December 28, 2012

An Open Letter to Canada's Members of Parliament from Dave McKee, President, Canadian Peace Congress

23 December 2012

Dear Honourable Members,

I write you as the President of the Canadian Peace Congress, an organization that has spent more than six decades working for a Canadian foreign policy based on peace, international cooperation and solidarity.

Such a policy orientation is critical in the current international conditions, as the dangerous situation in Syria continues to deteriorate and threatens to develop into a regional conflict.  A number of factors have contributed to this complex crisis, but certainly one of the key elements has been aggressive interference by NATO states and allied governments in the Middle East.

Since the spring of 2011, western governments have manoeuvred to isolate and destabilize the Syrian government.  The Government of Canada has participated in these efforts.  Foreign Minister John Baird, in a number of public statements, unveiled a comprehensive plan – including political-diplomatic, economic and military measures – for initiating and escalating Canada's interference in Syria.

There are presently an estimated 40,000 armed foreign mercenaries in Syria.  These forces have been recruited, trained and armed by interests outside of Syria, and they are primarily responsible for provoking armed anti-government violence.  The sad result is a widespread military conflict that has terrorized the Syrian people for months.  This situation has developed with the moral, political and financial support of the Canadian government.

At this moment, NATO is preparing to deploy missiles along the Turkey-Syria border and France has announced it is preparing a military attack on Syria that will involve other NATO countries.  These developments have also occurred with the support of the Canadian government, which has prepared its own plan for military intervention in Syria.

Despite attempts to cloak this escalating interference in humanitarian language, the truth is that it has had deadly consequences for the people of Syria.  They have been diplomatically cut off from much of the world, and they have suffered under economic sanctions that have specifically targeted energy industries that produce for local consumption.  They have been displaced from their homes, their public infrastructure has been destroyed, and they have seen their families maimed and killed.  All of this, too, has happened with the blessing of the Canadian government.

By now, all of you will have issued Holiday Greetings to your constituents.  You will have made generous mention of “hope”, “joy”, “goodwill” and, of course, “peace”.  These words are pregnant with meaning, and they deserve a central place in public discourse.

The sad truth, however, is that without the substance of meaningful policy, legislators' use of these words amounts to little more than hollow holiday gift wrap.

The Canadian public is keenly aware of the disastrous outcomes of NATO interventions in Afghanistan and Libya.  These ill-fated campaigns have only deepened the violence in those areas, and caused untold suffering of the people.  They should not be used as a model for international policy.

After more than a year of conflict and violent foreign intervention, thousands of Syrian people have died.  If policies of aggression, interference and intervention are allowed to continue, thousands more will die.

I urge each of you to do what is right.  Take a stand for an independent Canadian foreign policy of peace.  Challenge the special interests who are driving for increasingly aggressive interference in Syria.  Speak to the interests of the majority of Canadians, who oppose intervention and who favour a political solution that is based on sovereignty and democracy.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

For peace and solidarity,

Dave McKee

President, Canadian Peace Congress

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