The Elmwood Institute
The Elmwood Institute is a membership-based ecological think-tank founded by Fritjof Capra , with Ernest Callerbach , Hazel Henderson , Randy Hayes and others. Its purpose is to help facilitate the cultural shift from a mechanistic, patriarchal world view to a holistic, ecological view. Programs include a Global File of ecological practices in business; symposia and dialogues; and Elmwood Circles around the US. Its forum is the Elmwood Newsletter. Send $25 for one year’s membership to POB 5765, Berkeley, CA 94705. Tel: 415- 845-4595.
Conscientious Objection Anyone?
Perhaps to the soldier, the civilian is the man who employs him to kill, who includes the guilt of murder in the pay-envelope and escapes responsibility.
— Graham Greene
For forty years Canadian Forces personnel have played a major peacekeeping role. We have won worldwide respect as a kind and gentle nation. Our Forces have maintained peace by bravely standing between warring peoples.
Many Canadians are now dismayed that our Forces personnel have been put into aggressive combat. Canada’s peacekeeping reputation is damaged by our country’s stance in the Persian Gulf.
To be against this war is not to be unpatriotic. To be against this war is to support Canadian military personnel, many of whom disagree with the Prime Minister’s position.
Conscientious objectors who are concerned about Canada’s participation in the Gulf War, please contact Dick Perrin at Conscience Canada, #505, 620 View Street, Victoria, B.C., V8W 2P3, Telephone (604) 384-5532.
If you are a member of the Forces having personal difficulty with this issue, we want you to know that there are people who understand and care.
February 20, 1991
I am Jason Miller and until last week, I was an Acting Sub Lieutenant in the Navy. I am a conscientious objector. I was released from the Canadian Forces on February 11, 1991, and this was an honourable dicharge.
I choose to bring my story to public light so as to further raise the issue of conscientious objection in Canada.
I began military service when I was 18 years old when I enrolled in the Regular Officers Training Plan in Calgary. I studied at Royal Roads Military College, and the Royal Military College of Canada. On graduation I received a degree in Political Science and a Queen’s Commission.
When I originally took the Oath of Allegiance upon enrollment, I believed that it would be an honour to serve Canada in protecting the security and sovereignty of the country, and that this was a contribution to world peace. Through my experience in the military, I found that my understanding of the world changed — I no longer could say I was a strong supporter of all of Canada’s defence commitments, but the time for voluntary withdrawal from the CF had long passed. I became, however, even more enthusiastic about the peace keeping roles Canada had performed for the United Nations and hoped that these would become more important in the future.
During the Naval Officer’s training courses after graduation, I realized that opportunities for peace keeping postings were very limited, that Canadian defence priorities were not changing, and that I was bound up with policies which I did not support. Classroom discussions of professional ethics encouraged me to clarify my ethical position. In August 1990, I submitted a memorandum requesting that my training be ceased and that I be released from the CF.
After this, I was no longer training aboard destroyers but employed ashore at CFB Esquimalt. I was told the following by superior officers that:
I was free to believe what I wanted, but would have to complete my four years of Obligatory Service, and that anybody under any other type of CF contract would have been released if they made a similar request on similar grounds.
For the time being, I was satisfied that I was not being trained for a combat role and that some of the work I was doing at the base was constructive and positive. However, I was still wearing the uniform and saluting, and those who serve in the military must believe that what they do is right.
Since the Oka crisis of 1990, I have resolved to act for non-violent ways for resolvng the political, social and economic conflicts of Canada. I re-initiated proceedings for my release in November 1990, and was released this year as I witnessed with horror the brutal death of many human beings and the ravaging of the planet in the Middle East.
I thank the Canadian Forces for recognizing that my values and beliefs are fundamental to what I do and for releasing me from further service. The United Nations Commission of Human Rights resolution of March 1989, recognizes that: conscientious objection to military service derives from principles and reasons of conscience, including profound convictions arising from religious or similar motives.
The resolution recognizes the right of everyone to have conscientious objections to military service as a legitimate exercise of the rights of freedom of thought, conscience and religion as laid down in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These rights are affirmed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Conscientious objection has been recognized in Canadian law in the past. It is my hope that the Canadian Armed Forces will treat any other cases of serving members who have come to object to the violent response to conflict, or to a particular policy, such as the current military intervention in the Gulf, as they have treated me recently.
I love this land and its many peoples and I hope that future generations will find a world where different peoples can talk and share and live on a healthy Earth.
Information: Dick Perrin, Conscience Canada (604) 384-5532
ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)