About 50 peace activists from across Ontario gathered for the first Ontario Pence Conference in two years. The 1991 meeting took place in Toronto Sept. 13, as part of the International Peace Bureau Conference.
For five hours, activists discussed the current state of the Ontario peace movement, exchanged information on current projects and campaigns, and reaffirmed their commitment to using an annual meeting to network with other peace groups in the province.
There was a presentation from the Canadian organizing committee of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly.
A suggestion was made that peace groups work more closely with the environmental movement and set up a peace caucus within the Ontario Environment Network.
The OPC was originally established in 1983 to serve this function. It has no formal structure, with groups deciding on a host city and topics for the meeting at the previous year's session.
No specific issues were designated for 1992, but ACT-Oakville volunteered to be host. Information will be available shortly, and groups and individuals wishing to be on a contact list can contact Ontario Notes. Peace Magazine and the ACTivist plan to carry material relevant to the 1992 conference.
Current peace movement activities include the Citizens' Inquiry Into Peace and Security, which is expected to conclude with national hearings in Ottawa Oct. 31. For more information call (416) 588-5555. Project Ploughshares Brantford has prepared a questionnaire peace groups might find useful. for information, write 53 Lyons Ave., Brantford N3R 4P8.
We welcome all information about peace campaigns in Ontario, no matter how big or small.
Saul Chernos 705/327-7809
A VHS video, "ECO-WAR" is now available from the Gulf Environmental Emergency Response Team (GEERT). This documentary by Randy Thomas of Saltspring Island, B.C. tells the untold story of the Gulf War-oil lakes burning in the desert, the decimation of the bird populations in the area, the dying fish, turtles and oil blackened marshlands in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. It was filmed in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia by Thomas in the months immediately after the War. To order a copy of "ECO-WAR" please contact GEERT, P.O. Box 1464, Delta Stn. A, Delta, B.C., V4L 3Y8.
The Citizens Inquiry into Peace and Security was launched in Vancouver on September 21 and in Kelowna, Sept. 22. Most people who participated here found it very valuable and wish the Commission well for the remainder of its tour.
In late August the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior" sailed from Prince Rupert 120 miles north to Back Island with a message for the U.S. Navy that the people of the Northwest do not want nuclear submarines in their backyard. The U.S. Navy is building a nuclear submarine acoustic testing facility on Back Island in southeast Alaska. But the submarines will have to go through Canadian waters to get there. Although engaged with the U.S. in a dispute over an international boundary through Dixon Entrance the Canadian government has shown little concern for the increasing number of incidents involving the illegal seizures of Canadian fishing vessels by the US Coast Guard. A former nuclear sub skipper calls the Back Island facility "unnecessary".
In a shameful act of waste, the Canadian government is plowing under CFB Holberg of northern Vancouver Island. Holberg was one of the base closures announced in the 1989 budget. A short-lived re-use committee tried to find an alternate use for the base but when it failed the decision was made to bulldoze the site. Local conversion groups have pointed out that his type of thing need not happen if the government would make economic conversion part of their policy.
Late summer and early fall saw several nuclear ship visits to B.C. ports: in Vancouver the USS Missouri, a 900 foot battleship recently back from the Gulf; in Nanoose a nuclear attack sub and the aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz.
On the evironmental side, cutting is going on in several of B.C.'s endangered ancient rainforests including the Walbran valley, right next to the famous Carmanah. By October, logging companies were being met by five major blockades in what has come to be known as a "valley by valley civil war."
And finally, by the time this gets to the reader, B.C.'s provincial election will be over. Hopefully, peace activists will have made peace an issue by helping to elect a government committed to making B.C. a nuclear weapons free zone, to banning nuclear ships from coastal water, and to requesting a FEARO public environmental review of nuclear ship visits to B.C.
- Deborah Ferrens 604/247-8335