A breakthrough resolution will be presented to the General Assembly this fall. Let’s urge Canada’s government to co-sponsor it.
For the first time in ages, we have a real opportunity to ban nuclear weapons! (See Earl Turcotte’s piece on the preceding page .) At the UN General Assembly this fall, several countries will ask for a mandate to negotiate a comprehensive, legally binding Convention that prohibits nuclear weapons and requires their verifiable elimination.
Canada should co-sponsor that resolution. Like most other people around the world, we want to ban and abolish nuclear bombs. A 2008 poll in 21 countries asked people’s opinion of “an international agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons according to a timetable, which would be monitored to makes sure every country followed the agreement.” Overall, 76 percent were in favor. Americans were 77 percent and Russians 69 percent in favor. Moreover, approval has stayed high. A 2013 poll of 2,840 youth in nine countries showed that over 90 percent felt that nuclear weapons are inhumane and 81 percent believe they should be banned.
Why, then, don’t all democratic governments demand the abolition of these horrible weapons? Because citizens haven’t insisted firmly enough. Today let’s start doing so.
In 1982-83, the US wanted to test nuclear-capable cruise missiles in Canada. A protest movement was underway, but Science for Peace had not yet mobilized. I wrote a letter to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and got George Ignatieff and other Science for Peace leaders to sign it. Mr. Ignatieff, then chancellor of the University of Toronto, had been a distinguished ambassador, so when Prime Minister Trudeau received his letter, he sent an aide to Toronto that very night to have dinner with us. We learned that Mr. Trudeau did not want to allow the testing but that Washington’s requests could be denied only under strong domestic pressure. Protesters would have to be in the streets. His implicit message was the same as Franklin Roosevelt’s answer to some activists who had lobbied for his support: “I agree with you. Now make me do it!”
I hope that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also wants us to “make him do it.” Anyway, we must try—and it will be easier than in 1982, when activists had to demonstrate. Today with the Internet you can ask thousands of other citizens to join you and “go viral.”
So tonight please do three things:
Most citizens of the nuclear states loathe nuclear weapons, just as we do. If our campaign succeeds, the UN will declare it illegal to own any of them, thereby eliminating the excuses used by the military industrial complex and the politicians who accept their stupid arguments. They say that nuclear weapons are a source of “security.” Obviously, they cause only insecurity.
People of all ages want a ban. Our front cover shows three-year-old River Mialkowsky, who insisted on bringing a globe when we went to take his picture, saying solemnly, “It is our planet and I want to take care of it.” Our back cover shows 94-year old Murray Thomson, who persuaded 856 Order of Canada members to ask Canada to lead to abolishing those weapons. He will email them again, asking them to email their own lists. Now it’s your turn. Let’s go viral!