Aug 262008







By Dennis Gruending

John Dear, an American Jesuit priest and peace activist, gave an uncompromising address on non-violence to about 120 people in an Ottawa church basement on August 22. “Violence doesn’t work,” he said. “War doesn’t work. War is not the will of God. War is never justified. Peaceful means are the only way ahead.”

The message was stark in its clarity: there is no excuse for violence — ever; no just war theory; no supporting a war to end all wars.

Rev. Dear has been arrested over 75 times in acts of non-violent civil disobedience for peace, has organized hundreds of demonstrations against war and nuclear weapons at military bases across the U.S. and worked to stop the death penalty.

He is also the author/editor of 25 books on peace and non-violence. Archbishop Desmond Tutu nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.

Dear spoke at St. Joseph’s Parish in Ottawa on a Friday evening, and then left for the Galilee Centre in nearby Arnprior to lead a weekend retreat on non-violence. He reminded those in his Ottawa audience that it was 45 years ago (on August 28, 1963) when Martin Luther King Jr led 200,000 people in a non-violent civil rights rally in Washington D.C., and 40 years ago that King was shot to death while standing on a hotel balcony in Memphis. Dear said that King’s last publicly spoken words were: “The choice is no longer between violence and non-violence. It is between non-violence and non-existence.”

“The world is a mess,” Dear said. “There are 35 wars going on right now. There are 20,000 nuclear weapons and no significant peace movement. The U.S. is building state of the art nuclear weapons and the Pentagon is itching to use them. In the American church we have developed a spirituality of violence and war. In Los Alamos, New Mexico the people who the build nuclear weapons actually believe that they are the peacemakers and our priests bless the bombs.”

“Martin Luther King was hopeful at the edge of despair,” Dear said, “and we have to do this as well. Non-violence is not only a strategy; it is a way of life. There is no cause for which we will support the taking of a human life. We are willing to take on suffering in this struggle without a trace of retaliation. It’s called the cross. We really have to work on inner non-violence. The starting point is in our heart, it is our doorway to peace and non-violence.”

Dear said that the future of the movement must be inter-faith. “Non-violence is the common ground of all religions. Jesus said love your enemy. He was meticulously non-violent but he was not passive, and if you are his follower you are non-violent. It is as simple as that.”

Dear concluded with a how-to list regarding non-violence:

– Be contemplatives of non-violence. Spend time every day with God, giving up your violence and anger so that you have something else to offer. “Radiate the peace personally that you want politically.”

– Be students and teachers – learn, then teach the methodology of non-violence. “Every level of our society has to be transformed.”

– Become activists. Get involved in organizations. Pick one or two big issues and have a hand in them. “Canada is critical here.” Dear said. “I worry about Canada but there is a lot that you could do here in Ottawa.”

– Be visionaries of non-violence. “Think of the abolitionists,” Dear said. “They announced that a new world was coming and that slavery had to end. We are the new abolitionists. A new world is coming and it’s not going to be John McCain’s (the U.S. presidential candidate’s) 100 years of war.”

– Become prophets of non-violence. “Demand end to the 35 wars and the abolishment of all nuclear weapons, and institutionalize non violence in our societies.”

– Connect issues such as war, poverty and environmental degradation. “Ask this — where is the money that has been stolen for weapons but which belongs to the poor of the planet?”

Dear took questions following his remarks. One person describing himself as a former diplomat said that Canadians are told that they are good guys who are in Afghanistan to fight bad guys. “Don’t believe it,” he said. “We are fighting on behalf of the winners in a civil war against the losers. What our troops are being asked to do is wrong. We have to stand up against it. Don’t wear red on Fridays whatever you do.”

The man also said that Canada’s super secret commandos in the (CBC link no longer valid) Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) have been sent to Afghanistan to kill people. “That’s what they do, they kill people.” He added that JTF2 is instructed in its deadly arts at Dwyer Hill Training Centre, just to the west of Ottawa.


(2)  LETTER TO MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION: CANADA AS SAFE HARBOUR FOR WAR RESISTERS    (efforts that fell on deaf ears.  Alas for Canada.)

The current Government of Canada wants to send Iraq and Afghanistan war resisters back to the USA.  During the Viet Nam War, American draft dodgers were welcomed to Canada.

I can’t participate as Maud Barlow invites us (item 3 below) because there isn’t a rally in Saskatchewan in support of the war resisters.  But I can help by sending a letter to Diane Finley, Minister of Immigration (no relative of mine, as far as I know)!

All these actions (efforts to stop the Arms Bazaar in Ottawa, stop Lockheed Martin from getting Census contracts and now this) are important and necessary to reclaiming our Canadian heritage of peace-keeping.

It only takes a minute.  The Ministers know the issue, so your message can be brief – – one sentence will do.  Item (3) below is helpful.



SENT:   Tue 26/08/2008

SUBJECT:  Viet Nam Draft Dodgers, Iraq War Resisters

TO EMAIL ADDRESS:   ‘minister AT’

Dear Diane Finley, Minister of Immigration;

If I am wrong in my brief analysis, please tell me where I am wrong:

QUESTION:  How does the Government of Canada justify sending American War Resisters back to the U.S.A.?


–  The U.S. used lies to launch an illegal war on Iraq. Thank God, Jean Chretien kept Canada out of that war.  Lester B. Pearson helped keep Canada out of the Viet Nam War.

–  The record is clear that the U.S. tortures and abuses prisoners and operates outside the rule of international law.  Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and other atrocities stand as example.

–  American “defence” contractors like Lockheed Martin Corporation manufacture cluster bombs, in contravention of international humanitarian law (the laws of war).

–  The U.S. thwarts attempts of the international community to outlaw cluster bombs (comparable to land mines), thereby protecting the profits of its corporate directors.

–  War Resisters are not “chickens”.  They have first-hand experience with the war; they are no longer naïve.  Most of them have come to realize that the war in the Middle East is about America’s wish to control oil supplies.

Just as Lockheed Martin makes profits from cluster bombs regardless of morality, the oil companies will make profits regardless of whose resources they must appropriate, illegal wars be damned.

–  I would do all I could to stop my son from ever becoming involved in killing other people, and especially if he was laying down his life so that corporations can make profits from behavior that is best described as depraved.  If I lived in the U.S. I would do all I could to help young men and women and their families (war resisters) get to Canada.

–  Canada’s long history of peace-keeping involves standing up to the Americans.  I will fight for the legacy given us by Prime Minister Lester Pearson (Nobel Peace Prize, 1957),  McGill law professor John Humphrey who helped craft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Romeo Dallaire (Rwanda 1994) and so on.

–  I know a few of the American draft dodgers welcomed to Canada during the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Those I know have made great contributions to our country.


I am sorry, but I can see no reason why Canada would send war resisters back to the U.S. other than:

–  the current leadership of Canada is subservient to American and corporate interests.  We have lost our moral compass.

If there is some other reason why war resisters are turned back, I will be most appreciative of knowing what it is.

Yours sincerely,

Sandra Finley

(contact info)



—– Original Message —–

From: Brent Patterson

Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 7:12 AM

Subject: [coc-chaps-l] VIDEO: Maude Barlow asks you to join the September 13day of action for the war resisters

Dear chapter activists,

Please see this video of our national chairperson Maude Barlow supporting the US war resisters and calling on all of us to take part in the Saturday September 13 pan-Canadian day of action to allow the war resisters to stay in Canada. The 1 minute 40 second video can be seen at (Link no longer valid)

Some of you may remember that the Council of Canadians first began supporting this cause in September 2004 by signing on to the war resisters petition and publicizing the issue in Canadian Perspectives. To see that article, please go to (Link no longer valid)

Then at our November 2005 annual general meeting, war resister Jeremy Hinzman accepted an award from the Council of Canadians on behalf of all war resisters residing in Canada. The video of his speech can be seen at (Link no longer valid)(Link no longer valid)

And in February 2006, the Council of Canadians joined with the War Resisters Support Campaign and the Canadian Labour Congress to demand sanctuary for war resisters in Canada. Our media release from then can be read at (Link no longer valid)

Beyond that early work, I also know that many Council chapters, staff and Board members have supported this issue and worked in their communities on an ongoing basis to ensure that US war resisters seeking refuge from militarism and an illegal war are welcomed in Canada.

Key reasons to allow the war resisters to stay in Canada include:


On June 3, a War Resisters Support Campaign media release stated, “The Opposition parties in the House of Commons joined together today to adopt a recommendation which, if implemented, would make it possible for U.S. Iraq War resisters to obtain Permanent Resident status in Canada. The recommendation was adopted by a majority of Members of Parliament from the Liberal, Bloc Québécois, and New Democratic Parties. The Conservatives voted against the motion.” The release stated, “The motion, which originated in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in December 2007, calls on the government to ‘immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members…to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and…the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions…against such individuals.'” Bloomberg reported that the vote in the House was 137 to 110.


On June 27, it was reported that, “A majority of Canadians would agree with the decision to let American military deserters stay in Canada as permanent residents, a new Angus Reid Strategies survey reveals…In the online survey of a representative national sample, three-in-five Canadians (64 percent) say they would agree to give these U.S. soldiers the opportunity to remain in Canada as permanent residents.”


On July 4, Canadian Press reported that, “Canada’s refugee board has been ordered to take another look at an American deserter’s failed bid for asylum in an unprecedented court ruling that could affect scores of other U.S. soldiers who’ve refused to fight in Iraq. In a decision released Friday, the Federal Court found the Immigration and Refugee Board had erred in turning down Joshua Key’s claim for asylum…In its decision, the board decided that while Key may have had to violate the Geneva Conventions in Iraq, he could not claim refugee status because he was not required to systematically commit war crimes. Federal Court Justice Robert Barnes disagreed with that analysis. A soldier who refuses to take part in military action which ‘systematically degrades, abuses or humiliates’ either combatants or non-combatants might qualify as a refugee, Barnes wrote. ‘Officially condoned military misconduct falling well short of a war crime may support a claim to refugee protection.'”



Brent Patterson

Director of Campaigns, Organizing,

& the Blue Planet Project

The Council of Canadians

700-170 Laurier Avenue West

Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5V5

1-800-387-7177 ext. 291

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