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October 24, 2014 - No. 86

Canada Needs an Anti-War Government

Join Demonstrations Calling for an
End to Canada's Participation
in a New Iraq War!

All Out for the Canada-Wide
October 24-26 Anti-War Actions!

Canada Needs an Anti-War Government
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

ISIL Attacks Ottawa?
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 Nazemroaya

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 on all 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 on 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 every day.

No to Canada's Participation in Wars of Aggression and Occupation!
No to the Use of Force to Settle Conflicts Between Nations!
Canada Needs an Anti-War Government!

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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 oppose 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 dismantling the 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 new aggressive 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 Canadian military;

- The organization of a broad public debate on Canadian foreign policy, the role of the army, the military industry and the arms trade;

- That the Canadian government immediately cease deportation 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 contacting info@canadianpeace.org.


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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 throughout this.

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 and unacceptable.

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 will accept.

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 powers 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 being released.

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 them.

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.

(Photos: TML, K. J. Tarasoff)

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The Canadian Government and Media Are
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 hours.

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 on 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 societal 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 Roman 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 legal reasons.

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 Canada. 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 media in Canada was much calmer than the U.S. media would have been under similar circumstances if the same incident took place in the United States, 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.

Revoking Citizenship?

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 shoulder 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 belonging.

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 Hands

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 ulterior motives.

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.

(Strategic Culture Foundation, October 24, 2014)

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