Newsworthy

Tens Of Thousands Protest Star Wars In B.C.

BY JENNIFER KINLOCH

VANCOUVER -- Tens of thousands of people marched in Vancouver on April 27th calling for an end to the nuclear arms race. Their urgent call focussed on Canada's possible participation in the US Star Wars plan, continued cruise testing, and the need for an immediate bilateral freeze and reduction of nuclear weapons.

This fourth major Peace Walk, sponsored by the End the Arms Race coalition, was a rallying together of church, student, political and community groups, trade unions and professional groups. Police estimated the crowd at 62,000; organizers counted 80,000.

People walked in spite of days of miserable rain which lasted right up to the time of the demonstration.

Keynote speaker James Anderton, a Labour Member of Parliament from New Zealand, told the thousands gathered that his Government's decision to ban ships carrying nuclear weapons from their ports grew from the strength and the commitment shown in the communities. 'It took twenty years of grassroots work to achieve New Zealand's nuclear-free policy." He warned against succumbing to any appearance of ineffectiveness, and urged continued and persistent pressure for change.

The crowd responded warmly, giving Anderton a prolonged standing ovation.

At this year's Walk, End the Arms Race launched a Stop Star Wars' campaign, coordinated with coalitions in Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg, aimed at preventing Canadian involvement in Star Wars.

"Canada must come out, without equivocation, against participation in the costly and dangerous Star Wars illusion," stated George Ignatieff, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations.

Organizers were pleased with the success of the Walk for Peace and the strong show of support. When people left their homes it was cold and pouring rain, but the sun emerged, almost miraculously, during the rally. Vancouverites clearly showed their strength and commitment, and sent a strong message to the Government that Canadians do not want any involvement in the Star Wars program.

Pawley Introduces NWFZ Resolution

BY MARTIN ZEILIG

WINNIPEG On May 6 Premier Howard Pawley introduced into the Manitoba legislature a resolution to have the province declared a nuclear weapon-free zone.

During his presentation of the resolution, Premier Pawley quoted from the Final Document of the 1978 United Nations Special Session on Disarmament, which said that the "process of establishing such zones should be encouraged with the ultimate objective of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons."

In taking this step, Pawley was giving voice to the concerns of hundreds of thousands of Manitobans who have demonstrated in many ways over the past four years their deep concern over the threat posed by the nuclear arms race.

Since 1982, the annual June Walk for Peace has brought 20,000 to 30,000 people out onto the streets of Winnipeg the second largest annual peace demonstration held in Canada. Other towns and communities in Manitoba have also organized successful peace rallies.

In the fall of 1983, referendums on balanced nuclear disarmament received overwhelming majorities throughout the province.

The Premier's announcement followed on the heels of an eight-month NWFZ campaign by Manitoba peace groups.

Even though Premier Pawley's proposal is largely symbolic, it nevertheless can provide much-needed impetus to ongoing province-wide peace and disarmament initiatives. Some of the educational objectives which local peace activists hope to gain from this process include:

In Canada, 64 cities, towns and other communities (including Vancouver, Toronto and Hamilton) have so far declared themselves Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones.

Peace Campers Evicted After Two Years On Parliament Hill

BY WALKER JONES

OTTAWA -- For over two years, the Ottawa Peace Camp stood on the grounds of Canada's Parliament Hill. Braving the cold of Ottawa's winters, the Camp served as a reminder, to MPs and tourists alike, of the peace movement's opposition to cruise testing, and its commitment to a nuclear weapon-free Canada.

Within the last few weeks, a concerted police action, backed by the federal Government, saw the Peace Camp physically destroyed, and its weary participants forbidden to continue their long vigil.

The Camp was set up during the initial surge of the peace movement in Canada - -- the campaign to stop cruise testing. Now that the testing is going ahead, the Government seems to be hoping the peace movement will subside. Some activists view the closing down of the Peace Camp as an attempt to undermine the movement and stall its momentum.

The Government clampdown began on April 23, when Public Works Minister Roch La Salle created a new regulation which forbids sleeping, camping or erecting objects on Parliament Hill. The attack on the Peace Camp was couched in terms of a general regulation, which was broadly defined so as to include tables, chairs and even banners, giving the police the justification they needed to move in.

"The RCMP stood around like storm troopers while the Public Works crew ripped the tent down," recalled Eibie Weizfeld, the Camp spokesperson, and one of its founding members.

More arrests followed, and a second tent was confiscated the next night.

Local peace groups attempted to respond to the attack. On the first Saturday after the arrests began, the Ottawa Disarmament Coalition (ODC) organized a demonstration attended by about 250 people.

NDP MP Michael Cassidy addressed the rally, emphasizing a theme that ran through most of the speeches that the real affront to Canadians is not the Peace Camp, but Star Wars and cruise missile testing.

Later in the afternoon, after the demonstrators were gone, there were five more arrests when Weizfeld and others tried once more to erect tents and were unceremoniously thrown into waiting paddy wagons.

On the following Monday, the ODC began setting up a literature table each lunch hour. On the first day, Michael Ostroff, a member of the ODC coordinating committee, was arrested and the table was confiscated.

On succeeding days, Cassidy, as he had promised, and other NDP MPs, Svend Robinson, Dan Heap and Jim Manley, staffed the table. The arrests stopped. But the confiscations continued, usually as soon as the MPs were out of sight.

By the next weekend, physical exhaustion and a cold, unrelenting rain forced Weizfield and the other two remaining campers, Yvon Dube and Chantal Houle, to give up. We just can't go on without sleep and without shelter," Weizfeld said. "The Government assault on the Camp is just too powerful to withstand at this point."

They decided on May 5th to close the Camp temporarily. It appeared that the Government's strategy of constant, but increasingly low-profile, harassment had succeeded.

What the Government had not counted on, however, was a small group of Quakers who happened to be on the Hill when the Camp closed down. They immediately began a round-the-clock vigil, organizing participants into two hour shifts. After four days, these plans gave way to a less exhausting 8 am to 8 pm daylight vigil.

"We want to be there when the tourists and the MPs are," said Margeret Dyment, one of the organizers. Within a week over 100 people were involved. "We're aiming for 400 people eventually, who would each donate 2 hours of their time a month," said Dyment. "The idea is to show that support for the Camp is very broad-based."

On the first full day of the vigil, a literature table was set up at lunchtime. When the Mounties arrived to confiscate the table, Dyment and her husband, Paul, held on to it, intending to force the police to arrest them in order to take the table. There must, however, have been orders not to make any arrests, for the table was torn from their hands and purposely broken without an arrest being made.

Since that incident, no further attempts have been made to set up a table, although a stockpile of several makeshift tables has been constructed out of old lumber in case of need. In the meanwhile, "literature blankets" spread out on the grass with leaflets and brochures on them -- have not been confiscated. And plans to construct "literature sandwich boards" are underway.

Established peace groups, for the most part, have been slow in responding to the attack, except rhetorically. The defence of the Peace Camp has fallen mainly on the shoulders of supportive lawyers, churches and young activists.

This can be partly explained by a tendency on the part of the Campers to act unilaterally over the past two years, straining relations between the Camp and other peace groups, and making it difficult for groups to recognize the Government's attack on the Camp for what it is -- an attack on the whole movement.

The question now is whether or not the Peace Camp will return. The answer rests with the courts, where the constitutionality of the Government's new Nuisance Regulations will be tested.

Efforts by the Campers' Toronto lawyer, Angie Codina, assisted by University of Ottawa constitutional expert Joseph Magnet, to obtain a temporary injunction against the Government failed on May 13th, ruling out an early reopening of the Camp.

However, if criminal charges laid against the Campers under the new regulations are not dropped, they intend to fight the case on constitutional grounds. They will argue that the regulations are subject to arbitrary and discriminatory application. "Other laws containing similar provisions have been struck down in the past," says Magnet.

To guarantee a constitutional test of the regulations, a separate action is being brought by Codina in the Federal Court, which is likely to be heard in the fall. It asks for a declaration to have the regulations struck down.

If the Campers lose that case, the likelihood of the Peace Camp surviving in any form is remote.

Women Hold Meeting In B.C. To Prepare For International Conference On Negotiating Peace

BY MARY L. GOLDIE

VICTORIA -- The BC-Yukon Regional Conference on Women's Alternatives for Negotiating Peace was held in Victoria, May 10-12. It was one of several such conferences conducted across the country with the aim of facilitating nationwide input into the International Conference on Women's Alternatives for Negotiating Peace, which will take place in Halifax, June 5-9. The objective of these meetings was to explore both the reasons for international problems, and alternate methods of conflict resolution, with the end goal of formulating viable alternatives to inject life into the present superpower deadlock.

The Victoria gathering of over 200 women, representing a variety of education, political, peace and women's groups, was a truly uplifting experience.

Although there were differences of opinion, the methods used to explore these differences were more cooperative than confrontational, and innovative approaches to problem-solving were stressed. The participants were reminded of the valid and valuable experience gained from negotiating peaceful resolutions within the family and the community. With this positive reinforcement of their credentials, participants were urged to examine the roots of conflict from their individual perspectives and in a global context, keeping in mind the need for indefatigable courage and a realistic approach.

The nine workshops covered the subjects of militarism and the Third World, patriarchy and war, children and peace, the arms race according to the media, justice and security, cooperative problem-solving, and women and the economy. Among the common threads which emerged from the workshops were the widespread recognition of the need to de-mystify the so-called 'nuclear logic" behind the arms race. There was strong call for opposition to the nonsensical Star Wars program, and for deliberate measures to reallocate wasteful military spending into much-needed social and development programs.

The resolutions adopted by the conference mirrored the view of keynote speaker Ursula Franklin that society as a whole must change its way of thinking. Specifically, the current belief that superpower relations involve only win-lose situtations with no possibility of a viable compromise based on common ground must be set aside, so that mutual interests and recognition of reciprocal benefits can be recognized, to the enhancement of global justice and peace. Both the United States and the Soviet Union can be winners -- the nuclear reality bars any traditional military solution of conquered and conqueror.

The great variety of ages and backgrounds among the delegates provided a valuable cross-section of different strengths and wisdom. The value of networking was obvious, as was the value of a forum such as this conference. One weakness was the unavoidable temptation to try to solve all the problems, and thus some of the suggestions were rather Utopian, although beautiful in their imaginative scope.

Judge Grants Jury Trial To CMCP Activist

BY PAULA ROCHMAN

TORONTO -- The trial of Len Desroches, an organizer with the Cruise Missile Conversion Project who, with 11 others, was arrested last November at Litton Systems Industries in Rexdale, has recently taken an unprecedented turn.

The presiding judge, Judge Glendenning, has granted Desroches the right to a jury trial. This decision has repercussions both for people involved with resistance work and for the judicial system itself.

Members of the anti-war movement who have had to appear before provincial judges in this country often feel that any argument about why they participated in a particular action falls on deaf ears. They are told that motives are irrelevant, and that a court of law cannot consider why a person would feel justified in non-violently resisting war preparations. The motives, in other words, are deemed political and are repeatedly muted or ignored when judgments are made.

There is, however, good reason to believe that before a jury of one's peers the presentation of a defence demonstrating a sincere attempt to stop further war preparations may be heard, understood and accepted. For example, in a recent jury trial in Vermont, 44 people charged with "criminal trespass" were found not guilty by a jury.

The 44 had staged a sit-in at their Senator's office, in an attempt to influence him to stop supporting further military aid to Central America. By finding the 44 not guilty, the jury explicitly accepted the activists' defence that their trespassing was less harmful than the greater harm they were protesting.

In view of the legal arguments made, the consequences of the Judge's ruling in favour of a jury trial in Desroches' case are far-reaching. Not surprisingly, the Attorney General's office has decided to appeal the decision. While the appeal process could take months, this initial victory is encouraging.

There are two important legal points behind Judge Glendenning's ruling.

First, the Canadian Criminal Code is made up of a number of charges called "hybrid charges." These allow the Crown (prosecutor) to proceed with a trial in one of two ways: summarily or by indictment. If the Crown proceeds by indictment, the defendant (accused) has the right to a jury trial, but also faces a much higher penalty (2-14 years, depending on the charge). If the Crown proceeds by summary conviction, one cannot have a trial by jury, but the maximum sentence is six months. There are no guidelines to determine how the Crown should proceed.

In this particular case, Desroches was charged with the offence of "mischief to private property," a hybrid offence. If the Crown proceeded by indictment, the maximum penalty for this offence would be five years in jail.

Second, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows anyone charged with an offence, where there is the possibility of five years or more in jail, the right to be tried by a jury.

In presenting the argument to Judge Glendenning, Professor Peter Rosenthal, who was representing Desroches, argued that, since Desroches was charged with an offence for which there is the possibility of spending five years in jail, the right to a jury trial was 'taken away' when the Crown stated its intention of proceeding by summary conviction.

Shadows Of Victims Will Appear On Hiroshima Day

BY LYNN CONNELL

TORONTO -- On August 5 this year, thousands of peace volunteers in cities around the world will work through the night painting human shadows on their municipal sidewalks. These images will depict those shadows permanently etched into the pavement in Hiroshima and Nagasaki -shadows of people whose bodies were vapourized close to the centre of the bombings.

Hundreds of communities will participate in the Shadow Project, including cities and towns in Mexico, Brazil, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, West Germany, Austria, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Nigeria, Mauritius, Malaysia, Japan, and in 37 states in the United States.

The Project is being organized internationally by Portland Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament (PAND) and activists in New York City where Shadow Projects were successfully carried out in August 1983 and 1982 respectively. Both Projects were widely reported in local papers (including the New York Times) with pictures, stories, editorials and letters, and televised by satellite to Tokyo.

"People who participated in the Project said they had been almost transformed, in profound and lasting ways," says Andy Robinson from Portland PAND. "It touched off an enormous public debate about the arms race.

PAND Toronto has endorsed the Project. "We see it as an excellent educational tool which will remind the public in a very startling and unforgettable way of the horrors of nuclear war," explains PAND staffiperson Anne Goldspink. To date, peace groups in Victoria, Vancouver, Kamloops, Parkville, Rimbey, Camrose, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Carleton Place, Baysville, Guelph, Hamilton, Montréal, Chicoutimi, Newcastle and Scotsburn have shown serious interest in participating.

The Shadow Project can be done by anyone anywhere and, because it will be organized locally, it can take shape in many imaginative ways.

Most cities will follow the Portland/New York Project method. Volunteers will create vinyl or canvass cut-out patterns of their own silhouettes, lay them on the sidewalk, and paint around them with non-permanent white paint -- tempera with water is advised. The cut-out pattern is then removed, and an explanation of the shadows is posted on a nearby pole. Combinations of shadows featuring adults, children and animals will make the impact more startling.

Participants should be aware of legal implications which might arise from the Project. In Portland, 19 people out of 200 were arrested for criminal mischief. All. charges were dropped in court. In New York City, 7 of the 150 participants were arrested and charged with fines equivalent to minor traffic offences.

In Canada, people arrested could be charged with public mischief or damage of property, both of which are criminal offences under federal law.

In Toronto, no arrests or charges will be laid. After a successful meeting with Alderman Richard Gilbert, PAND Toronto has been assured that participants in Toronto have permission to use water-soluble paint on the sidewalk.

Organizers suggest meeting with a local city official who might be sympathetic to the issue. If you are refused permission, to circumvent charges pe~ ple could use chalk, or tape their cut-outs of shadows on sidewalks.

Groups interested in more information should contact Andy Robinson of Portland PAND, P.O. Box 40223, Portland OP' 97240 USA, or call 503/248-9275, and specifically request a Project handbook.

Introducing P.E.R.C. (Peace Education Resource Centre)

PERC is a continuation of the former Educational Collective of CANDIS and it is still located at 10 Trinity Square in Toronto.

Our files of clippings, books and other reference materials are available for use in the office, and we welcome visitors.

We will continue to mail, on request, sets of fact-sheets and an annotated 26-page bibliography of peace books. The cost in each case is $4 mailed, and $3 at the office. A unit on Star Wars is now included in the set of fact-sheets. For the time being, we will be staffed by volunteers and we have an answering service. Please call 598-7985 for office times and for directions about how to find us.

Please make cheques payable to Holy Trinity Church, and mail to PERC, 10 Trinity Square, Toronto ON, M5G lBl.

Peace Magazine June 1985

Peace Magazine June 1985, page 5. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by PMag staff here

Peace Magazine homepage