No to the Glorification of War and Aggression in our Name!
Statement of Windsor Peace Coalition – Labour Day 2018
Along with being vehemently anti-worker and anti-union the Ford government is setting itself up to be a champion of U.S.-led wars of aggression. On June 27, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that his government intends to construct a second monument on the grounds of Queen’s Park to those who fought in Afghanistan. Federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is reported to have commended Ford on the project. There already is an Ontario Veterans’ Memorial on the Legislature grounds that commemorates those who served in all of Canada’s military missions, including Afghanistan. This begs the question: why build another monument?
Ford said the new memorial’s goal is to “send a clear message to future generations about the heroes of Afghanistan and the sacrifices they made on behalf of all Canadians, lest we forget”* A statement issued by Ford’s office referred to “the sacrifices our fellow Canadians made to protect our values and freedoms.”
What “values and freedoms” is Ford speaking about? The U.S. launched a brutal invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the twin towers and is about to complete its 17th year there, still waging its “war on terror.” Canada followed the U.S. into Afghanistan and after ending its military mission in 2014 continues to fund the Afghan security forces and intervene in other ways to shape the country’s institutions and provide what it calls development assistance.
The aim of building a second monument specifically to the those who fought in the war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with remembering. It is an attempt to associate the Ford government with support for the military and U.S.-led wars of aggression. It is a signal that under this government the militarization of civilian life in Ontario will be stepped up, something which must be opposed.
Whatever the provincial or federal government might say, building a new monument does not reflect the values of the people of Ontario, especially its youth, who are not for war. Trying to declare support for war as a Canadian value will not change this.
This year marks the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War I, a brutal war for empire between imperialist powers. Today, instead of affirming Never Again, the slogan “Lest We Forget” is used to associate the sacrifice of soldiers with support for war, and more specifically the U.S. project for world domination that Canada has been made part of. This goes against the conscience of those who fought and died in World War II in order to put an end to empire building and fascism.
We call on peace-loving people of Windsor and Essex County to step up their demands for peaceful relations amongst all peoples and nations and for an end to the use of force in settling conflicts. We also call on everyone to oppose any attempt to criminalize or silence those who speak out against the militarization of the society.
Contact Windsor Peace Coalition at email@example.com or on Facebook.
* The phrase “Lest we forget” often cited in Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada comes from a poem written in 1897 by British author Rudyard Kipling entitled “Recessional.” The poem cites past military exploits of the British Empire in what is now Iraq and Lebanon, yearning for the British Empire to carry on its Dominion in the face of opposition from “lesser breeds” with “wild tongues,” reference to the restless conquered peoples who would not accept their subjugation. Kipling also wrote the poem “White Man’s Burden” the same year in which he referred to “your new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child.”
September 3, 2108