By Helen Spiegelman, Valerie Osborne, Phil McCann, Shirley Farlinger | 1987-10-01 12:00:00


Saving the Seas

VANCOUVER-The seas are becoming more and more a focus of concern and activism in this, Canada's largest maritime province. In May, researcher/author Lyuba Zarsky (American Lake: Nuciear Peril in the Pacific) toured several communities on the West Coast, explaining the U.S. “Forward Defence" naval strategy and detailing evidence of a pattern of increasingly confrontational activity in the Pacific by both superpowers.

During that tour, Perrin Beatty's plans were beginning to be leaked to the press, and Zarsky emphasized that the North, including our Arctic waters, will come to play a greater role in the strategic plans of the superpowers and therefore should be accommodated on the Canadian peace agenda.

The warship visitations continue, and the reception party is livening up! As soon as a ship enters the coastal waterway, the Vancouver Island Network for Disarmament phone tree crackles an alert, and hand-held yellow signs appear up and down the Island Highway warning: "NUCLEAR SHIP IN PORT.”

Also on hand to hear witness to the warships' intrusion of our peaceful harbor were boats launched by the People's Front, bullhorns blaring, as well as the flotilla of the local Save Our Seas coalition. Members of Save Our Seas chained themselves to the gangplank of a visiting warship. SOS coordinator Bob Light advises that another visit -- and welcoming -- are scheduled soon.

Political organizing

Helen Spiegelman


First, the Good News

HALIFAX -- News from these provinces for the past year reflects a mixture of good and not-so-good experiences plus the usual and unavoidable plain hard slogging.

And Now the Bad

Valerie Osborne

The Newfoundland Peace Movement: An Overlooked Success Story'

ST. JOHN'S -- Newfoundland has a strong and growing peace movement. This may come as a surprise to some because little is heard of it. But this is due to lack of publicity, not lack of activity. In 1980 a small group of activists formed a St. John's branch of Project Ploughshares. As it grew larger, we formed groups focused on special interests or particular issues. During the past few years, Academics for Nuclear Disarmament, Educators for Peace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ploughshares Youth, and the North Atlantic Peace Organization (NAPO), among others, have been formed. NAPO has been very active in opposing the low-flying activities of NATO warplanes at the Canadian Armed Forces base at Goose Bay, Labrador. The peace movement here has succeeded in establishing several annual events: a peace march, which attracts up to 500 people during United Nations Disarmament Week in October, a vigil on Hiroshima Day at the War Memorial, and the Peace-A-Chord Festival every July, which this year attracted 690 young people to listen to music and speeches and participate in various events.

We publish two newsletters: Ploughshares Newsletter, issued six to ten times per year, devoted to a single theme, and Network News, a monthly publication with news of local peace activities. A year ago, Ploughshares put all its resources into printing the Newsletter as a flyer. Eighteen thousand copies were distributed in the local Sunday newspaper to the majority of homes in St. John's.

One of the most notable achievements of the peace movement here has been to persuade city council to declare St. John's a Nuclear-free Zone, commemorated by a plaque at City Halt In tact, the mayor drew attention to this recently when objecting to nuclear weapons being based here. As well, the Catholic Archbishop of St. John's, the Anglican Bishop, and the President of the United Church Conference have all expressed support for Ploughshares, and this year our annual meeting was held in Government House, by courtesy of the Lieutenant-Governor! In July a coalition of local peace groups pioneered the Peace Pledge Campaign by hosting a successful debate on peace with two candidates in the Federal by-election (the Conservative candidate declined to participate) and publishing their answers to a peace questionnaire in the local press. This led to a three-night canvass with pledge cards requesting voters to vote for a candidate opposed to the visits of nuclear-armed ships. That campaign brought peace issues to the electorate's attention and paved the way for the national campaign of "Voting Canada Out of the Arms Race" during the next federal election.

Phil McCann


Our Own Defence Proposals

TORONTO: If Perrin Beatty wanted to galvanize the peace movement in Ontario, he couldn't have done better than by producing the White Paper on Defence. Many groups are preparing a response to the document, called Challenge and Commitment. Among the groups challenged by the pro-Pentagon policy and committed to changing it are VANA, VOW, Group of 78, and the University Women's Club of North York. The Veterans' paper is being used as a resource by smaller groups.

Shirley Farlinger

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1987

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1987, page 38. Some rights reserved.

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