Petition against military training nears goal

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December 7, 2014 by realrenewal

A petition against military training in Regina high schools has boosted its signature count, after MLA Yogi Huyghebaert condemned the sponsoring peace organizations in the provincial legislature. Huyghebaert called four Saskatoon and Regina peace groups “one of the CAVE units, and CAVE stands for Citizens Against Virtually Everything.”

Since then, the petition’s signature count has more than doubled, nearing the coalition’s goal of 1,500 by Jan. 7.

Huyghebaert told the legislature he was first approached by the commander of 38 Brigade in Winnipeg, who said students who take the course “will need to accept a job offer with the Canadian Armed Forces as a member of the Primary Reserve, and complete basic training requirements, those being the Primary Reserve . . . Courses (and the land course) . . . which are required for soldiers and officer candidates alike.”

Students will be given $2,000 and two academic credits for taking the course, which includes basic military training and weapons handling.

“The (coalition’s pamphlet) has a bit of the gall to say we’re going to be enticing low-income families to take this course. Well, Mr. Speaker, again it’s a choice. Students have a choice,” said Huyghebaert.

Speaking for the opposition, education critic Trent Wotherspoon said the program “is an acceptable one which provides opportunity and choice to students, that provides important learning to students.” NDP MLAs said they would monitor the program to ensure it fulfills its promise, and Wotherspoon argued for improved support for other student choices, such as the arts and sports.

NDP MLA Danielle Chartier noted that she paid a fee of almost $400 for her daughter to take a high school media studies course, evidence that not all student opportunities are treated alike.

“We are citizens for peace,” Ed Lehman, vice president of the Regina Peace Council, said in response to Huyghebert’s “CAVE” characterization. “We want our schools to encourage students to find peaceful ways to resolve conflict. That would include learning how to conduct a discussion without resorting to name-calling and bullying.”

The petition is available for signing until Jan, 7, 2015. The military training program is scheduled to start in February 2015 and will be offered at both public and Catholic high schools in Regina. The petition, sponsored by Regina and Saskatoon peace groups—PeaceQuest Regina, Regina Peace Council, Making Peace Vigil, and Saskatoon Peace Coalition—is asking the province to implement instead a program to educate students about the importance of global peace and non-violent conflict resolution.  

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