by Esther Epp-Tiessen, Public Engagement Coordinator for MCC Canada’s Ottawa Office.
by Esther Epp-Tiessen, Public Engagement Coordinator for MCC Canada’s Ottawa Office.
by Don Woodside
On October 18, 2013, board member Don Woodside presented on Conscience Canada at a workshop at the Canadian Peace and Justice Studies Association at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo ON. The workshop was organized by Jack Payden-Travers, director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund in Washington DC, and the third presenter was Maria Santelli, director of the Centre for Conscience and War, also in Washington. The panel was advertised as: “Conscientious Objection to War, Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Funds”.
Maria did a very interesting PowerPoint presentation about conscience in general, and conscience as it relates to soldiers; how they have to be specially trained to shoot to kill, for example, and how they are routinely traumatized by the experience of war and killing. My reaction to her talk was that we speak too little about conscience, what it is, how it guides us (or not), and the impact of ignoring it.
Jack talked about the national campaign in the US, its goals and recent history. He talked about the development of resistance to war as a human right. He also talked about a variety of funds into which resisted taxes can be deposited, some of which are spent, like the People’s Life Funds.
I reviewed Conscience Canada’s history and goals, and the recent shift to promotion of nonviolent conflict resolution.
I was born and raised in a Swiss community in the United States that was settled in the early 1800s by mainly European Ana-baptists and my parents were members of the local Mennonite Church. Living in the United States at that time meant that as an 18 year old boy I had to register with the American military so that I could be conscripted into service whenever needed. As I look back now, that is a young age to make such a life-changing decision. But, that is the way it was in the 1960s. I talked about it with my parents, of course, and they helped me understand my options.
Continue reading →
by Matthew Behrens
This past week has provided Canadians with a series of warm and fuzzies that, like most of this nation’s mythology, were built on self-congratulatory lies. From the breathless and ankle-deep CBC and CTV interviews with former prime minister Jean Chretien to the Globe and Mail’s front-page shout out to that most disingenuous of foreign ministers, Bill Graham, the occasion was the 10th anniversary of the 2003 escalation of the 23-year war against the people of Iraq.
Conscience Canada hopes some members and supporters will take the time to share their stories of conscience and nonviolence. We hope to be able to use some of them in our next newsletter, coming out in September. For more details, contact <janslakov at shaw.ca> or see our most recent newsletter, posted on this site.
One great source for such stories is a new book, Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace .
You can learn more below.->
‘Crossing the Line‘ tells stories of dedication to nonviolence, civil disobedience
John Dear S.J. https://www.ncronline.org/authors/john-dear | Feb. 26, 2013 On the Road to Peace
Going to prison for nonviolent civil disobedience against American war-making does wonders to clarify one’s relationship with the U.S. government. I highly recommend it. When I reflect back on my life, it seems I have been preparing for civil disobedience, facing jail or trial, or undergoing probation regularly for 30 years. I’m mainly engaged in writing, speaking and teaching peace to build up the anti-war/global peace movement, but periodic civil disobedience and nonviolent protest have become for me a way of life. Along the way, one meets the best people.
Volume two of Rosalie Riegle’s massive oral history project, Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace (Cascade Books, 2013), makes me realize I’m not alone. This massive collection of interviews with U.S. anti-war resisters (along with Doing Time for Peace, which I reviewed last month) provides an unprecedented historical record of nonviolent resistance over the last five decades and shows how many of us have quietly given our lives to resisting American war-making and practicing nonviolence.
If you send an online Peace Tax Return through this website, you will have the option of sending a letter to cabinet Ministers and others who are responsible for tax policy, including recognition of conscientious objection to military taxation.
Your letter will automatically be sent to the Ministers of Finance and Revenue, and to the Prime Minister and Opposition leaders, as well as Alex Atamanenko, the MP who is supporting conscientious objection to military taxation through his private members bill.
You can always find out who the ministers and critics are through the Parliamentary website. We encourage you to send letters by mail if possible, as these generally carry more weight than letters sent by email.
Review by Koozma J. Tarasoff, 23 July 2012
Ian McKay and Jamie Swift. Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety. Toronto, Ontario: Between The Lines, 2012. 362 pp. i-xiii. ISBN: 978-1-926662-77-0. Includes bibliographical references and index. $24.95. Also issued in electronic format.
On June 14, 2012, I attended the second of 3 book launch presentations in Ottawa. 50 people came to hear two scholars discuss Canada’s future, sponsored by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Council of Canadians, Workers History Museum, Citizens for Public Justice, and Octopus Books.
Their topic was Canada’s democracy and how the current Conservative Government has been attempting to rebrand the country from a peaceful one to a militaristic one.
Below is a letter recently submitted by Conscience Canada board member Eric Unger to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance:
Dear Mr Harper, Mr Flaherty, and Mr Bruinooge,
As the violent and tragic events unfold in Syria, I am reminded again of the
results of instructing men in the ways of killing. Can we learn anything
from these events? It is quite possible, and even logical, to expect that
some day, unless we carefully consider and learn from them today, such
horrific events will take place within our own borders. As military experts
provide overseas instruction and guidance in how to interrogate, torture,
and kill fellow human beings, only the blind cannot see that the results of
our labours may someday return to haunt us, perhaps repaying us many times
over. And who will take the responsibility for such short-sightedness?
For this reason, I ask you to read the attached note. This is a personal
plea, but others hold similar points of view. It is the hope of Conscience
Canada that you, now occupying a majority government would quickly enact
into law a PEACE TAX FUND so that those of us who are opposed to the concept
that stronger armies bring a swifter peace may designate, for the sake of
our consciences, our hard-earned tax dollars toward more peaceful
I apologize for the length of the attachment, but that may serve to
demonstrate the sincerity of my plea. It is within your power to enact such
a bill, now! Continue reading →
Board member Jan Slakov introduces a recent article by former soldier Trevor Greene:
“Some time ago I heard an interview with Trevor Greene, an interview that moved me to tears, about how he had reached a point of forgiveness following the terrible axe attack that nearly killed him.
Oddly enough, I think there is quite a profound connection between COs (like me) and soldiers. Maybe it is partly that both groups put a lot on the line in support of what they believe in. Certainly, although I would never encourage someone to join the military, for me and others in Conscience Canada, it is vitally important that our work not be seen as dismissive of the sacrifices made by soldiers.
All this to say that I am so very delighted that the democracy Trevor Greene wants to defend seems to be the same one I too want to defend.”
From one battlefield to another
By Trevor Green
(Published in the Toronto Star, Saturday, May 12 2012)
Every generation updates and renews the values that make us who we are. I once found it hard to truly understand what those in my grandfather’s generation meant when they spoke of making the ultimate sacrifice in wartime to allow their loved ones back home to live in a democracy.
Until, that is, I myself almost lost it all in a remote village in Afghanistan on behalf of the values that make us Canadian, values that I now see as under threat not by a foreign force, but by a domestic one. Continue reading →
Board member Eric Unger wrote:
I have forwarded the truth dig video (of the American war veterans throwing their medals toward the highly secured building where NATO representatives are presently meeting) to Stephen Harper and Barack Obama, along with the following note.
I am deeply impressed by the courage shown by these military/former military people. May their courage motivate others to join in their efforts to put an end to war. Continue reading →