Is Canada formally at war?

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Is Canada formally at war?



This is a constitutional/legal question, I guess, and I figured there would be some people here who could answer it. 


Is Canada formally at war right now? And with whom? How do we know? 


A related question: I know we have the Anti-terrorism Act, and the list at the Dep't of Public Safety (shades of Robespierre, eh?) of the redundantly titled "Listed Entities" -- ie, the groupings or organizations that Canada has declared to be terrorist organizations. If we so name them and assign penalties for supporting them, does that mean we are "at war" with them? And why is the Taliban not on that list? I ask not because I'm demanding that it be added; I just don't understand what the legal explanation for its absence would be, given some of the other "listed entities."


And further, does anyone know whether the U.S. is actually formally "at war" in terms that would make sense in international law? 


Ta very much for any help anyone can offer.




Hi Skdadl

I do not believe either Canada, UK or the USA is formally at war.

I believe the Taliban fall under Al Qaida and Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin organizations (Not that I agree with that) according to Public Safety Canada website found at



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Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Nice to see your words here again, skd. Stay awhile?  Laughing


We, they, are informally killing people?


Skdadl, always with the interesting questions. I think we could be entering a constant state of war, or perhaps a constant state of high alert in preparedness for a widened phony war on terror. I dunno. One thing we do know is that if various US federal agencies and Pentagon dont want to cooperate with one another even this many years after 9-11, what chance do we have of following UN protocol for war crimes trials and getting to the bottom of things? Unseen enemies are difficult to pin down, and I think they prefer it that way

Jacob Richter

I think that Russia is still formally at war with Japan.


I also believe the American Spanish war is in a ceasefire state.


______________________________________________________________________________________________ We are like cloaks, one thinks of us only when it rains.


Not sure, but I think North and South Korea are in a state of ceasefire since the 1950's 


Fidel, that is correct.

______________________________________________________________________________________________ We are like cloaks, one thinks of us only when it rains.

martin dufresne

It would be interesting to suss out what accountability and checks and balances the Canadian government is avoiding by not formally declaring war on the people it attacks.


Jacob Richter wrote:
I think that Russia is still formally at war with Japan.

The Soviet Union declared war on Japan after the Hiroshima bombing so it could seize disputed territories from Japan before it surrendered to the US. There was never a peace treaty between the USSR and Japan The USSR no longer exists, of course, and I guess it's an interesting point as to whether Russia could be considerd to be still at war with Japan.

 As for Spain and the US, there was indeed a peace treaty in December, 1898.

 As for the original posting, Canada is not formally at war with anyone. The proscribed entities  are considered to be crimimal organizations, not sovereign entities.



The proscribed entities are considered to be criminal organizations. An act of terror is a criminal act. To respond to a criminal act by responding with acts of war, like; bombing and attacking, invading, occupying, is illegal. The war in Afghanistan (to call a spade a spade) is, therefore illegal. All this is according to international law


It's a question that should be asked in Parliament every day, maybe, because it goes right to the heart of the issue. Once upon a time, the ability to declare war rested with the King. With much work, it was wrested away and "Ready, Aye, Ready" gave way to "Parliament shall decide" and Canada joined World War II through a formal declaration of war [i]by Canada[i]. Now, it's happened American-style that we can go to war without anyone approving it, against an enemy not defined. It's probably the one post-modern thing that got into the top circles -- we can be at war and not at war simultaneously..

martin dufresne

"The proscribed entities  are considered to be criminal organizations, not sovereign entities."

Interesting redefinition of a police State.


Did we declare war during our UN adventures such as Cyprus and Yugoslavia? The military conducted both defensive and offensive operations during several UN missions, are these not acts of war?


______________________________________________________________________________________________ We are like cloaks, one thinks of us only when it rains.


I'm just checking back in to thank everyone who has commented.


In the first place, I'm ashamed that I understand our own laws and principles on this turf less well than I do those of the Merkins, although in my own defence I would note that they get a lot more publicity. 


I don't mind carving out some kind of middle ground in a clear peace-keeping case like Cyprus (not so sure about some extensions of the missions to former Yugoslavia).  And Martin, I think there are reasons to prefer defining terrorism as a criminal activity. My main reason is that our police guys behave in much more disciplined fashion when they know they have to get real evidence that can be taken forward to an actual court of law. Lift that discipline from them, tell them that they now get to do sexy macho intel work, and all hell breaks loose, as we've seen in some ways with the RCMP, CSIS, and DFAIT, and on a vast and horrifying scale with the U.S. torture regime, too many agencies to mention.


It bothers me that I don't know the categories that I could use in order to argue back against Harper or Kenney or any of the other spokesthingies. As Ze says, it may be that we just don't have those categories any longer, and that is a problem, I think. They are playing terrible games with us, and we have to figure out how to pin them down and stop them. 


Anyway, as I say, I'm grateful to all who comment, and I'll keep reading. The illegality of it all bothers me a lot, and the torture bothers me most of all.





Sean in Ottawa

There are distinctions between some of these. In some cases we were supporting a local authority with at least a claim to legitimacy , in some cases we were supporting a UN mandate and in some our mandate came from Washington. there is a problem when the local authority we say we are defending in Afghanistan is one mostly of our own creation.

I guess that is a common problem given how many governemtns are imperial pawns

I am not a complete non-interventionist (although I know there are some here) . However I think it is fair to question force as a means of intervention when there are many others (like development). And it is fair to rank the degree of the problem by considering just how unilateral the source is.

When it comes to Afghanistan I can't help but be cynical about Harper's comments as perhaps cover for explaining how the country won't be  better off when we go than it was when we arrived.



Canada last declared war during WWII. Although I can't verify it and think Canada may have declared war on some of Hitler's Puppet regimes later. They declared war against Japan on Dec 7. 1941 proclaimed by the King on Dec 8.


Hey, Afghanistan has massive reserves of Natural Gas, and the Caspian Basin is said to be this planet's last great Oil Eldorado.  You want us to leave and have all those precious resources routed through Iran!!! 

Afghanistan is a mess, but Kandahar province is smack dab in the middle of a proposed pipeline route that's been in the works for over 10 years.  We're not at war with the entire country, we just want to secure the area needed for the pipeline...the Pashtuns, Taliban and assorted drug lords can have the make it easy let's just call them all terrorists, now everyone go enlist before we lose those resources.  


I don't remember it as a formal declaration, we called our selves "peacekeepers" and morphed it into counter insurgencies warfare.


Nice to see you again Skdadl How is it over at B&R



Where the morph took place was when we changed from U.N. "peacekeepers" to NATO "peacemakers". "Peacemaking" is a euphamism (and an oxymoron) for "war". NATO is a subordinate organization to the U.N. In October 2001, the Pentagon sponsored the Bonn Conference where Hamid Karzai and the Afghan interim government in exhile was appointed. The U.N. recognized the Bonn Conference.

On October 20, 2001 NATO sends ISAF troops to Afghanistan, unasked and uninvited by the interim government formed in Afghanistan by Afghans. NATO hands this as a fait accompli to the U.N. Contrary to its Charter, the U.N. accepts this action.


The greatest problem with the U.N. is its Permanent (5 member) Security Council. This is the body that, if there is a major international issue that interests it, deliberates and votes on a course of action. In such cases, it is the executive branch of the U.N. The U.S. wanted the war. So did the U.K. France backed them up. Whatever resistance they may have gotten from Russia and China, the U.S. made some deals with them and thereby either bought their votes or they abstained (an obstention not being counted as a "No" vote: There must be unanimity in the Security Council in order for a vote to pass).

This is the 'fig leaf' argument from legality: That the Afghan war is mandated by the U.N. as used by George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Stephen Harper, etc.

The presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is also mandated by the U.N.


Again, the U.S. gets what it wants through the Security Council.

It is for this, and other reasons, that the Afghan war is illegal.

If you want to change this situation, eliminate the Security Council: Make it one country, one vote. Resolutions are decided by simple majorities.

Unfortunately, in order to eliminate the Security Council by a motion brought up within the U.N. it probably needs final assent and approval by the Security Council. The main body of the U.N. would have to not recognize the Security Council, vote to dissolve it, then change the U.N. Charter to make it legal. 


Formally vs. informally doesn't matter much in the context of war.

 Does is matter to the 1 million + Iraqi's who are dead as a result of the current war, or the 4 million + Iraq's who are homeless, or the entire country that lives in a toxic wasteland full of depleted uranium created by the US, whether war has been formally declared ?

Same thing for Canada in Afghanistan.  They are there doing the bidding of US & Israel.

No Canada is not formally at war, but in reality, the are still making war.  Nowhere near as gung-ho as the Israeli's & Americans about killing Muslims, but without the guts to speak truth to their supposed allies. 

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