Northern Ontarians Hold Peace Conference in Sudbury


On June 15-16, peace activists from New Liskeard, North Bay, the Muskokas, Manitoulin Island and Sudbury met in Sudbury. High points of the conference included discussion of the shadow project, to commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki Days, showing or the new NFB film, Speaking our Peace, and workshops on peace education in the schools, led by the full time staff of the Peace Education Project of Project Ploughshares, Sudbury.

One reason for holding the conference was to generate ideas for the August meeting of the National Planning Committee of the proposed Canadian Peace Alliance. Different (and by now familiar) points of view were expressed as to how cohesive this alliance should be. How-ever, there was clear consensus that there is a need for more networking and cooperation, and that the present process of alliance building is a healthy one. As one person put it, "It helped bring us together, didn't it?"

There is also a general 'desire that national spokes-people be appointed to deal with the media or inter-national peace and disarmament groups. However, there was concern that these spokespeople would inevitably determine the direction of the alliance. A suggestion to avoid this was to have rotating regional spokespeople.

It was strongly felt that a woman's caucus and a youth caucus should be established. Suggestions for the founding convention set for November included information-sharing; plenary sessions; having social time; a conference newsletter with a public newsetter to follow; a media workshop; and a chance for everyone to give a short presentation on the activity of their groups.

There was much discussion of the link between the nuclear arms race and the production of uranium and disposal of its waste. With the uranium mines in Elliot Lake, the nuclear refinery in Blind River, and proposed waste storage sites in the north, people insisted that opposition to nuclear weapons must include opposition to uranium production, with the provision' that replacement jobs be provided for those in the industry.

Participants also felt that the alliance would best be built through action, and that another year-long campaign

Stopping Star Wars Across Canada


Stopping Star Wars is the main focus of attention this summer throughout the Canadian peace movement. Groups are writing letters together, putting on educational meetings, and distributing leaflets, -postcards, and fact sheets. In June, activists across the country had a chance to confront one of the main American proponents of Star Wars, a founder of "High Frontier, Inc.," General Daniel O. Graham. He toured Canada, speaking at banquets and promoting the proposal. Everywhere, how-ever, his dinner audiences included hostile questioners-and outside the hotels there were demonstrations by fervent disarmament groups.

In Vancouver End the Arms Race organized an alternative presentation" outside the hotel.

Some 300 persons listened to these speeches, as contrasted to 120 persons inside. The anti-Star Wars speakers ad-dressed three concerns: Gary Marchant spoke about the, strategic considerations, a representative of small business spoke about the economic implications, and a church spokesperson addressed the moral issues.

Inside the hotel, about a quarter of the Vancouver audience was also opposed to Star Wars. The responses to the General's speech included catcalls and pointed questions. When reporters asked Graham to explain his alleged falsification of data about the Vietnam War, he declined to do so, saying that the question was meant only to undermine his credibility.

The peace groups used the media quite effectively, participating in "open line" shows and correcting what they termed 'simplistic" statements by General Graham. Their purpose was to show "the real face of Star Wars," as compared to the Graham version, which they called a "mask." What he portrayed as a peaceful, defensive system, EAR speakers termed "offensive and destabilizing."

The television and radio stations responded in a mixed way to this event. The programs that were run before and shortly after Graham's presentation gave ample exposure to his critics. Later in the evening, however, at least two of the television stations seemed to change their slant; the 11:00 news portrayed his talk in a substantially more favorable light.

Other groups throughout Canada have been tackling the Star Wars issue too. Project Ploughshares has encouraged a letter writing campaign and several members of Voice of Women appeared before the Liberal Task Force on Foreign and Defence Policy to oppose Canadian involvement.

CANDIS phoned Operation Dismantle's Ottawa head-quarters to ask what it has been doing to oppose Star Wars. The "problem" is, replied Rick Caton and Bill Robinson, almost everyone is already against it. Over 700 scientists and engineers have signed a pledge saying that even if the government gets into Star Wars, they won't. They will refuse to accept or use money from the Strategic Defense Initiative.

In the United States too, scientists in such organizations as the Federation of American Scientists, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, have come out strongly against Reagan's research program on both technical and strategic grounds. Indeed, the only groups or persons that seem ready to speak out for Star Wars are those with a vested interest in defence contracts. Thus the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada favors the program.

Because there is already such spontaneous and strong protest against Canadian participation in Star Wars, Caton and Robinson said, what we have to do now is just continue building public pressure. The Operation Dismantle staff expects, however, that the government will take the course of least resistance. It will turn down formal participation, but may leave the door open for individual firms and specific universities to apply for and accept SDI dollars. Such a strategy would quiet popular protest, yet still allow effective, though not formal, Canadian participation.

If this is Ottawa's strategy, say the Operation Dismantle staff, it should not be allowed to succeed. There are several ways to oppose it. First, municipalities with Nuclear Weapon Free Zone policies could enforce them with regard to Star Wars research by for-bidding agencies or organization in their area to accept SDI contracts or subcontracts.

Second, national policies are now in place that claim to protect the public interest by preventing the export of high technology or nuclear technology to Soviet-sphere nations. The same concept could be used to prevent the import of technologies from the United States if these are seen as threatening the national well-being.

Third, as was proposed at the spring conversion conference in Boston, scientists and engineers could begin administering an oath equivalent to the Hippocratic Oath, which would make clear that work leading to war is unethical for members of those professions.

Operation Dismantle will continue planning new ways of opposing Canadian participation in Star Wars, as Ottawa's position becomes clearer. For the present, it is working with local groups, such as the Toronto Disarmament Net-work, to continue building public pressure. They are gratified that, according to columnist Richard Gwyn, over 5000 letters have been sent to the government opposing Star Wars, and only about six that are in favor.

A Ribbon Around the Pentagon


WASHINGTON-Imagine the grey Pentagon with a huge, colorful ribbon around it.

The idea occurred during a spiritual retreat to Justine Merritt, a 61-year-old woman from Denver, Colorado. As a result of that vision, thousands of women will commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Hiroshima by tying hundreds of yard-long segments together to make a ribbon, then circling it around the building that has become synonymous with male military might.

For the past year and a half; women across the United States have embroidered panels, depicting those things they could not bear to lose in a nuclear war. The pieces are double, with a scene for the benefit of those on the inside of the Pentagon, as well as the demonstrators surrounding the building on August 4.

The ribbon has been reproduced in a newsletter, a poster, a book, and postcards. These, and twenty segments will be exhibited at the Peace Museum, November 1984 to January 1985, 430 W. Erie Street, Chicago, Ill. At least two segments have been sent from Canada: The Green Party and the Voice of Women banners have been sent from Toronto.

Unlike the Women's Action Against the Pentagon, which ended with arrests, this demonstration is to be peaceful. It has official approval, so long as the women obey the rules and no part of The Ribbon touches the building. The women hope that their symbolism-of women's tradition-al role in reweaving the web of life-will somehow touch the traditional deployers of the web of death.

A similar event is planned for Canada-to put a banner around the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. For information, call Karen Sutton, Hamilton 529-1037, evenings.

Hiroshima Photo Exhibit

"The War Room," an exhibit of photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the bombing, is touring Ontario. It will be at Gallery 44, at 300 Jones Avenue in Toronto Aug. 8 to 31, in Peterborough in September, and in Hamilton at the Steelworkers Hall, between Oct. 19 and Nov. 13. Call 416/466-3757.

Summer Camp


Europe: Since 1967 the airbase, Lahr, in the southwest of Germany, has been the head-quarters of the Canadian Forces in Europe. Its military facilities have continuously expanded, most notably in the past three years. The latest additions to the complex at Lahr are underground bunkers for personnel and full-protective shelters for attack planes-- these latter for the use of the U.S. Airforce. Plans for the next few years include a military hospital and other protective shelters for nuclear survival. The Canadian troop forces are to be increased from 3600 to 4800 as from this summer.

There are increasing suspicions that nuclear weapons are stored at Lahr by the U.S. Airforce. The Americans are regularly "guests" at Lahr and the airbase figures prominently in the NATO Rogers plan for the years up to the next century. This plan, a watered-down version of the American AirLand Battle conception (a means of ensuring its political acceptance in Europe) foresees the increasing employment of conventional, as well as nuclear, forces with Lahr figuring as rear support base for the forward forces along the Iron Curtain.

A summer camp will take place during the week 26 July to 2 August, and it is proposed to occupy the Canadian troop and tank training area Langennard, some two miles from the air base. Here, in a former nature conservation area, the camp will demonstrate willingness to resist the increasing militarization in the area. Among other activities, the camp will include workshops on the resistance to war/ conscientious objection; East-West contacts; conventional militarization; Rogers Plan/ AirLand Battle; and the criminalization of the peace movement in West Germany.

Further actions are planned for the town of Lalir and the air base training area. These include street theatre, information stalls, symbolic blockades, and the possible interference with tank exercises.

The camp is being organized by the Lahrer Fruhling (Spring) group, who for the past three years have been active in organizing the movement in Lalir, and the GAF (nonviolent action group) in Freiburg. Both would be very happy to get any kind of support from across the Atlantic. Letters can be sent to: G.A.F. c/o Sylvia Freudling, KIara Str. 39, 7800 Freiburg, West Germany.

Enforcing NWFZ laws


After a seven-month lobbying effort, the Winnipeg Coordinating Committee met with success on May 30. A resolution passed unanimously (45-0) declaring Manitoba a nuclear weapon free zone. The same resolution reques-ted the Canadian government to request the Soviet Union and the United States to inten-sify their efforts to achieve arms reductions at Geneva.

The peace groups are par-ticularly pleased with the sup port given the NWFZ by Premier Pawley and one MLA, Don Scott.

But the campaign is not over. The WCCD plans to work to strengthen the resolu-tion. Among the current ideas are these:

  1. Road signs at strategic locations in Manitoba announcing that the pro-vince is a NWFZ.
  2. Meetings with local bus-inesses that are potential bidders on nuclear wea-pons contracts asking them to help make the province a true NWFZ.
  3. Full national (both governmental and grassroots) and international acknowledgment that Manitoba is a NWFZ.
  4. A provincial "white paper" to study full legal ramifications of Manitoba enforcing its NWFZ resolution.
Peace Magazine August 1985

Peace Magazine August 1985, page 7. Some rights reserved.

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