Notes

By Donald Craig, Peter Davison, Alan Wilson, Kathleen O'Hara, Andrea Levy, Eric Shragge, Ellen Gould

Atlantic

The Peace Pledge Campaign is Catching

STIMULATED BY Helen Caldicott's exciting visit in May, 30 to 40 people in the Halifax-Dartmouth area are meeting twice monthly to conduct a local campaign and to coordinate with other groups in the Maritimes. As of mid-July, campaigners had collected more than 2,000 signatures. At one yard sale, for example, they picked up about 160 names. A door-to-door canvas by eight volunteers gathered 60 signatures. Volunteers working with a wall display before the city library got 416 names. The committee has also started using street polling stations, which work well. Once signatures are collected, they are used to show politicians the support in their ridings for peace issues. Each candidate for office will be asked to fill out a 12-point questionnaire on peace and disarmament issues. Results will be sent to those who have signed the pledges, so they may objectively decide where to place their support.

Donald Craig

The USS Coral Sea Visited Halifax

During the first week of July, the Coral Sea came to Pier 21. Amusing trivia, like the $2 million monthly payroll, or the jet-launching catapult's ability to sling a car two miles, fed the public and media curiosity. One important tidbit was curiously absent from media reports. This vessel, with its air wing on board, routinely deploys about 100 nuclear bombs, from the "high yield" 1000 kiloton B-43 to the B-61, "a lightweight, multi-purpose thermonuclear, modern tactical bomb" and the nuclear depth bomb B-57. If these bits of not-so-trivia were reported, it would help the public understand the 30 percent of the nuclear arms race which occurs at sea (and which the U.S. refused to allow any consideration of in the recommendations approved at the U.N. Special Session on Disarmament in June). Greenpeace's Neptune Paper No. 2, "Nuclear Warships and Naval Nuclear Weapons: A Complete Inventory," gives the whole story. It's available from Greenpeace Canada, 427 Bloor St. W., Toronto M5S 1X7.

Peter Davison

Royal Canadian Legion Attacks VANA

The Canadian Legion attacked the policies and practices of Veterans Against Nuclear Arms (VANA) in June, and was met by a sharp rebuttal. A news release was distributed across Canada and in a letter to national Legion President Gaston Garceau. At their annual general meeting in Ottawa, Legion members had approved unanimously a resolution charging that VANA members claimed support from the Legion, wore Legion dress while conducting VANA business, and had a political purpose contrary to the stated objectives of the Legion. Individual vets' organization officials labeled as "VANA's views" that the preservation of life is more important than sovereignty, and that VANA supports unilateral disarmament.

In his response, Giff Gifford, national VANA Chairman, made clear that the charges were false and betrayed ignorance of VANA policies, of the Legion's own by-laws, and of national sovereignty. Gifford pointed out that the Legion's spokesperson "is thinking in terms of the danger to individual soldiers, apparently. We in VANA are concerned about the extinction of all life on earth -- which would result from nuclear war. We do indeed think that modification of national sovereignty is preferable to the annihilation of the human race." As to unilateral disarmament, Giff pointed out that VANA policy calls for balanced mutual disarmament of both East and West alliances, under international inspection and policing; for withdrawal of Canadian forces from Europe with similar actions by Warsaw Pact forces; and for working within NATO toward these ends.

Nuclear Weapons Legal Action Moves Ahead

A coalition is seeking to have the first use of nuclear weapons declared illegal. The basic argument of the planned court action is that international law forbids use of weapons that cause "unnecessary or aggravated devastation and suffering." Nuclear weapons certainly fall into this category. The First Use policy is in effect an agreement in advance to start a nuclear war. A victory in the courts would force Canada to reassess its role in NATO and its involvement in the nuclear arms race. After a year of research, Coordinator Peter Brown reports, "It looks like our claim will stand up in court. Our legal arguments have been refined and we are ready to retain Senior Counsel."

Coalition plaintiffs are World Federalists, Lawyers for Social Responsibility, National Union of Provincial Government Employees, VANA, Assembly of First Nations, Operation Dismantle, and Voice of Women. Legal costs will be more than $100,000 just to get the case into court, so money is badly needed. Donations (tax deductible) should be made payable to The Jur-Ed Foundation (NWLA) and sent to Nuclear Weapons Legal Action, 207 - 145 Spruce St., Ottawa K1R 6P1.

B.C.

TO COUNTERACT THE EFFORTS by citizens to create a provincial nuclear weapons-free zone in B.C., Rear-Admiral R.E. George, Commander Maritimes Forces Pacific (Victoria) has sent a letter around the province stating that such an action is out of their jurisdiction.

"It should be noted that resolutions of municipalities or provincial governments declaring certain cities or provinces to be a nuclear weapons-free zone do not have legal effect since ... legislation on a nuclear weapons-free can only fall within the competence of a federal government. For this reason the declaration of any city or province as a nuclear weapons-free zone will have no effect on DND operations."

This exhibits, on one hand, the total lack of understanding of the NFWZ movement, and on the other hand, interference by military in the political process. Dr. Fred Knelman, author of Reagan, God, and the Bomb , who spoke at Nanoose over the summer, said the peace movement should demand equal funding for our lobbying efforts.

In his letter, Rear-Admiral George also quoted Conservative M.P. Alan Redway: "It makes no sense ... for us unilaterally to declare Canada a nuclear free zone ... (if we did) we would be forfeiting the right to consultation." (The old NATO argument.)

* In August, a long letter from the Information Officer at CFB Esquimalt hit the papers, saying essentially that the public doesn't really understand the implications of the NWFZ movement, and doesn't have the right to take any such action.

This military initiative is on par with the "peace education" effort being undertaken by the DND, who seem to be afraid that peaceniks like us will weaken the will of the young to defend the country. They are pumping out materials to the classroom, obviously feeling that "the best defence is a good offence." (Yeah, that's what we're worried about!)

* On the Nanoose front, the regular Thursday night educational series is continuing at the Peace House. Over the summer, two Kiwis spoke about the peace education in New Zealand. Alyn Ware and Annie Doherty related how they tour schools with their peace van, going town to town.

* In mid-August, the Greenpeace ship Vega visited the Island. Actions in Victoria and Nanoose were timed to coincide with the visit, as well as a shipboard signing of the Victoria mayor's Peace Petition.

* During an August visit by two U.S. frigates to Nanoose, three protestors were arrested. But don't expect a speedy trial. Brian Mills' trial from last October's action in support of the international Mobilization for Survival has been postponed again.

* Mid-August saw a Raging Granny Convention for West Coast chapters of the Grannies, including those from Victoria, Saltspring Island, Gabriola Island and elsewhere.

* Hiroshima Day events were held on Saltspring Island, in Courtenay, Nanoose, Victoria, Nanaimo, and Vancouver.

* This fall brings Ernie Regehr and various other local and imported Ph.D's, to speak in the continuing Peace Course at Malaspina College.

* Also this fall, I'm running a second African film series at the college, focussing on the conflict in South Africa, and featuring guest speakers, including Dr. Mike Wallace of UBC, Vancouver physician Dr. Kees Chetty, and others.

* November 11 will see the Annual Nanoose Peace Walk to the gates of CFMETR. This year's event will be a day-long celebration-protest, the biggest ever, with activities in the morning and an afternoon walk, followed by a potluck social.

The Fourth annual B.C. Peace Conference is scheduled for October 1-2, at UBC. Vancouver Island Network for Disarmament (VIND) proposes to hold next year's Conference on Vancouver Island. This is supported by End the Arms Race of Vancouver, which has hosted the Conference every other year.

Alan Wilson

Unfortunately, this is Alan Wilson's last report for PEACE. But we welcome Deborah Ferens as our new B.C. correspondent. Deborah, of Gabriola Island, edits the Vancouver Island Network for Disarmament's DISARMING NEWS.

Labour

Peter Klym Peace Bursary

One of the earlier peace activists in the labor movement was Peter Klym of the Communications and Electrical Workers of Canada. Klym, a former vice-president of the CWC's Ontario Region, was according to one fellow unionist, "marching for peace years ago, when it really took guts to do that sort of thing." He's still fighting for the same goals.

Now Klym's peace work has been recognized by his fellow workers. At the CWC convention this summer, a Peter Klym Peace Bursary was established with almost unanimous support from the 200 delegates present. The $1,000 bursary will be presented each year to a CWC local for a specific peace project. Local members will be asked to submit one-page proposals detailing how they would use the money to help promote peace. Projects might include such activities as publishing a peace-oriented newsletter or enrolling a union member in a peace studies course, but the awarding procedure of the bursary is designed to stimulate discussion and encourage innovative project ideas. Project proposals will be judged by an outside peace organization, and the winning local will be asked to report on its bursary-spending activities a year later.

The Peter Klym Peace Bursary is thought to be the first of its kind in the labor movement. But, according to Richard Long, vice-president of the Ontario Region of the CWC, it probably won't be the last. Several other unions have shown an interest in the concept. "It gives people a substantial way to become involved, a way that's more than just talk," says Long. He notes the bursary's potential to "show that people in the peace movement and the labor movement have much in common. It should help to create a bridge between the two."

Kathleen O'Hara

Québec

Montréal: Nuclear Weapon Free Zone?

IN NOVEMBER 1986, THE POLITICALLY progressive Montréal Citizens Movement swept confidently into power at City Hall, ending Mayor Jean Drapeau's thirty-year autocracy. Not only had Drapeau refused to allow debate in council on Nuclear Weapons Free Zones, but he had shown his paranoid silliness by persecuting local peaceniks for painting shadows on sidewalks in 1985, to commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The democratic MCM brought today's mayor, Jean Doré, to power with a commitment to municipal disarmament, beginning with the declaration of Montréal as a ZLAN, Zone Libre d'armes Nucleaires. It also promised to create a peace conversion research and development fund. Many MCM councillors had worked with peace groups. When the MCM passed a motion in council declaring the city a NWFZ in principle, barely a month after its election, no one was surprised. Then the council struck a committee to plan how to make the new NWFZ a reality.

The committee produced a hefty preliminary report which would impede or ban nuclear weapons-related activities in Montréal with zoning by-laws. It also recommended prohibiting the transport of radioactive material through the streets; creating a nuclear-free contracting and investment policy; introducing economic disincentives against military industries; creating a national association of NWFZ municipalities; and creating a standing NWFZ committee to implement these measures.

The report provided the basis for public consultation. Hearings, beginning in the fall of 1987, were attended almost exclusively by peace groups and trade unions. Employers' organizations and military industries did not respond to invitations by the committee to participate.

Differences of Opinion

The peace movement generally favored the recommendations, while charging the ZLAN report with failing to address broader issues, such as conventional weaponry. Trade union response was divided. The CSN (CNTU), a militant trade union federation with affiliates at many of the province' 5 military industries, endorsed the report, echoing the call for a discussion of conventional weaponry. The CTM (a body of FTQ, Québec's largest trade union federation) was less supportive, arguing against jeopardizing jobs and alienating workers. Sensitive to these undeniably central concerns, the ZLAN committee revised its plan by making an economic conversion program into a cornerstone. Inspired by the Chicago NWFZ ordinance, its final report recommended a two-year period of grace before any legal prohibitions or economic disincentives would come into effect. During that period, the conversion program would assist nuclear-weapons related industries and unions to seek alternative contracts, and retraining. Otherwise, the ZLAN Committee's Final Report resembled its preliminary one.

The city's executive committee responded to the ZLAN Report in February, affirming its rhetoric but evading its specific recommendations, which had been approved by the vast majority of the participants in the hearings. The executive committee neither defined the mandates for the city's administrative departments nor suggested a timetable for their execution. It set up no standing NWFZ structure and even balked at actions with minimal political risk' such as a NWFZ publicity campaign. Presenting the four-page document, Michael Fainstat, executive committee chairman remarked defensively that the NWFZ project was "too important" to proceed hastily.(!)

The movement for a nuclear-free Montréal reacted quickly, embarrassing the executive committee, which issued a second, less evasive report a month later. The issues that it proposed studying had been treated at length in the Comité ZLAN's Final Report. Apparently that report is to be sidestepped altogether and the entire process recommenced, under a politically prudent bureaucracy, watched by the executive committee.

NWFZ or Empty Symbolism?

More than 18 months after declaring Montréal as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, the city has adopted no substantive measure. Peace activists are becoming disillusioned. Last February, most MCM councillors voted to allow Matrox (an electronics firm with a new $350-million U.S. army contract) to expand to fulfill that contract. The executive committee has also declined to participate with Toronto and Vancouver in opposing the planned purchase of nuclear submarines. Such decisions are informed by a distorted economic logic that finds militarism a deceptively easy solution to unemployment. While that logic prevails, true disarmament will seem politically risky.

Will Montréal's NWFZ status remain an empty symbol, a public relations exercise? That will depend on the critical posture of Montréal's peace groups when the executive committee issues its third interim report this autumn. Pressure may still make Montréal's NWFZ project a model for municipal disarmament initiatives.

Copies of the ZLAN Report are available in both French and English and may be obtained by writing to the Bureau des Commissions, Hotel de Ville, 275 rue Notre Dame Est, Montréal, Québec. H2Y 1C6.

Andrea Levy and Eric Shragge

Prairies

DESPITE THE DROUGHT hitting most of the prairies and drying up people's energy for organizing, prairie activists continued their work through the summer months. A sampling of summer prairies peace activities show Calgary Project Ploughshares hosted a workshop last June 4, on communicating peace through education, the media, and churches; Calgary's Voice of Women presented Kay Macpherson as their keynote speaker at a workshop last June 18; Edmonton Ploughshares organized a "Hiroshima Day Reflections" at the Alberta legislature last August 6; Pincher Creek Ploughhares participated in their town's annual parade and fair last August 19-21; Saskatoon was the site of an international congress on uranium mining June 16-21; Regina's Coalition for Peace and Disarmament and Winnipeg's Co-ordinating Committee for Disarmament held their annual peace walks June 12 and 18; and Ploughshares Westman held a peace picnic in Minnedosa.

"Stop it at the Source," the International Congress on Uranium Mining held in June, drew over 200 people from Australia, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States to consider the impacts of uranium mining.

Congress delegates compared experiences with governments trying to shore up their nuclear industries with subsidies, despite the wide failure of nuclear power plants to be economically viable and the lack of safe methods for waste disposal.

Copies of the proceedings can be obtained from the International Uranium Congress, 2138 McIntyre St., Regina, Sask.

Peace Education Conference

The University of Alberta affiliate of the International Institute for Peace Education provided an abundance of resources in its six day conference held in Edmonton July 4-9.

With as many as eight workshops going on at a time, participants had hard choices. The need to make peace educational methods fit with peace content, the necessary relationship between peace and human justice issues, and the problems associated with teaching controversial subjects in the classroom were recurring themes in the conference. Several "how to" sessions -- such as how to use drama in peace education -were offered. The Alberta conference is one of seven held every year in universities around the world, by affiliates of the International Institute for Peace Educators. The intensive institutes allow teachers to earn academic credentials while pursuing peace education and all participants to establish enduring friendships.

Coming events include: "Strength for the Journey," a Prairie Christian Training Centre peace conference, November 11-13, at Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan. Bill Moyer, from the San Francisco-based Social Movement Empowerment Project, will help participants to compare today's peace movement with other social movements and to analyze why social movements succeed and fail. Registration: Prairie Christian Training Centre, Box 159, Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan. S0G 1S0.

Ellen Gould

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1988

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1988, page 26. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by Donald Craig here
Search for other articles by Peter Davison here
Search for other articles by Alan Wilson here
Search for other articles by Kathleen O'Hara here
Search for other articles by Andrea Levy here
Search for other articles by Eric Shragge here
Search for other articles by Ellen Gould here

Peace Magazine homepage