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Canada must bolster military to keep peace


Gerry Klein
16 November 2002


SASKATOON - Canada must rebuild its military capacity so it can back up its stated desire to bring greater peace to the world, says Akaash Maharaj, the National Policy Chair for the Liberal Party of Canada.

“As National Policy Chair, I have always supported more money for the military,” Maharaj said in an interview Friday.

Besides being National Policy Chair, Maharaj is also considering a run for the party’s presidency and is president of Concordis, a non-governmental agency dedicated to using Canadian techniques to settle international conflicts.

He was in Saskatoon this week to speak to University of Saskatchewan students.

Canada should try to position itself as an honest peace broker, much like Norway has done, he said.

In spite of its relatively small size, Norway has played a pivotal role in developing the now-defunct Oslo peace accord for Israel and the Palestinians, and brokering a cease-fire in the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka.

While he backs action against Iraq, as long as it is done through the United Nations, Maharaj feels Canada must do more to shore up its weakened military.

“Whatever policy we pursue, we must have the capacity to deliver on our word.”

Canada should have not qualms about going after Saddam Hussein, as long as the world agrees he must be toppled, but the country should be wary of supporting any unilateral action taken by the United States, he said.

“There is no denying that Saddam Hussein is a brutal tyrant,” he said.

“Liberals have always stood for liberty,” so there should be no problem in us standing up to a tyrant.

But there should be a more consistent position about why some tyrants are worth sending troops to dislodge, and other that acquired and maintain their power illegally and have access to weapons of mass destruction should go almost unchallenged, he said.

The old notion on the enemy of one’s enemy being a friend has many times been discredited – including the western support for Hussein during the 1980s, a tactic that eventually came back to haunt the West.

But Canada can’t be supporting any unilateral or illegal acts, even if they are done by our most powerful neighbour and the largest power on the planet, he said.

“As friends of the United States, it is our duty to stand up to them if they intend to violate international law.”

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