On Monday, May 21 2018, CUSJ AGM attendees were treated to a rousing speech from the Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason, entitled More peacemaking, less defence spending: What a Feminist Foreign Policy for Canada really looks like!
Mason, as UN Ambassador for Disarmament and more recently as President and spokesperson for the Rideau Institute, has spent many hours vigorously challenging the mostly male, war-fixated government officials and diplomats to put down their weapons of war.
Mason pointed out that defence budgets are continually being increased, even as defence spending drops. For example, the US has proposed a 2019 budget of 686.1 billion, while the Canadian government budget sits at 18.9 billion, with promised increases in years ahead.
She noted that Canadian Defence minister Harjit Sajjan was under pressure from NATO and the US to spend ever more.
Mason explained that the military-industrial complex is a system in which manufacturers, the military and politicians support and promote security policies that are predicated on the potential and actual use of force. However, a feminist foreign policy would restore and expand emphasis on war prevention and peaceful conflict resolution, and give priority to building the United Nations envisaged by its Charter. She lamented the fact that Canada has lost some of its status on the world stage. Once known for its leadership as a peacemaker, Canada has become more of a cheerleader for power-obsessed regimes like the US and Russia.
When asked what caused Canada to backslide from peacemaker to military lackey on the world stage, Mason cited globalization. As Canada, like other countries, began to rely more on imports and exports instead of the local economy, our relationship with certain countries was transformed from a peer-to-peer relationship to a customer-merchant relationship (and as we all know, “the customer is always right”).
However, this observation lights the way to a plethora of unintuitive actions that activists can take to fight back against the military-industrial complex, and restore Canada’s integrity. Here are a few easy actions that anyone can take to promote peace:
- Move your money out of conventional banks, which are highly invested in the war economy, and into a credit union.
- Join and support groups like the Rideau Institute and Ceasefire; ICAN; Voice of women for peace; and Council of Canadians.
- Buy local products.
- Support campaigns against so-called free trade, by which rules protecting human rights are relaxed or overturned in the interest of profit.
If the Canadian government insists on pursuing trade, and if the big bucks are in the business of killing, there is little hope that we can ever achieve world peace. If we can limit the profitability of the war economy, Canada can once again be a force for world peace.