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“The arms race and underdevelopment are not two problems. They are one. They must be solved together, or neither will ever be solved.”
— Inga Thorsson .
OTTAWA – The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) is a national organization which serves and supports the programs of about 90 member groups who are working to increase Canadian involvement in international development. CCIC has under taken a program to educate candidates and the public during the next federal election on, the links between disarmament and development.
A steering committee composed of representatives from CCIC, Project Ploughshares, CUSO, Operation Dismantle, OXFAM and other organizations has been formed to develop a program to address the links between these two issues during this pre-election period.
This program is known as the Election Priorities Project (EPP). According to Project Coordinator Jamie Scott, “it is extremely important that the integral connection between the arms race and underdevelopment be raised in order that it becomes more widely understood that these issues do not stand in isolation from each other. “
Scott stresses that the project is “process oriented.” It is being designed to enable participants to develop confidence and skill in dealing with the issues and the political process, and in working with others. Like the more widely-based Peace Petition Caravan Campaign (PPCC), EPP is a non-partisan endeavour, and Scott sees it as being “complementary rather than competitive with the PPCC.”
Since all three major political parties are giving foreign policy. a high priority, Scott feels that “candidates can’t afford to be uninformed about the military link to development.”
An information kit is being developed in order to facilitate an educational dialogue between local constituents and candidates. Twelve specific policy questions on development-disarmament issues have been formulated regarding issues such as cruise testing, Defense Industry Productivity Program (DIPP) grants, Canadian military production and export, increased untied aid, human rights criteria for trade, Canada as a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone and Canada’s peace-keeping role.
These questions will be presented in a survey format to provide a basis for determining where each candidate stands. Also included in the kit will be a list of books and other educational materials.
Through the participating organizations on the Steering Committee, local groups are being identified who will help carry out the project. A regional workshop will be organized to assist these local groups in their preparations.
The workshops will focus on three points: i) strengthening awareness of development and disarmament issues and the links between them; ii) analysing how the project can be implemented at the local level; and iii) honing animation and educational skills so that people can more effectively understand and participate in the political process.
Scott hopes that local committee members will actually meet with the candidates to discuss the issues, “using the survey as a tool.”
It will also be the local group’s responsibility to keep the media in their area informed of their activities.
The FPP will he tried out in as many of the federal ridings as possible. However, because of the relatively modest nature of the project, the main focus will be on those ridings held by cabinet ministers or shadow cabinet ministers, as well as certain ‘swing ridings.’
A sustained post-election follow-up to the project is also planned. One of the functions of the committees in the local areas will be “to monitor and lobby their M.P. after the election for progress on disarmament and development issues,” says Scott, “particularly with regard to specific policy changes.”
As more and more of the world’s vital and scarce resources are squandered on escalating militarization, and as countries such as Canada cash in on the international arms trade (our military exports topped $ 1.5 billion in 1982), it becomes increasingly incumbent upon the peace movement to broaden its horizons and to educate the public on the inextricable .links between disarmament and development. The Election Priorities Project is an important and logical step in that direction.
Further information on the EPP can be obtained by contacting Jamie Scott c/o CCIC (third floor), 450 Rideau St., Ottawa On., K1N 5Z4, or call 613/xxx-xxxx.