On the long weekend of June 18 two groups of anti-nuke activists carried out a dramatic protest against HMS Ark Royal's entry into Halilax Harbor. Heavy coverage by the Halifax Chronicle-Herald resulted in the greatest publicity ever accorded the peace movement in Nova Scotia and probably in all the Maritimes as well. Representatives of Greenpeace joined with members of the local Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Harbor in protest actions from the first entry of the Britishaircraftcarrier Friday morning until it sailed away Tuesday.
As the Ark Royal, accompanied by its consort vessel HMS Glasgow, poked its nose through the morning fog at the harbor mouth Greenpeacers in seven Zodiac speedboats plastered the ship's side with radiation symbols. A single protester attached a hook to the side of the ship and hung there until security men could reach and remove him.
A weekend a survey conducted among Halifax Ward 1 residents showed 65% believing Canada should prevent nuclear-armed and powered foreign vessels from entering the harbor. A Nuclear-Free Festival was held near the harbor Saturday afternoon. That night the bow of the Ark Royal was used as a screen for a slide show chronicling the dangers of nuclear arsenals. On Monday three protesters chained themselves to a pillar at the British consulate, refusing to unlock themselves until Consul Straughan agreed to send a letter to the British High Commissioner in Ottawa, asking confirmation as to whether the Ark Royal was carrying nuclear weapons.
Rear Admiral (ret.) Eugene Carroll, DeputyDirector of the Washington Center for Defense Information claimed at a conference that there was little doubt that the British vessel was carrying lethal nuclear machinery aboard; and that he had first-hand knowledge of at least three incidents in the U.S. Navy involving potential nuclear disasters. He said there is no military advantage in hiding information about nuclear weapons aboard warships. "The origin of the policy of neither confirm nor deny is not military; it's political...(The government) has accepted this policy because it's a way of avoiding controversy." Coalition spokesperson Nancy Hunter reported that Halifax is Canada's busiest port in terms of visits by nuclear-powered and nuclear-capable ships. Eighteen such vessels visited the harbor last year. A Greenpeace member said the Ark Royal would routinely carry three to five nuclear bombs and three to five nuclear depth bombs, "each with a estimated explosive capacity of up to 20 kilotons." The bomb that blasted Hiroshima, killing up to 140,000 people, had a yield of about 12 kilotons.
Ten Canadian school children are now visiting the Soviet Union for the first time as guests of USSR goodwill groups.
Canadian veterans helped break some of the "ice barrier" between East and West when VANA groups began in 1987 to visit their Soviet counterparts, at their own expense. This time the tab for the entire trip is being picked up by the Soviets' Peace to the Oceans Commission. The Commission and VANA share the view that militarism is the greatest pollutant of our time.
Donald Craig 902/634-8619
PEACE ACTIVISTS are still celebrating NATO's decision not to build a base low-level flying either in Goose Bay, Labrador or in Koaya, Turkey. This victory is largely due to hard work and perseverance by the Innu, by supporters in the Western peace movement, and by activists in Eastern Europe whose grassroots struggles forced changes at the state level. But the decision will not end the more than 7,000 low-level flights over Nitassinan every year. Under a 1979 international agreement between Canada, the U.S., West Germany, Britain, and the Netherlands, the number of flights could increase to 20,000 yearly by 1996, when the agreement comes up for renewal. Accordingly, a coalition of groups, including the Alliance for Non-Violent Action, is planning a series of Freedom for Nitassinan walks in support of the Inan. Contact (416) 533-9507 or (514) 525-0765. (See page 29.)
ACT For Disannament's 100,000 Signatures petition campaign to stop the flights is in full swing. More than 20,000 names were presented at ACT's 8th Annual Spring Peace Protest in Toronto and at NATO's meeting in Brussels, and the drive continues. Contact (416) 960-2228.
A coalition of groups have been opposing Ontario Hydo's plans for nuclear power expansion in the Campaign for Nuclear Phase-out. Parkdale Greens organized a human chain around Ontario Hydro's Toronto office on April 28. About 500 people participated. For information contact (416) 978-7014.
And get ready for the Ontario Peace Conference in September. Plans have not yet been announced.
The Oakville Peace Festival was a smashing success, with more than 400 people attending the June 3 event. Keynote speaker was Mohawk activist Danny Benton.
Ontario grannies are getting, well, outraged. Make that outrageous. Raging Grannies troupes have been started in Thunder Bay and Toronto.
It's been almost a year since Ontario Notes last appeared. Saul Chernos, an Associate Editor of PEACE, is now responsible for the column. Please submit information to him on campaigns or on other newsworthy topics. Remember, the more you promote your group, the better your chances are of reaching and involving new people. We especially like to know what is happening OUTSIDE Toronto. Toronto is not the centre of the universe. Saul Chernos 705 327-7809