National Convention Planned for November


OTTAWA - The peace movement in Canada has often been challenged to get its act together. A three-day planning meeting held in Ottawa, August 16-18 has come up with the solution. It has laid the ground rules for a founding convention of a Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) in Toronto, November 8-11. Remembrance Day weekend may be a prophetic time for peace-making in the peace movement.

Attending the meeting of the "Peace Alliance Planning Committee" (PAPC) were 21 regional delegates and 12 representatives of various national peace organizations. Some of those present felt that the gathering was fairly representative of the Canadian peace movement, but others felt this was impossible with such a small group. The already-influential organizations of the Canadian peace movement were certainly well-represented, but small, unaffiliated, and rural organizations were not well represented. In total, there was one delegate from Newfoundland, seven from Québec, six from Ontario, two from Manitoba, one from each of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and three from B.C. No one attended from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon, or the Northwest Territories.

Also present were a few observers, some who sporadically took the place of other delegates. Other observers were forbidden from speaking during meetings. Saturday morning, after much discussion, "voice" was given, but no vote, to the observer from the ACT for Disarmament Coalition in Toronto.

ACT has been one of the most vocal critics of the process leading to the November founding convention. ACT's criticisms, like those of other groups such as Action Against Militarism (from Hamilton, Ontario), concern the potential for hierarchy and over-centralization in the process. Most groups shared this concern.

There was also criticism of the decision to accept a $25,000 grant from the Disarmament Fund of the Department of External Affairs in Ottawa. The fund is to be used for travel subsidies, but concern was felt that this financial dependency on the federal government could lead to cooption.

A broad consensus slowly developed on the decisions made, in spite of the more contentious problems. The issue of special status for Québec, in recognition of its separate culture and nationhood, came up many times during the weekend. While the delegates from Québec accepted the all-English planning meeting, they unanimously felt the necessity of simultaneous translation of the November conference, excepting "spontaneously-initiated workshops." They also wanted, and to some extent received, proportionally greater representation than other geographic areas. In arguing for this, Claire Perry of Voice of Women stressed Québec's strategic importance due to its large Parliamentary caucus and its high concentration of military industry. Some thought that the requests for extra representation were actually the result of a highly factionalized Québec delegation seeking representation for the various factions. Easier to address was the objection that two-thirds of the delegates were male. The November meeting will consciously strive for equality.

All agreed that a Canadian peace alliance's primary function should be networking, but debate was lively on whether such an alliance should be empowered to conduct, coordinate, or even participate in campaigns. Randy Dryburgh of Orangeville Citizens for Peace summed up the debate well:

"Small organizations are looking for leadership. . .other organizations are jealous of their own autonomy." Apathy has never been a characteristic of peace groups.

While all desired to increase the effectiveness of the movement through an alliance, it was difficult to get agreement on how to do this. David Kraft of the Toronto Disarmament Network (TDN) felt that "We need an institution, a structure, an alliance to conduct campaigns." Dimitri Roussopoulos of La Coalition Québecoise pour le desarmement et la paix (CQDP) strongly disagreed. An alliance "does not tax the memhers. . .who do not agree with that campaign." His view was that any alliance must act only to increase communication amongst its members. To lend any kind of support to a campaign, whether in its own name or not, was to create a "super-organization," a power centre within the Canadian peace movement. Perhaps just breathing the hierarchical air of Ottawa reminded the planners of this problem.

In the end a resolution was passed stating that "if Canadian Peace Alliance resources are available, the CPA can serve as a campaign clearinghouse and provide organizational support, providing it does not detract from primary CPA functions." According to World Federalists' Dieter Heinrich, the differences were "papered over." He had strong reservations about the resolution, saying that "this kind of ambiguity should not be accepted as the terms of a compromise." But it was. The vote was 24 in favor, two opposed, and two abstentions. This issue, still unsettled, will be debated at the November founding convention.

The convention will begin Friday evening, November 8th, with a gala pep rally open to the public. Well-known personalities from the international peace movement and first-rate entertainment will headline the night. The following two or three days will be devoted to business: plenary sessions both on disarmament issues and on the structure and function of the to-be-born Canadian Peace Alliance. Space will be left in the program for caucuses as well as campaign and skills workshops. These will be organized ahead oftime and on an ad hoc basis during the convention. Facilities will also be provided for displays, daycare, typewriter access, media (a press room) and relaxation (lounges). Delegates agreed to attempt to maintain gender, sectoral, and language balance in all "officially sponsored" activities.

The total cost of the weekend is expected to be approximately $85,000. Funding is to come from grants, fees, donations, and sales. A grant of $25,000 from the Disarmament Fund of the Ministry of External Affairs has already been received, and at least $6500 is expected to be contributed by those organizations represented on the planning committee. The Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security (ClIPS) has also been approached for funding, and organizations were urged to write to it in support of the application.

Two hundred and fifty voting delegates are expected from across the country; approximately one delegate per 100,000 of Canada's population. A travel equalization scheme will guarantee that delegates will pay approximately the same to attend, no matter where they live. This is designed to help ensure a balanced geographical representation. For those groups which cannot afford the travel costs, there are a limited number of subsidies available.

While observers will be welcome, the recommendation of the planning committee was that they not be allowed to speak at plenary sessions. Many felt that delegates should be chosen by organizations concerned with peace and not be self-appointed. As with the delegates, a travel equalization scheme is to be implemented. Thus, while observing will not be cheap, observers will probably be geographically representative.

The November convention promises to he an interesting and historical event. It will probably be the largest gathering of Canada's peace movement since the Winnipeg Peace Petition Caravan Conference held in February, 1984.

For a full text of the "Structure Document" or to apply for attendance as an observer or a delegate, contact the Peace Alliance Planning Committee, 736 Bathurst St., Toronto M55 2R4, Phone 416/535-8005. The committee would appreciate receiving any proposals for amending the structure document as soon as possible.

Peace Pagodas

By Tony Bond

LONDON - The London Peace Pagoda, located on the south bank of the River Thames, was built by Japanese Buddhist monks and nuns of the Nipponzen Myohoji Order. Inaugurated on May 14, 1985, it is the 70th (the first was in post-Hiroshima Japan) to have been built at the behest of the order's founder and preceptor, The Most Ven. Nichidatsu Fujii.

"The appearing of a peace pagoda touches the hearts of all people," he said. "Those who venerate this pagoda absolutely reject nuclear warfare and firmly believe that a peaceful world will be manifested. The vision of a pagoda has the power to bring about a spiritual transformation. It illumines the dawn ofa spiritual civilization."

The revered spiritual leader died just five months before the inauguration of the London Peace Pagoda, one of the largest and most elaborate yet built and the first in a western capital.

"The London Peace Pagoda joins Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, St. Paul's and the Tower of London as one of the places of historical significance," says Consultant Architect Tom Hancock. "It is the first great monument in the historic heart of London dedicated entirely to peace.

The first North American peace pagoda, located at Leverett, Massachusetts, due to be inaugurated October 5th, is being built by people from many countries. All are welcome, regardless of skills, to become part of this international work camp for peace. Write Peace Pagoda, 100 Cave Hill Rd., Leverett, MA 01054 or telephone 413/367-2202.

Ontario Peace People Meet in Ottawa

OTTAWA - The annual Ontario peace conference convened here at the University of Ottawa, September 20 22.

The keynote speakers on Friday night were Professors Mel Watkins and Ernie Regehr, who discussed the economics of the arms race, particularly with regard to Star Wars research and development. Mr. Regehr maintained that the government decision had been far from adequate in preventing Canadian involvement in this activity.

On Saturday, the main events were workshops on various topics, such as organizing strategies, use of the media, and the Comprehensive Test Ban. A caucus was held to plan for the upcoming founding convention of the Canadian peace Alliance in Toronto. In the evening dinner was followed by a panel discussion and then partying.

Mayor Marion Dewar, along with David Delaunay chaired the Sunday plenary session. Among resolution passed was one expressing acceptance of nonviolent direct action as a protest measure. A decision was taken to ask Northern Ontarians to organize the next provincial conference. Also, an offer on the part of Peace Magazine was accepted for newsletter space. One page of Ontario news per month will be prepared by an editor chosen by the Ontario organization; the appointment of such an editor will be made by the local coalition that is responsible for planning the next conference. Finally, a resolution was passed to write to the Canadian Institute of International Peace and Security to communicate to the Ontario peace movement by paid advertising in this magazine.

B.C. Provincial Conference a Success


VANCOUVER -- The first provincial conference of British Columbia peace organizations, held here on September 21 and 22, was an impressive display of both the diversity and unity of the B.C. peace movement. The conference was attended by 170 delegates representing over

100 organizations from 44 B.C. communities. The organizations participating in the conference represented a diverse range of priorities, tactics, organizational structure, and policy. This diversity was a positive, constructive force, as the participants respected and appreciated other points of view, and were united on overall goals and objectives. Thus the conference had a strong atmosphere of cooperation, agreement, and unity throughout the weekend.

The key focus of the meeting was on the need for increased networking and coordination at both the national and provincial levels. The proposal to form a Canadian Alliance for Peace was the subject of a two-hour plenary discussion on Saturday afternoon. The conference gave strong support to both the concept and the draft structure document of the Canadian Peace Alliance for Peace. (See September issue for a summary of this document.) There was a wide agreement that there should be cost-sharing for both delegates and observers to national conventions to ensure equal travel costs for participants from across the country. A proposal from End the Arms Race for B.C. representation to the November convention was unanimously approved.

The conference also expressed a strong need for greater communication and coordination within B.C. The conference agreed to establish a provincial information and resource sharing network, with End the Arms Race serving as a provincial clearinghouse.

E.A.R. would send a regular mailing to all interested organizations listing available resource materials and giving information on current events and issues. The participants also agreed to make the B.C. provincial conference an annual event.

There were four workshop sessions of six workshops each at the conference. One session dealt with skill development one with sector caucuses, and two sessions focussed on specific campaigns or themes. The most popular workshop was on Star Wars. It agreed to launch a provincial "Stop Star Wars Campaign - Phase II." The campaign will concentrate on issues such as subsidies to Canadian companies with Star Wars contracts, Canadian political support for Star Wars, the ABM Treaty, the renewal of NORAD next year, and the North Warning System. The workshop also agreed to work toward a national "Knock and Drop" campaign to educate the public about Star Wars. (See Rosenblum's proposal, this issue.)

The Election Strategies workshop recommended that emphasis be put on municipal elections at the present time. The Testing and Test Bans workshop urged that peace groups give greater priority to the Comprehensive Test Ban. Several workshops resulted in the formation of ongoing working groups. The East-West workshop set up a working group to increase and coordinate East-West exchanges and contacts. Trade unionists and professionals joined efforts to work together in the future on the issue of economic conversion. The Nuclear Free Pacific workshop contributed to the growing awareness of the importance of the Pacific region in anti-nuclear and peace issues.

The urgency of working for the cancellation of the Nanoose underwater testing range agreement, up for renewal next year, was emphasized by the Nanoose Conversion workshop. Other well-attended workshops included those on Peace Education, Taxes for Peace, and Disarmament and Development.

Another important part of the conference was a women's meeting and potluck dinner on Saturday evening. The gathering was well-attended with over 50 women participating. Topics discussed included increasing women's participation, representation, and prominence in the peace movement; and ways of further networking between women in the peace movement.

Overall, the B.C. conference was a large step forward for the B.C. peace movement in general, and also for the work on specific issues and campaigns. The conference was also a reminder that the strength of the peace movement is in both its diversity and unity. El

Peace Magazine November 1985

Peace Magazine November 1985, page 19. Some rights reserved.

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