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?

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.