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Department of Peace gathering packs room

   
 


Alex Atamanenko, MP for British Columbia Southern Interior, speaks with Willard Metzger, Executive Director of Mennonite Church Canada. Metzger thanked Atamanenko for “creating a platform for politicians to do the right thing.

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February 24, 2012
-Dan Dyck

Winnipeg, Man. — Alex Atamanenko may not be a pacifist, but he still supports Bill C-373, which would create a federal Department of Peace within Canada’s federal government.

Atamanenko, MP for British Columbia Southern Interior, spoke on the Bill C-373 at Sam’s Place in Wpg. on Feb. 17 as a petition supporting the bill was passed around. Eighty people of all ages packed the room that Friday evening.

“Canada is the world’s 12th biggest arms dealer,” said Atamanenko, a former military officer and teacher. He observed that his support of Bill C-373 is connected in part to his pacifist Doukhobor heritage. The 18th century Doukhobor movement rebelled against the opulent and ritualistic authority of the Russian Orthodox church of the time, echoing the Mennonite experience with the state Catholic church during 16th century.

“It’s not an either/or situation,” said Atamanenko. “Having a military and a Department of Peace can be a both/and.” Bill C-373 does not involve new tax payer dollars, he said, but would consolidate money from a variety of sources that the government currently spends on peace initiatives. A Dept. of Peace would add an official, influential, and recognized voice within government structures.

He said the best way to draw attention to the bill is for citizens to raise the awareness and support of their MPs.. The bill presently has five seconders, and can have up to twenty.

Atamanenko himself acknowledged the need for a military force, but that Canada “shouldn’t use it unless absolutely necessary.”

One audience member asked how war advocates and peace proponents would agree on criteria for circumstances that would necessitate force.
 
“It has to be part of an entire analysis of the situation,” Atamanenko said. “A Department of Peace would at least be in a position to provide input.”

Willard Metzger, Executive Director of Mennonite Church Canada thanked Atamanenko for “… creating a platform for politicians to do the right thing.”

Atamanenko also supports Bill C-363, which would allow Canadian citizens to conscientiously object to paying the portion of their taxes directed to military purposes.