Time to Give Peace a Chance, Say Advocates

October 5, 2011 10:19 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 3:27 pm
NDP MP Alex Atamanenko plans to table a bill calling for the establishment of a cabinet-level minister of peace and department of peace.  (Ursula Heller )
NDP MP Alex Atamanenko plans to table a bill calling for the establishment of a cabinet-level minister of peace and department of peace. (Ursula Heller )

An organization working to establish a department of peace within the federal government is hopeful that the higher level of awareness of the issue among politicians in the current Parliament will help further the cause.

There are also a significantly increased number of young MPs in the House—MPs the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative (CDPI) aims to engage in discussions about establishing a cabinet-level minister of peace and department of peace.

In June, New Democrat MP Alex Atamanenko tabled two motions in the House of Commons endorsing the establishment of a department of peace and developing the concept of a civilian peace service in Canada.

He also plans to re-introduce a private member’s bill first tabled by former MP Bill Siksay calling for the establishment of a department of peace. Twenty-two MPs had signed to endorse Siksay’s bill, which died when the last election was called.

“As we strive to regain our stature in the world as a broker for peace, it is important for our government to have a mandate to advocate for the non-violent resolution of conflict at home and abroad,” Atamanenko said when he tabled the motions.

Atamanenko will work closely with the CDPI, which has chapters across the country, and other advocates for peace to keep the issue moving forward.

The bill outlines a department of peace that would serve as the government’s coordinating body for peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace-building activities.

The department would act to coordinate the efforts of a broad range of peace-oriented organizations and advance an agenda of peace across all departments in the way government policy is carried out.

According to the CDPI, a minister of peace would “advance an agenda for a new architecture of peace by supporting and establishing activities that promote a culture of peace and assertive non-violence in Canada and the world.”

One of the possible initiatives includes Canada becoming a leader in abolishing nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, reducing conventional weapons arsenals, and banning the weaponization of space.

Others aims involve establishing a civilian peace service to recruit and train peace professionals to work at home and abroad, implement the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (1999), and work toward the transition from a war-based economy to a peace-based economy.

“There is a large number of Canadians—and that number is constantly growing—who identify with Canada as a peacekeeping and a peace-building nation, and they want the practices of conflict prevention, collaborative practices, non-violence, sustainable futures, and an investment of resources into peaceful practices,” CDPI co-chair Theresa Dunn said at a recent event in Edmonton.

A CDPI petition currently in circulation across the country aims to collect 10,000 signatures from Canadians who support the initiative.

In a statement on conflict resolution related to the bill, Senator Mobina Jaffer said that for every dollar the government spends on peacekeeping missions, $2,000 is spent on purchasing weapons.

“This priority is unacceptable. Less money needs to be spent on war efforts and more on peacekeeping and conflict resolution strategies,” she said.

“We must strive to become a beacon of hope. We must usher in a new era of conflict resolution. We know how to live harmoniously in our great country. We now need to share this knowledge with the world.”