Notes

By Randy Dryburgh, Dimitrios Roussopoulos, Phyllis Aronoff, Sheena Lambert, Isabelle George, David Kraft

Québec

The scream and boom of low-flying NATO fighter bombers continue to shatter the near silence of skies over the Québec-Labrador peninsula. Last year over 4000 low-level military test flights took place there. But this May, the NATO foreign ministers will decide the location of a $800 million NATO Tactical Fighter and Weapons Training Centre. The two possible sites are Konya, Turkey and Goose Bay, Labrador.

Perrin Beatty, the Minister of Defence, has stated that this base is a top priority for the Canadian government. Ottawa is investing $93 million to upgrade the facilities at Goose Bay. Unofficial reports predict that Canada will win.

We have learned that the NATO base is related to the NATO war fighting doctrine, Deep Strike. This strategy is destabilizing because it is based on deep penetration of enemy territory, using dual capable (conventional and nuclear) aircraft. Further, it is now clear that aircraft with a specific nuclear delivery role are being tested in Canada as apart of Deep Strike training.

To date, the peace groups that have opposed the low-level testing and the Native movements (the Innu) have operated separately. However, a meeting held in Montréal in January brought together peace activists from Ontario, Québec, and the Maritimes, and Native activists from Labrador and Québec.

For the Native groups this is a land claims issue. They have not given up their rights to the land presently being used by the Canadian government and NATO powers. The peace groups were sympathetic to this, but were specifically interested in the issue as an example of the increasing militarization of Canada. But both groups agreed that their chances of success would be greater together and they began a process of coordinating their actions.

Both groups also see this issue as a long-term one. Defence Minister Beatty has said that even if Canada does not get the NATO base, he will try to ensure that the Goose Bay facilities will be used for military testing. He will work for this by signing long-term low-level testing agreements with as many NATO powers as possible. The government's commitment to militarism will be resisted. Two other issues were considered: the need for greater public education on the issue, and the need to develop a fundraising base for an effective campaign against low-level testing. Funds are very much needs.

To contribute, or to obtain further information, tact the North Atlantic Peace Organization, P.O. Box 13392, Station A, St. John's Newfoundland, A1B 4B7 or the Central Ontario Peace Network, c/o R. Dryburgh, RR3, Conn, Ont. N0G 1NO.

By Randy Dryburgh

Peace Beat on Radio

Every other Saturday, Peace Beat is aired on CINQ-FM inMontréal-102.3 on the FM dial. Tune in.

Québec in Eureka Project

In about five months, the Québec government, through its Minister of Commercial Relations, Pierre MacDonald, will be signing a number of agreements with European companies as part of the Eureka project. According to the report that appeared in Le Devoir, "the Eureka project is a sort of civilian response in Europe to the American Star Wars project."

Eureka was initiated by the French government as a civilian research project. European peace activists consider it a reaction by military circles there to the prospect of being left out in the cold by a Fortress America.

By Dimitrios Roussopoulos

Montréal's NWFZ Referendum

The new city administration of Montréal, at its first city council meeting, passed a resolution favoring making Montréal a nuclear weapon free zone. That resolution, in itself, does not complete the project, but only begins it. The city officials intend to hold a referendum on the question in the next municipal election, which will be at least three and a half years away. The organizers specifically chose not to be satisfied with a resolution by the City Council, preferring instead to bring it to the electorate and use the issue as a means of educating the public.

Because the issue had not come up during the recent electoral campaign, peace activists were surprised that it was addressed at the first council meeting. With the new administration comes a more public form of municipal government; this was the first public city council meeting held in Montréal within forty years. One woman who came to watch commented, "I wanted my kids of see this. This could be the beginning of democracy in Montréal."

By Phyllis Aronoff

B.C.

By Sheena Lambert

Walk for Peace

Vancouver's Walk for Peace will take place on Saturday, April 25. It will start at 12.00 noon at Kitsilano Beach, go over the Burrard Street Bridge, through the heart of downtown Vancouver, and culminate with a peace rally at Sunset Beach, overlooking English Bay. One main message of this year's Walk will be that people can and should have hope in the nuclear age. We want people to know that, although they feel incapacitated faced with the threat of 50,000 nuclear weapons, when they join together with thousands of other people they become a force that can shape government policy and work to change the world. This message will be delivered in a number of different ways. People who want to do more than walk for peace will be told at the rally what they can do to work effectively for peace, at their own level, throughout the coming year. The four students from SAGE (Students Against Global Extermination) will deliver a youth peace pledge at the rally, as the climax to their Youth Nuclear Disarmament Tour. As well, to celebrate the strong, collective will to create peace, bells will be rung by people at the peace rally, and at the same time church bells will be tolled all over the city. People who can't make it to the Walk can honk their car horns, or ring bells at home. Also, in the week before the Walk, Families for Peace will sponsor an event for parents of young children, to deal with their fears of war and the violence they are subjected to on television. This event also focuses on the positive steps parents can take to give hope to their children.

Mayor Against Warship Visitors

Victoria's mayor, Gretchen Brewin, has written to Prime Minister Mulroney calling for a public inquiry into nuclear ship visits to Canadian ports. The letter proposes that the inquiry focus on the risks that these vessels pose to local residents, and the support that the Canadian government gives to the nuclear arms race by allowing nuclear-capable ships to enter Canadian waters. Mayor Brewin suggests that the federal government take four steps to counter the dangers posed by the warships entering B.C. ports:

1) That the government convene a formal public inquiry.

2) That in establishing the inquiry, the federal government consult with directly affected provincial and municipal governments, and provide limited funds to public groups to prepare submissions.

3) That, until the inquiry has reported, all nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapons capable vessels be refused access to Canadian ports.

4) That if an interim ban on nuclear vessels is not accepted, the federal government direct the Atomic Energy Control Board to regulate the nuclear facilities on these ships on die same basis that it regulates land-based nuclear facilities.

The Victoria Disarm the Seas Campaign is calling on peace groups to endorse Mayor Brewin's letter, and to send letters of support to the federal government and to the media. They are also asking those groups in port cities to consider approaching their city councils to get support for Mayor Brewin's letter. For more information, call Phil Esmonde at the South Pacific People's Foundation: 604-381-4131; 620 View Street, Victoria, B.C., V8A 1J6.

Peace Tax Fund Case

Dr. Jerilynn Prior, of Vancouver, has become the first case of a conscientious Canadian refusing to pay the portion of her taxes that would be spent on the military. Judge Tremblay of the Tax Court gave his decision denying. Dr. Prior the right to direct her taxes to peace on grounds of freedom of conscience. Her lawyers are now preparing a claim to be filed in the Federal Court branch in Vancouver, which will go to the Federal Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court, finally Conscience Canada has been told that Revenue Canada will appeal any favorable decisions.

Prairies

The sixth and final National Defence Policy Consultation was held January' 22 in closed session at the Skyline Hotel in Calgary. Deputy Defence Minister, Bob Fowler, and five assistants met with 21 invited participants from the prairie provinces. Participants included representatives from the military, industry, the University of Calgary's Strategic Studies Department, and disarmament groups. No one was present from the humanities departments of the University or from the Yukon or Northwest Territories.

Yet the Defence Minister's office insisted that the department had made a strong effort to get all views on defence policy, and discussion of the Arctic was central to deliberations at the consultation.

Discussion was focused on the adequacy of Canada's commitment to the conventional deterrent in Europe, the needs of the North Atlantic Alliance, Canada's response to the Three-Ocean Challenge, and the future direction for defence policy in space. Participants were requested to refrain from publicly discussing views aired at the meeting other than their own.

Defence Minister Perrin Beatty appeared briefly near the close of the session. He had previous met with the press, and had spoken to Conservatives at a Macdonald-Cartier Club of Calgary luncheon. At those events he said that the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines is being considered, that Canadian military reserves need to be expanded, and that the growth of the Canadian defence industry will be encouraged.

At a related event on the same day, the Calgary Disarmament Coalition held alternate hearings in protest to the closed nature of the Defence Policy Consultations. A General and an assistant to the Defence Minister left the closed session and attended this alternate hearing. They denied claims that the government doesn't want to hear from all disarmament groups. Indeed, they welcomed briefs on defence policy from any interested group or individual.

By Isabelle George

Canadian Peace Alliance

The steering committee of the Canadian Peace Alliance met at an international hostel in Regina on the weekend of March 1. The attendance -- 35 people -- was virtually complete. Since its procedures had already been established through extensive deliberations, the group was able to proceed efficiently and with consensus through the substantive matters. Indeed, it was not necessary to call for a vote on any issue during the entire weekend.

The last convention having given the CPA a mandate to facilitate campaigns, two other smaller meetings had followed for the preparation of specific proposals. One of them, an ad hoc working group, had met in Toronto, to work on an election strategy campaign. This, and indeed any other working group, is open to CPA participants anywhere in the country, with the proviso that they should attempt to maintain regional balance.

After the steering committee had finished its administrative work in Regina, it adjourned and an election campaign committee was formally convened for the first time. The new project will be called "The Canadian Peace Pledge Campaign: Voting Canada Out of the Arms Race." Specific projects within this campaign will be able to adapt the slogan to, for example, "Walking," Petitioning," or "Rallying Canada Out of the Arms Race."

The over-riding objective of the Canadian Peace Pledge Campaign is to intervene in the next election to make peace a prominent issue. Three issues were adopted as key to the campaign: (1) opposition to Canadian involvement in Star Wars; (2) support to make Canada nuclear weapons free, which would include an end to cruise testing, port visits of nuclear ships, the construction of the guidance system and low-level fight training, and (3) support for the Comprehensive Test Ban, verification procedures, and international peace initiatives.

The rest of the Regina meeting involved planning for concrete tasks. Groups across the country will be working to produce a pamphlet, a peace voter pledge card, buttons, a budget, a timeline, and supplementary literature. The election subcommittee will meet again in May in Toronto when the administrative committee of the CPA convenes.

By David Kraft

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1987

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1987, page 40. Some rights reserved.

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