in search for peace
BLUEPRINT FOR PEACE
By Dr. Stephen Gill
* Presented at the IACS International Conference
on Canadian Studies held from April 12-15, 1999
at the Himachal Pradesh University in
In 1945, after the Second World
War, Prime Minister Mackenzie King declared that now "Canada should play a part
in shaping the peace." That is what Canada did when she helped in forming the
United Nations and international financial institutions as well as when she
helped in the birth of NATO, chaired the First Committee on Peace and
Disarmament in 1988, and when she carried out several related actions through
Peaceful coexistence and respect
for human rights are two main areas that shape Canada's foreign as well as
domestic policies. Here is a quote that indicates the thinking of the Canada's
policy-makers even in 1948 when the chairman of the Canadian delegates spoke in
the General Assembly at the time of voting for the acceptance of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. He said, "we shall, in the future, as we have in
the past, protect the freedom of the individual in our country where freedom is
not only a matter of resolutions but also of do-to-day practice from one end of
the country to the other."1
The same Canada received top
marks from the United Nations for being the best country in the world as far as
living conditions are concerned. The country was surveyed several times from
this angle and always topped the list. This angle can be affirmed from the
extent of the eagerness of the citizens of South Asian countries and others to
settle in Canada. The United Nation's Human Development Report 1992 says that
"By every indicator-- life expectancy, educational attainment, income levels---
Canada is the choicest place to live of all the 179 countries that make up the
Canada becomes the choicest place largely because of her recognition of peaceful co-existence and human rights. The hands of such recognitions continuously look after the Canadian garden to grow the fruits of the best living conditions. This reduces the wasteland of the unnecessary tension between and among religious and ethnic groups.
Canada expressed her desire for
peace more vehemently long before that however through her child Lester B.
Pearson. He was instrumental in establishing the United Nations, and he was also
instrumental in transforming Canadian society into a United Nations in
microcosm. Lester Pearson, born in 1897, influenced the domestic and foreign
policies of Canada considerably. He describes his path to achieve his ideal
society in The Four Faces of Peace :
".How can there be peace without
people understanding each other? How can there be cooperative coexistence, which
is the only kind that mean anything, if men are cut off from each other; if they
are not allowed to learn more about each other? So let's throw aside the
curtains against contacts and communications." 3
Pearson's emphasis is on
multiculturalism. Before him, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, another Prime Minister of
Canada, said in a more poetic way:
"I have visited in England one of
those models of Gothic architecture which the hand of genius, guided by an
unerring faith, has moulded into a harmonious whole. This cathedral is made of
marble, oak and granite. It is the image of the nation I would like to see
Canada become. For here, I want the marble to remain the marble; the granite to
remain granite; the oak to remain the oak; and out of all these elements I would
build a nation great among the nations of the world."4
The above is one way to express
the multi racial character of Canadian society. Another way to express the same
thought is that of Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker. He said in 1961:
"It is rather a garden into which have been transplanted the hardiest and brightest flowers from many lands, each retaining in its new environment the best of the qualities for which it was loved and prized in its native land."5
Mr. Pearson, a Nobel Prize
laureate for peace, puts in a different way :
"We are now emerging into an age
when different civilizations will have to learn to live side by side in peaceful
interchange, learning from each other, studying each other's history and ideals
and art and culture, mutually enriching each other's lives. The alternative, in
this overcrowded little world is misunderstanding, tension, clash and
And this is the Canadian identity as described by Dr. Charles Hobart, a sociology professor,
at the sixth conference of the
Canadian Council of Christians and Jews in Winnipeg:
"Search for identity? YOU are
almost the multicultural society of the world and this is your identity. It is
the contribution you as Canadians have to make to the world. This system of
multiculturalism has now worked for almost 100 years and you should be
missionaries in this type of cause."7
In a country of thirty million
people, there are about two hundred and fifty ethnic news media, and around one
hundred and fifty languages spoken and understood. Senator Paul Yuzyk from the
Ukranian community, known for his service to multiculturalism, deserves to be
noted when he says :
"By their perpetuation of the
best of their cultural heritage, these groups have made Canadians more conscious
of cultural values, out of which there has emerged the principle of unity in
diversity, or, stated in another way, unity with variety as a rule of
governance. This principle, in keeping with the democratic way, encourages
citizens of all ethnic origins to make their contributions to the development of
a general Canadian culture as essential ingredients in the nation-building
This is the Canadian way, a
bilingual, multicultural society which permits free development of every
culture, language and religion, working together to achieve a higher form of the
principles of freedom and democracy, equality and justice. These principles in
Canada are assuming realistic form. This is the blueprint that structures the
Canadian identity-- and I believe, this is the blueprint to structure the rest
of the emerging world.
I believe that cultural
pluralism, including the co-existence of multi-faiths, is an enriching factor
that provides a base for the experiences on which the world can build a future
and add zest to life. I believe that multiculturalism is the spirit of sharing--
the spirit for knowledge to be widened to the boundaries of other creeds. I
believe that multiculturalism is the opening of the eyes to the beauties of
other places. Ultimately, it brings health to the life of a nation--to the life
of a community--to the life of every citizen. This was the blueprint of the
dream of Lester B. Pearson illustrated in The Four Faces of Peace.
The dream of Mr. Pearson assumed
a more realistic form in the area of civil liberties under Prime Minister John
Diefenbaker when the Parliament of Canada passed the Canadian Bill of Rights in
1960. Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau took a further step to translate
that dream into reality. He was against policies which were "based on race and
religion"9. He wanted a Canada in which "justice and freedom were
supreme, a society in which all Canadians could develop themselves fully."10
On the 8th of October of 1971, he announced a multicultural policy to assure
cultural freedom to all the Canadians. He said :
"Such a policy should help to
break down discriminatory attitudes and cultural jealousies. National unity, it
is to mean anything in the deeply personal sense, must be founded on confidence
in one's own individual identity; out of this, can grow respect for that of
others and a willingness to share attitudes and assumptions. A vigourous policy
of multiculturalism will help create this initial confidence. It can form the
base of a society which is based on fair play for all."11
That dream is a reality also in
any shopping centre in Toronto, Missisauga, Vancouver and any major city where
one notices Canadians in orthodox to most modern ethnic dresses. The grace of
that dream has been portrayed through several symbolic devices by politicians,
poets and others, comparing it to a mosaic, a garden, a rainbow, and a symphony
Canada has emerged indisputably
among the countries which realize the importance of multiculturalism, recognize
it officially and promote it actively. It is the spirit of tolerance that is
behind this recognition. Canada promotes this concept in every possible way to
shape her citizens for the multicultural world of today. One of them is through
It is important to keep in mind
that our students have a future and that our earth has a future. Cultural
exchanges play a dominant part in shaping a peaceful world of tomorrow.
Exchanges build fortresses of friendship. Interchange of students and teachers
at the international level is a means of promoting global understanding.
International cultural and
educational exchanges build solid alternatives to wars. The participants know no
borders. They wean the sacred cow of nationalism, becoming the diamonds in the
crown of harmony. They turn the globe safe for diversity. Such alternatives
help to shape friendly foreign policies under democracies, and make electorates
more cosmopolitan in their outlook.
International scholarships to
promote exchanges were almost non-existent before the 20th century. Cecil John
Rhodes made a significant contribution in this field when the Rhodes scholarship
was established in 1902. He believed that a good understanding among England,
Germany and the United States of America would help to secure international
peace. The move was followed by other nations. The Fulbright Act (1946), which
established the program in the United States, signed into law by President
Truman, resulted in academic exchanges between the United States and several
other nations. Now the nations realize that exchanges develop a sense of common
humanity which promotes cooperative endeavour to achieve peace. John F. Kennedy
declared exchanges as "the classic example of beating swords into ploughshares."
Canada is aware that mobility
helps students to develop a global perspective and to produce leaders of
tomorrow to make decisions. This awareness has produced hundreds of local and
national organizations. At present, according to one estimate, there are over
sixty thousand foreign students in Canada for the purpose of furthering their
studies. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade encourages
the introduction of new as well as reciprocal activities. Some of these
cultural exchanges are managed by the embassies.
Exchanges is one way to reduce
the phobia of the unknown, to find beauties in others, to foster tolerance, and
to familiarize young Canadians with new skills. Another way to achieve these
objectives is by accepting refugees. Refugees bring something new that enriches
the existing culture. They help to dispel the fog of suspicion. They root out
myths by removing the curtain of ignorance which often is the breeding ground
for hatred and tension.
Canada opens her doors for
refugees from third world nations, although Canada is relatively a small
country--one-half of one percent of world population, with a growing number of
aging citizens. Since the end of world war two, Canada has made a significant
contribution to easing the refugee problem.
"More than half a million people
were allowed to enter and settle in Canada for humanitarian and compassionate
reasons during this period. In the 1980's more than twenty thousand refugees
have been sponsored annually through government schemes and the private sector.
But this is not Canada's only contribution. Since the late 1940's, the country
has donated more than one billion dollars in cash and kind to intergovernmental
and non-governmental agencies for the care and maintenance of millions who have
fled their homelands in search of a haven from persecution, imprisonment, even
death. In 1986, Canada was awarded the Nansen medal (bt) the office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in recognition of the
humane and generous policy pursued by the public and private sectors."12
In addition to refugees, Canada
admits millions of immigrants who seek better social and economic conditions.
Today, Canada is in the same situation in which Alexandria and Byzantium stood.
Byzantium flourished for more than a thousand years from 330 AD to about 1400 in
Eastern Roman Empire. The location of Byzantium provided the city with some
excellent advantages. Byzantium emperors gave a home to refugee scholars and
found time to build lending libraries. It was a cosmopolitan society full of
vitality, a half-way house between the East and the West. They grew culturally
Canada is also growing wealthy.
Canada is a cosmopolitan society, alive and vibrant-- a United Nations in
"In the world of the late
twentieth century, the possession of the language skills which our new Canadian
have brought, is a very great asset to us, not only in the areas of
international trade but in the areas of international peacekeeping, in the
contributions to the United Nations, in the general development of the awareness
of a world community. The heritages, cultural, social, and other, which the new
arrivals on our shores have brought, have enriched our nations."13
It is encouraging that Canada
promotes multiculturalism through a government department. The spirit of
tolerance as well as the spirit of sharing is behind this recognition that sets
an example for the world community. Nearly all the provinces and several
municipalities have also such departments. Some departments in major cities fund
the writing and publications of novels, anthologies and works of non-fiction
which are based on the experiences of newcomers for the benefit of others.
Minorities, including religious
and ethnic groups, are proud of being citizens of Canada. One strong reason
behind their pride is their freedom to have their places of worship the way they
want them to be and to arrange their conferences to discuss their religions,
and problems about language and cultures. In Canada, they receive assistance
from the government to finance their schools to teach their ethnic languages.
Canada is a country where religious groups can take the boards of education to
court to have their rights and even holidays. Canada is a country where The
Canadian Citizenship Council in 1964 proclaimed that "the maintenance of human
rights should be the basic objective of the citizens of Canada."14
Moreover, It is fun to have
flowers and fruits of different shades and kinds in the same orchard.
Expectation of homogeneity in the political and religious spheres is a utopian
thought. Tolerance, understanding, and co-existence is the way to peace and
Canada shares these recognitions
and values with another apostle of non-violence. The Second World War produced
two apostles of peace in two different countries of two different continents,
from two different religious backgrounds and of two different colours. Both
used the same weapon for two different purposes, which is the hope of the human
of today. One of them is Mahatma Gandhi, who used the weapon of non-violence to
free India from foreign domination. Another is Lester B. Pearson who advocated
non-violence to end future wars. One of them fell a victim to intolerance;
another wove a fabric for tolerance which is the base of the mosaic nature of
Tolerance is becoming more
commendable because of the prevailing religious and ethnic unrest in some
countries. The formation of an unholy marriage between science and fanaticism
digs a grave for the quest for harmony. Prince Karim Aga Khan, a Muslim
spiritual leader of 12 to 15 million people in 25 countries said in Lisbon that
"social harmony combined with religious freedom is a prerequisite for attaining
human progress."15 But religious freedom is possible if there is
tolerance in society which should be encouraged through legislation as well as
from the beginning in the schools.
History has proven over and over
again that violence has never been able to solve problems. Violence also raises
a crop of poison and revenge for more bloodshed. We are living in an age of the
most sophisticated engines of death which are within an easy reach of anyone.
The adoption of violent means is the road to self-destruction.
On the other hand, dialogue paves
the way for peaceful solutions and adjustments. Mahatma Gandhi condemned
violence. Mr. Pearson, a Nobel Laureate for Peace, also condemned violence
because he had seen its ugly head in the war. He suggests in Democracy in
World Politics "So we must continue the hard and often seemingly hopeless
task of trying to convince those who have made a creed of violence,that now at
last violence cannot possibly pay because its end result will be universal
We know that the globe of today
is no longer the globe of yesterday-- that the world has come out of feudal and
isolated states to become a village-- and that due to advancements in
transportation, people keep moving from one area to another rapidly for
employment and other purposes. Everywhere, there are people of diverse creeds,
colours, customs and traditions. The various nations due to the speed of
transportation live face to face now. Not only that, they depend on one another
for existence. The world needs a mental and psychological unity that can be
acquired largely through the realization of the pluralistic nature of today that
needs tolerance. Tolerance is the key to peace-- tolerance builds bridges of
harmony--- tolerance is the foundation of democracy. Tolerance for the faiths of
others as well as for the cultures of others gives birth to a legitimate child
On the other hand, intolerance
leads to a fearful circle of revenge, opening doors for anarchy, making day-to
day life miserable. Intolerance leads to unnecessary tensions which lay the
foundation for insecurity and where there is no security there is no chance for
prosperity and peace-- neither personal nor political. Intolerance leads to
unnecessary tension and tensions leads to unnecessary divisions in the
communities and nations. Intolerance was the sword that divided India in 1947
and established Pakistan. Intolerance was the sword that divided Pakistan and
established Bangladesh. The same sword poses a serious threat again.
Intolerance leads to unnecessary
tension and fear. And fear leads to insane actions. In extreme form, fear
becomes terror. Suspicion and fear split people into opposite camps, each trying
to collect more poison to annihilate the other. No one will know how to get rid
of the thunders of fear-- where and how to end that maddening race of
intolerance-- how to ease the climate of tension that eats into the flesh of
Tension and fear play havoc with
the economic life of the nation. The citizens of intolerant lands look for green
pastures in a country like Canada. Those who come here find pride in the
citizenship of Canada. When they go back for visits, they proudly display
their Canadian passports to others. They keep most of their savings in Canadian
banks; they get actively involved in the development of their new land.
Those who advocate that security
comes from the mouth of a gun or terrorism or repressive laws are wrong. In the
world of today, minorities are no longer extremely weak and majorities in power
are not exclusively powerful. Security of a nation cannot last long if ethnic or
religious groups are insecure. A realistic approach would be to give a chance to
every ethnic and religious group; to basic human rights; to sharing.
Force is not the answer for
having a homogenized citizenship. Russia even with all its awesome power could
not eradicate churches and synagogues. The state oppression of the communists of
Poland could not crush the devotion of the people to the Catholic Church. The
same repressive regime produced a Pope. In India, intolerant policies of
Aurangzeb hammered nails in the coffin of the Mughul empire. Obviously,
religious intolerance is a cancer that eats the healthy bones of society.
Happy minorities contribute
towards the building of the nation. If minorities feel secure, they will do
everything to feel proud of their heritage. Absence of security and harmony
leads to econo/ political disaster that endangers the stability of the
majority. Protection of minorities is in the interest of the majority and the
whole nation, even the world. That is why Mahatma Gandhi believed in
safeguarding the rights of minorities. "That is a legitimate safeguard"17
, he said. I have no doubts whatsoever that Mahatma Gandhi's approach is
realistic even for repressive regimes-- this approach is for their own
prosperity-- for their own survival.
However, it would be absolutely
wrong to assume that Canada does not have her own problems. What singles out
Canada from various other nations is her attitude towards minorities. In Canada
anyone can say anything without the fear of persecution and the citizens are
free to pursue their faiths the way they want as long as they refrain from
spreading hatred and as long as they refrain from violating at least the basic
human rights of others. Canada is a country where opportunities abound for
every ethnic group-- for every religion-- for every individual in every field.
The recognition of these freedoms makes every minority proud.
These freedoms, along with
others, are guaranteed by The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which came
into effect on the 17th of April of 1982 and which was part of reforms codified
in a law called the Constitution Act, 1982. After three years, section 15 of the
Charter, which protects equality rights, came into effect on the 17th of April
In the Guide to the Charter, Prime Minister Jean Chretien says "the Charter guaranties freedom of religion and freedom of thought." He adds that "it reflects our pride and our cultural diversity."18 In the same Guide to the Charter, Sheila Copps, former Minister of Canadian Heritage, points out "The Charter is proof that Canadians believe the success of a society can only be built on the freedom of its people."19 And the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Lloyd Axworthy, states in a letter that "human rights issues are a priority in Canada's foreign relations." Canada is working hard to be a compassionate and considerate society even more. There will remain difficulties here and there, because solutions do not pop up overnight. What is vital for the health of a nation is a firm commitment which Canada provides with legislation and practical steps. This commitment gives religious and cultural freedom to the residents to work together for a common goal. Canada believes in living side by side with the people of many colours, customs and faiths. This is the Canadian way for progress-- this is the Canadian belief for prosperity--this is the Canadian blueprint for peace.
1Holmes, John W.
The Shaping of Peace. Vol.11, University of Toronto Press, 1979, p.291.
2Roche, Douglas. A
Bargain for Humanity. Pb., The University of Alberta Press, 1993, p.57
3Pearson, Lester B.
The Four Faces of Peace. McClelland & Steward Limited, Toronto. 1964, page
4Yuzyk, Senator Paul.
For a Better Canada. Ukranian National Association, Toronto, 1973, pages
For a Better Canada. Ukranian National Association, Toronto, 1973, pages
6Pearson, Lester B.
Democracy in World Politics. S.J. Reginald Saunders and Company, Toronto,
1955. Page 84
7Yuzyk, Senator Paul.
For a Better Canada. Ukranian National Association, Toronto, 1973, page
For a Better Canada. Ukranian National Association, Toronto, 1973, pages
Christopher. The Prime Ministers of Canada. Pagurian Press, Canada, 1985,
The Prime Ministers of Canada. Pagurian Press, Canada, 1985, p. 144
11National Multicultural Symposium.
July-30-31, 1976. Canada-Pakistan Association. p. 55
12Granatstein, J.L. (Ed.). Towards
A New World. Copp Clark Pitman Ltd, Toronto, 1992, p. 244
13National Multicultural Symposium.
July-30-31, 1976. Canada-Pakistan Association. p. 43
14Yuzyk, Senator Paul. For a Better Canada. Ukranian National Association, Toronto, 1973, p. 92
15India Journal, Mississauga, Canada.
July 17, 1998, page 19
16Pearson, Lester B. Democracy in
World Politics. S.J. Reginald Saunders and Company, Toronto, 1955. Page 20
17Shirer, L. William. Gandhi : A
Memoir. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1979, p. 62
18Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedom (Guide). the Human Rights Program of the Department of Canadian
FOR FURTHER READING
*Canada in the World. CIDA, 1995.
*Demeter, John and Marion, Kevin, Eds. Peace Research Review, 1974. Vol. V1, No.1
*Haverluck, Bob. Perspectives On Peace/ Conflict. Peguis Publishers, Manitoba, Canada, 1990
*International Exchanges. Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, 1966.
*Payne, Robert. The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi. Konecky & Konecky, New York, 1969. Hc.
*"Toward the Abolition of War through International Educational Exchange," Nancy E. Snow, Peacebuilder, The, June 1990, p. 9, vol 1, no.2, Takoma Park, MD.
*Ray, Douglas, Ed. Peace Education. Third Eye, London, Canada, 1988.
*Spier, Matthew, Bell, Colin, Compilers. Canadian Peace and World Order Studies. Association of Community Colleges, 1987.
*Stursberg, Peter. Lester Pearson and the Dream of Unity. Doubleday Canada Limited, Toronto. 1978, HC.
*Tomlin, Brian W. and Molot Maureen Appel, eds. Canada Among Nations, James Lorimer, Toronto, 1987.