Lest we forget: an anti-social, warmongering agenda

By TONY SEED

THE Harper dictatorship has been running two ads dealing with Veterans and Remembrance Day. What is clear is how a war government is attempting to use the sacrifice of Canadians to promote its self-serving agenda of war abroad and fascism at home. Canadians must be very sceptical in viewing messages from those for whom lying is as natural as eating or drinking.

Veterans Affairs newspaper ad in the Cape Breton Post promotes the government’s support for veterans. Image provided by PSAC.

Veterans Affairs newspaper ad in the Cape Breton Post promotes the government’s support for veterans. Image provided by PSAC.

Veterans Affairs Canada inserted large print ads into such newspapers as the Cape Breton Post, the Western Star in Corner Brook, NF and the Guardian in P.E.I. – three communities in Atlantic Canada where it is closing district offices, leaving thousands of veterans to depend on a website and an 800 number. It is attempting to counter the campaign of the veterans and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which openly says the government is “betraying veterans” in its plan to close nine district offices, including Windsor, Thunder Bay, Brandon, Saskatoon, Kelowna and Prince George, by the end of February 2014. According to the union, the Prince George district office has already closed.

An anti-social offensive

The Harper dictatorship is intent on removing all traces of a pro-social policy and wrecking public services. Along with being a direct attack on the veterans these cutbacks are nothing than less than an attack on whole regions of Canada similar to the UE cutbacks, and an attack on the notion of a civilized society which is responsible for its members.

Most of the offices slated to be closed such as the one in Cape Breton are located in economically impoverished regions of Canada, where the state has intensively recruited for its armed forces from the ranks of unemployed youth without a future in the capitalist system. As a result, the participation rate in the armed forces as a percentage of the population in Atlantic Canada is historically more than double than that from Ontario; in 2002 21.6 per cent of all military forces, despite making up only 7 per cent of the population, notes Miles Howe of Halifax Media Co-op.

Closures to the regional offices also risks unduly affecting rural-living veterans, he adds, especially in Atlantic Canada. In 2011, in Ontario, 14 per cent of the population lived in a rural area. In Nova Scotia, 43 per cent still lived in rural areas.

Further, younger service people returning from theatres of war thousands of miles away from Canada such as Afghanistan with a variety of post-traumatic related ailments – to what are largely single-industry regions with fragile economies – are being stripped of elementary support services to heal, recuperate and strengthen their ability to becoming fully productive members of the society.

What Harper and the monopolies it serves are demanding is that all these veterans will be at the mercy of the anarchy and chaos on the global markets and in the current economic system, but with the comfort that in being left to fend for themselves they may rely on an 800 number and a website – if they have a computer.

Further, the approach to disabilities is highly selective. The federal government brutally and systematically denies disability pensions to those suffering from Depleted Uranium (DU), Radiation poisoning (sickness), Suffield’s chemical, sarin and mustard gas warfare testing, untested and unproven medications and immunizations, Gulf War Syndrome, until very recently PTSD and now Burn Pit, while at the same time guaranteeing impunity to the perpetrators of those crimes.

A great number of veterans in the tens of thousands were victimized not in foreign wars but on Canadian soil by barbarous activities supervised directly by the Canadian, U.S. and British governments, including the testing of weapons of mass destruction.

The military personnel had, says the Canadian Veterans Advocacy (CVA) of the Suffield chemical warfare tests in southern Alberta, “no idea of what they were being exposed to.” It concludes that “These denials allowed the Government to avoid awarding medical pensions in large numbers to veterans who were entitled, and who should have been advised of chemicals they were exposed too.”

The Department of National Defence spent over $8 million in an effort to defeat the class action law suit of those veterans victimized by the spraying of more than 3.3 million pounds of Agent Orange and other chemicals over 28 years at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, where some 415,ooo soldiers trained, the very same chemicals Canadian-based monopolies such as Dow Chemical and Monsanto were shipping to the U.S. for its aggression against Vietnam. The two U.S. monopolies devoted an estimated $28 million to crushing the law suit of the Canadian veterans.

To this end, science has been deliberately manipulated and thousands of records “disappeared”, as with Agent Orange and the CFB Suffield’s chemical and gas warfare testing from the 1940s to the 1960s. “Our research has shown that the more we look, the more we find. There are hundreds of tests, the records of which are still being withheld by our government,” says the CVA.

The government has also targeted independent veteran’s advocates with insidious disinformation campaigns aimed at personally discrediting them, as in the case of Capt. Terry Riordan of Yarmouth, NS, who perished from Gulf War syndrome in April 1999. His wife, Ms. Sue Riordon, Atlantic director of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, fought Ottawa tirelessly for adequate financial and medical support for her husband for years, only to see her home broken into and records stolen. Hundreds of these veterans live on welfare and are being denied proper psychological support and home care. Yet one of the highest-ranking medical officers in the Canadian Forces dismissed as a “fantasy” a series of media reports linking the use of radioactive weapons with a wide range of illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans.

Instead of honouring the merchant mariners from World War II who died at sea defending the people, especially during the Battle of the Atlantic, successive Liberal and Conservative governments cynically denied them recognition, pensions and Veteran’s benefit to the surviving mariners for over 50 years under the pretext that they were not combatants.

Anti-fascist Canadians who died in the Spanish Civil War are still not included in the Books of Remembrance in the Peace Tower or commemorated on federal war memorials or in Remembrance Day services. Survivors do not receive veterans’ benefits.

Private grief grist for the war mill – advancing a warmongering agenda in the name of “Canadian values”

In parallel, a second TV commercial eulogizing Remembrance Day asks the Canadian people that every day of the year should be an occasion to remember the sacrifice of veterans for “freedom” – not one. The Harperites know that Canadians are for peace, not war and want a government that will be a factor for peace, and it is threatened by this just sentiment. The TV commercial insinuates that it is the Canadian people who are remiss in honouring veterans, while on the other hand the veteran has never forgotten to thank Canadians aka the government for support. In this way, the amoral Harper war government uses Remembrance Day to cast its warmongering agenda in the context of the defence of “Canadian values” and to psychologically blackmail Canadians into giving it their daily support. It does not want Canadians to think for themselves, analyze the wars being commemorated and their causes, draw the appropriate conclusions from history, and act upon them.

On the ideological plane, the Harperites uses the sacrifice of veterans and the annual Remembrance Day [1] ceremonies to glorify the use of military force as a means of settling disputes in the world. At the National War Memorial in Ottawa attended by the Harpers on November 11, a 21-gun artillery salute boomed out and two CF-18 fighter jets and a pair of training aircraft roared overhead in a flypast, the CBC reports.

The main trick that is used by the Harperites, as TML journalist Dougal MacDonald has analyzed, is to pretend that every war that Canadian troops fought in is similar in nature to the anti-fascist Second World War, in which the world’s people, led by the Soviet Union, defeated the genocidal Hitlerite Nazis. Some 47,000 Canadians died between 1939 and 1945 yet the sacrifice of the peoples of other lands is forgotten as if it was nothing: 28 million Soviets gave their lives in that heroic struggle and many millions more also died. Canadian forces are lavished with credit for liberating Holland but the glorious anti-fascist struggle of the Dutch people is given short shrift. There is no hierarchy of sacrifice based on the numbers of those lost at any particular time, and there should be no thinking that some humans are more important than others. What is important is that in remembering such wars we understand their causes, including the reasons for the emergence and consequences of fascism, especially the activities of Nazi Germany.

In its recent throne speech, the Harper government promised to rededicate the national memorial, within sight of Parliament Hill, to the memory of all men and women who fought for the country in every conflict. All the wars were somehow in defence of freedom, Canada and humanity though history tells us otherwise.

This sinister manoeuvre is exemplified by Jason Kenney’s 2011 Remembrance Day speech – mainly a chronological list of wars, almost all of which, with the exclusion of the Second World War, were wars of aggression. In his list of wars to “commemorate” on Remembrance Day, Kenney included the crushing of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion by the colonialist government, the Boer Wars which attempted to consolidate British colonial power in southern Africa, the First World War which was mainly a war to redivide the world among the imperialist states, the Korean war which was U.S.-led aggression against the people of Korea, and the ongoing criminal aggression by the U.S., Canada and other countries against the people of Afghanistan. In 2013, the Harper government gave Afghan veterans pride of place at the National War Memorial ceremony and shed crocodile tears at the loss of 158 Canadian soldiers.

The Harper war government acknowledges Remembrance Day only in order to advance its anti-people agenda of war abroad under the pretext of the defence of “Canadian values.” The Harper war government has more than doubled its military budget in just five years since its 2008 electoral coup d’etat to over $27 billion annually. It has no shortage of public funds to enrich the private armament monopolies and acquire the most sophisticated weapons to fight as part of the U.S. empire to capture the natural and human resources belonging to the peoples of other lands. Even now, the Harperites are beating the drums of aggressive war against Syria and Iran and stepping up its military activity in European states bordering Russia as well as in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

In its article on Remembrance Day 2012, TML underlined: “In their service to the monopolies, the Harperites will pursue the further pointless sacrifice of Canadian forces personnel and slaughter of the people of any of the sovereign countries that the Harperites decide should be invaded. This is something that the Canadian people, who oppose aggressive war, must not forget and must work to prevent by organizing to form an anti-war government.” [2]

Endnotes

1 Remembrance Day

November 11, known variously in Canada and other former British Commonwealth countries as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day and Poppy Day, in the U.S. as Veteran’s Day, and also celebrated in other countries, is the anniversary of the official end of the First World War on November 11, 1918. Remembrance Day was established in 1919 by a proclamation of then British King George V. The poppy became its symbol due mainly to the poem, In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian physician and lieutenant John McCrae. Closely associated with Remembrance Day is the phrase “lest we forget,” from a 1914 poem written by Laurence Binyon after the Battle of Marne entitled For the Fallen, but first popularized by Rudyard Kipling in his semi-religious Recessional, which lamented the decline of British colonial power. Following the Second World War, Remembrance Day memorial ceremonies in Canada were expanded to acknowledge the great sacrifices made by Canadian troops in that fight against fascism. More recently, the Canadian ruling circles have expanded the ceremonies even more, including a number of other wars and “military actions” in which Canadian troops were ordered to fight, for example, the Northwest Rebellion. On Remembrance Day in Canada, a representative of the federal government traditionally makes a public statement. In 2011, the statement was issued by Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and he is expected to do the same this Remembrance Day. (No such public statement was made in 2013 by the Harper government.– TS)

The rendering of Remembrance Day most supported by the Canadian people, including the veterans, honours members of the armed forces who died defending the people in order to emphasize the need for peace and highlight the aim of humanity to put an end to aggressive war. The Canadian people are anti-war, not pro-war.

“Lest We Forget Harper’s Warmongering Agenda; Canada Needs an Anti-War Government,” Dougal MacDonald, TML Weekly Information Project, November 10, 2012, No. 42.

2. Ibid.

The CVA website material on chemical exposure at Suffield and Wainwright can be found at http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/Board2/index.php?topic=814.0

Leave a comment

Filed under No Harbour for War (Halifax)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s