In observance of NATO's fortieth birthday of April 4, VANA (Veterans Against Nuclear Arms) called a press conference in Halifax a few days later to suggest guidelines for NATO's future and for Canada's role in shaping that future. Here are some points made by VANA spokesmen Giff Gifford, Ray Creery, and Bob Cooke.
U.S. and British leaders want NATO to continue the arms race by updating short-range nuclear missiles and adding new nuclear weapons to fighter-bombers in Britain. The European elites want these additions stopped or postponed until talks in Vienna have a chance to produce results.
Debate on this and other issues is strong in Europe, but our government tends to exclude Canadians from the debate out of a wish to make NATO seem united at all times.
At NATO's founding, Canada insisted on including in the Treaty Article 2, calling for parties to "contribute towards the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations.-" Canada should now raise its voice again to insist that this clause be given more attention, that NATO's sole preoccupation with militarism is not enough.
Canada should work to persuade NATO to abandon unilateral strengthening of short-range nuclear weapons; to explore elimination of sea-launched cruise missiles on both sides; to have all members accept jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice; to agree with Warsaw Pact countries to use resources released by arms reductions for international verification and monitoring, for international measures to cope with environmental disasters and terrorism, under the United Nations.
Canada should press NATO to work with the Warsaw Pact to arrange their defences to preserve rather than threaten each other's security.
Working notes for the press conference were further developed for publication as a pamphlet, "A Canadian Agenda for NATO." Now available, this should be of value in assessing Canada's participation in the NATO Council's annual meeting in Europe, May 29-30. (VANA address: 1223 Barrington St., Halifax, N.S. B3J 1Y2.
On Saturday, May 6, Mayors Ron Wallace of Halifax and John Savage of Dartmouth were scheduled to lead a ten-kilometer Walk for Africa through downtown Halifax, by ferry across the narrows of Halifax Harbor, and then round-about through downtown Dartmouth. Purpose: to enlist support and funds in aid of the peoples of under-developed countries in Africa. Sponsoring organizations included OXFAM/ DEVERIC, CUSO, Save the Children, and the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.
In the post-card blitz on Parliament, Lunenburg County Project Ploughshares didn't do badly for a tiny organization in a conservative, rural riding. It signed up 75 participants in two counties, who sent off some 22,000 cards to swell the two million downpour on the House of Commons in mid-April.
The Ploughshares unit has two projects for spring and summer: to award its fourth annual Peace Bursary of $500 to a high school senior in the county, on the basis of a competitive essay on plans for a peace or development-oriented future; and to float some 4000 candles on the local river on the eve of Hiroshima Day in August. School children are working with Ploughshares to help prepare and decorate the floats.
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Don Craig, Box 1527, Lunenburg, N.S. B0J 2C0. 902/ 634-8619.