Two attacks this week killed ordinary soldiers who were not responsible for Harper’s war, but Harper is cynically using these tragedies to further his wars abroad and at home.
On October 20 a driver ran over Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and on October 22 a shooter killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo on Parliament Hill.
Real support for troops
Harper claims that his “thoughts and prayers” are with the family and that he will track down “the terrorists and any accomplices.” But Harper’s actions show he is an accomplice.
The Liberals and Tories sent more than 150 troops to die in Afghanistan, while cutting pensions to veterans. When Sean Bruyea, who suffers from PTSD, criticized the new “Veterans Charter” as a “callous, bureaucratic move to save money on the backs of disabled veterans,” the government leaked Bruyea’s medical information and campaigned to discredit him.
Harper is militarizing society and using troops as pro-war props on public display, which put Cirillo in the line of fire on Parliament Hill.
Harper is paying lip service to soldiers while he tries to deport US war resisters and cut services from Canadian veterans. The Canadian military took legal action against the grieving parents of Lieutenant Shawna Rogers because they inquired into the cause of her suicide. As they said, “There’s no bigger hell than losing your daughter. We were grieving and they were kicking us while we were down.”
War fuels violence
But it’s no coincidence the attack on Parliament happened after Canada joined the Iraq War.
The last Iraq War killed 1 million people—including the levelling of Fallujah, torture in Abu Ghraib and rape in Mahmoudiya—and armed sectarian death squads. Harper wanted to join these war crimes but a mass anti-war movement kept Canada out of Iraq.
Spain joined the Iraq War, and when an attack hit Madrid in 2004 the population threw out the pro-war government and brought the troops home. Britain joined the Iraq War and when an attack hit in 2005 MP George Galloway said that “Silence would be complicity. I am not prepared to be complicit when people in Iraq and London are paying a blood price” for war.
Now that Harper has dragged us into war in Iraq, he has created a violent backlash. Harper claimed Canada had to bomb Iraq to keep us safe, but the war has instead led to more violence. And Harper’s response will make things worse.
Harper claims to care about the “brutal and violent attack on our soil.” But Canada is founded on the genocide of Indigenous peoples, and Harper has refused to investigate the more than 1000 missing and murdered Indigenous women. Harper promotes the tar sands that destroy the soil and the climate, and promote disasters causing widespread suffering.
While Harper claims to care about victims of violence, he is cutting healthcare to refugees fleeing violence. If people in Iraq flee ISIS and arrive as refugees in Canada they will face barriers to healthcare, employment, and citizenship.
Harper has cynically claimed the Iraq War protects women, when he has cut funding to safe abortion while tens of thousands of women die every year. Harper refused to attend the International AIDS conference when it was in Toronto and has done little to help West Africa deal with the Ebola epidemic. Harper’s vow to “redouble” the war abroad and “security” at home will make things worse.
Stop violence: stop the war
Individual violence is a reactionary and unjustifiable expression of bitterness, and does nothing to challenge the war and austerity that breed it. As Trotsky wrote more than a century ago, “Individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness...The wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only the police repression grows more savage and brazen.” Collective mass movements provide the best alternative to war and austerity, and the best antidote to the bitterness they breed.
* Peace not war: we need to stop the latest Iraq War that is spreading violence around the world.
* Solidarity not racism: we need to oppose the Islamophobia and racism that accompanies war, and that silences Indigenous and immigrant communities.
* Defend civil liberties: we need to stop Harper from using the latest tragedy to further erode civil liberties
* Real support for troops: we need to support the troops by bringing them home, helping them heal, and stop deporting war resisters
*Jobs and services not war: we need to challenge the austerity agenda that is intertwined with war, and redirect military spending into jobs and services