The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has produced a Canadian Women's Budget that examines the federal government's expenditures for social programs and services and the national defence budget. They note that, whereas the official unemployment rate is about 11%, the "real" rate is about 22%. Sixteen percent of Canadians live below the poverty line. Yet Canada is the tenth largest military spender in the world. The 1993-94 defence budget is $12.3 billion. WILPF suggests that Canada could divert one half of this to non-military spending and still continue to participate in peacekeeping, conduct research and rescue, and ensure Canadian sovereignty.
Jean Chrètien, Liberal Leader of the opposition, wrote to Conscience Canada about the possibility of reestablishing the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security. He also stated that it would be possible, if his party formed the Government after the election, to introduce legislation which would allow conscientious objectors to military taxation to direct such taxes to CIIPS. A precedent was established by the current Government by allowing taxpayers to direct taxes to deficit reduction.
Veterans Against Nuclear Arms held its convention in September. It passed resolutions that included calls for a defence budget cut of 10% annually; cancellation of plans to buy FH101 helicopters; cancellation of the sale of armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia; elimination of non-elected membership on the Security Council and the attendant veto power; and cancellation of NAFTA.
Trident expert Bob Aldridge spoke, noting that strategic bombers have been taken off 24-hour alert and their weapons have been stored. However, Trident missiles are still being produced and, under START II, the U.S. plans for about 1,728 Trident warheads. These will be targeted at Third World countries. Aidridge suggests that pressure from outside the U.S. can help those within the U.S. who are working to stop production of these missiles.
For the first time, conscripts can opt for alternative service in Russia if they are conscientiously opposed to war. President Boris Yeltsin signed a law permitting this option. Pressure had mounted against military service over the past five years, led by Mothers of Soldiers and the Transnational Radical Party. Over 5,000 soldiers had been dying each year, not from combat wounds but from poor living conditions, suicide, and fights with other soldiers over ethnicity and other conflicts.
The human rights group African Rights has conducted a study in Somalia of violations by United Nations (UNOSOM) troops. Its report shows that the forces have not conformed to the Geneva Convention. For example, troops bombed a political meeting, attacked a hospital, fired on unarmed demonstrators, killed unarmed civilians, and forced residents to flee by demolishing their houses. Because virtually no mechanisms exist for Somalians to complain about abuses, the soldiers perform these acts with impunity. Official U.N. accounts are often inaccurate, according to there-port. Not all UNOSOM forces have behaved equally badly. The Belgian troops have a particularly poor record while the Botswanan troops have earned the respect and appreciation of the Somali population.
Despite nearly unanimous demands (including the B.C. government and both opposition parties) requesting environmental hearings into nuclear warships in B.C. waters, Judge MacKay of the Federal Court refused to order the review, stating that foreign nuclear submarines are immune to environmental law.
Within six months the U.S. will launch another hi-tech spy satellite. The Titan 4 satellite will be the largest space-borne electronic listening station, with a cost closing in on $2 billion.
Another part of the satellite project is taking form in Britain. Menwith Station (code-name F-83) is a field station in the National Security Agency's (N.S.A) global network. Its responsibilities include monitoring communications across half the planet. On May 15, 1994, N.S.A. will complete installation there of a top-secret intelligence centre named "Steeplebush II." This will be a control post for the satellite.
The details of this classified project have been brought to light by women from Otley, England who for the past 12 years have questioned the presence of the base. Protesting inside the base itself, they came away with this information.
A coalition of Vancouver Island groups is proposing legislation to protect the public's right to participate in public decisions affecting the economy and environment of the area. Activists from B.C. and Washington State have joined to deal with transboundary issues of military toxins, nuclear hazards, and conversion.