Thursday, 1 December 2011

Atamanenko Tables Dept. of Peace Bill

Ottawa, ON – Alex Atamanenko, MP (BC Southern Interior), was joined at a press conference today [November 30, 2011] by fellow peace advocates, along with Elizabeth May of the Green Party and Liberal Jim Karygiannis to herald the introduction later in the day of his Private Members Bill to create a federal Department of Peace. May and Karygiannis are co-seconding the Bill. [C-373]

Left to right: Koozma J. Tarasoff, Jim Karygiannis, Alex Atamanenko,
Theresa Dunn,  Elizabeth May and Bill Bhaneja. Photo by Kristina Kristova.

Atamanenko’s bill is a slightly amended version of retired NDP MP, Bill Siksay’s bill from the last parliament, notable for the non-partisan support it had gathered.

Karygiannis says this is one issue where party politics should not get in the way. “It is time for Canada to serve the global constituency by committing to the creation of a Department of Peace.”

Elizabeth May stressed her party's continued support of this initiative. "Peace is more than the absence of war. Non-violent solutions, 'waging peace,' requires a focused investment and shift in consciousness. Even talking about a Department of Peace helps in that shift," she said.

Representatives for Canadian Department of Peace Initiative (CDPI) at the press conference described the bill as exemplifying a global movement in 30 countries promoting infrastructures of non-violent peace within governments, with Peace Ministries and Departments in three countries, most recently Costa Rica. “The bill illustrates the need to prepare for peace in the same way as we prepare for war – with adequate resources and expertise,” stated CDPI Co-Founder,
Bill Bhaneja.

“This is an opportunity to unify the millions of voices expressing a will to follow a new path where our road markers are not fear, anger and vengeful killing but rather prevention, empathy and justice for all of humanity,” declared Theresa Dunn, co-Chair for CDPI.

Doukhobor writer and historian Koozma J. Tarasoff said the need for the architecture for peace is urgent at a time when nuclear and robotic weapons are posing a threat to the world community. “As Canadians, let’s regain our status not only as a peacekeeping and peace-building nation, but also as a nonkilling one.”

“The notion that there can be peace in the world may be a utopian ideal but each generation owes it to the next to make a dedicated attempt to get as close to it as humanly possible.” concluded Atamanenko.

Bill Bhaneja's Note:

Bill Bhaneja (Co-Chair of the Ottawa Chapter, Canadian Dept. of Peace Initiative) wrote the following summary of this historic event:

'....Theresa and I were invited to attend the press conference at 1:30 pm. where Alex Atamanenko spoke about the Bill followed by Elizabeth May and Jim Karygiannis....Theresa, Koozma and I were also given our moments of fame to say a few words at the event. Overall the messages sent were solid and complementary and should have good resonance with the wide ranging peace communities....

'In the House we had a substantive representation from the Ottawa chapter of about 15 people who got to meet Alex after his introduction of the Bill and thank him for his initiative. An official transcript of the Bill will be on line in two languages soon with a designated Bill number assigned to it [C-373]. The new Bill covers all the aspects we wanted to see in it, with minor fine tuning of certain sections e.g. education responsibilities, focus on conflict prevention in R2P, and UN 1325 etc provided by us and others. Alex said  that he will need some time to focus on strategy of how to follow up on this in the Parliament, most likely after Christmas recess. In the meantime, he thought we could go ahead in using the Bill to get the message out in the public as well as to our local politicians for co-seconding the Bill. Our main task right now is to spread the message and energize the civil society and others through this Bill that the idea of DoP and Peace is feasible. Also the Bill can be helpful in fund raising with organizational endorsers. And I am not forgetting the 10,000 target petition signing.'

Koozma's Note:

This historic event impressed me in three ways:
  1. The professional and friendly manner of Alex Atamanenko and his office in getting this Bill tabled in the House. Peace is a trans-party issue. 
  2. The Liberals and the Green Party joined the NDP in this pioneering venture for a new architecture and vision for peace in the world. 
  3. The short talks emphasized the urgency of this Bill, the global nature of it (peace is everyone's business) and the need for a new way of looking at the state of our world civilization.
My own talk was as follows:

'My ancestors the Doukhobors in 1895 destroyed their guns in a mass voice to the world that the slaughter of human beings from the scourge of wars must stop once and for all. Today, modern weapons of mass destruction, esp. that of atomic bombs and robotics, threaten our world civilization with annihilation.

'Like Steve Jobs of Apple, we need to envisage a world in a totally different way so as to invigorate Canada's role as a peacekeeper and peacebuilder. The proposed Canadian Department of Peace provides the architecture for doing this — especially in promoting the transition from a war-based to a peace-based economy.

'With the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we can say, 'We have a dream not to be killed and the responsibility not to kill another human being. We have a dream and a vision to pass along to the future generation our hope to create a nonkilling society. Now, let us support the Bill and make this vision a reality. For where there is no vision, people perish.'


  1. Thanks for this, Koozma. As you say, many are needed in this important work.
    Myler, Selkirk College, Castlegar, BC

  2. Thanks for the heads up on this Koozma!

    Alex is ahead on this one, and he's got our support. We need more MPs from your end of Canada to give him support.

    Paul, Castlegar, BC