Saving the Seas
VANCOUVER-The seas are becoming more and more a focus of concern and activism in this, Canada's largest maritime province. In May, researcher/author Lyuba Zarsky (American Lake: Nuciear Peril in the Pacific) toured several communities on the West Coast, explaining the U.S. Forward Defence" naval strategy and detailing evidence of a pattern of increasingly confrontational activity in the Pacific by both superpowers.
During that tour, Perrin Beatty's plans were beginning to be leaked to the press, and Zarsky emphasized that the North, including our Arctic waters, will come to play a greater role in the strategic plans of the superpowers and therefore should be accommodated on the Canadian peace agenda.
The warship visitations continue, and the reception party is livening up! As soon as a ship enters the coastal waterway, the Vancouver Island Network for Disarmament phone tree crackles an alert, and hand-held yellow signs appear up and down the Island Highway warning: "NUCLEAR SHIP IN PORT.
- _ Meanwhile, tourists at the highway rest stop across from Nanoose Bay encounter the Peace Truck, serving its fifth summer as a drive-in center.
- _ And in Vancouver Harbor, no fewer than three welcoming parties greeted incoming ships in July. The most publicized team comprised two Greenpeace climbers who scaled the two-inch suspension cables of the Lions Gate Bridge, 300 feet above water level. They unfurled a 30 by 60 foot banner that read, Nuclear Free Seas" and waited all night for the ships to arrive (causing some delays in traffic below on the heavily travelled bridge that connects the North Shore suburbs to Vancouver's busy Stanley Park). When the ships finally appeared, it turned out they were non-nuclear vessels, so Greenpeace organizers called off the series of direct actions they'd been planing for weeks. To confirm that the ships were in fact non-nuclear, Greenpeace members in zodiacs approached each vessel and compared its number and configuration with data the group has compiled as part of its new international nuclear free seas campaign. Greenpeace national disarmament coordinator Steve Shallhorn saw it as a victory: "The fact that they scraped together a non-nuclear fleet is a tribute to the strength of the Canadian peace movement."
- _ A week later three seasoned Greenpeace activists almost lost their lives in a confrontation in Vancouver Harbor with the Nuclear-Capable vessel USS Gray. When the USS Gray was docking, two Greenpeace zodiacs and a police inflatable were seriously damaged, seconds after the protesters and the police had scrambled up the ladder to safety.
Also on hand to hear witness to the warships' intrusion of our peaceful harbor were boats launched by the People's Front, bullhorns blaring, as well as the flotilla of the local Save Our Seas coalition. Members of Save Our Seas chained themselves to the gangplank of a visiting warship. SOS coordinator Bob Light advises that another visit -- and welcoming -- are scheduled soon.
- _ Peace Polling Booths are showing up at public events on the lower mainland this summer. In July, for example, visitors to the Richmond Salmon Queen Festival had a chance to register as peace voters. Local organizers at the CPPC report that tens of thousands" of B.C. peace voters have been registered.
- _ The infamous White Paper has sparked a series of angry responses from the B.C. peace movement, shocked that our Defence Minister can be so oblivious to the historic sea-change that is underway in international relations. Fast off the mark was the Greater Victoria Disarmament Group, which produced a prompt statement challenging the "old-fashioned thinking" in the proposal. A special committee has been struck within the End the Arms Race coalition to examine the paper; a draft outline for a thorough critique of the policy proposal is now being circulated for comments before being presented as a brief. EAR is issuing a statement to the government demanding a full public bearing into the proposed policy before any decisions are made to turn it into law.
- _ The Nuclear Weapons Free BC Committee got another affable reception from Premier Bill Vander Zalm, but he let them know that the NWFZ declaration must remain symbolic, for fear "high tech" industry might stop investing here.
- _ The Nuclear Weapons Legal Action has received enthusiastic and unanimous support from the multi-partisan Vancouver City Council Special Committee on Peace. Committee member Bruce Bingham (who describes himself as a "committed Liberal") reports that the committee is recommending to council that the city endorse the lawsuit project and donate a grant of $5,000 to support Living the Pursuit of Peace
- _ Hiroshima Day was observed with Vancouver Mayor Gordon Campbell. In the afternoon Campbell took part in an international live broadcast commemorating the atomic bombing. later that evening he opened a public ceremony on the old Courthouse steps, issuing a Proclamation designating the day Hiroshima Memorial Day in Vancouver. Too bad he left the scene before the candle lighting ceremony and missed the magic of the Vancouver pale green night sky faintly illuminated beyond the warm pool of our candlelight.
- _ Burnout seems to be less of a problem among peace activists in the faith community than it is within the secular peace movement, according to Carole Christopher, who works in the Peace and Justice Center in Burnaby. Looking at peace making from the faith perspective, says Christopher, we see that we're dealing with a slow, historic process. Faith people tend not to look for "victories" but to devote themselves to a process of "nurture," patiently cultivating spiritual values of justice that can support policies of peace. The nurture goes on within a larger community, and also at retreats such as the justice-making camp held at the end of August in Naramata, BC.
First, the Good News
HALIFAX -- News from these provinces for the past year reflects a mixture of good and not-so-good experiences plus the usual and unavoidable plain hard slogging.
- _ In Prince Edward Island there was joy in August, 1986, in successfully wrapping up the Litton campaign (although the company soon found a potential home in Nova Scotia) and networking begun during this process was continued into a ten-day workshop on nonviolence and conflict resolution facilitated by members of the Movement for a New Society. Living on an island forces the PEI. peace movement to be especially aware of the need to maintain links with other areas; their delegates have attended conferences and workshops at the international, national, and provincial levels.
- _ St. Johns' Peace Network had to be abandoned during the year but instead groups have collaborated to open a new Peace Centre at 9 Garrison Hill, helped by Oxfam funding. There will still be a few meetings a year to coordinate combined projects.
- _ Peaceworkers have also managed to change the minds of the Newfoundland N.D.P. regarding the potential NATO base at Goose Bay. The party has now agreed that this is not the best kind of development and that other methods should be sought. Activists worked particularly with Jack Harris, the newly elected MP for St. Johns' East, to ensure his affirmation of commitment to this policy.
- _ A recent trial ran on the Peace Pledge Campaign concerning nuclear-capable vessels in St. Johns' Harbor found, on the whole, a good response as workers went door-to-door.
- _ Kings County Ploughshares in Nova Scotia held a peace festival during Disarmament Week last year, with dancers, singers, poets, and storytellers and also yard and bake sales. It attracted far more new people to talk to than did the regular monthly programs held on Alternative Security during the winter and spring.
- _ The Nova Scotia branch of Veterans Against Nuclear War (VANA) has had useful discussions on their publication, Towards a World Without War, and their response to the Defence White Paper. They have been able to respond to all requests for speakers so far. Some members are also working towards a better understanding with the Canadian Legion.
- _ There was a successful collaboration between various peace groups with the Halifax Public Library last fall to organize a series of public meetings. Groups came together again this spring when the Voice of Women initiated a workshop on defence production and the local economy.
- _ Lawyers for Social Responsibility in Halifax have produced a useful research and policy paper on Porting of Nuclear Capable Surface Ships and Submarines and, with other groups, is now preparing a series of public seminars to promote discussion of the White Paper.
- _ Halifax Presbytery Support Group has been working amongst United Church members, whilst Project Ploughshares has enjoyed a steady demand for the resources it provides.
And Now the Bad
- _ So much for what has gone well. On the down side, Newfoundland reports that although a final decision on the Goose Bay NATO base is not expected for another two to three years, bilateral agreements with the Canadian government continue for low-level flying The overflights have now increased with the recent addition of the Dutch Air Force. The Canadian Public Health Association recommended that overflights be frozen at previous levels. Both this recommendation and the report from the Federal Environmental Review Panel have been ignored.
- _ * In Pictou County, Nova Scotia, unemployment is very high and newspapers speculate on the chances of local shipyards and steelworks getting involved in defence contracts. There Project Ploughshares has published a leaflet -- Sinking Money into Submarines -- too promote discussion with unions and other groups. This is not the only area where animated debates are raging on the possibility of building Perrin Beatty's nuclear fleet. Halifax shipyards have entered into the race and Mayor Wallace has declared that he expects to see these vessels based in Halifax. There is no real discussion as to whether or not they are necessary -- only how much can be squeezed from them to 'bolster' the local economy.
- _ Project Ploughshares Halifax-Dartmouth distributed Operation Dismantle's booklet, Unsafe Harbours, to aldermen in the metro area but received only one, negative, response.
- _ In the meantime the Nova Scotia military Tattoo this summer has been its usual resounding success, with an attendance of approximately 40,000. It is supported by the Department of Tourism annually and in 1986 received about $500,000.
- _ As a final thought, peace groups in Halifax have learned that there is to be a provincial workshop hereon October 23, the eve of Disarmament Week, for social studies teachers from across the province to be addressed by various high ranking Canadian and European NATO officials. They will come at their own expense and no opposing or alternative viewpoints from the platform will be allowed.
The Newfoundland Peace Movement: An Overlooked Success Story'
ST. JOHN'S -- Newfoundland has a strong and growing peace movement. This may come as a surprise to some because little is heard of it. But this is due to lack of publicity, not lack of activity. In 1980 a small group of activists formed a St. John's branch of Project Ploughshares. As it grew larger, we formed groups focused on special interests or particular issues. During the past few years, Academics for Nuclear Disarmament, Educators for Peace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ploughshares Youth, and the North Atlantic Peace Organization (NAPO), among others, have been formed. NAPO has been very active in opposing the low-flying activities of NATO warplanes at the Canadian Armed Forces base at Goose Bay, Labrador. The peace movement here has succeeded in establishing several annual events: a peace march, which attracts up to 500 people during United Nations Disarmament Week in October, a vigil on Hiroshima Day at the War Memorial, and the Peace-A-Chord Festival every July, which this year attracted 690 young people to listen to music and speeches and participate in various events.
We publish two newsletters: Ploughshares Newsletter, issued six to ten times per year, devoted to a single theme, and Network News, a monthly publication with news of local peace activities. A year ago, Ploughshares put all its resources into printing the Newsletter as a flyer. Eighteen thousand copies were distributed in the local Sunday newspaper to the majority of homes in St. John's.
One of the most notable achievements of the peace movement here has been to persuade city council to declare St. John's a Nuclear-free Zone, commemorated by a plaque at City Halt In tact, the mayor drew attention to this recently when objecting to nuclear weapons being based here. As well, the Catholic Archbishop of St. John's, the Anglican Bishop, and the President of the United Church Conference have all expressed support for Ploughshares, and this year our annual meeting was held in Government House, by courtesy of the Lieutenant-Governor! In July a coalition of local peace groups pioneered the Peace Pledge Campaign by hosting a successful debate on peace with two candidates in the Federal by-election (the Conservative candidate declined to participate) and publishing their answers to a peace questionnaire in the local press. This led to a three-night canvass with pledge cards requesting voters to vote for a candidate opposed to the visits of nuclear-armed ships. That campaign brought peace issues to the electorate's attention and paved the way for the national campaign of "Voting Canada Out of the Arms Race" during the next federal election.
Our Own Defence Proposals
TORONTO: If Perrin Beatty wanted to galvanize the peace movement in Ontario, he couldn't have done better than by producing the White Paper on Defence. Many groups are preparing a response to the document, called Challenge and Commitment. Among the groups challenged by the pro-Pentagon policy and committed to changing it are VANA, VOW, Group of 78, and the University Women's Club of North York. The Veterans' paper is being used as a resource by smaller groups.
- _ The Canadian Federation of University Women at its annual meeting passed two peace resolutions sponsored by the North York club. The first called on all members to critically evaluate violence in the media, protest the sale of war toys, and support peace education. The second asked the federal government to declare Canada a nuclear weapons free country. This coincides with one of the appeals of the Canadian Peace Pledge Campaign asking voters to vote only for candidates who also oppose Star Wars and nuclear weapons testing-"Adopt your M.P. for Peace."
- _ Groups are also working together to mount impressive events. Science for Peace, Lawyers for Social Responsibility, World Federalists, and VOW are co-sponsoring "Defining Defence: Canada's Role in World Security" on Wednesday, November 4, at 8:00 pm. at Harbourfront, Toronto.. Speakers are Professor Derek Paul-Defence Alternatives, Dieter Heinrich, President W.F.C. Strengthening World Institutions, Lawyer Jenny Hatlield-Lyon-International Law. She is a member of the legal committee of the Nuclear Weapons Legal Action. Cell 4161 532-8321.
- _ High powered speakers are also good drawing cards. David Suzuki will speak after dinner on Thursday, November 5, at a CPPNW event at L'Hotel, Front Street West, Toronto. Tickets $125. That includes dinner. Call 416/593-6828. Sr. Rosalie Bertell will discuss nuclear issues on October 7 in Bowmanville, which is close to the Pickering and Darlington nuclear power stations. Cell Nuclear Awareness Project, 41615374)438.
- _ U.N. Disarmament Week is again a focus of activity. Anglican Peacemakers and the United Church Peace Network are sponsoring a vigil on Sunday evening, October 25 at the Peace Garden, Toronto City Hall. Toronto Disarmament Network and ACT for Disarmament will close the week with a peace festival on Saturday, October 31.
- _ The federal election debate is focusing on NDP policy to take Canada out of NATO. VOW members attending a conference to dialogue with NATO officials heard Margarita Papandreou, wife of the President of Greece, say, "We find NATO to be an impotent institution in terms of decision-making: We find it irresponsible in terms of accountability... They really do not function as a body but there is a kind of loose coalition in which decisions are made by rival nations. We find it now an obsolete institution which has not recognized the political realities of today, which still considers that the chief enemy is the USSR, and the means of dealing with issues of conflict have to be military means... disregarding the world-wide consequences and implications of such a philosophy." A transcript of the interview with Canadian Ambassador Gordon Smith and NATO Secretary General Lord Carrington is available for $2 from the VOW office: 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto M5S 2R4.
- _ Two new videos are also available through VOW. In "The Edge of History" twelve distinguished people present creative ideas for stopping the arms race (28 min.). "Buster and Me" is an Emmy award-winning puppet show to help children deal with the arms race (25 min.).