Welcome to WILPF Canada!
WILPF Canada’s goals are to bring together women of different political beliefs and philosophies who are united in their determination to study, make known and help abolish the causes and the legitimization of war; and to work toward world peace; total and universal disarmament; the abolition of violence and coercion in the settlement of conflict and their substitution in every case of negotiation and conciliation; the strengthening of the United Nations system; the continuous development and implementation of international law; political and social equality and economic equity; co-operation among all people; and an environmentally sustainable development.
For more about WILPF, its history, goals and activities, visit WILPF International.
Every year in Canada, vast resources are expended in the name of military security while social programs like an affordable housing strategy and affordable daycare are either under-funded or not funded at all.
A 2016 Ipsos survey found that one-third of Canadians live with financial insecurity; women disproportionately report challenges with housing costs (49%) and basic life essentials (42%).
In one of the first studies of its kind, States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), of which Canada and all western countries are members, has connected the dots between unmet financial and social needs and all forms of violence and conflict around the world, including domestic and other forms of violence within western democracies.
So the question becomes, At What Cost do we ignore these findings and continue to focus on militarism and war as the only route to peace and security?
Security At Home
Every year, the World Happiness Report releases its list of the happiest countries. The report is based on values for six variables that support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity – true markers of a stable and secure society.
In 2018, Finland topped the list followed by Norway, Denmark and Iceland – all Nordic countries with the strongest social programs in the world.
Costa Rica, which abolished its military in 1948 and rededicated its defence spending to education, healthcare and pensions, consistently ranks as one of the happiest places on earth, and the happiest in Latin America.
Vancouver: A Case in Point
A 2018 study by UBC’s Vancouver School of Economics and McGill University found that Vancouver and Toronto, both suffering from a severe housing affordability crisis and high cost of living, were tied for the unhappiest of 98 Canadian metropolitan areas surveyed.
In the study on violence, the OECD found that “crime and theft are driven by economic motivations and that high levels of grievances linked to economic opportunities lead to increased gang violence.” The dramatic increase in gang violence in Vancouver in recent years supports this contention, with the 2017 Stats Canada finding that Metro Vancouver, one of the world’s most expensive housing markets, lags far behind other Canadian cities in wage earnings.
The federal governments’ plan to end gang violence? On Nov. 7, 2018 they presented a plan to spend $86 million on expanded intelligence and border-security measures for the RCMP and Canada Border Services agency as part of a 5 year, $327 million funding promise to stop criminal gun and gang activities, rather than on measures to address the severe housing crisis and wage gap.
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, more than 1.9 million Canadian women live in poverty and 30.4% of single mothers and their children are below the poverty line. Even today, women earn just 75 cents for every dollar that men earn.
In recent years, the trend in Canada has seen the replacement of stable, full-time employment with low-paying part-time jobs. This trend, combined with the lack of available/affordable housing and daycare has relegated many Canadian mothers to poverty either as working poor or trapped welfare recipients who, without a universal daycare program, simply cannot afford to work.
It is telling that amongst the 36 members of the OECD, Canada stands out as one of the only countries that lacks a government-funded Early Childhood Education and Child Care Program.
Canada’s current annual military budget is $19.8 billion. From 2001 until 2014, 40,000 Canadian soldiers waged war in Afghanistan at an estimated cost of $18 billion. One hundred and fifty-eight soldiers, two civilians, a diplomat and a journalist were killed; more than 1,800 Canadians were wounded and many more returned home with psychiatric problems.
Assessments of what was accomplished are mixed at best. Roland Paris, an Associate Professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, who visited the mission on several occasions, summed it up:
The international mission to stabilize Afghanistan following the toppling of the Taliban regime in 2001 has not succeeded. Early hopes for a democratic renewal gave way to mounting disillusionment, corruption and violence. Although important gains were achieved — including the number of children in school, women’s rights, and access to health care — these improvements rested heavily on the presence of an enormous foreign military and a deluge of aid money, all of which is now waning.
In addition to the tremendous human and economic costs of this war, Canada’s security took an enormous hit with new public safety, No-Fly Lists and anti-terrorism measures.
Join the Conversation…
States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence (OECD, 2016) http://www.oecd.org/dac/states-of-fragility-2016-9789264267213-en.htm
One Third of Canadians Feel Financially Insecure / HuffPost Canada https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kevin-press/onethird-of-canadians-fee_b_13712544.html
Women and Poverty in Canada – Canadian Women’s Foundation https://www.canadianwomen.org/the-facts/womens-poverty/
This is the State of Stress in 2018 https://globalnews.ca/news/4138006/stress-causes-today/
The Risks in Canada’s Unusual Housing Market(s) (OECD, 2016) https://oecdecoscope.blog/2016/06/15/the-risks-in-canadas-unusual-housing-markets/
The OECD Factbook – How Does Canada Rate Amongst the Wealthiest Countries? http://www.oecd.org/publications/oecd-factbook-18147364.htm
World Happiness Report 2018 http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2018/
Why Costa Rica is One of the Happiest Countries in the World https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/costa-rica-happiness-well-being_us_5b6184a8e4b0de86f49c7611?ec_carp=3720456999853115457
UBC Study Finds Vancouver is the Unhappiest City in Canada https://www.vancourier.com/news/ubc-study-finds-vancouver-is-the-unhappiest-city-in-canada-1.23421509
Canada Military Expenditures 1950-2018 https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/military-expenditure?continent=g20
Join us to explore global activism and nuclear disarmament with Ray Acheson from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. This event is hosted by the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA).
Friday, Feb. 2nd, 2018
12:30 pm – 1:50 pm
*New Venue: C.K. Choi Building – Room 120. *Please note that due to high interest in this event, we have moved to a larger venue.
On Monday, January 15th at 5 pm, there will be a candle light vigil to support the peace-building process in Korea. This will be at the Diana Krall Plaza in downtown Nanaimo hosted by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Nanaimo chapter.
The vigil is in solidarity with activities organized by The Vancouver Women’s Forum on Peace and Security On The Korean Peninsula to coincide with the Foreign Ministers Conference there on January 16th.
A delegation of sixteen women peacemakers from Asia, Europe, and North America have come to Vancouver to ensure that women’s perspectives are included in the official discussions and that the only option on the table to resolve the Korean crisis is a diplomatic one.
To support this, candle light vigils will be held in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Saltspring Island, and in Victoria.
January 15 is Martin Luther King Day in the US where King spoke out boldly about the links between militarization, social injustice and spiritual death. In reference to Vietnam, he rejoiced that religious leaders were choosing “ to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based on the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.”
Everyone is welcome to this Nanaimo vigil and participants are encouraged to dress warmly and bring candles!
For further information, call 250 753 3015.
Canada plans to create an overseas mining watchdog early next year, a move welcomed by environmental and human rights activists. Ottawa says it will create an independent office that will specifically look at Canadian oil, mining, and gas companies’ activities abroad.