The Third Trilateral Peace Conference took place this past July in Toronto. Its aim was to provide a forum for peace and progressive activists to examine the explosive international situation and propose concrete strategies for coordinated actions across Canada, the US and Mexico. Jed Lehman, member of the Regina Peace Council and PeaceQuest Regina, shared with us the official report.
On July 20 and 21 peace activists from Mexico, the USA, and Canada, joined by representatives of the World Peace Council from Brazil, Greece, and Cuba, met in Toronto to discuss proposals for coordinated action. The conference featured four panel discussions which considered a wide range of peace issues.
Canadian Peace Congress President and conference organizer, Dave McKee, pointed out that “the world has moved to a critically dangerous point . . . the United States, European Union, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries have concentrated firepower in the Middle East region” and warned that “the possibility of nuclear confrontation between Russia and the United States is very real” and pointed to the sabotage aimed at progressive governments in our hemisphere. Brother Rolando Brito from the Mexican Movement for Peace & Development alluded to the problems Mexicans face with migration and arms trafficking into Mexico and declared that “Mexicans are traditionally peace-loving” and share a common struggle against nuclear weapons with the rest of North America. Alf Marder, Chairman of the U.S. Peace Council, observed that this is a “crucial time in the history of our people” and stated that “we are quite aware that we live in the heart of the imperialist monster and realize our responsibility to mobilize the people of our country against these policies that are menacing the rest of the world . . . in reality there is one enemy, U.S. imperialism”.
Ken Stone, with the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, observed that on the U.S. hit list were: “Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Iran”. He stated that the conflict in Syria is not a civil war; that it is a “US sponsored war for regime change”. He added that Syria has the right to ask for assistance of its allies and explained that Canada is now an accomplice in the war in Iraq and called for Canada to get out of Syria. Dr. Antonietta Barron from Mexico linked the present socio-economic crisis facing Mexicans to conditions of poverty provoked by war. She also compared wages in Mexico to wages in Canada. Bruce Gagnon, from the U.S., representative of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, explained that “missile defense” is an essential element of the First Strike Strategy of the United States and that “there can be no nuclear disarmament with this missile defense program proceeding”. Brother Gagnon distributed maps showing how Russia and China are surrounded by US/NATO bases and missile defense deployments.
Adrien Welsh from Montreal for Peace exposed the “responsibility to protect” concept and stated that it is “more of a responsibility to protect imperialism’s interests rather than the safety and freedom of the peoples”. He explained that Canadian youth’s interests are in fighting the drive to war whether our government is Liberal or Conservative. Brother Bahman Azad from the United States discussed the US drive for world hegemony (leadership) and exposed the war on terrorism as a justification for war. Saleh Waziruddin from Niagara for Peace, discussed Canada’s military spending across the world. He also pointed out that ending bombing of Syria by Canada is no good if soldiers from Canada replace the bombing. Andrea Fernandez from Mexico observed that since 2000 the U.S. has built 50 new military bases and reported on the successful campaign to close the U.S. base in Manta, Ecuador. Caesar Jaramillo, from Project Ploughshares and the Canadian National Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, reported that Project Ploughshares has been telling the Canadian government that its position does not help abolish nuclear weapons and stated “the problem of nuclear weapons is not beyond the ability of countries to eliminate”. Ed Lehman from the Regina Peace Council suggested a campaign to make North America a nuclear weapons-free zone. He also urged efforts to put an end to extending the arms race into outer space and disbanding NATO. Henry Lowendorf, from the New Haven Peace Council (US), declared that “the greatest threat to peace is the U.S. and NATO provocation against Russia and the Middle East” and pointed out that the USA and NATO do three quarters of the world’s nuclear spending and that despite President Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world the U.S. plans to spend a trillion dollars to upgrade the US nuclear system.
Jim Pandaru from the United States Peace Council outlined the impact of colonialism on indigenous people since 1492. Jim also referred to something called “Charter Cities” now being tested in Honduras where land which is currently occupied is handed over to private investors. Crystal Sinclair of Idle No More traced the emergence and development of Idle No More and discussed the role of the Indian Act to control all aspects of life of the indigenous peoples and quoted Justice Murray Sinclair as saying “We won’t see justice in our lifetime but are making steps toward it.” Elizabeth Rowley of the Communist Party of Canada spoke about the Trans-Pacific Partnership; she warned that the deal will lead to a further militarization of Canada’s economy, more money will be going to the military, and Canada will become involved in more dirty wars. Ms. Rowley urged a united mobilization against the TPP across the continent. Dr. Joaquin Ramirez and Dr. Vicky Martin from the Mexican Movement for Peace and Development detailed the crisis of human rights in Mexico including widespread state violence against the people and the assassination of 19 journalists. They observed that the vast majority of people do not have knowledge of the TPP.
The conference concluded with the adoption of proposals for action. This was the third Trilateral Peace Conference. Delegates and guests left the gathering feeling strengthened by the wealth of information that had been presented and the new contacts made.