What did Harper try to keep secret from the United Nations?

If you would give $7 each month to stop Harper’s war lobby, click here.

Dear Ceasefire.ca supporter,

It was the most difficult television interview I have ever given.

And I had to really stay calm . . . yet inside I was so very angry. Angry over the way the pro-Harper SUN TV network attacked my friends, you, me and each person who supports peace in Canada.

The intolerable behaviour was too much . . . a smear campaign . . . bullying students . . . I had to do something!

But first, you deserve to know how much I have appreciated your support this year.

Thank you so much for signing a petition or postcard, sending a letter to the editor, leaving a comment, sharing a link, or even making a donation to Ceasefire.ca this year.

Knowing you are there, standing behind our work to make Canada a peace leader, once again, means so much to me.

Together we have had many victories:

  • we kept Canada out of George W. Bush’s missile defence scheme,
  • we pushed hard for an end to our combat role in Afghanistan,
  • and we seriously derailed the F-35 stealth fighter fiasco.

These are important successes, and there have been many others. So . . . well done and thank you for being part of our team!

And you know . . . our effectiveness has not gone unnoticed by Stephen Harper’s war lobby. They are targeting us and our peace movement like never before — in Parliament, through the media, and on the Internet.

That’s why I hope you will join our Peacekeepers monthly donor club.

Would you give $7 each month to help stop Harper’s war lobby?

More than 190 people have joined in 2013 — and that’s awesome! But our budget goal to support our peace campaigns is 250 new members — so, we only need 59 more people to join before the end of the year. That’s in just a few weeks!

If not, we will fall short and our peace work challenging Harper will be at risk.

When you join our Peacekeepers monthly donor club by donating a small amount each month to our peace work, we will send you a beautiful certificate that you can display proudly; as well, we’ll send you a free copy of Maude Barlow’s newest book, Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever. That’s worth more than $25!

I worked for Maude Barlow for five fantastic years early in my career. Blue Future is the last in her trilogy of books on the world’s water crisis. I would love to send you a free copy when you join our Peacekeepers monthly donor club.

Now, let me tell you more about my interview with Harper’s right-wing pro-war TV network, SUN TV . . . once I tell you the story I think you’ll understand why your gifts are so important.

You might remember in my last letter, I made a promise to you that we would use your donations to work with young people to support peace. And so we did. We teamed up with students in Ottawa who wanted to remember Canada’s fallen and to promote a peace message on Remembrance Day.

Together, we created 2,500 lapel pins to hand out with the beautiful slogan “I remember for peace” emblazoned over an image of a white poppy — it’s a traditional symbol of peace and remembrance going back to the 1930s.

But Harper’s pro-war supporters bullied the students savagely for being unpatriotic and “defacing” the poppy with a peace message.

SUN TV outright lied about what the students said, just to rile up their viewers, then encouraged them to attack peace groups on the Internet, blasting awful, hate-filled comments on Facebook and Twitter.

It was despicable.

It was the kind of smear campaign that has driven some vulnerable teenagers to terrible acts of desperation . . . but these shameful comments were not being made by high school kids . . . it was coming straight from Harper’s pro-war backers — adults, grown-up adults! It was appalling.

Live, on the air, I told the SUN TV host that I came on the show so they would stop bullying the students, and “pick on someone their own size,” like me.

Then I challenged SUN TV for backing Stephen Harper instead of veterans by not challenging the Conservative government’s terrible treatment of Afghanistan vets.

Shamelessly, Harper’s hard-right conservative Members of Parliament joined in, using their position in the House of Commons to deflect attention away from Harper’s terrible treatment of vets. They ranted in Parliament about the “glorious red” poppy, calling peace supporters, like me and you, “extremists.” But they did not stand up for the health of veterans.

Harper’s rich CEO friends and political backers signed up for the attack on peace supporters, too.

Can you believe, one businessman in Alberta warned me that I have angered “some VERY wealthy and influential people.” Then he added, “I have emailed the prime Minister, to who[sic], I am a major supporter.”

As we know — it’s rarely the sons and daughters of wealthy and political families like these old boys who go and die in wars. It is mostly people from working families and poor regions of Canada who are sent to fight and then left to fend for themselves and their families by the old generals and politicians.

The pro-war boosters need to be reminded that it was the peace movement in Canada that saved hundreds of soldiers’ lives by opposing Canada’s joining Bush’s criminal invasion of Iraq.

We should never forget that!

We must remind everyone — if Stephen Harper and his bunch had been in power in 2003, Canada would have seen an untold number of caskets draped in Canadian flags being flown home from Iraq.

Harper backed the Iraq war, he wanted us to send our sons and daughters, but fortunately he never got his chance to push Canada into the deceitful and unlawful invasion of Iraq.

Instead, Harper’s Conservatives dragged out the war in Afghanistan for years — a doomed mission started by the Liberals. More than 150 Canadians have died tragically while serving there, and thousands more have returned wounded . . . or mentally scarred forever.

It’s a national disgrace — but Harper’s supporters don’t care one bit — instead of helping veterans they want to keep pushing wars and the military industries, and stop peace efforts.

The proof is in their actions.

We have government documents that prove . . .

  • the Harper government is working closely with the pro-gun lobby to undermine the United Nations weapons-control treaties . . .
  • and Harper’s Foreign Affairs minister, John Baird, tried to cover up his alliance with a far-right NRA-linked group from the highest levels of the United Nations.

The revelation came from two documents obtained by Ceasefire.ca from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

First . . . is a list of three Canadians — signed and approved by Minister John Baird himself — who would represent Canada at the 2012 United Nations’ Small Arms and Light Weapons Treaty meeting.

Second . . . is a letter Baird then sent to the United Nations.

This important UN treaty helps to ensure that the international hand gun, rifle and machine gun industry is more transparent and accountable, but the pro-gun groups don’t want any tough rules at all, and have lobbied hard against this treaty.

It’s clear that these NRA-style gun lobbyists have Harper and Baird on their side.

At the bottom of that list of three Canadians to attend the UN meeting it read: “Steve Torino, Canadian Shooting Sports Association.”

When I saw this I was shocked.

Why is someone from a shooting association and a man known to have close links to the far-right pro-gun group in the United States, The National Rifle Association (NRA), representing Canada at the United Nations Small Arms and Light Weapons Treaty meeting?

According to the Toronto Star, former NRA president Sandra Froman spoke at an annual gathering of Torino’s gun lobby group. The NRA president had high praise for Mr. Torino, saying “Steve was one of the beacons of hope in a room full of enemies determined to eradicate your gun rights.”

Steve Torino worked closely with the NRA to weaken UN peace and disarmament talks.

But what Harper Minister John Baird did next is even more shocking, and frankly appalling.

On that list of names, Baird took out his pen and scratched out “Canadian Shooting Sports Association,” the name of the pro-gun group Torino represented.

Then the very next day, Baird signed a letter that he sent to the UN to introduce Canada’s official delegation to the United Nations meeting.

But Minister Baird’s letter to the UN left out the fact that Stephen Torino came from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association!

Instead, he just introduced him as “Mr. Stephen Torino.” That‘s all.

It’s clear Harper’s minister was trying to cover up who Stephen Torino is and hide the fact that his group has links to the NRA — a group in the United States absolutely opposed to gun control.

This is Canada’s contribution to global peace? Acting as a front for extreme right-wing pro-gun groups!

In fact, Harper’s government is one of the leading agents working with U.S. far-right groups like the NRA undermining global peace efforts.

It’s shameful how far Harper will go. He is aligning us with one of the most extreme groups in the United States, the NRA.

Canada’s international reputation is in tatters, and Harper’s government is willing to put millions of people’s lives at risk by undermining global peace and disarmament efforts.

That’s why we need a strong, effective and well-funded peace group in Canada.

Your support is critical to the success of our campaigns. There are so many rotten things we are trying to stop.

Right now, we are working to stop Stephen Harper from wasting $2 billion on tanks, called Close Combat Vehicles. These tanks are completely unnecessary, as our researchers have proven.

The army doesn’t want them, and even retired General Rick Hillier agreed the military could use the money better elsewhere. But this is Harper’s big give-away to the weapons companies.

I have enclosed a postcard for you to sign and send to Harper, right away.

It’s only citizen-based action campaigns like this that have changed and will change things for the better. That’s why Ceasefire.ca has grown by more than 5,000 new supporters this year, making us the largest peace group in Canada. We’re empowering people like you to make your voice heard!

But we are falling short of our most basic fundraising needs this year. Each of the past two years 250 people joined our Peacekeepers monthly donor club by making small, regular gifts to support Ceasefire.ca.

But now, in the last few weeks of this year, we need just 59 more people to sign up. Would you join us and make your small monthly donation to help stop Harper’s war lobby?

Your gifts will help us to challenge Harper at every turn, and help build a strong peace movement across Canada.

  • We will expose the defence lobby and the influence of the big weapons corporations in Ottawa.
  • We will continue to oppose terrible weapons systems like the F-35 stealth fighters, new armed drones, and close combat vehicles.
  • We will encourage the government to end overspending on the military, and divert more public dollars to our greatly needed social programs.
  • We will urge the government to support the United Nations and play a positive, constructive role internationally.
  • We will continue to support the brave initiatives of young people, by providing them with training and resources to work for peace.

So please . . . do not put this appeal aside.

Take a few moments right now and join our Peacekeepers monthly donor club, either online at www.ceasefire.ca/donate, or by using the coupon below.

When you do, you can choose to receive a free copy of Maude Barlow’s newest book, called Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever.

The Globe and Mail selected it as one of the Top 100 best Canadian non-fiction books of the year, touting Maude Barlow’s latest as “her most comprehensive volume yet.”

Ceasefire.ca turned 10 years old in 2013, and as the year draws to a close, let me say again how grateful I am for all of the amazing contributions that you, and our 25,000-strong Ceasefire.ca community, have made.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for everything you do for peace.

In peace,





Steven Staples,

P.S. Please help us fight Harper’s war and pro-gun lobby by joining our Peacekeepers monthly donor club and give $7 each month, right away.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to “What did Harper try to keep secret from the United Nations?”

  1. Prisscilla JuddDecember 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Since the treaty seems to have been misnamed – perhaps you could petition the the UN to give the treaty a working title such as: A treaty to reducing the trade of weapons used for illegal wars or… something like that. I’m sure you could find a good short title since you have collected a lot of information here.

    Thank you for this information and for helping to create peace on our planet.

  2. lucDecember 17, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    What does it take to stop a pro-rogue from shooting off his mouth and shooting himself in the foot and dragging our country into global conflict? aka the wrong honourable Stephen Harper? $7 a month to help keep our youth as peace leaders instead of “peacemakers” would be a good start. This commentary has been brought to you on behalf of the parliamentary debate to disarm those who would rather fight than learn to get along. Join the evolution to a peaceful existence. Mr. Harper is a first person shooter, you know the game. Help ceasefire.

  3. Cheryl ErlandDecember 16, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    I am responding to some of the information contained in this latest email from you; specifically regarding the issue of Stephen Torino’s association with the Canadian Shooting Sports Organization. I am very concerned that you are looking at issues with too narrow a focus. When one takes a more-than-cursory look at the situation currently unfolding in the world in general and the U.S. in particular, the subject of gun owners’ rights is not as facile as you seem to be suggesting. We are, unfortunately, at a time in history when even someone as pro-peace as I am can see the danger in disarming ordinary citizens. The U.S. isn’t becoming a police state – it has become one; there is no way to know the impact this will have on Canadians. But I’m sure not willing to just get in line behind the ideas you seem to be espousing. Frankly, I find it more than a little worrisome that you almost certainly are wearing blinders and also have something of a public profile.
    I cannot, in good faith, support what you profess to be about. We are living in interesting times – an old Chinese curse for reasons that are only too clear now. Up is down, right is wrong, black is white – I hope you open your eyes in time to see what is really going on. We’ve been duped about more than even the most imaginative of us can probably fathom.

    • lucDecember 17, 2013 at 12:19 am #

      Maybe Mr. Torino has too narrow a focus to be targeting representation of this diverse country in this sensitive and sweeping an issue. I don’t think the target is gun owners, but those too irresponsible to use them for common good. Your comment is like the pot calling the kettle black. Everybody take three steps back and relax. Let’s discuss this in a calm and peaceful manner. Up is down only if you say it is. Some think up is up and down is down. And why go sideways? Unless we are trying to dodge something, like the truth?

    • Douglas JackDecember 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      Cheryl, Its not enough to carry on in today’s paradigm. We need to create active, what Mohandas Gandhi called ‘Satyagraha’ (Hindi ‘truth-search’), opportunities for all. We all have a problem with human insecurity, coward-aggression cycles, isolation, one-side thinking & technology-enhanced aggression which in Sandy Hook elementary destroyed the lives of 26 in just 20 minutes before Adams suicide. The key is taking responsibility for every part of the whole cycle. Both left & right agree that; we need to go deeper than ‘arms’, we need to decide where our ‘feet’ are headed. We need to make sure that in every home, organization, institution, business that; everyone has what Socrates referred to as the ‘dialectic-right’ to engage their fellows over issues of concern in ‘debate’. Dialectics involves a structured approach in which formal processes are followed. Do your organizations have policies for dialectic rights for all? https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/structure/both-sides-now-equal-time-recorded-dialogues
      The ‘Right-to-bare-arms’ or each of us rolling up our sleeves to pitch-in for making the world a better place, each of us not bogged down in heavy body-armour & armaments. We need to liberate ourselves & our loved ones from the perpetual fear of scarcity through each in our own way contributing to an abundant world where people understand that mutual-aid is the greatest factor of human-society & evolution. Tell us about your own efforts. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/home/9-right-to-bare-arms

      • Cheryl ErlandJanuary 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

        I just saw your response to my comments so forgive the late reply. I am not advocating violence here or in the U.S. I am, however, quite concerned about the real agenda going on with the recent increased pressure to disallow American citizens the right to bear arms.
        You actually bring up a subject that connects this unspoken but, real, agenda by the American government when you talk about Sandy Hook. I’ve done my homework concerning what went on that day and, at the very least, it is not what we’ve been told. I no longer go to mainstream media for my information because they do nothing but pass along the information they are told to repeat. A quick Google search will tell you which large corporations own the television networks now and it is clear that real journalism from these sources no longer exists. A good example can be found by looking at what happened to reporters who were hired to put together current stories for a news programme being created – here’s the link if you want to watch a short video about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axU9ngbTxKw

        When one takes more than a cursory look at what happened during the Boston Marathon last year, it appears that wasn’t what we were told it was either and a look at pictures and videos of the police state that was declared for the period is discomfitting to say the least. There are a lot of good reasons to be persuaded that this was a glimpse of what’s to come. You can say I’m fear mongering, if you like, but I am not. I’m feeling anything but afraid and my response to whatever may be coming is always and only going to be peaceful, active resistance; that doesn’t mean I think wearing blinders and ignoring what is Really going on is wise. To be aware is a vital part of being prepared.

        By postulating that it is a bad idea for Americans to willingly hand over their guns simply because their government and media tell them they should doesn’t mean I am advocating the use of weapons. I do feel strongly though, that if the police (wearing full military gear) knock on doors, opening them with nothing in one’s hand is not prudent. Holding a gun is not the same as shooting one. It does afford more of an opportunity to avoid what will inevitably happen if there isn’t one at hand. But this argument, to me, pales against how vital it is for Americans to become aware of WHY it’s so important to protect their 2nd amendment rights. It’s clear that when it was included in the Bill of Rights, Madison was not thinking simply about hunting. The amendment was created to give citizens the opportunity to fight back against a tyrannical federal government. While I don’t agree with the implication of “fighting back”, now more than any other time in history it is vital for people to understand why this particular right exists in the first place. By arguing for surrendering guns it seems to me that this is falling completely by the wayside at a time when that cannot be allowed to happen.

        I will choose the dialectic approach every time. (Thanks for the reference, by the way – as an aside, I am a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbs.) My personal belief is that the only way the kinds of things we must resolve over the next few years can only be approached this way if we want to achieve success. When a critical mass of people is reached who are peaceful in thought and deed, a completely new approach to how we view the world and what it can mean to live a life will arise. The alternative doesn’t bear contemplation for me.

        In terms of my own efforts, I have become involved with the Toronto branch of the Occupy movement.

        I hope I’ve made my point of view clearer in this (much longer) response.

      • Cheryl ErlandJanuary 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

        Forgive me. I was clearly sleeping when I wrote this sentence – when I read over my response even I couldn’t understand what I was trying to say: “My personal belief is that the only way the kinds of things we must resolve over the next few years can only be approached this way if we want to achieve success.”
        What I mean is this – there is only one way to resolve the huge world issues and that is by using a dialectic approach.

  4. Canada JoeDecember 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    You really want to pick a fight with Canadian firearms owners? Good luck with that……