Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 31

Thursday, May 27, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Conflict Resolution

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, for decades Canada has taken pride in its international reputation of being a non- violent nation. Canadians have embraced a culture of peace. I am confident we can all agree that peace is still something we are committed to promoting; that it is, indeed, our central goal that we all aspire to achieve.

Yesterday evening, I had the privilege of co-hosting a conference that focused on Bill C-447, which calls for the establishment of a Canadian department of peace. This bill was proposed by member of Parliament Bill Siksay. The department will serve as a sensor for the early detection of conflict before it escalates into violence. It will also act as an incubator for creative solutions to violence with the intention of building a culture of peace in Canada and abroad.

Bill C-447 has been seconded by 21 members of Parliament. Unfortunately, this bill will not receive second reading as it requires expenditure.

What is even more unfortunate is that for every dollar that 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 money needs to be spent on peacekeeping and conflict resolution strategies.

Reallocation will have not only a dramatic positive impact on civilian populations in developing parts of the world often targeted by war efforts but also will be consistent with the political and moral inclinations of Canadians.

In the past, war was declared by men in suits and fought by men in boots. Soldiers comprised the majority of warfare casualties.

However, this situation is no longer the case. Wars waged today claim not only the lives of brave soldiers in the battlefields, but in the 20th century, of the 120 million people who died from war, 95 per cent were civilians. We must ensure that innocent civilians in foreign and native lands no longer become collateral damage to wars that are waged for unjust causes and that employ immoral means.

Honourable senators, I work with women in the tribal lands of Pakistan. They tell me they have witnessed first-hand the toll violence has taken on local women. I have spoken to mothers not only consumed with the fear of being attacked, but also overwhelmed with concern for their sons who may become suicide bombers. These women already have so little. They are forced now to bear the burden of having to watch their communities completely crumble.

If a Canadian peace department were established, we would be able to communicate with communities, resolve conflicts without resorting to violent measures and aid communities like the one I spoke of in Pakistan that are particularly vulnerable.

The idea of establishing a department of peace is beyond overdue. 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.