Dear Family, Friends and Supporters,
I would like to thank you again for your support and encouragement for me running in the 2008 federal election.
However, I must let you know that I am not seeking the nomination to run for the NDP in the riding of Halifax West in the next federal election and am not going to remain a member of the NDP or become a member of any political party, because I have realized that I personally can’t work within a party for social and environmental change. I do believe we need good people in political parties and all sectors of society to help bring about change – my place is outside of a political party.
I want to be free to speak out against the injustices that I see and to take action as my conscience leads me.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. civil rights leader
My passion is to make the world a better place, but in a non-partisan way. I will continue to work for peace, social justice, children, women, international solidarity, the environment and climate change. I will continue to organize campaigns and events to get information to the public that the government often denies them, because I believe that an informed citizenry will eventually make responsible decisions. People will act when they know.
I must also share with you that I knew that I did not have full support from the NDP federally and provincially because of my outspoken opposition to Canada’s war in Afghanistan and my objection to the troubling rise of militarism in our country and the growth of weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin in our province.
I asked for and received a copy of Nova Scotia NDP Premier Darrell Dexter’s speech to the arms dealers at the Atlantic Defence & Security Conference on September 9, 2009 and was saddened by his support for the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is the producer of nuclear weapons, cluster bombs, Hellfire and PAC missiles, and fighter jets among many other horrible weapons. The provincial government (started under the NS Progressive Conservative Party) and Nova Scotia Business Inc. have an economic growth strategy for Lockheed Martin in our province. This is a company that sells its weapons to our governments and then pockets our tax dollars. This war profiteering is crippling our economy and bankrupting us morally. Please read U.S. General Smedley Butler’s book War is Racket, 1935 (available at Outside the Lines bookstore).
The federal government is now spending $20 billion on the Department of National Defence (that doubled in 6 years from $10 billion) and under the Canada First Defence Strategy released in June 2008, another $490 billion will be spent on the military over the next 20 years. Canadians were never consulted on this strategy and never asked if we want our tax dollars spent this way. Our federal politicians – our representatives - did not do their job to bring this to the attention of the Canadian public. Look at the federal Public Accounts Vol. 2 Table 1. Find out more about the troubling rise of militarism in Canada.
By contrast, the federal government gives only $25 million to the Status of Women and gives only $46 million to the CBC (under Canadian Heritage + CRTC $1 billion) and only $1 billion annually to Environment Canada, the lead agency on climate change. Go to Canadian Treasury Board and look at the main estimates : Environment Canada’s budget will drop from 2008 of $1.4 billion to 2011 to $891 million .
Our governments should be investing our tax dollars to help our country transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy, to create a more equitable and vibrant society, and to support child care, education, and health care.
If we cut military spending and ended the war in Afghanistan and had more progressive tax policies, we would have the money we need to invest in renewable energy, create a national child care and early learning program, reduce tuitions, and hire more doctors and nurses. We have spent $18 billion dollars on a failed combat mission in Afghanistan that has killed Canadian soldiers and innocent Afghan civilians –Why has our military transformed into Fight with the Canadian Forces? Why are we fighting at all? Why are are so few politicians questioning this?
What kind of Canada have we become? I think our country has lost its national moral compass – no action on climate change, chronic homelessness, growing gap between the rich and poor, and a war in Afghanistan. How did this happen? Our federal and provincial governments are so dominated and influenced by patriarchy and by lobbying by elite, corporate interests that they too often ignore women, the common good and the public interest and this makes me grieve.
I believe that the growing militarism in our country and in Nova Scotia is one of the greatest challenges we face along with climate change and poverty. We are never going to achieve a sustainable world with the waste of resources on war and weapons.
The Earth Charter, the value system for sustainability established in 2000 by global consensus and adopted by UNESCO, comprises 16 principles into the following four categories: respect for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, and democracy, peace and non-violence. Principle 16c states that we must “Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a non-provocative defense posture, and convert military resources to peaceful purposes, including ecological restoration.”
On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the great civil rights leader and youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize said in his speech “Beyond Vietnam,” one of the most profound and important speeches of his life, said “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
He closed by saying, “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”
In an interview this year, Howard Zinn, the great American social activist and historian, was asked what the biggest problem is in the U.S. today and with the Obama administration. He answered - militarism.
We need to transform our military and foreign policies to create genuine peace in the world and transform our economy and society to give real prosperity for everyone. We need greater moral courage to do what is right for people and the planet and we need real leadership to make it happen.
I hope that someday our country will put an end to these injustices of poverty and climate inaction and can face the truth about our foreign and military policies. I also hope someday that our country will have a public inquiry and atone for its illegal and immoral war in Afghanistan and its shameful, covert involvement in the coup in Haiti, the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere, against the democratically elected president, priest for the poor, Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004.
Things will only change when Canadians realize how much power they have to hold our governments to account, to ask more questions, to think critically, to seek the truth, and to take action. Very few politicians lead, they follow. It is the people who lead and must lead now. Canadians need to care more about the social and environmental impacts of our actions at home and in other countries. Our country also desperately needs electoral reform - Find out more at Fair Vote Canada. We should also learn from the international best practices and strong social democracies of Norway and Sweden - countries that treat their citizens and the natural environment much better.
Finally, I find hope these days in the brave acts of resistance and solidarity in the women’s movements (such as Codepink) and the indigenous movements (such as the Indigenous Environmental Network ). In 2008, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, gave a profound statement to the 7th Session Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, outlining his country’s 10 commandments to save the planet, humanity, and life. I wish we had such political courage and will among our elected officials in Canada.
President Morales’ words are the echoes of Dr. King’s – they resonate in my soul and they are my mission.
For me, it is not about a political party – it is about the issues and doing what is right for the planet and for kids.
"But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience."
Lasantha Wickrematunge, co-founder Sunday Leader newspaper, Sri Lanka, assassinated 2009
In solidarity for peace, earth and justice,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
BOLIVIA’S TEN COMMANDMENTS TO SAVE THE PLANET
1. In order to save the planet, the capitalist model must be eradicated and the North pays its ecological debt, rather than the countries of the South and throughout the world continuing to pay their external debts.
2. Renounce and put an end to war, which only brings profits for empires, transnationals, and a few families, but not for peoples. The million and millions of dollars destined to warfare should be invested in the Earth, which has been hurt as a result of misuse and overexploitation.
3. Develop relations of coexistence, rather than domination, among countries in a world without imperialism or colonialism. Bilateral and multilateral relations are important because we belong to a culture of dialogue and social coexistence, but those relationships should not be of submission of one country to another.
4. Water is a human right and a right for all living things on the planet. It is not possible that there be policies that permit the privatization of water.
5. Develop clean energies that are nature friendly; put an end to energy wastefulness. In 100 years we are doing away with the fossil fuels that have been created over millions of years. Avoid the promotion of agrofuels. It is incomprehensible that some governments and economic development models can set aside land in order to make luxury cars run, rather than using it to provide food for human beings. Promote debates with governments and create awareness that the earth must be used for the benefit of all human beings and not to produce agrofuels.
6. Respect for the mother Earth. Learn from the historic teachings of native and indigenous peoples with regard to the respect for the mother Earth. A collective social consciousness must be developed among all sectors of society, recognizing that the Earth is our mother.
7. Basic services, such as water, electricity, education, healthcare, communications, and collective transportation should all be considered human rights; they cannot be privatized but must rather be public services.
8. Consume what is necessary, give priority and consume what is produced locally, put an end to consumerism, waste, and luxury. It is incomprehensible that some families dedicate themselves to the search for luxury, when millions and millions of persons do not have the possibility to live well.
9. Promote cultural and economic diversity. We are very diverse and this is our nature. A plurinational state, in which everyone is included within that state - whites, browns, blacks, everyone.
10. We want everyone to be able to live well, which does not mean to live better at the expense of others. We must build a communitarian socialism that is in harmony with the mother Earth.
Read also Judy Rebick’s article Bolivia re-invents democratic socialism with Indigenous people in the lead
Watch this incredible interview with Bolivian President Evo Morales on Climate Debt, Capitalism, Why He Wants a Tribunal for Climate Justice and Much More (30 mins), a Democracy Now! Interview, December 17, 2009