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Council pair want to talk peace with feds

Aug 23 2012

The federal government should give peace a chance, say Victoria councillors Chris Coleman and Marianne Alto.

The two are seeking council support for a resolution urging the federal government to establish a Department of Peace.

Alto conceded the resolution is largely symbolic, but said that, like early efforts promoting environmentalism, it's important to put it on the table.

"It seems timely to take the opportunity, even at a local government level, to proclaim an understanding that it's necessary for us to actively work for peace as opposed to just letting it happen," Alto said.

"Just as we reached the threshold of trying to understanding the importance of us paying attention to the environment - maybe comparatively, we're at the stage where we have to do the same thing around violence in our communities and do what we can locally," she said.

Citizens in more than 30 countries are currently promoting departments of peace, calling for the establishment of processes to respond to emerging conflicts; a ban on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and promotion of non-violent approaches to violence and conflict.

The Canadian Department of Peace Initiative is supported by a variety of individuals, including former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy, former NDP leader Alexa McDonough and singer Raffi Cavoukian, and agencies such as the Anglican Church of Canada-Diocese of Ottawa, Canadian Federation of University Women and the Council of Canadians.

Victoria has already declared itself a nuclearfree zone and Alto notes Mayor Dean Fortin is a member of the international Mayors for Peace.

The councillors' resolution says a Department of Peace would benefit the city "by working to support existing programs and developing new programs to address and reduce the number and frequency of incidents related to domestic violence, child and spousal abuse, school violence, gang violence, gun violence and hate crimes."

The resolution is to be considered by councillors on Monday.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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