Issues of Values and Good Governance Ottawa, Canada
|By Franco Famularo, Secretary General, UPF-Canada|
|Friday, May 30, 2014|
What is Canada’s Future as a Global Peacekeeper? Is Good Order Reliant on Good Values? Is Canada a Model of Good Government? Three distinct panels composed of religious and political figures as well as leaders of civil society tackled the principal questions listed above at the 3rd annual joint conference of the Canadian chapters of the Universal Peace Federation and Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) held in Ottawa, Canada May 30, 2014.
As part of a series of Educating for Peace seminars and conference, Ambassadors for Peace from across Canada came together to listen to current member of Parliament, Stephane Dion, a former leader of the opposition and cabinet minister, address serious questions that the Canadian government is currently facing such as the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice and the ongoing debate over the role of the Senate. Some serious reflections were also offered on how Canada’s traditional role in the world as a peace broker has changed.
The conference began with an introduction to Universal Peace Federation by Ricardo de Sena, recently appointed Secretary-General for North America, who provided a glimpse into the worldwide work of UPF. His presentation was followed by Mrs. Angelika Selle, an International Vice-President of WFWP and President of the American chapter.
A highlight was the presence of UPF International Chairman, Dr. Charles S. Yang, who offered his insights on the important role Canada has played historically as a peace broker worldwide. He reminded the audience of the great need for peace, order and good government not only in Canada
but around the world. He shared that the vision of the founders of UPF and WFWP was that we should promote the ideal of Living for the sake of others as the central principle that transforms a ‘self-serving’ or ‘nation serving’ perspective into one of ‘selfless service’ and living for the sake of the whole – an essential ingredient in building a world community and a core principle of UPF. He went on to state that the founders emphasized Going beyond barriers that divide people: barriers such as race, religion, nationality, status, class, culture, personality, etc., that traditionally separate people. To enable differences to “enhance” rather than separate requires dialogue, cooperation and respect among all religions, races, cultures and nationalities. Finally, he zeroed in on the most fundamental issue of making a commitment to the renewal and health of the family: He declared that the most fundamental unit of society and the first “school” for human relationships is the family. Each person’s sacred duty to create a peaceful world can be realized through personal investment in creating healthy families.
The first panel was asked to answer the question: What Is Canada’s Future as a Global Peace Maker?
Moderated by Mr. Kaz Masciotra, a student at McGill University, the panelists included Mr. Bill Bhaneja, a former diplomat and co-founder of the Canadian Department of Peace; Ms. Judie Oron, a Canadian Israeli award-winning author and journalist formerly with the Jerusalem Post; Rev. Dr. Stan Chu Ilo, a professor at the University of Toronto; and Ms. Karen McCrimmon, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Canadian Armed Forces who had served in 1st Iraq war, the Balkans and Afghanistan. McCrimmon is also running as a candidate in the next federal election.
Each panelist offered their views on Canada’s traditional role as a global peace keeper and whether the perception of Canada is changing. The presentations and later the questions and answers from the audience focused on whether Canada can afford not to engage in “doing peace” and whether any excuse is valid for withdrawing from peace efforts.
In the second panel the question of whether Good Order Is Reliant on Good Values was addressed. Dr. Peter Stockdale, a former senior analyst with the government of Canada and currently a research and management consultant, moderated the panel that was challenged with clarifying the values that underpin good governance. The panel represented views from across Canada and was composed of participants from very diverse walks of life. Rev. Dr. Stef Piva, a minister of a large congregation in the Vancouver area on Canada’s west coast had the audience thinking when he brought up the issue of forgiveness in his opening remarks. Ms. Denise Anne Boissoneau, an indigenous scholar with a law degree from the University of Ottawa, struck a sensitive chord as she reminded the audience of the plight of the aboriginal people in Canada as she strongly advocated for the vast community of aboriginal peoples in Canada. She was followed by Ms. Tanya Walker, a lawyer with offices in Toronto’s prestigious financial district (the equivalent of Wall Street) called Bay Street. Ms. Walker drew on her experience as a judge and in dealing with commercial and financial disputes to address the issue of values. Finally, Mr. Franco Famularo, Secretary General of UPF Canada, shared UPF’s view on good governance by providing an explanation on the purpose of government historically and in the modern period (see presentation attached).
The second panel was followed by the appointing of nine Ambassadors for Peace, including two current senators who both made remarks. Presided by Dr. Moonshik Kim, current chair of UPF-Canada, and Mr. Alan Wilding, director of UPF for Western Canada, the audience was treated to remarks by newly appointed Ambassadors for Peace: Senator Mobina Jaffer, who represents British Columbia, and Senator Don Meredith from the Toronto area. They both expressed their commitment to continue working for the cause of peace and goodness.
The third panel followed luncheon remarks by Mrs. Joy Pople, director of publications at UPF International, on the proposal for a Bering Strait causeway or tunnel. A main theme in the latter years of the founder provided much food for thought.
In the final panel, speakers addressed the question, Is Canada a Model of Good Government? Moderated by Dr. Armand La Barge, former chief of police for the York region, one of the most diverse areas of Canada. The panel included Rev. Darryl Gray, a civil rights activist and pastor of the Imani Family and Full Gospel Church. Rev. Gray, a prominent leader in Montreal, highlighted some of the troubling issues that members of minority communities have to deal with when faced by challenges by authority. He was followed by Mrs. Monia Mazigh, author and human rights activist who earned a Ph.D. in finance from McGill University. Ms. Mazigh is well-known to Canadians because she was catapulted to the national spotlight as she campaigned for the liberation of her husband, Mr. Maher Arar, from a Syrian prison on trumped charges of his being a terrorist. She successfully gained his release and then obtained a formal apology and compensation from the Canadian government.
Ms. Anita Vandenbeld, an International Democracy Developer, served in several countries co-ordinating anti-corruption campaigns and promoting a better understanding of rights and freedoms.
Finally, Ms. Lilly Tadin, President of WFWP-Canada, presented the position of the co-organizers on how Canada can be a better model of governance by applying the core principles promoted by the founders.
The keynote speech was given by the Hon. Stephane Dion, current member of parliament from Montreal, who addressed key issues faced by the Canadian government at this time. The conference concluded with a lively question-and-answer session and discussions.
UPF and WFWP continue to hold regular monthly meetings in each of the major cities in Canada.