Sports, war and sponsorship – Valcartier soldiers at Alouettes game

• Quebec Says No to Canada’s Participation in U.S.-Led War in Afghanistan!

• Sports, War and Sponsorship: Valcartier Soldiers at the Alouettes Game – Collectif Échec à la guerre

• Open Letter to Soldiers of Valcartier

TML Daily, June 21, 2007 – No. 101

Quebec Says No to Canada’s Participation in U.S.-Led War in Afghanistan! End the Occupation! Bring the Troops Home Now! Dismantle NATO!

TML Daily expresses its militant support for the demonstration called for Quebec City on Friday against the war in Afghanistan and Canada’s participation in it.

Approximately 2,500 soldiers, mostly from the Royal 22nd Regiment (the Vandoos) from Canadian Forces Base Valcartier near Quebec City, begin deployment to Afghanistan on July 15. The military is planning a huge parade through Quebec City to promote the mission.

According to the Globe and Mail:

“Soldiers from Valcartier plan to march in Quebec City tomorrow [Friday, June 22] to build public support for their mission. But there is growing concern about the parade, which would take place on a Friday evening in a heavily crowded street known for its rowdy bars and terraces, because an anti-war protest is planned nearby.”

“We have heard the rumour about cancelling the march,” said army spokesperson Alex Maillet. “But for the time being, all I can say is that it will proceed as scheduled. We will notify the media in due time.”

In fact, public opposition to the war is so high a Leger Marketing poll published in the Journal de Montréal says 70 per cent of Quebeckers are against the mission. Amongst the respondents, 62 per cent think sending Canadian troops to Afghanistan is directed towards having good relations with the U.S. rather than establishing peace and democracy in Afghanistan. Support for the mission is as low 38 per cent in the Quebec City region and only 25 per cent in Montreal.

Asked whether the Harper government should order the removal of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, 41 per cent said Ottawa should do so immediately and 21 per cent said it should do so before 2009. (The poll was conducted on June 18 on the basis of 10,000 respondents. The margin of error is three per cent 19 times out of 20.)

The opposition to the war is such that the military are using every occasion to establish a strong military presence in day-to-day life.

As part of the military’s infiltration into civilian life and its striving to increase recruitment and support for Canada’s occupation of Afghanistan, some 1700 soldiers will be at the Montreal Alouettes football game in Montreal on Thursday night. Soldiers will then be dispatched throughout the province to distribute flags and explain their mission. However, such actions just make the mission more unpopular. The government  cannot win the hearts and minds of Canadians let alone the people of Afghanistan, who are the targets of the brutal occupation of the U.S.-led NATO forces of which Canada is a member.

Demonstration against visit of war criminal U.S. Secretary of State George W. Bush to Halifax, December 1, 2004

Quebeckers are fed up with the underhanded use of marketing and sponsorship tactics already thoroughly discredited in the 1995 referendum sponsorship scandal. This manner of fomenting public opinion for war and occupation which refuses to abide by the expressed wishes of Canadians underscores the necessity for democratic renewal. It shows that the working class and peoples of Canada must themselves become the decision-makers so that their rejection of imperialist war and aggression can be manifested in an anti-war government which immediately withdraws Canadian forces from Afghanistan and gets Canada out of NATO.

TML calls on the working class and people of Quebec and Canada to reject these attempts of the Harper government to build support for the U.S./NATO-led occupation of Afghanistan. All out to support the anti-war actions!

Quebec Says No to Canada’s Participation in U.S.-Led War in Afghanistan! End the Occupation! Bring the Troops Home Now! Get Canada out of NATO! March against Occupation!

Sports, War and Sponsorship

Valcartier Soldiers at the Alouettes Game

– Collectif Échec à la guerre –

ON THURSDAY, June 21, 2007 close to 2,000 soldiers from the Valcartier base – to be deployed to Afghanistan later this summer – will be present at the Percival Molson Stadium in Montreal during a pre-season Canadian Football League match between the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts. Claude Rochon, Vice-President of Communications and Marketing for the Alouettes sees this as purely a business deal, with the army as just another sponsor with a product to sell. Whether this is a case of blind commerce or of official support given by the Alouettes’ organization to the war in Afghanistan, the end result is the same; through an ever-increasing linking of the Canadian Forces (CF) with large sports and social events, the targeted aim is precisely the promotion of the war in Afghanistan, a huge increase in military spending and the most significant recruitment campaign of the CF since World War II.

An intrusive presence

Over the next few weeks, the army will dedicate itself to a public relations offensive in no less than a dozen Quebec cities, particularly through local ceremonies where flags will be exchanged between the municipality and the Kandahar mission. Such activities are part and parcel of the prolonging of a vast visibility campaign by the Canadian army where it has linked itself to a number of large public Montreal events: The Grand Prix Champ Car in August 2006, the Montreal International Marathon in September 2006, the Fête des neiges of winter 2007, not to mention the surprise visit of the Stanley Cup to Kandahar during the month of May, accompanied by two dozen former NHL players including Réjean Houle and Yvon Lambert of the Montreal Canadians. The presence of Valcartier soldiers at the Alouettes game evokes the intense participation of the CF during the week-long Grey Cup activities in Winnipeg last November: the transportation of players in military vehicles from the airport to their hotel, the transportation of the Grey Cup to the opening ceremony by military helicopter, the Snowbirds air show and the SkyHawks parachute show during the match, etc.

Selling war and militarism

To win “the hearts and minds” of the Quebec and Canadian population, the army is active on a number of fronts. For people more interested in a show of strength and hi-tech, there are kiosks where tanks and other impressive military vehicles can be admired and visited; this can become grotesque, as happened during a charitable draw for the benefit of the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital Foundation where the winner was given the privilege of climbing onto a Leopard tank and participated in the crushing of a car. For people more interested in the public service aspect, cadets and soldiers distribute water bottles to marathon runners, bag your groceries at the supermarket or initiate you in military snowshoeing during the Fête des neiges.

All this soliciting sheds no light whatsoever on the real issues concerning Canadian military intervention in Afghanistan,[1] while every attempt is being made at its promotion through mere association, through the diverting of the public sympathy for sports stars and the conviviality of events organized for the entire family. This is how the public is being taken hostage, where they find themselves being associated de facto with a pro-war agenda.

Of particular concern is the democratic control of the armed forces, where the army gives itself the right to support the government’s pro-war policy and has at its disposal all kinds of means to do so while the change in the CF’s international role towards openly aggressive war operations in partnership with the U.S. army has been done without public debate and without the knowledge of the population. In Quebec, we find ourselves paying for marketing campaigns imposed on us through our own taxes, where a point of view which runs counter to the will of the majority is being imposed upon us.

War and soldiers everywhere: NO Thanks!

The militarist trend of Canadian Foreign policy and its corollary, the Canadian army’s intrusive visibility and recruitment campaign in our day-to-day lives, can only be reversed through a vast citizen mobilization. While Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda delays spending money on a new program in support of Canadian festivals, the Canadian Forces are now packed to the gills with money to spend on sponsorship and are doing the rounds of events. One recent example of resistance to this trend should be reiterated: Vélo-Québec refused to associate the Tour de l’île in Montreal with the rise of militarism.

In the same vein, professional athletes and mere participants at public events where the army is present to promote its aggressive missions must protest clearly to organizers and refuse to allow their support to be taken for granted. And citizens should do likewise with the dozen municipalities which have already accepted in their name to be part of a flag exchange ceremony with the troops of Valcartier who are preparing to leave for Kandahar.

Endnote

1. Échec à la guerre’s position on this “mission” has been elaborated in a 44 page brochure entitled “Canada in the War of Occupation in Afghanistan.” You are invited to familiarize yourself with it at http://www.echecalaguerre.org.

* * *

Open letter to soldiers of Valcartier

For several months you’ve been preparing for your mission to Afghanistan, and you will be leaving shortly for Kandahar. During your training, you’ve been told again and again that your mission is to stabilize Afghanistan, to win the hearts and minds of Afghans, to liberate women, and to establish democracy. We are writing this letter to offer you a dissenting point-of-view about your deployment that we hope will prompt you to reconsider your participation.

The Afghan people have never attacked Canada or Québec, and had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001. Still, Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor – who used to work as a lobbyist for corporations and public relations firms who profit from war – recently stated that your presence in Afghanistan is “retribution” for 9-11.[1]

The Canadian government defends its involvement in Afghanistan in the name of women’s liberation. However, the Afghani government that you are defending is comprised of warlords who are just as brutal in their treatment of women as the former Taliban regime. In the words of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA):

“The corrupt and mafia government of Mr. Karzai and its international guardians, are playing shamelessly with the intolerable suffering of Afghan women and misuse it as their propaganda tool for deceiving the people of the world. They have placed some women into official posts in the government who are favored by the warlords and then proclaim it as symbol of “women’s liberation” in the country.”[2]

Your deployment in Afghanistan means complicity with the civilian deaths and other activities – like the transfer of prisoners to potential torture and death – that are tantamount to war crimes; here are some examples:

  1. this past April, U.S. airstrikes killed at least 57 civilians in Herat Province, more than half of who were women and children;[3]
  2. earlier, in Nangarhar Province, another 19 civilians, including an infant, were killed indiscriminately by U.S. troops, who forced journalists to erase their videotapes of the incident.[4]

Canadian troops too have been involved in civilian deaths:

  1. in March 2006, soldiers shot dead a taxi driver riding near a patrol;[5]
  2. in August 2006, a 10 year-old boy was shot and killed;[6]
  3. in December 2006, an elderly Afghan man was shot and killed;[7]
  4. in February 2007, there were two separate incidents involving the killing of Afghan civilians by Canadian troops, including a homeless beggar.[8]

The Afghan mission is based on lies. Canada’s military role in Afghanistan – which began in 2002 – is directly linked to George Bush’s “War on Terror.” 2500 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan means 2500 more U.S. soldiers in Iraq, despite widespread opposition to that war. The “War on Terror” has been a failure, and has meant less safety and security in the world, particularly for the civilian populations of the Middle East. According to your commander in Afghanistan, Major-General Andrew Leslie: “Every time you kill an angry young man overseas, you’re creating 15 more who will come after you.”[9]

The “Taliban” was declared defeated back in 2002 by George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, but more than five years later, they’re inexplicably back and stronger than ever. It’s clear that as long as there are foreign forces in Afghanistan, there will be thousands of average Afghans motivated to actively resist those forces. In North America, the mass media brands all opposition to foreign occupation as “Taliban,” that dangerously serves to marginalize all Afghani resistance.

Canada’s role in Afghanistan is a trap. It means on-the-ground Canadian soldiers become “cannon-fodder” for the illogical and unjust policies of generals and politicians.

As armed forces soldiers, you know better than anyone the potential consequences of resisting orders to participate in this mission. But you can refuse to participate in this war. Already, one Canadian reservist has refused to serve in Afghanistan. Daily, U.S. soldiers resist orders to serve in the Middle East, and many have come to Canada to seek refuge.

We write this letter in the spirit of dialogue and debate. We write also to offer our concrete support, in confidence, if you do decide to consider resisting deployment to Afghanistan. Our contact information is below; don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Coalition Guerre à la Guerre (Quebec City); Coalition Québec pour la paix (Quebec City); Block the Empire (Montreal); Rassemblement Outaouais contre la guerre

C.P. 55051, 138 Saint-Vallier Ouest, Québec (Québec) G1K 1J0

(418) 208-7059 E-mail: info@valcartier2007.ca

http://www.valcartier2007.ca

Endnotes

1. Edmonton Journal, January 21, 2007.

2. RAWA Statement on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2007, http://www.rawa.org.

3. International Herald Tribune, May 12 2007.

4. CBC News, March 4, 2007.

5. CBC News, March 15, 2006.

6. National Post, August 23, 2006.

7. CTV News, December 13, 2006.

8. Canadian Press, February 17, 2007, CBC News, February 17, 2007 and CTV News, February 19, 2007.

9. CBC News, August 8, 2005.

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