We cannot let the attacks in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu perpetuate the cycle of war, violence and Islamophobia.
The killing of two soldiers in Ottawa and in Quebec must be condemned, as we oppose all acts of violence against innocent people. This was a tragic loss of life. Moving forward, we cannot let these killings become fodder for a pro-war, militaristic agenda in Canada.
There is little information on the motivations behind the killings and whether they were connected. Yet this did not stop Harper from jumping to the conclusion that these attacks were part of a larger terrorist conspiracy against Canada. Already, CSIS’ powers of spying are being increased, and the government is planning new legislation that would further erode our civil liberties if it is allowed to become law.
Muslim Canadians are already being increasingly demonized and dissent increasingly criminalized, which would escalate as a result of these measures. The expected legislation will likely also be used to silence Indigenous opposition to government policies, while expanding the already unacceptable level of surveillance of Indigenous communities. We must stand united in support of Muslim Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and in defence of what is left of our Canadian democracy.
Harper and other politicians will use these attacks to justify the war on Iraq and Canadian participation in it. We must keep in mind the broader context in which these attacks occurred. Canada has been at war for more than 13 years, invading and bombing Afghanistan and Libya, threatening to attack Syria and Iran, and supporting brutal dictatorships in countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. And while taking us to war in Iraq, war resisters living in Canada are being punished with deportation orders.
The Islamic State itself is a creation of the West’s foreign policy. Sectarian divisions were entrenched and inflamed through the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and bombing of Syria. These groups would not have come to power had it not been for the wars of the last thirteen years.
What we need right now is peace, not more war. There needs to be justice, both for the soldiers killed this week, and all of the victims of Canadian foreign policy.
Social and economic policies play a large role in the development of hatred and alienation. If these men had access to services, there may have been a chance to change course. But according to the Canadian Psychological Association, “Canadians, in particular those in lower and middle income levels, face significant barriers when it comes to accessing psychological services due to their cost.”
The Harper government is making this problem worse with roughly $4 billion in annual cuts to the Canada Health Transfer. It is interesting to note that this is the same amount that Harper increased military spending since taking power in 2006. We need to call for military spending to be re-directed to essential services in Canada.
There is way to end the violence we have seen this past week, and over the last 13 years. We must work for Peace and Prosperity, not War and Austerity. We must unite in opposition to racism and Islamophobia. Solidarity is the answer to injustice.