The shock that people felt hearing that a 24-year-old Canadian soldier was shot and killed recently, while standing on ceremonial guard at the National War Memorial, will not go away soon. Many hearts and minds are now with his family, friends and comrades.
How incomprehensible is it that a young Canadian could be killed on home soil, standing beside a symbol meant to avoid glorifying war? Soon, on Nov. 11, we will stand again beside this symbol and others alike across this country and remember all those who have died for peace and freedom.
Canada has a place in history promoting world peace. Our prime minister in 1957, Lester B. Pearson, received a Nobel Peace Prize for having proposed and sponsored a resolution that created the first United Nation’s Emergency Force (now known as the United Nations Peacekeepers) during the Suez War. Pearson understood the shame that becomes war when we fail at diplomacy.
Instability spreads across devastated regions of our world where poverty and corruption become masters. Canada is forced to look at how its wealth and respect for the rule of law will survive and learn how not to contribute to an even greater instability that comes more often across our borders and into our homes.
For many Canadians, we are already a country without borders, a place where the luxury of modern travel has created families and friendships that exist over thousands of miles and cultural divide. The restriction of the ability to move freely from country to country continues to have an immeasurably negative impact on our society.
Just a few weeks ago our prime minister led his government against all other Canadian political parties to support Canada’s entering into the war in Iraq alongside the United States with the supply of six combat jets. It was not that long ago that a different Canadian prime minister would not have entered into a war with Iraq without the United Nation’s sanction.
The United Nations’ original purpose was to “encourage disarmament, prevent outbreaks of war, encourage negotiations and diplomatic measures to settle international disputes and to improve the quality of life around the world”. Today its achievements “in the fields of human rights, support in areas of famine, eradication of disease, promotion of health and settlement of refugees” is unparalleled. And it is to the United Nations that the rest of the world is now looking to coordinate its efforts to fight Ebola, as deadly a global killer as found in any war against terror.
If Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government would seek to demonstrate that it would also like to be remembered as part of the long and honourable tradition of peacekeeping nations, they might seek to work more closely with the United Nations. Now we are puppets of the Americans.
Poverty and corruption are our real enemies (and the hand-tools of those who would promote terror) and can be found around the world wherever the vulnerable are unprotected. Canada must also look to its own poverty stricken areas, its First Nation communities and its urban slums, and it will find disenfranchised youth who easily become vulnerable to those who would abuse them for personal gain.
The promotion of peace is a real battle that can be won at home first with believable efforts to eliminate poverty and with real opportunities for an excellent education, safe and secure housing and meaningful employment for those that need it most. On Remembrance and election day, lest we forget.