By Christine Dandenault
The workers of Canada and Quebec do not want Canada to contribute to world conflicts or wars of aggression against friendly peoples. The 2003 march of more than 200,000 people in the streets of Montreal in minus 20 degree Celsius weather against the invasion of Iraq, along with various actions organized against the presence of NATO warships in the Port of Montreal and elsewhere against the promotion of war amongst the youth clearly attest to this.
Reflecting on and drawing appropriate conclusions on issues of war and peace is essential for Canadians, Quebeckers and Indigenous peoples. It assists them in strengthening their anti-war movement and in taking action to ensure that Canada is a zone for peace, that it withdraws from NATO and other U.S. imperialist military alliances and that it plays a role in support of the peoples and their sovereignty worldwide. Remembrance Day, November 11, is an occasion to affirm these aspirations.
One of the forms this takes is the White Poppy, which commemorates all the victims of war. Appeals are being made around the world to wear it on Remembrance Day. For at least 80 years the White Poppy has been worn to represent three things: remembrance of all victims of war, a commitment to peace, and a stand against all attempts to glorify or celebrate war.
The White Poppy was first introduced as a symbol of peace in England in 1933 by the Co-operative Women’s Guild, to commemorate all victims of war, both civilian and military. The idea was first discussed in England as early as 1926 in the wake of the First World War (1914-1918) which resulted in the deaths of 10 million soldiers and 1.5 million civilians.
The White Poppy Campaign calls on people to mobilize for peace. According to Britain’s Peace Pledge Union, it “symbolizes the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than through the use of violence. It embodies the refusal to kill human beings for whatever reason.”
The Peace Pledge Union condemns economic dependence on arms sales and the pressure to update and produce weapons of all types, pointing out that “the results of recent military adventures highlight their ineffectiveness and dramatic consequences.” It goes on to emphasize that the best way to respect the victims of war is to work to prevent war in the present and future by addressing the underlying causes of war. It points out that peace is far more than the absence of violence; it “requires major social changes to enable us to live more cooperatively.”
In Quebec, for a 10th consecutive year, the Collectif Échec à la guerre is asking everyone to wear the White Poppy on Remembrance Day. On this occasion, a declaration dedicated to the memory of all the victims of war was published in the Saturday, November 7 issue of the newspaper Le Devoir, as well as in its spot ads and tablet and internet editions. Over 200 individuals and 34 groups endorsed the declaration and helped defray the cost ($8,000).
On Remembrance Day, November 11 from 6:00 to 7:00 pm, Échec à la guerre along with the sponsors of the 2020 White Poppy Campaign, is co-hosting a virtual roundtable discussion entitled “The Forgotten of Remembrance Day – Civilian Casualties and Canada”s Harmful Role.” For information click here.
Today, let us say loud and clear:
Make Canada a Zone for Peace!
Dismantle All U.S. Military Bases Around the World and Those of NATO
and Its Members, Including Canada!
Put an End to All Wars of Aggression and Occupation!
End Spending on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Arms Sales!
Call to Wear the White Poppy on Remembrance Day
The Quebec anti-war coalition Échec à la guerre published the following open letter in the pages of Le Devoir on November 7.
These are grave times!
As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advances its “Doomsday Clock” to “100 seconds before midnight” to illustrate the “most dangerous situation mankind has ever faced” …
…the warheads held by the nine nuclear-weapon states in the world are hundreds of times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that took the lives of more than 200,000 people;
…Today’s nuclear arsenals alone have the potential to wipe out humanity and much of the world’s animal and plant life; nevertheless, Canada boycotted the process of developing and adopting the Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NWT), adopted in 2017 by 122 of 192 countries;
…The United States and Russia have not renewed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; furthermore, the U.S. has indicated that it will not agree to extend the New START Strategic Nuclear Reductions Treaty, which expires in February 2021.
For civilian populations, the danger does not end there….
…Military bases and training sites around the world generate tons of toxic waste that contaminate soil and groundwater. Military operations have a significant impact on global warming, for example, the U.S. military alone is the largest single producer of greenhouse gases in the world;
…The Government of Canada has just resumed the sale of armoured vehicles and weapons to Saudi Arabia — military equipment that could be used in the war in Yemen, which has killed more than 100,000 people, many of them civilians, despite criticism from a UN panel of experts;
…The U.S. is increasingly playing the card of interference, intimidation and military aggression. The threat of new and even more destructive wars is growing, and with it the risk of a nuclear conflagration.
In this time of danger, we invite you to wear the White Poppy to remember the thousands of civilian casualties of war and to prevent hundreds of thousands more!
(Translated from original French by TML.)