In his letter to the October issue of The Peace Calendar, Bert Keser of ACT in Toronto makes strong criticisms of Gary Marchant and End the Arms Race in Vancouver. The Voice of Women feel The Peace Calendar is no place for attacks on Vancouver's highly visible and successful coalition, EAR.
Peace organizations need to work towards liaison and communication with each other in order to strengthen their impact and avoid duplication of their efforts to prevent nuclear war. An independent Peace Institution would be a progressive step not in the least hierarchical. It would be a focal point for disseminating information and ideas. National spokespersons are also very necessary in order to avoid the risk of any one group assuming a dominant role as a main voice for all, as seems to be happening in the case of ACT. It would be an exacting and skilful task to keep the media well-supplied with overall pertinent information on all peace actions.
It is necessary to accept that both the US and the USSR are the main culprits in the arms race, as EAR fully realizes. However, we can only try to influence our Government and fellow Canadians, and urge that Canada make a stand for peace uninfluenced by its powerful southern neighbour. All possible pressure should be put on the Government to sign "The Peoples' Charter for a Nuclear Free Pacific." This would be a significant step towards becoming a nuclear-free country, and would send a message of peace in the world.
I am trying to put into words the discomfort I feel about seeing two articles in one issue of The Peace Calendar about Soviet dissidents.
I know the Peace Calendar deals exclusively with peace issues, and you did after all print the article about the Volgograd Toronto visit. Somehow or other I don't feel the Group to Establish Trust establishes trust either here or in the Soviet Union. I don't think it's the Group's fault, though Roy Medvedev writes that some dissidents are not responsible people and count as feathers in their cap the number of times they can speak to a Western journalist. Here is part of the problem. Any Soviet dissident is used as a useful tool for Western propaganda. Although they can't be blamed for that, at least we should give it full recognition.
What really disturbs me is our gross hypocrisy. It is like supporting Solidarity in Poland and turning a blind eye to the streets of South America drenched in the blood of trade unionists, killed by governments we support.
Ken Hancock and Andrew VanVelzen wrote the only words that are likely to disturb our government at all. Non violent civil disobedience. Then it will be our turn to lose our jobs and go to prison.
We are shocked by the implications and statements made in Canadian Dimension's article, "The Politics of the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign," Dec-Jan. issue.
The Vernon P2C2 Committee was totally unaware of any special interest manipulations to co-opt or otherwise make special use of the structure and/or activities of the campaign.
We repeatedly gave our assurance that P2C2 was a voluntary united effort of Canadian peace groups and supporters, all across Canada, solely for the purpose stated in the peace petition itself.
We look to the P2C2 national leadership to immediately, adequately and publicly deal with the article, falsehood by falsehood.
The Vernon Peace Coalition (formerly "Vernon World Disarmament Coalition") is constantly rebutting attacks upon its credibility. We need help in handling this attack as it reflects upon our P2C2 endorsement, support and promotion.
We do, and we shall continue to disassociate ourselves from sectarianism while, at the same time, we struggle against all forms of aggression and oppression, everywhere.
Let's be clear. The immense success of the peace movement comes from the fact that it is a movement rather than a monolithic organization. It's vitality comes from individuals, not bureaucracies; its strength is in networks, not hierarchical structures.
But this could be changed due to an attempt to establish the idea of a controlling "national coordinating committee" to "lead" the Canadian peace movement.
There is growing concern over this idea, because the long-term success and growth of the Canadian peace movement is at stake.
Those who advocate setting up a new 'national coordinating committee (read: bureaucracy) have an ambition to control power, though they may not say it that way. They will tend to ignore consensus-building in favour of executive control. Power will be structured by establishing various sub-committees, which will report back to the central "executive." They will build their power hold and remain oblivious to the stifling effect it has on the grass roots. Creative innovators will find little room for expression in such a formal structure and will eventually drop out.
It's a predictable pattern which the Canadian peace movement would be wise to avoid.
What enlivens the peace process is real' networking. Simply stated, networking is people getting in touch with people. Networking works by getting things done through cooperation, sharing and communication. Networks are dynamic living structures. They are powerful, because they empower people through the horizontal flow of information -information is power.
What we don't need is centralized information (ie power) controlled by a few politico bureaucrats who will only give information (ie power) to those whom they can control or to those who support their ideology, theory or opinions.
What we do need is to get to know each other as people. There are already forums such as Peace Magazine and the Nuclear Free Press where we can network. Let's use them. It's the application, the actual hands-on work that gets the job done. And that's me and you, so let's get acquainted. We don't need another bunch of bureaucrats.
Robert Coates has announced that the peace movement is weak and in bad shape.
The peace movement is entirely voluntary, whereas the war movement is funded by the unhappy taxpayer. Fund us as well as you fund war, Mr. Coates, and we'll surprise you.
Most of the time the government pretends to want peace, although they put all their effort - and our money into war. Litton Industries, for example, received an outright grant of $37 million to set up its cruise-component manufacturing program. That's our money, and I resent paying taxes for such destructive purposes. Furthermore, arms manufacture is not job-intensive, and the money could be better spent on something that would improve the world.
In October, the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign collected almost half a million signatures. But Mr. Coates and the other Dr. Strangeloves in government ignored this strong expression of a desire for peace. (All those signatures were collected by volunteers in their spare time - they represent only a fraction of the people in agreement with the demands of the petition.)
Keep up the good work, Robert and Brian and Joe. Every move in that direction takes us a step closer to the end of life on this planet.
Re: "Canada sends new delegation to the UN" - The Peace Calendar, November 1984.
I've recently read an article in Fellowship (July/August 1984) entitled "The Freeze: Where is it going?" written by Sanchez and Solomon, which gives me much food for thought. Since Ms Gertler has been invited to serve as an advisor to the current United Nations delegation and is not "satisfied with the formulation of the freeze proposals that have been put forward up to this time" and "much prefer(s) the wording proposed by Mexico and Sweden, which calls for a bilateral moratorium...," she might be interested in the following excerpt from Sanchez and Solomon:
"The freeze campaign's self-envisioned 'realists' have opted to accept the idea that we must focus on asking our government to negotiate 'bilateral' agreements with the Soviet Union. Bilateral accords are widely viewed as the hard-nosed, practical means to end the arms spiral... In fact, bilateralism is naive, ignorant or cynical about the institutional momentum behind the nuclear buildup. (...) While hailed as a freeze 'victory, 'for example, the ambiguous freeze resolution passed last year by the House of Representatives came right before approval of the MX missile by the same legislative body."
As one becomes more widely known as a peace activist, does one tend to "wind up playing political patty cake" with those in government responsible for decision-making and, as a consequence, serve as an adjunct to the arms race?