When Moose Jaw's Robert Thomas visited the Ukraine he expected to see some family history and pull off the most outrageous stunt his Rhino party affiliates had ever thought up. But what he didn't expect was to come back home with a whole new understanding of what exactly is happening in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
His original intent was to launch Darth Vader's election campaign. Seriously. They found a guy who had legally changed his name to Darth Vader and the Rhino party was going to run him in Ukraine's parliamentary election. He told me, "I might be the only guy on earth who went to a café in Odessa with Darth Vader. He bought me chocolate cake and a coke. How many people can say they've done that? It would have been the biggest gag in the history of the Rhino party. It didn't work out. Then I stumbled on to this."
By "this," Robert is talking about the actual state of affairs between Russia and Ukraine and how Canada is potentially allowing thousands of people to die so some politicians can potentially win an election.
Essentially, we in Canada get our news information from sources that are getting their information from Ukraine. So naturally that information would have a pro-Ukrainian slant to it. Our diplomats abroad specifically deal with the Embassy in Ukraine, therefore they specifically receive a pro-Ukrainian slant on what they hear as well; and when we send reporters overseas to investigate, they migrate to Kiev where, again, they are receiving a Pro-Ukrainian slant on the media.
Remember, the media in that part of the world isn't free to publish whatever it wants. Their freedoms of speech are oppressed. The people living in Ukraine don't even know the full extent of what's happening. They just know what they get and what they get is from the same extremely biased news sources Canada and America get their information from.
Both sides are guilty of extreme violence and hatred towards each other and this has been going on for as long as any living person can recollect. It's hundreds of years worth of action, reaction and action all over again. One side persecutes the other so the other gets revenge and on and on over lifetimes until we are left with what is happening now. Most of the people involved in this have never been involved in violence of any kind towards the opposite side. "They are just people like you and me" Robert told me "people that have to go to work and make money and get food and take care of their kids and enjoy their lives. But these are the people suffering right now."
It's basically become a war between Russia and America and the civilians on both sides really have no say over any of it. They are just pawns in a proxy war. Russia is funding the East while America supports the west. You've got the two toughest kids on the playground bullying the little guys into fighting each other and Canada is right in there with America supporting it; and it's all got to do with votes.
There are 1.2 million Ukrainians now living in Canada. There are not nearly as many Russians. "I'll call it like it is," Bob told me. "Cheap ethnic politics."
"Look at Harper," he continued. "He's not in the greatest shape right now; but you have the Ukrainian vote, especially around Toronto and he'll win. Look Ralph Goodale, for example; he only won by 1,500 votes. Thirteen per cent of his riding is made up of Ukrainian ethnics. That's why he shows up at all those Ukrainian functions. He's not going to condemn it. He'll lose." Even right here in Moose Jaw 11.1 per cent of our population is made up of Ukrainians and Ray Boughen barely eked out a victory as MP.
It's easy for the people in Canada to pick sides when our media labels one group terrorists and not the other; but both sides are the bad guys here. Putin's occupation of Crimea is both illegal and unwarranted, sure. But Yanukovych was corrupt, nationally disliked and completely incapable of governing the country and it's not as if the new fascist government in Kiev is actually legal either. Both sides are guilty of organized violent crimes. When the Russians shoot down a military plane in a field of battle Canada "condemns" it but when the Ukrainian side burns down a building and kills 48 innocent civilians Canada only shows "concern." We should be condemning both sides but instead we're choosing to support a war in the name of popularity. It's wrong; and it's not Canadian. It's easy for the people in Canada to pick sides when our media labels one group terrorists and not the other.
When asked what he thinks Canada should do he says "Condemn it. Out and out condemn it. Enough is enough; end this war. It's stupid. Don't follow the United States in trying to get at Russia. Call for a unilateral ceasefire. None of this turn your guns in and face our justice stuff. We put our guns down, I don't shoot you-you don't shoot me, we go for a coffee, show each other baby pictures and come up with a solution."
Essentially, what both sides need to do is simply let go off their terrible history. No more revenge, no more attacks, no more "you do this or else." Just walk away from the fight…or it will only get worse.
I'm not entirely sure how this will settle the land dispute but Bob's certain it's the cure to the violence. Either way, it's a better solution then what is currently being enacted.
This piece originally appeared on Greengross Radio and is reprinted with permission.
Photo: flickr/Sharon Drummond
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.