New project 2004-2006

The conference accepted the proposNew project 2004-2006al of Conscience Canada and Nos impôts pour la paix (Canada), and called upon participants and movements to fund this work, particularly the work of a part-time international coordinator.

Canadian International Project

By Domnique Boisvert

As our common international project, we have adopted this time the Conscience Canada Proposal for an International Project (from now on referred to as CANP). And Dominique Boisvert, vice-president of Conscience Canada, accepted to serve as the follow-up person for this international project.

To summarise briefly the CANP, it is an attempt to generate wider public discussions about the concrete alternatives to war and traditional military defence. Since our movements and members have been opposing war and violence in various ways sometimes for a long time, we thought time has come to go beyond saying NO to war and to start proposing concrete alternatives on how we could and want to do otherwise, starting in our own countries.

We are quite aware that it is a long term process. But we have found encouraging responses in some countries where such attempts have started developing, like in Canada and UK. Given the current violent international situation (especially in light of the so-called war on terrorism), more and more people and leaders (including some in the military) realise that the traditional military and violent approach is neither adequate nor successful. And that is why more and more people are interested in looking into alternative approaches. 

The CANP is simple, concrete and inexpensive. It is a proposal that each individual country movement can adopt and adapt to its own reality (depending on its size, scope, means, membership, etc.). The idea is to initiate, within your movement and/or country, a reflection on how, concretely, within the next two years (until the next International Conference in 2006), you could --in your country--move a step forward in the good direction away from war and violence towards a more peaceful and non-violent way of country defense and international conflict resolution.

The ways to do so are numerous and up to your own choice: internal discussions within your movement, public dialogues of any sort and size to widen participation, lobby work with some civil servants (including with the military?), texts in various papers, research on this subject, discussions with other peace groups/movements/churches, etc.[1]

The nature, size and scope of the relevant activities are entirely up to you and have to fit within your own annual activities program. We do not want this CANP to burden your movements with an additional request, but rather propose it as a possibly interesting and useful project of your own programming. With the added advantage and value that it would be linked to other similar efforts at the international level in other countries.

We have experienced this public dialogue process here, in Canada, during the week of April 19 2004, to coincide with our Annual General Meeting. With extremely limited resources (in people, money and time), we were happily surprised to witness various public meetings (some larger, some more intimate) held in at least 15 different cities across our large country, reaching about 250 different persons in these discussions about alternatives. Reports from those meetings were then compiled and translated into a general Report on the Dialogues which is now available on our website ( We would of course be happy to share with any of you all the experiences, tools and materials we have prepared for this first experience.[2] But you are entirely free to build your own project on a different basis or scale if you prefer. Provided it deals with the concrete alternatives to war and violence within your own country, with a view to identifying a first concrete step that could be pursued in the next two years.

Such a CANP does not need much international money,[3] except to help with the leadership, coordination and follow-up aspects[4] till the next international Conference, which I accepted to do in Brussels on behalf of Conscience Canada. As you may recall,  the Brussels Conference decided to give precedence to building an international action together rather than just sending money to support an outside valuable project.

Here are some implications and practical information as regards the international financial aspect of the CANP:

  • additional part time support work for CANP (beyond regular Conscience Canada work)
  • additional material of a secretariat nature
  • additional phone and computer bills
  • postal costs for snail mail
  • photocopies of material needed or requested

ESTIMATED COSTS (for 2004-2006): 5,000 $ CAN (the equivalent of 3 152 EUROS or 3 839.00 USD as of 15 September 2004)

  • The contributions from various participating countries/movements can be directed to:
    • Conscience Canada, 901-70 Mill Street, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, M5A 4R1 (address of CC)
    • Credit Union Account #: 04392-828-8018962311 (our own bank account)
    • Reason for payment: International Project (if requested)
  • For people sending money in any currency that will be transferred in CANADIAN DOLLARS, you have to send it through:
    • Credit Union Central of Ontario (SWIFT BIC Code: CUCXCATTONT)
    • Metro Credit Union (Transit and Bank Number: 04392-828)
    • Conscience Canada (Account Number: 8018962311)
  • For people sending US DOLLARS, you can send it:
    • either by MAIL (in checks or postal money orders in US $) to the Conscience Canada postal address (above) and we will be able to cash it in our bank account
    • or by bank wires through:
    • Royal Bank of Canada (SWIFT BIC Code: ROYCCAT2XXX)
    • Credit Union Central of Ontario (Account: 000002-003-4000030)
    • Metro Credit Union (Transit and Bank Number: 04392-828)
  • Conscience Canada (Account Number: 8018962311)

Dominique Boisvert, Vice-president of Conscience Canada, coordinator for the

  • [1] Based on our Conscience Canada experience, here are some short term possibilities:

    Choosing a week (to give all involved a sense of unity) during which time group discussions (public meeting or kitchen table sharings) on this issue could be organised.
    Finding local organisers who accept the responsibility of seeing to the organisation of such meetings.
    Appointing note-takers who accept to send in the report of these discussions to a national coordinator.

    Longer term objectives, on a national level, may include:

    Gathering the notes taken at these meetings.
    Publishing overviews of these meetings to be distributed to participating national movements at their request.
    Publishing articles to be submitted to various newspapers and/or magazines.
    Writing a brief to be presented to national governments on this issue.

    Longer term objectives, on an international level, include:

    Appointing an international coordinator.
    Compiling the overviews of the various national meetings.
    Writing a paper to be presented to the United Nations by the CPTI.

  • [2] The guidelines prepared by Conscience Canada (CC) for these dialogue meetings are available, upon request by email, from the international coordinator. Among other useful information culled from CC's cross-country dialogue experience, here are the four questions studied:

    What kind of defence/security strategy makes the most sense for Canada?
    What situations (e.g. national emergencies, aggression, peacekeeping) and what needs (e.g. food, energy, education, economy) should be taken into consideration when pondering non-violent defence strategies?
    What mandate should Canadian defence forces have, and how would they be trained/equipped?
    Can we identify some initial steps we could work towards, individually and organisationally?

  • [3] National budgets could be needed to rent a hall/church basement/coffee house or the like for a public meeting; to communicate by phone, fax or regular mail with the local organisers; or to provide relevant background material on the related subjects to help groups organising such meetings. Each national movement would be responsible for the funding needed to cover these expenses (which in CC experience are minimal).
  • [4] The international coordinator's main task would be to keep in contact by email with the national movements (or their representative) which accept to organise these dialogue meetings. Each national organisation could have or share a dedicated secure webpage which they would be responsible to keep up to date. The necessary information would include: the dates and venues of the various national meetings, guidelines if useful, a question-answer section, the publication of overviews as well as the publication of briefs etc. The final task of the international coordinator could be to consolidate the overviews of the various national meetings in order to prepare a paper on this issue to be submitted to the United Nations by the CPTI.