Sunday, October 4, 2009

Canada introduces Department of Peace legislation!

Hot off the presses is the following article from the Vancouver Sun about how the Canadian lawmakers are pursuing the idea of creating a Department of Peace. Way to go, Canada! Now, what can the rest of us do to help make this happen? We can start by sending MP Bill Siksay a big "THANK YOU!" at Siksay.B@parl.gc.ca or visit his web page. Read the text of bill C-447 here.

OTTAWA — A federal New Democrat has teamed up with a Liberal to propose the creation of an army of peace professionals within a new federal department to resolve violent conflicts within Canada and around the world.

The idea was introduced through new legislation tabled Thursday by NDP MP Bill Siksay, seconded by Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis. Siksay said the proposed department of peace could change the role of the Canadian military, but not necessarily replace it.

"In a utopian vision of our world, maybe that will be possible some day but certainly we see this as an area that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves," said Siksay at a news conference.

"The inclination to seek a non-violent solution to conflict isn't always the first action that people take in our society and around the world."

Siksay's private member's bill was modelled after a proposal by an advocacy group that suggests Canada needs more trained experts to promote peace in its diplomatic corps as well as in the military.

Bill Bhaneja, a co-chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, said the proposed department could employ hundreds of professionals who would promote a culture of peace in the government's policies and actions, as well as help to resolve conflicts in a non-violent way.

"These peace professionals would be different from the diplomats and from the soldiers," said Bhaneja. "Right now we have suits and boots on the ground, but we don't have people who are trained to resolve conflicts at the cutting edge where the problem is taking place."

He said his group has also submitted its proposals to the Harper government which replied it was satisfied with existing policies and practices.

Siksay said it was unlikely that the legislation and its proposals would get adopted in the near future in Parliament since it is a private member's bill. Government legislation gets priority for debates in Parliament while opposition bills are debated in order based on a random draw.

But Bhaneja said he was encouraged by recent meetings with Liberals and New Democrats who appear to be more interested by the establishment of a ministry of peace, following other countries such as Nepal, Solomon Islands and Costa Rica.

1 comment:

  1. Another peace initiative of possible interest:

    An international grassroots campaign is afoot to introduce citizens' representation at the United Nations. The idea is to begin with an advisory body associated with the UN - a citizens' watchdog with clout - that gradually transitions into a world parliament. This would be similar to the development of the European Parliament that now has co-decision powers and is elected by over 490 million voters of the European Union. Although just launched in April '07, the Campaign already has support from participants in over 125 countries including academics, Nobel Prize winners and over 600 current parliamentarians. Please go to the website unpacampaign.org for background information and to endorse the proposal on-line. Join activists all over the world working for global community and an effective, accountable United Nations. A UN Parliamentary Assembly would be a symbol of global consciousness, a conscience for the world, and a lever for further democratic reform.

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