you wish to further discuss any issues raised, we would be most pleased to meet with you or your staff at your convenience.
Our sincere thanks and best wishes for our future;
Dr Peter Stockdale
Dr Qais Ghanem
Dr Jason Bailey
CC: Mayor Jim Watson Mayor of Ottawa
CC: Mayor Marc Bureau Mayor of Gatineau
CC: National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo Assembly of First Nations