Today, the very day after September 11, like exactly 10 years ago, with a deep and abiding concern for the future, I sent the letter below then, as today, to the PM of Canada!
While the letter is an historical fact, it is also very relevant today as I extend my encouragement and appeal to you.
With so much writing on the wall visible then already, the final three paragraphs concluded as follows: “I adjure you to respond with… only properly sanctioned national and international lawful means…, for if not, if not this time, then upon some guaranteed repeat of these civilian acts of sabotage in the future, the world will unnecessarily be provoked into even greater acts of violence…
“Please act swiftly and with public determination that nations act decisively, appropriately but with the calm of justice on our side… (A)s a friend of the USA you can, you may and I adjure you, you must do this.
“In the name of peace and the call for good government, nationally and internationally, sincerely,”
While a true copy of my earlier letter follows as per below, I first highlight four points of intervening context between then and now.
1 Stephen Harper, I do personally write a fair number of politically engaged letters on the public record and believe that then, as is most certainly the case now, this was and is my first ever letter to either of you! And back on September 11, 2001, already late in the farming harvest season, I was heavily preoccupied with the immediate pocketbook issue of having just begun swathing our largest field with a swather that has no cab and correspondingly no radio (nor cell), when a farming neighbour, yet that morning, took the time to let me know of the day’s unfolding news.
Stephen Harper, entirely through happenstance on my part, you may make special note that 2001 was my last field of flax until when under your watch, I again grew a field of flax the year when that fall, Canadian flax was discovered to be contaminated with “Trifid”. With all your “tough on crime” emphasis for simple folk, farmers have been excluded from the short list, yet I do not understand how no “smoking gun” corporate entity has yet been fingered for this act of GMO bio terrorism.
2 Further to the three paragraphs just referenced, beginning at the think global act local level, three weeks ago in my church, a guest speaker living part time in the USA, but with an ongoing raw, first hand day to day life long survival experience of living within Lebanon, a powderkeg region, shared of his experience concerning local authorities that “when you remove the law, it is easy to start a war”! With those words relevant to his region, during my church’s “sharing” segment, I thanked him for those profound words of wisdom and rhetorical asked him and now you, what he, coming from his region, thought of our current US and Canadian talk of promoting peace, justice and democracy when our government mode of action is one of making “war on terrorism…, a war on drugs…, even a war on poverty!”?
3 When it comes to interpreting the meaning of an event, both then and later on through our memory, I draw to your attention a recent excellent article specific to interpretation in general and as applied specifically to the anniversaries of September 11, by Shahid Mahmood called “This Is NOT September 11th” available at
4 When the Ottawa Citizen reporting on the Rideau Institute’s Post September 11, 2001 report finds the subsequent Canadian “security tab tops $92B:… Do we want to continue spending at this level?” available at
Today, should I do any international travel, or simply living in Canada, I feel much less save now than I did in the days immediatelyp following September 11, 2001. And over the years, it is getting worse, not better! Is it not time that we as a nation re-evaluate our national strategy of the last ten years?
I now conclude with my letter to the PM on September 12, 2001.
US’ threat of retaliation: Civilized containment or dangerous escalation?
September 12, 2001 A.D.
Dear Prime Minister Chretienne!
You and the many other national leaders throughout the world need to be praised for your immediate and decisive denunciation regarding the premeditated, coordinated and wilful acts of mass destruction that took place yesterday when four civilian planes were successfully commandeered and three of them turned into lethal weapons — in effect manned suicide bombs — bombing the US trade centre and Pentagon.
As a Canadian, within an organized and civilized society, as our head of state, I also wish to thank you for your immediate and unhesitating pledge on behalf of Canadians to help the US in this hour of crisis. A pledge I take to mean, in addition to the offer of immediate humanitarian help, to also help advance civilized and just means to seek out the perpetrators behind these acts of mass destruction, and longer term as well, to actively seek out what forms of systemic violence may have lead to and will continue to lead to even greater cycles of such violence in the future, if not addressed justly.
While Bush’s personal acts of fear and self-preservation, including his anger, are humanly quite understandable, his own deliberated reaction as head of state, threatening “retaliation” in the form of war language, as further escalations of a tit for tat violence is thoroughly unacceptable.
This is inflammatory and completely uncalled for. By international convention, these acts, based on current knowledge as released in news reports, these actions are not acts of “war” no matter how despicbable they might be and as of yet, there is no foundation in fact to draw any parallells between this event and Pearl Harbour. Not only was that a military action using military hardware, it was also by one nation state against another. Some history reports even tell us the Pentagon knew it was coming and allowed it to happen as a pretext for US’ entry into the war.
Currently, until proper evidence to the contrary, the current event is still an act by civilians and must be treated as such. For to do otherwise, will allow a relatively small number of civilian people to create a flash point or trigger point that on the basis of incomplete and improperly considered nation state retaliations, will in effect lead to unprovoked escalations of violence and not be the intended, or at least claimed, containment. The US bombing of a so-called war factory in Iraq which turned out to be a pharmaceutical plant, is just one historically improperly conceived and carried out nation state capital punishment exercise, which additionally simply got the wrong man.
While I too appreciate your request of the Canadian people to exercise calm, given particularly that Bush has now escalated the ethical standard to one where they “will make no distinction between the terrorist who committed these acts and those that harbour them”, we too are inviting further senseless escalations of terrorism focused as well on Canada, if we allow, aid and abet Bush and the US to move towards further lawless and uncivilized acts of revenge and retaliation. Such acts can never be masqueraded with truthfulness as “finding those responsible and bringing them to justice”.
I adjure you to respond with equal vigour, determination, swiftness and public declarations, that only properly sanctioned national and international lawful means will be employed, for if not, if not this time, then upon some guaranteed repeat of these civilian acts of sabotage in the future, the world will unnecessarily be provoked into even greater acts of violence, violence even if sanctioned by a state, is no less deadly and inexcusable, even if after the fact it is claimed to have been “friendly fire”.
Please act swiftly and with public determination that nations act decisively, appropriately but with the calm of justice on our side. With your closeness to the Pearson legacy and as a friend of the USA you can, you may and I adjure you, you must do this.
In the name of peace and the call for good government, nationally and internationally, sincerely,
ST Francois Xavier
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