A Canada Files top item at the time of this posting, Coalition Treasurer Ken Stone’s article about illegal mercenary recruiting for Ukraine is being republished, below, for your interest.
Hamilton businessman’s recruiting for Ukrainian foreign legion: a clear violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act
Written by: Ken Stone
Since Russia began its special military operation in Ukraine, the Trudeau government, like some NATO governments, has strongly favoured the Ukrainian government of Volodmyr Zelensky with large tranches of funding and lethal weapons. Zelensky was honoured by the Trudeau government with a rare address to a joint sitting of Parliament on March 15, at which Zelensky received praise from every party leader in the House of Commons and several standing ovations. On that occasion, Trudeau promised Zelensky every more support in the form of more lethal weapons and in sanctions on Russia. On top of Canadian government support for Ukraine, the Canadian media has taken a strongly partisan position in support of Zelensky’s government and has participated very eagerly in the vilification of Russian President Putin and his government.
Less well-known, however, among is Canadian public is the fact that many Canadians have volunteered for military service in the Ukraine in a new branch of its military, established by Zelensky, called The International Legion of Defence of Ukraine. According to a segment of the CBC’s The Current on March 25, 550 Canadians had already arrived to fight for Ukraine, almost enough to form a battalion of their own.
The Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War, a long-established peace organization in Hamilton, Ontario, issued a statement on April 4, 2022, in which it called for the federal government to enforce its own legislation to prevent the recruitment of Canadians as fighters for Ukraine.
The statement notes that “in the wake of the war hysteria over Ukraine that is gripping this country, respect for the rule of law is being over-ridden by government officials and is escalating the conflict.”
The statement refers to the Foreign Enlistment Act, Section 11:
“S. 11(1) Foreign Enlistment Act:
11 (1) Any person who, within Canada, recruits or otherwise induces any person or body of persons to enlist or to accept any commission or engagement in the armed forces of any foreign state or other armed forces operating in that state is guilty of an offence.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to the action of foreign consular or diplomatic officers or agents in enlisting persons who are nationals of the countries they represent and not Canadian nationals, in conformity with the regulations of the Governor in Council.”
The Foreign Enlistment Act was passed by the Canadian government in April 1937, outlawing participation by Canadians in foreign wars. It followed the successful creation of the Mackenzie-Papineau Brigade. The Canadian Encyclopedia writes about the “Mac-Paps”:
“More than 1,500 Canadian volunteers travelled to Spain, where they fought on the Republican side [ed: i.e., against the fascist army of General Franco.]. Many were recent immigrants, and most were affiliated with the Communist Party of Canada. Many had been unemployed and forced into relief camps (see Great Depression in Canada)…
Approximately 500,000 soldiers and civilians died during the Spanish Civil War. Canadian losses were between 400 and 750. When the survivors returned to Canada in early 1939, they were celebrated by well-wishers but received no official welcome.”
In order that there never be such an outpouring of working-class internationalism from Canada again, the Canadian government promulgated the Foreign Enlistment Act in April 1937.
Ecklund and the Foreign Enlistment Act
In a recent front-page article, The Hamilton Spectator highlighted the role of Hamilton businessman Chris Ecklund in fuelling the crisis by facilitating the recruitment of Canadians to take up arms in Ukraine by opening a website on March 1, 2022, called Fight For Ukraine.
Chris Ecklund is the owner of Canadian Process Serving Inc., based in Hamilton, Ontario, with 234 employees across Canada. It processes and serves legal documents within the Canadian judicial system.
In the Hamilton Spectator article, Ecklund says of his portal, “This is not a recruiting tool.” However, the website contains a direct link to the International Legion of the Defence of Ukraine, a body set up by Ukrainian President Zelensky to recruit foreigners for combat in Ukraine. By his own admission in the article, Ecklund admits to aiding and counselling those who intend to fight for Ukraine and to help the wounded return to Canada.
In addition, Ecklund’s portal lists the Ukrainian Embassy and two consulates in Canada, in Toronto and Edmonton, for Canadians to contact who wish to join the Ukrainian International (Foreign) Legion. According to the Foreign Enlistment Act, embassies are limited as well to recruiting their own nationals for foreign wars.
Ecklund also funds Operation Blue Jay, which is a project to bring to Canada those Afghanis who collaborated with Canada’s twelve-year long, illegal occupation of Afghanistan. Left behind in the country after the debacle of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August of last year, were thousands of interpreters, drivers, and others who chose to work for the NATO invaders and occupiers of their own country. The Hamilton Mountain News of August 27, 2021, reports:
“Under Operation Blue Jay, Ecklund’s airlift operation, his group of about two dozen supporters, including those on the ground in Afghanistan, managed to transport about 1,000 interpreters and support staff and their families to Kabul from the outskirts of the war-ravaged Afghan countryside. They tended to their needs and fed and sheltered them, providing them with medical help, including COVID-19 vaccines. Then they flew out about 200 people to Canada, overcoming long odds, government bureaucracy and constant daily violence.”
For the record, the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, which lasted 20 years and cost over two trillion USD, transformed Afghanistan into the third poorest country on earth, caused the deaths of an estimated 176,000 Afghans, and led to the creation of six million displaced persons, half of whom fled to other countries as refugees.
Canadian losses included in total, 165 Canadians who died during the war in Afghanistan (158 soldiers, 7 civilians). More than 2,000 members of the CAF were wounded or injured during the war. The cost of the war to Canada is estimated now at about $18b. CAD (or $1500 per Canadian household) and rising, as more and more of the 40,000 vets succumb to PTSD and other war-related injuries.
In addition, Ecklund also brought Kosovar Albanians to Canada following NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign of the former Yugoslavia, which dismembered the country. The province of Kosovo was then severed from Serbia and made an independent state, in violation of international law. Following its unilateral declaration of independence, the US constructed Fort Bondsteel in Kosovo, its largest base in the world outside of the USA. Canadian fighter jets participated in NATO’s bombing campaign.
Double standards: Enforcement of Foreign Enlistment Act for some, not for others
Successive Canadian administrations have maintained a blatant double standard on the recruitment of Canadians into foreign militaries. While the Mackenzie King government promulgated the Foreign Enlistment Act in 1937 to try to hamstring the efforts of the Communist Party of Canada in recruiting Canadians in the fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), his government turned a blind eye to Israeli recruitment of Canadians for the 1947-48 attempt by Zionist militias to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from all of historic Palestine. At least 300 Canadians were recruited, over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed, and 750,000 were permanently turned into refugees. Palestinians remember this event as the “Nakba” (Catastrophe).
But the recruiting did not stop there. For years, the Israeli consulate in Toronto has maintained a program advertising in-person meetings with IDF soldiers for young Canadians who wished to join the Israeli armed forces. The United Jewish Appeal of Toronto and the Greater Combined Jewish Appeal of Montreal have likewise held events to promote enlistment in the IDF. Similarly, some Jewish parochial day schools have established programs of “IDF Days”, fundraisers for the IDF, and regular visits by IDF soldiers with the purpose of encouraging Jewish students to join the IDF. These programs are all illegal.
In November 2019, Palestinian solidarity activists protested a talk at York University organized by the campus organization of a far-right Israeli Zionist party at which a former IDF soldier was featured as a speaker. Several scuffles took place and police were called. The mayor of Toronto, Ontario’s premier, and the York University president all denounced the protest as anti-Semitic.
In January 2020, the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv held an event to celebrate Canadians fighting in the Israeli armed forces. It invited all 78 Canadians in the IDF to the ambassador’s residence to demonstrate its appreciation.
Recently, Palestinian solidarity activists have undertaken some public activities to put pressure on the Trudeau government to end the illegal practice of recruiting Canadians for the IDF. A petition started by Rabbi David Mivasair of Hamilton and sponsored by Hamilton MP Matthew Green garnered 7769 signatures (well over the required 500) in 2021. In addition, an open letter signed by over 150 notable personalities including Roger Waters, filmmaker Ken Loach, author Yann Martel, former MP Jim Manly, poet El Jones was sent to Justice Minister Lametti by Just Peace Advocates along with a formal complaint. The issue was widely covered in the alternate media in English Canada and in the mainstream media in Quebec. Yet, no action to enforce the Foreign Enlistment Act was visible on the part of the Trudeau government.
Just Peace Advocates wrote:
“Both Canada and South Africa have both taken forward legal complaints regarding illegal Israeli military recruiting in Canada and South Africa. The Israeli Defence Force has a global network of financiers and enablers who recruit young Zionist impressionable Jews for service in the IDF. These institutions and recruitees across national jurisdictions are implicated in terrorism and are perpetrating war crimes and crimes against against humanity whilst sustaining the status quo of unlawful Israeli apartheid practices and imposing settler colonial policies through the IDFs belligerent military occupation in the OPTs and the Gaza Strip. Let them face justice.”
The problems with Canadians fighting for Ukraine
“There are three problems associated with Canadians fighting for Ukraine, in our opinion”, said Doug Brown, co-chair of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War:
“The first is that it’s illegal under Canadian law. Secondly, it’s very dangerous for any Canadian volunteers because reports have indicated that the Ukrainian resistance is very weak and disorganized and that foreign volunteers are often sent on suicide missions. These volunteers, some of whom reportedly think that the mission will be a cakewalk, often have their passports removed by Ukrainian authorities when they enter Ukraine to discourage them from deserting but, being without proper documentation, are without any protection if captured. Finally, by turning a blind eye to the illegal recruiting of Canadians to fight for Ukraine, the government is prolonging the conflict in Ukraine, rather than trying to de-escalate it and find a negotiated solution.”
Even before the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, Canada and other NATO countries, sided strongly with pro-Western forces inside Ukraine. For example, the Canadian government spent $1 billion CAD promoting the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 and the Maidan coup of 2014. During the Maidan insurrection, the Harper Government strongly supported the Nazi-ridden insurrection in the Maidan square:
by funding political groups organizing the insurrection;
by issuing statements in support of the Maidan protests and condemning the democratically-elected Yanukovych government;
by sending Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to appear in the Maidan Square where his presence was announced on a PA system by Paul Grod of the Ukrainian Canadian Council (UCC), an organization that was established by the St. Laurent government in 1955 and generously funded ever since as part of Canadian soft power in the region. The UCC was required by the Canadian government during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, to create a constituency in Canada for rabidly anti-communist and anti-Soviet policies. It did the same among other Eastern European emigre groups in Canada. These groups in turn were weaponized against Russia, speaking openly about sabotaging and overthrowing the Soviet Republics of Eastern Europe, such as Ukraine, and other Warsaw Pact countries.
by announcing travel restrictions and levelling unilateral economic sanctions on the Ukrainian president and his closest associates;
by allowing protesters, including neo-Nazis, to use the Canadian Embassy, close to the Maidan Square, as a sanctuary for a week and allowing the protesters the use of an embassy vehicle;
Following the coup, successive governments of Canada recognized the junta and proceeded to pour Canadian taxpayers’ dollars, to the tune of at least $700m. CAD, plus arms, into Ukraine from 2014 to the present
It also sent over 200 trainers for the Ukrainian army, dispatched Canadian special forces to Ukraine, and supported Ukraine with Canadian warships in the Black Sea.
The purpose of this vast amount of aid and political support was to create a de facto NATO state in Ukraine.
Canadian support for the Ukrainian junta did not diminish when the junta removed the autonomous status of the mainly-Russian-speaking Donbas region, along with the use of the Russian language as one of the official languages of Ukraine. Even banning Ukrainian political parties and launching a military operation against the two republics that were formed in the Donbas, in Donetsk and Luhansk, didn’t dampen Canadian enthusiasm for the Ukrainian coup government. Between 2014 and 2022, about 14,000 people were killed in the Ukrainian junta’s military operation, mostly on the Donbas side, and about a million turned into displaced persons, again mostly on the Donbas side.
The overall plan, in which Canadian officials participated in preparing at various NATO meetings – but which were never voted on by the Canadian public – was to continue to expand NATO right up to all the borders of the Russian Federation and then to dismember the Federation, Yugoslavian-style.
In short, Canada is complicit in the conflict in Ukraine, because it has consistently supported the unlawful eastward expansion of NATO since 1990, when US Secretary of States Baker promised to Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “one inch eastwards” of a reunited Germany. Canada not only supported the US-led coup of 2014 in Ukraine but it also funded, armed, and trained the Ukrainian armed forces, including its neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which launched a war against its own Russian-speaking minority in the Donbass. All of the above pushed Russia into a corner from which it felt obliged to respond in its special military operation in Ukraine. The resulting blood of Ukrainian civilians is therefore partly on the hands of Harper, Trudeau and their governments.
One easy way to stop fueling the conflict is to stop the flow of Canadian mercenaries to Ukraine. One step in this process would be to oblige Chris Ecklund of Hamilton to shut down his website. Another is to force Ukrainian diplomatic missions in Canada to cease and desist from using their offices to recruit Canadians to fight for Ukraine.