October 24, 2014 - No. 86
Canada Needs an Anti-War
Join Demonstrations Calling for an
End to Canada's Participation
in a New Iraq War!
• Join Demonstrations Calling for an End to
Canada's Participation in a New Iraq War!
• Statement of the Canadian
Peace Alliance and Collectif Échec à la guerre
• Harper's Use of Tragic Events to Promote War
Agenda and Suppression
of Rights - Louis Lang
• The Canadian Government
and Media Are Creating a Moral Panic
- Mahdi Darius
Canada Needs an Anti-War Government
Join Demonstrations Calling for an End to Canada's
Participation in a New Iraq War!
On October 21, fighter jets left
Cold Lake, Alberta to join the U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq.
They will join aerial bombing which is said to target the bases of the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Canada has not yet been drawn
into the air war in Syria, which is also in violation of international
law. The Syrian campaign lacks the authorization of not only the
United Nations but that of the Syrian government as well.
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls
Canadians who want a peaceful solution to problems within and between
nations to join the demonstrations convoked for this weekend and take a
firm stand against the
U.S.-led wars of aggression
and occupation and regime change and Canada's participation in them.
The justification for sending Canada's armed forces to
Iraq is that ISIS poses a threat to Canadian security and this is
therefore a matter of defending Canada's national interest. The tragic
events in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and in Ottawa on October 20 and 22
respectively are also being used to declare that Canada
is threatened by ISIS and we must fight them in their own territory and
Canadian soil as well. Meanwhile, the stated aim is in fact to carry
out regime change in Syria, establish permanent military bases in Syria
and Iraq, plunder their resources, and target Iran, all the while
attempting to rescue Israel and its nefarious
plan to wipe out the Palestinian Resistance so as to take over the
entire territory of historic Palestine. Obama who is ultimately the
Commander-in-Chief of Canada's armed forces integrated into the U.S.
war machine, speaks of years of bombing while the calls for an invasion
and ground war are becoming more strident
No to Canada's
Participation in Wars of
Aggression and Occupation!
No to the Use of Force to Settle Conflicts
Canada Needs an Anti-War Government!
Statement of the Canadian Peace Alliance and
Collectif Échec à la guerre
The Canadian Peace Alliance and the Collectif
Échec à la guerre are
calling for a weekend of protest actions, on October 25-26, against
Canadian participation in the third Iraq war.
These protests will take place on the 12th anniversary
of the first
mobilizations in Canada and the U.S. -- in the Fall of 2002 -- to
the preparation of the U.S. invasion and the war of occupation in Iraq
that would last from 2003 to 2011.
We invite the people of Quebec and Canada to protest:
- Against a new illegal war that contributes to
existing world order and that threatens "world peace and security"
while pretending to defend them;
- Against the security and humanitarian pretexts invoked
by the new
coalition: the protection of Iraq's population has nothing to do with
the real motives of this war, which will cause them more suffering and
further deteriorate their living conditions;
- Against a Canadian foreign policy centred on
intensifying conflicts and war;
- Against the hijacking of huge amounts of public
resources to make
war, promote the military industry, glorify the army and Canada's
military past, while for many years "austerity measures" have cut
education, healthcare, public services, the promotion of women's
rights, the protection of the environment,
international cooperation, etc.
Together, let's take to the streets to demand:
- The immediate end of Canadian participation in this
coalition which has been set up for the strategic interests of the U.S.
empire and its allies;
- A freeze on all major procurement projects of the
- The organization of a broad public debate on Canadian
policy, the role of the army, the military industry and the arms trade;
- That the Canadian government immediately cease
proceedings against U.S. Iraq war resisters and create, once and for
all, a provision that would allow them to remain in Canada.
If you are organizing a local protest, make it known by
ISIL Attacks Ottawa?
Harper's Use of Tragic Events to Promote War Agenda and
Suppression of Rights
On the evening of October 22, Prime Minister Harper
addressed the country about the tragic events of the day. He did so
again in the Parliament the following day. His televised speech and
address to Parliament were designed to continue the assault on people's
minds and to promote fear and a siege mentality
which the police forces, security agencies and media propagated
First Mr. Harper paid respects to the murdered reservist
and offered sympathy to his family and friends, and to those of the
soldier who was killed earlier in the week in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
He then set a tone to impose his own conclusions on the tragic events
without basing himself on any facts.
He said that "in days to come we will learn more about
the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had." He also
characterized the attack on the soldier in St. Jean as "ISIL inspired."
He made these statements even though in a press conference earlier in
the afternoon, representatives of the police forces stated
that their investigation was in its initial stages and there were no
facts to justify coming to any conclusions about the motivation for
this criminal activity.
Clearly, Mr. Harper used
the opportunity of addressing
the whole country to impose his own biased view which promotes hatred
and fear among the people in order to justify his pro-war agenda.
Instead of promoting a calm and thoughtful discussion about the
problems facing Canadians, their society and the
world, Mr. Harper further aggravated the situation by telling Canadians
that "we are not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen
elsewhere in the world."
For the leader of the Government of Canada to make such
unsubstantiated and opportunistic statements only a few hours after the
occurrence of events which require full investigation is irresponsible
Mr. Harper also stated, "We
are also reminded that
attacks on our security personnel and on our institutions of governance
are by their very nature, attacks on our country, on our values, on our
society, on us Canadians as a free and democratic people who embrace
human dignity for all."
In the name of the high ideals of freedom and democracy
and upholding human dignity, Mr. Harper unwittingly revealed the double
standard that he wants to impose on Canadian society.
He said that an attack on "our security personnel and
institutions of governance" is an attack on the country and the whole
society. Yet, his answer to repeated demands from many sections of
society that the cases of thousands of murdered and missing First
Nations women and girls be investigated because they are
a serious threat to our society, has been that these are criminal code
violations and should be left to law enforcement.
So what "values" and "human dignity" is Mr. Harper
talking about? His main concern has been to justify the use of violence
and interference in the internal affairs of other countries, seeking
regime change including supporting coups d'etat to overthrow
democratically elected governments (like Ukraine),
and to raise anarchy to authority and create instability anywhere in
the world to support the economic and geo-political goals of U.S.
imperialism in its striving for world domination against its rivals.
These are not the kind of
values that Canadians need or
Mr. Harper's speech also included several references to
the "necessity" to strengthen the power of "security agencies" to
defend Canada against terrorist threats. Already, CSIS and the RCMP
have been promoting discussion in the monopoly media about the need for
expanded powers like the ability to detain
people "with extremist views" in order to prevent a repeat of the
events of October 22.
It is well known that CSIS
is already conducting
surveillance of environmental groups, labour unions, anti-war groups
and civil rights organizations, which has resulted in many human rights
violations across the country. So too the spy agency, Communications
Security Establishment Canada, is given licence
to act with impunity in the name of national security. The increased
that the Harper government intends to give the "security agencies" is
intended to stop the people from organizing any resistance to the
neo-liberal anti-social agenda imposed at home and the foreign policy
in support of the same imperialist ambitions
abroad. A firm stand against this is urgent at this time.
These are the same "security agencies" which are
already responsible for countless human rights violations.
Based on false information provided by the RCMP and CSIS
to U.S. intelligence services, Maher Arar was kidnapped by the CIA
while travelling in the U.S. and rendered to Syria, where he was
detained, interrogated and tortured for almost a year before finally
The imposition of security certificates without due
process and based on information obtained through torture has already
led to the unjust detention and surveillance of Canadian residents.
Those accused by CSIS of being connected to terrorists don't even have
the right to know the evidence being presented against
One of the most flagrant
violations of human rights by
the Canadian government and the "security agencies" is the case of Omar
Khadr who was captured by U.S. aggressors in Afghanistan when he was
fifteen and detained and tortured in Guantanamo Bay. In 2008, the
Supreme Court of Canada condemned
Canadian officials' participation in the Guantanamo Bay process as a
violation of international law. A second ruling in 2010 condemned
Canadian officials declaring that their behaviour "offends the most
basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth
suspects." The Canadian government failed to
implement the Supreme Court rulings and did nothing to remedy the
abuses. To this day, statements from the Harper government brand Omar
Khadr as a "war criminal" and a "convicted terrorist" -- inflammatory
characterizations that disregard both facts and laws.
It is clear from Mr. Harper's address to the country
that he intends to use these tragic events to eliminate any opposition
to Canada's participation in the U.S.-led armed aggression against Iraq
and Syria. Canadians must not be taken in by hypocritical appeals based
on high ideals as an excuse to allow the U.S.
and its allies including Canada to carry on with policies that have
already resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries and
the displacement of millions of people. The terrorism of ISIS cannot be
defeated by state supported terrorism. This false option which is
presented must be rejected.
We must demand a peaceful resolution of conflicts
amongst nations and oppose the use of force to sort out problems.
Harper's demonization of perceived enemies, cannot be the basis of
unity of the Canadian people because it is based on hatred and
discrimination and must be rejected by the Canadian people.
The Canadian Government and Media
Creating a Moral Panic
Prime Minister Steven Harper and the Canadian federal
government are using the shooting rampage on Parliament Hill as a
justification for imposing surveillance and detainment measures that
they were already implementing and going forward with.
On October 22, 2014 a solitary gunman named Michael
Zehaf-Bibeau (originally Michael Joseph Hall) from the
Québécois city of Laval went on a shooting spree in
downtown Ottawa, the capital of Canada.
Firstly, it was reported that there were shootings in
the Rideau Centre which from the northern side of the Mackenzie King
Bridge faces National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ), the nerve centre of
Canada's Department of National Defence (DND). This proved to be false
or wrong. The gunman had killed a reservist
guard in front of the National War Memorial and then made his way
northward to Parliament Hill.
Secondly, it was reported that there were multiple
gunmen. As a result all government employees were not allowed to enter
or leave their respective buildings throughout the interprovincial
National Capital Region, which includes the city of Gatineau. Although
the police did the right thing in taking precautions
to make sure that there were no other gunmen and declined to explain,
the public was led to believe that there were multiple shooters. This
justified the lockdown and suspension of mobility that took place for
A lot of important questions also remain unanswered. NBC
News reported on October 8, 2014 that US intelligence officials told it
"that Canadian authorities have heard would-be terrorists discussing
potential ISIS-inspired 'knife and gun' attacks" inside Canada.
Canadian officials, however, dismissed the report.
Did US intelligence know something that its Canadian counterparts did
not know? Why the contradictions?
Another important question is the following: how an
armed gunman that had already started a rampage could make his way into
the Centre Block of the Canadian Parliament unchallenged? Anyone that
has been to Parliament Hill knows that there is a relatively large
armed presence on the whole area and, specifically,
at the entranceway and doors, which is comprised of Canada's national
police force (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the local municipal
police (the Ottawa Police Services), and two special federal forces
(the House of Commons Security Services and Senate Security).
Framing: Media Discourse and Government Policy Links
Also, if he was indeed in touch with terrorist groups,
how was he communicating with them?
Complicating the picture is the case of Martin
Couture-Rouleau. Couture-Rouleau is a French-Canadian who became a
Muslim in 2013. He deliberately hit two Canadian soldiers in the
Québécois town of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu on October 20,
2014. One of the soldiers would later die.
Couture-Rouleau would be chased by the police and then
gunned down after his hit-and-run attack. Although the fatal
hit-and-run murder in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu is a criminal act, it has
been presented as terrorism and linked to Canada's involvement in the
fighting in the Middle East. The attack in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu
and Ottawa have no connection and are not part of some coordinated
effort, but have been connected to one another. The hit-and-run attacks
have been added to the narrative of what happened on October 22 to
construct the image of an all-out battle. This is part of what
sociologists call a moral panic, which will
be explained anon.
What exactly motivated this gunman? It appears that
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, or Michael Joseph Hall, was not part of some
intricate plot against Canada by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq
and the Levant (ISIL). He had a criminal record and appeared to be
psychologically deteriorating from increasing narcotics
usage. He was troubled by hallucinations and heavy drugs, and became a
Muslim fairly recently. According to information coming from people who
knew him, it appears that he was upset with "the
government" for not leaving him alone. This anger could be tied
to the social workers and parole officers in his life
and a suffocating feeling of being caught in a downward spiral.
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was staying at the Ottawa Mission,
a homeless shelter, for between two weeks and a month. Before he went
his rampage, he told other people at the homeless shelter to pray
because the world was coming to an end. In this context, it is also
important to ask how a psychologically troubled
man staying at the Ottawa Mission, a homeless shelter, got a weapon?
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, however, has been portrayed to
varying degrees as an ISIL member, which is being used to support the
narrative that Canadians are under immediate threat from the ISIL by
societal actors that sociologists call "moral
entrepreneurs". The goals of moral entrepreneurs are to change
norms, values, laws, and regulations. In this case the moral
entrepreneurs want to sell a security agenda.
Although the gunman was a French-Canadian, who had
adopted both the last name of his Arab-Canadian stepfather and
his biological mother's maiden name and spent most of his life being a
Catholic Christian (starting off as a devout Christian and then falling
out of practice over the years), he has been portrayed
or framed differently. From the start there was a tacit drive to give
him an Arab and Muslim persona. Even when his identity was discovered,
his Arab-Canadian stepfather was portrayed as his biological father.
The adoption of his stepfather's Arabic last name was
tacitly presented as a marker of his Muslim
identity, even though he was a Christian when he adopted it due to
Very telling was how the media initially described
Zehaf-Bibeau. He was referred to as a "Canadian-born man".
This is very deceptive language and discourse that needs to be
critically analyzed. When someone is called "Canadian-born"
it means that they are not really Canadian, but are merely born in
Referring to a Canadian citizen in these terms conceptually strips them
of their Canadian identity and otherizes them as a foreigner that does
not belong to the collective.
The Media Reaction
Many Canadians are proud of their media's reaction and
have contrasted it to the sensationalism of U.S. media. Although the
Canada was much calmer than the U.S. media would have been under
similar circumstances if the same incident took place in the United
it still emotionally charged the atmosphere with a sense of siege
on Ottawa. Headlines and news broadcasts included titles like "Ottawa
under attack." Ottawans were literally afraid that the ISIL was
attacking Canada's shores.
Speculation about a Middle East connection kept being
raised throughout the day. By the time that Prime Minister Harper spoke
in the evening, it was clear that he wanted to link the events to the
Middle East and the terrorism panic to justify his security agenda.
The media coverage, the massive lockdown in Ottawa's
downtown core, and the national measures taken by the federal
government created a degree of panic in Ottawa and among Canadians.
Under this type of atmosphere, people can act unpredictably or
abnormally and they are willing to make concessions
to the government that they would not normally agree with making. In
other words, when societies are gripped by fear many of their members
are willing to forfeit their civil liberties and let them be stripped
by the authorities.
The New Normal and the Stripping of Civil Liberties
When the Rideau Centre was stormed by three armed
robbers in 2003 and half the local police force's fleet was sent after
the two of them that escaped, the same panic did not exist nor did the
media pay as much attention. Arguably the danger was
much greater then, even though an important national institution was
not being attacked.
Legally speaking, Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael
Zehaf-Bibeau are murderers. Instead of treating violators of the law as
criminals, the politicized and psychologically-charged terms of
"terrorism" and "terrorist" are being applied. All the laws to deal
with these criminals are in place in Canada, but new legislation
is instead being made that also has the potential to be used against
legitimate dissenters who oppose government policy.
Moreover, the police are being militarized under the new
security paradigm of fighting terrorism. The day after the attack on
Parliament Hill, on October 23, the severity of the police reaction to
a homeless man crossing a yellow police line is testimony to the change
in security habitus and
tensions among the
police in Ottawa. The measures that the Harper Government want to
normalize also include control and censorship over the internet,
the unconstitutional and illegal act of taking citizenship away, and
removing the mobility rights granted by the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. This has already begun
with the confiscation of passports.
All Canadians have the right to leave and enter Canada
freely, unless they have committed a crime. The government wants the
ability to take passports away on mere suspicion without evidence. In
the case of Martin Couture-Rouleau, he was detained and had his
passport taken away when he wanted to go to Turkey
in June or July 2014. The police could not arrest him and had to let
him go. "We could not arrest someone for having
radical thoughts. It's not a crime in Canada," RCMP Superintendent
Martine Fontaine explained in an October 21, 2014 press conference.
The position of the RCMP says a lot about where the
Harper Government wants to go with its new security paradigm. It wants
the ability to arrest people for their views.
Even more dangerous is the flirtation with the idea of
revoking citizenship. Already unconstitutional precedents are being set
for removing it among the so-called Western coalition of countries that
consistently pay lip service to democracy and then stand shoulder to
with dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, and Qatar. For
example, the British Parliament took steps to remove the British-born
Asma Al-Assad's British citizenship in 2012 simply on account of
the fact that she was Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's wife.
The Canadian legal system does not treat everyone
equally and all people are not equal in the court system. Non-citizens
are disadvantaged compared to Canadian citizens. In this context, the
threat of stripping citizenship away is being viewed instrumentally as
a way of circumventing the domestic laws and rights
protecting citizens. Without these rights the government can
indefinitely detain someone without charge, put them on trial in
special security courts where they will not even be told what the
evidence against them is, and be prevented from accessing a lawyer.
This has been the case of some non-citizens living inside
Canada that have been held on security certificates for years.
The idea of taking citizenship is also a political
issue being used to politically cater to segments of different
societies in various countries that have xenophobic views and dislike
certain strata in the societies for various reasons.
Ignoring the Roots of the Problem
There is an old saying that society gets all the
criminals it deserves. What is meant by this is that many criminals
arise out of a structural problem in society.
It is no coincidence that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau once
asked to be detained to fight his cocaine and crack addiction. Both
attackers were drug users and had psychological problems that needed
help. In the case of the gunman in Ottawa, he tried reaching out for
help and felt a toxic feeling of hopelessness and not
Instead of looking overseas or blaming outside forces,
Canada needs to look inside. The roots of the problem include the
declining social services in Canada that have progressively faced
government cutbacks and austerity measures. By blaming the ISIL and the
internet the government is also refusing to acknowledge
this failure and the marginalization of many members of Canadian
society that are not getting the help they need.
The Slippery Slope and the Harper Government's Dirty
There is a call for Canadians to be vigilant against an
inflated terrorist threat from the ISIL. This is why Prime Minister
Steven Harper and his government are doing their best to portray the
events in Canada as an extension of the front
in the Middle East. Redefining criminals as terrorists is helping with
this perception. Canadians and the citizens of other countries,
however, should be vigilant over their rights and freedoms that took
centuries of struggle to obtain.
Changing the criterion for the granting of citizenship
is a whole different topic, but its removal is a dangerous and slippery
slope. Although the claims are that these types of measures are for the
greater good or public safety, the historic record has shown that the
suspension of civil liberties has been used for
As a final note, the same people inflating fears of
terrorism in Canada also supported it overseas. It should never be
forgotten that Prime Minister Steven Harper and his cabinet supported
the "terrorists" they now claim to oppose. The Harper
Government tacitly encouraged Canadians to go fight in places like
Libya and Syria for the sake of assisting Washington's foreign policy
of regime change. Canada even armed the militants linked to Al-Qaeda in
Libya with drones and weapons in 2011 and allowed private security
firms (mercenaries) to assist them. This should not be overlooked when
people question how such a
state of affairs has arisen.
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