Québec Group Opposes Coalition

By Ronald Babin

Among the diverse points of view about a Canadian peace alliance is that held by La Coalition Québecoise pour le Desarmement et la Paix. We hold that another traditional national organization or coalition is not needed. Instead, given Canada's proportions, what would be more useful would be ways of facilitating peace education and peace action with horizontal networks. By this we mean meetings of activists to (1) learn together about the arms race, (2) compare and evaluate organizational experiences, and (3) plan peace education and action. We need a representative Liaison Committee to organize an open conference each year, in sites rotated among the regions of Canada.

At each annual conference there could be:

  1. Plenary sessions with educational panels on the arms race, disarmament negotiations, peace movement tactics, and Canadian government positions. The panelists should be eminent researchers.
  2. .Lateral workshops for people with common work or interests-e.g. trade unionists, politicians, journalists, academics, women. This fosters networking that is more effective than a "national office" that would "co-ordinate" action.
  3. Workshops with people in specific types of campaigns-e.g. referenda, municipal action, uranium mining, export of conventional arms, conversion of military industries, North Atlantic network. Again the initiative is local and inter-regional networking, which would not depend on a national office to direct the movement.

The conference as a whole would not debate or adopt common policy positions. We are too far along in our specific orientations to contemplate a common policy orientation. To adopt a minimum common denominator series of demands or programme would be highly divisive and ineffective in presenting alternatives to government policies. Even an attempt to create a national organization around a minimum program such as that of the Peace Petition Caravan would divide peace activists around the country. What is proposed here instead is an educational and action-oriented networking process. Financial and organizational resources will have to be pooled to organize this annual conference in a sensitive way-with simultaneous translation, a balance between men and women resource people, day care, travel pools, and so on.

After a number of such conferences we may arrive at a common policy for government action. But the Canadian government will be impressed only by a massive, active peace movement of well-organized and informed citizens, not by wise policies alone. This C.Q.D.P. proposal will maximize the growth of the peace movement through contact among activists, not by trying to influence government in the immediate future through meetings of organizations only.

Peace Magazine August 1985

Peace Magazine August 1985, page 23. Some rights reserved.

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