VANCOUVER ISLAND -- On a per capita basis B.C.'s most active peace movement may be on Vancouver Island and the nearby Gulf Islands. These activists publish a quarterly newsletter, Disarming News! The Network comprises 25 small community groups, along with the Nanoose Conversion Campaign and groups associated with the University of Victoria and Malaspina College. The Network may offer to host B.C. 's next Provincial Conference, which on both previous occasions has met in Vancouver. The Denman Island Peace Group is planning a proposal for a national conference that will bring together the Canadian Defence Department and peace groups to do a cost-benefit analysis, comparing present defence alliances to a nonaligned, independent foreign policy.
* A Centre for Justice and Peace has been established in Burnaby to accommodate needs of peace and justice groups working in the faith community home there, along with the Anawim Centre, which spiritually nurtures between 300 and 400 Christian activists in the lower mainland of B.C. Research and resource materials are provided through courses, retreats, and training sessions. Shalom Institute offers theological education in justice and peace.
Two well- established groups have recently moved into pleasant shared office space in Vancouver's East End Tools for Peace (T4P) is going into its seventh year of campaigns to supply material aid to Nicaragua. Out of the Vancouver national office, T4P has coordinated the collection and shipping of millions of dollars worth of much-needed practical supplies, donated through 120 committees in every province of Canada. At its annual meeting, held on Easter weekend in Vancouver, T4P identified its priority projects for 1987: boots and gloves (for women in agricultural projects), notebooks (for education), occupational health and safety gear (for workers), fishing equipment and supplies, and galvanized roofing (for those displaced by the war). This last item will be supplied through monetary donations to T4P, 1672 E. 10th Ave, Vancouver V5N 1X5. Phone 604 /879-7216.
Across the hall from T4P is the Christian Task Force on Central America (CTFCA), which has been engaging the Canadian faith community in the struggles for justice being carried out in Central America. Along with education, vigils, and political lobbying, CTFCA offers two-week tours of Central American countries to provide personal experience to members who will return as credible witnesses of Central American reality. The next trip to Nicaragua, co-organized with Global Awareness Through Experience, is planned for October 31-November 13 (cost $1500 CDN). A trip to southern Mexico is planned for January 4-14 (cost $1000 CDN). Contact CTFCA, PO Box 65899, Stn. F, Vancouver V5N 5N1.
A committee of End the Arms Race is guiding the Nuclear Weapons Free B.C. Campaign to what seems destined to be certain success. Already 64 percent of the population reside in declared Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, with Prince George, Queen Charlotte City, and Nanaimo (home of the Nanoose Base!) the most recent additions. An adopt-an-MLA project is underway to lobby key legislators, and already the Premier has given a delegation an affable reception, promising to look into the matter.
A new strain of yeast was thrown into Vancouver's anti-nuclear ferment in May when a group of people with no previous involvement in "the movement" undertook an ambitious fundraising effort to help out worthy causes, including End the Arms Race (which had come up short of funds after the '87 Walk for Peace). "Give Peace a Dance" was a 12-hour dance marathon inspired by identical events held on EXPO site; it was televised in its entirety over the local cable network. It drew a lineup of top musicians, including D.O.A. who gave the teenagers what they'd been waiting for and left their middleaged hippie parents looking at each other uneasily during their rendition of Lumberjack City, which featured a solo on chainsaw. . The marathon raised a respectable $30,000 gross and organizers are already making plans for 1988.
* The Students Against Global Extermination (SAGE) swept B.C. high schoolers onto their feet In Vancouver, the wrap-up youth meeting drew representation from twenty-six schools, which will network locally through a revitalized Vancouver Youth for Peace Action. The citywide student network will meet through the summer to plan an ambitious interschool art competition and show scheduled for the fall.
The uranium mining issue has been quiescent in B.C. for several years, since the provincial government abruptly interrupted a Royal Commission's safety investigation and imposed a seven-year moratorium on mining in 1980. The expiry of the moratorium this spring has provoked a public outcry -- a conference, petitioning, demonstrations, and now a court action initiated by Greenpeace. A class action suit was launched in the provincial Supreme Court on May 28 for reinstitution of the Royal Commission that was terminated seven years ago -- before expert witnesses on environmental and health issues had a chance to testify. Greenpeace and the co-petitioners (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and Confederation of Canadian Unions) are presenting affidavits arguing that worker- and public health would be at risk from uranium mining, and that uranium from Canada is used in the weapons programs of many countries, including the Soviet Union.
*Last year Vancouver's progressive city council established a Special Council Committee on Peace, mandated to receive delegations, proposals, and correspondence relating to world peace, and to formulate recommendations for actions by the city to promote peace and prevent nuclear war. The council composition was changed with the fall elections, but the Council Committee on Peace endures. It has met twice since its reincarnation under the new city council. In the future, the Committee may consider recommendations for city actions in support of the B.C. NWFZ campaign and to deal with the issue of warship visits to the port.
In the Interior, a hundred or so people from the fruit growing country on both sides of the international border came "out of the hills" to share their annual Mothers' Day Walk for Peace, reports Kitty Wilson of the Penticton Peace Group. Among the walkers who gathered at the border was a contingent of Doukhobors from nearby Grand Forks and Castlegar, B.C. The Doukhobors are seen by local residents as the "original peace group" in the area, and they are among the most active and committed peace workers in the province. This summer the Doukhobor community will celebrate the unveiling of a bronze statue of their 19th Century advocate Leo Tolstoy. It is by Soviet sculptor Yurl Chernov and is a gift from the USSR to Canadians of Russian descent living in British Columbia. It will stand in the Doukhobor heritage village in Castlegar. In Penticton, the Multicultural Society is arranging for the outline of a peace dove to be created on a hillside, visible for miles around.
A little farther east, Nelson is gearing up for its annual workshop series. The program includes everything from theatre, games, and "balancing" to workshops in ethical investment, world development, apartheid, deep ecology, the Brundtland Report, and much much more. Centre for a Sustainable Future. Box 727, Nelson BC V1L 5R4.(604) 352-9495.
HALIFAX -- A conference on the militarization of the economy, "Alternatives to Arms Industries, Meeting Needs, Matching Resources," was held in Halifax April 24-25, sponsored by Voice of Women, Citizens of Local Economic Development, Project Ploughshares, Engineers for Social Responsibility and Veterans Against Nuclear Arms.
In her powerful keynote address, Solanges Vincent, Montréal political and economic analyst, spoke of how Canada is following in U.S. footsteps toward a military-dominated economy in which a very few people make high profits, leaving a dwindling middle class and an increasing number of poor, who survive largely on part-time jobs. In the U.S. the system is exacerbated by a reversal in the "trickle down" effect, leaving the rich richer and poor poorer.
She accused the U.S. of attracting foreign investment to finance its growing national debt, thus using up the world's savings, even while defence contractors are under investigation for malpractice and fraud. In Canada, no such investigations have ever taken place.
Seventy four people registered for the workshops the following day. "What's Wrong with the Multinational Model?" showed that the multinationals invest little. Instead, tax favors, government grants and bank loans are used in order to establish factories. "Researching Local War Industries" stressed the need to ask precise questions of officialdom, to check documents, including broadcast transcripts, and to use business magazines when searching for information.
* Lawyers for Social Responsibility have published a policy statement: "The Porting of Nuclear Weapons-capable Vessels in Canadian Harbors." Call Camille Cameron, 1742 Henry St., Halifax, B3H 3K6 Tel. 902423-9737
* Muriel Duckworth received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dalhousie University on May 22. She asked graduating law students to use their abilities in Canadian courts "to ensure that life itself will go on."
*With the assistance of Robert Light, a peace activist from Vancouver, a small group of canoeists staged a peaceful protest in Halifax Harbor on May 21 at the arrival of the French frigate Commandant Bourdais. Then they crossed the harbor to Shearwater to protest the presence of the ballistic missile submarine U.S.S. Casimir Pulaski. The local newspaper has since given great prominence to the fact that the frigate was not carrying nuclear weapons, as it is a training ship. However, they ignored the Casimir Pulaski ,which was certainly carrying Trident I missiles.
*Paul Quigley is a British manufacturing engineer with an M.A. in peace studies from Bradford University. He has been studying with Seymour Melman at Columbia, specializing in the conversion of military factories to making non-military products. He spoke in Halifax on May 29. While his experience in the Canadian context was limited, his discussion helped us clarify our own concerns.
Nova Scotia's problem is mainly one of war production plants that are ripe for conversion. We have only one plant doing purely military production (sonar buoys) and it employs only 400-500 people. What is happening here is that preparing for World War III is being heavily promoted as the cure for our horrendous unemployment and community disintegration problems. The factor limiting this promotion is more likely to be shortage of funds to pay the bribes that multinational arms firms expect rather than any campaign the Halifax disarmament movement is ready to conduct. We hope that Paul Quigley's visit will prompt us to become more organized.
MONTRÉAL -- On April 16, in Montréal' eight peace activists participated in a civil disobedience action to denounce Canada's export of arms to nations involved in wars and military dictatorships. This action was organized by a group connected to "La base chrétienne alternative -- La Pierre Vivante." Its target was the program of the Department of Regional Industrial Expansion, which supports military export industries. The aim was to highlight the active role of the government of Canada in the international trafficking in death. The eight activists occupied the offices of Department of Regional Industrial Expansion in Montréal for seven hours. They demanded ending productivity grants for military industries. They were arrested and charged with assault.
On Wednesday, May 27, a small but vocal group demonstrated in Montréal's Phillips Square. The organizing group, Montréal Uranium Committee (MUC), called the people out to protest France's continued program of nuclear testing in the South Pacific and Montréal's connection to it. The demonstration was organized on the occasion of Mitterand's visit to Montréal. The following facts prompted this activity:
Over the past year, several small group of activists have staged civil disobedience actions in the port of Montréal to protest the importing of Namibian uranium for refinement in Canada. In 1984, a U.N. resolution condemned Canada for this practice, but the government did not change its policy. The uranium, which comes in as yellowcake, is transformed into uranium hexafluoride by the crown-owned El Dorado Nuclear and then sent back to South Africa or its customers.
Although the protests convinced the shipping company that had been bringing the uranium in not to renew their contract, researchers are convinced the uranium continues to enter the country through another route. Meanwhile, the cases of the protesters make their way slowly through the Municipal Court. Charges against them vary from failing to circulate to trespassing, leafleting, and causing a disturbance. Some of the cases have been dismissed for lack of evidence, other accused been sentenced to fines, and still others have been tried and await judgment.
Two groups of Québec teenagers recently returned from the Soviet Union, where they met with Russian young people and broke down stereotypes on both sides. One group consisted of thirty figure skaters and hockey players. They got to know their Soviet counterparts by skating and playing hockey with them. The hockey players played on mixed Soviet-Canadian teams instead of against each other, and both learned from the different national styles of play. The skaters performed together in a show attended by two thousand people. Montréal's Centre for Nuclear Disarmament and Community Health, co-sponsor of the tour, hopes to repeat the exchange with other young athletes.
* Another group of four Montréal teenagers also visited the Soviet Union. Alison Carpenter, Max Faille, Seth Klein, and Desiree McGraw have spent the past year touring high schools all over Canada to mobilize young people to work for peace, so it was only natural that they go to the USSR and share the same message with Russian teenagers. They also attended the conference of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and spent time with Seth's second cousin, a student teacher in Moscow. They went beyond the circle of official peace groups by meeting with members of the Moscow Trust Group, whose activities have met with government reprisals.
Phyllis Aronoff and Eric Shragge
The Canadian Peace Congress, at its recent Board Meeting, adopted as policy the position that Canada should include, as part of its Constitution, the obligation to submit any international disagreement to the World Court and accept its decision.
TORONTO -- A tentative agenda has been set for the Ontario Peace Conference '87. It will be called "Peace Through Education," and the opening address on Friday, September 18 will describe "The Curriculum and the North American experience: Liberal Education as a Stillborn Idea." The conference will continue with workshops on education and all aspects of peace on Saturday and will close on Sunday with children's activities. It will be held at the University of Western Ontario. Input on workshops and leaders is requested by the organizers, the Nuclear Awareness Committee, Room 228, USC Office, UCC Building, University of Western Ontario, London N6A 3K7. The conference hopes to attract youth movements and families. As the organizers state, "The curriculum fails to address our society's moral sanction of greed, the concentration of wealth, and the impoverished majority.. ..We must look at ways of developing a curriculum which will produce more creative and insightful citizens who will be able to see things as they really are and who will have faith in themselves to act on their own initiative in order to redress the inequalities and injustices."
This is an important opportunity for Ontario peace activists to meet, network and strategize. Registration: $30. Contact Paul Pasternak, (519) 679-5769. An election flyer will go out to all provincial peace groups and individuals on the Nuclear Weapons Free Ontario mailing list immediately after the June 20 meeting. It will be accompanied by a candidate survey sheet and an "ideas for action" page. If you are interested in follow-up phoning from Toronto, in being part of a candidate survey team for your riding, or in receiving the election mailing, write or phone Christine Peringer, Dundas Peace Research Institute, 25 Dundana Ave., Dundas, L9H 4E5, (416) 628-2356.
Many Toronto peace groups held evaluation meetings at the close of their busy year and have set plans for the fall. The United Church Peace Network of Toronto Conference will now have one-third of a staff member's time to coordinate the work of the peace teams throughout Southern Ontario. The network for the Toronto area has decided to hold monthly meetings on the second Monday of each month and to study the differences between United Church policy and the Defence Department's White Paper. The October meeting will be the first joint meeting of this group and the Anglican Peacemaking Network. Call 923-9061.
Both Toronto Disarmament Network (TDN) and ACT for Disarmament will be marking Hiroshima Day on August 6. ACT will hold its traditional Candlelight vigil at the Peace Garden. TDN will launch its campaign against the Great Lakes ports visits of the U.S. ship, the Oliver Hazard Perry, which will visit Toronto harbor August 22-24. The rally will take place at the dock, and Greenpeace is requesting the cooperation of all those who have small boats and are willing to stage a protest. Call 922-3011.
Ontario MPP Richard Johnston is carrying forward the implementation of the Nov.13 decision to make Ontario nuclear weapons-free. Two bills, Bill 193 and Bill 194 have been proposed. The first is an amendment to the Planning Act that would require that no new facilities could be built for the production of nuclear weapons components and no existing facilities could be converted to such use. Bill 194 would require all makers of nuclear weapons-related materials to invest in and begin conversion planning.
Further to these are three proposals from the peace movement: (1) to end the visits to Ontario ports of ships that may carry nuclear weapons, (2) to ban the planned export and transportation of tritium, a by-product of Ontario Hydro's nuclear reactors and an essential component of bombs, and (3) to call on the federal government to end the low-level nuclear bomber training and testing in Northern Ontario. Call: (for Bills 193 and 194) Richard Johnston, MPP, 416 /965-7771; (for nuclear ship visits) Greenpeace 416 /922-3011; (for tritium) Nuclear Awareness Project 416 /537-0438; (for bomber flights) N.E. Ontario Network for Peace 705/474-17
Vera de Jong
OTTAWA -- Operation Dismantle is Canada's generic peace group dedicated to nuclear disarmament. The organization was founded in 1977 and has over 11,000 supporters and members. It is non-partisan, non-sectarian, and open to anyone regardless of profession, gender, etc. Operation Dismantle has four main activities: lobbying, public education, coordinating campaigns, and coalition building. Since its founding, Operation Dismantle has worked to provide support and leadership to locally based disarmament initiatives. We also use traditional political tools to work for disarmament-lobbying, public education, the media, the court system, and the electoral process. Operation Dismantle unifies all of our concerns in one project: making Canada nuclear weapons-free.
Of course, we also get involved in the issues of the day, such as the Defence White Paper or nuclear warship visits, but we try to frame the debate in terms of our vision. A nuclear weapons-free Canada would inexorably support a Comprehensive Test Ban, a nuclear test moratorium, and a nuclear freeze. We would convert existing nuclear weapons facilities to useful production. We would play a major role in urging both superpowers to negotiate in good faith and lend our good offices to developing creative solutions to defusing the arms race. A nuclear weapons-free Canada would serve as a buffer zone and work for the creation of more buffer zones between the superpowers such as a demilitarized Arctic.
In a nuclear weapons-free Canada, we wouldn't welcome nuclear warships or test nuclear bombers and missiles. We wouldn't build nuclear weapons systems or export radioactive materials for weapons use.
Some of Dismantle's current program activities include:
Additionally, this year we're holding a very special conference. "Nuclear Weapons Free Canada -- Planning and Realizing the Possible Dream" in Hull, Québec on October 24, during Disarmament Week. We'll be bringing together people with nuclear weapons-free experience from across Canada and as far away as New Zealand, plus speakers with a variety of expertise -- labour, native issues, international, and municipal -- to talk about the issue and its implications, and how best to make Canada nuclear weapons-free. Additionally, there's lots of time programmed for networking and entertainment with both visual and performing arts. It will end with a banquet, awards ceremony, and variety show with Dr. Bossin's Home Remedy for Nuclear War.
The future holds both promise and great danger. The public is still growing in its support for disarmament, and there will likely be slow progress in superpower negotiations. But there are big problems to solve, such as the proliferation of cruise missiles and the continued dominance of hawkish world leaders, including Canada's own Defence Minister. For Dismantle and the movement, I see a growing sophistication in reaching people with our message, by word of mouth, in print, and, I hope, increasingly via electronic media.
In my term as president, I'll address a problem in the peace movement: friction between grassroots people and central organizers. Having started out working at the grassroots level in rural Ottawa Valley, I know the frustrations of local groups in central organizations that appear insensitive or domineering. But still, we accomplish more working together than individually. Operation Dismantle is finding a balance between the central and the de-central. I ask local activists to work with us. We'll try to listen to your needs and provide you with support materials, coordinated, politically effective action campaigns, and some funding. You may opt in or out of campaigns, but by working with us, you'll benefit from our support and we'll benefit from yours.
We're based in Ottawa and incorporated with a national Board of Directors that meets twice a year. Our national office has a staff of approximately six, all members of CUPE Local 3093. I've served as president, on a voluntary basis, since May, 1986. Our address is P.O. Box 3887, Station C, Ottawa KIY 4M5 [(613) 625-2793].
Ish Theilhelmer PresIdent
Peace Magazine Aug-Sep 1987, page 40. Some rights reserved.
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