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: Arms industry, Arms Trade Treaty, ATT, Canada, Canadian foreign policy, Defence lobby, Peacekeeping, Rideau Institute, Stephen Harper, United Nations, United States