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anon — April 1984

The Peace Calendar welcomes letters to the editor. Address letters to: The Peace Calendar, Editorial Board, 736 Bathurst St., Toronto, On., M5S 2R4. Please be brief, as space is limited.

Freeze referendum

I strongly support the views expressed by Donald Bates about the importance of seeking a national disarmament policy referendum (TPC, March, 1984). The ambiguities of the Liberal Party’s approach to disarmament, and the statement recently made by Mr. Clark – that we earn our credibility on disarmament by our contribution to NATO – make me very concerned that the Liberals and Conservatives may both be quite successful in persuading many voters that their good intentions about disarmament justify supporting their parties, even while their actions are weighted much more on the side of contributing to the nuclear arms race. A clear referendum, I believe, would make adherence to contradictory positions more difficult for them.

I disagree, however, with Bates’ suggestion that making Canada a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone should be the question in such a referendum. Advocacy, in NATO and in the United Nations, as well as bilaterally, of a superpower weapons freeze, as per the Mexico, Sweden and Ecuador UN resolution, seems to me t6 be the top priority. Cancelling the Canadian contributions to cruise missile development and production come a close second. Making Canada a NWFZ seems to me to be a lesser priority.

The freeze appears to be the crucial (as well as the most difficult) step, since it means stopping corporations – such as General Dynamics, Lockheed, Litton and others – in their tracks. As the history of arms control shows, any measure which fails to stop these corporations (and the military and scientific establishments with which they are allied) will not deal with the central problem. I believe that serious disarmament will only come when we have been successful in this regard.

Furthermore, the freeze will be an issue in both elections happening on this continent this year, and perhaps our US Freeze friends and ourselves can help each other.

Giff Gifford
Veterans for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament
Halifax, N.S.

P .S. I am disappointed that the freeze is not part of the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign.

Positions fondamentales

Messieurs Jean-Guy Vaillancourt et Ronald Babin ont publié un article (TPC, fevrier 1984) qui se voulait une analyse “objective” et scientifique du mouvement anti-guerre au Quebec, mais il me semble que leur reflection peche par un certain nombre de biais profonds. II s’agit de la provocation d’une polemique savamment entretenue par les media et par les ideologues du mouvement pacifiste.

La question principale que souleve cet article est certes la division qui existerait dans le mouvement pacifiste entre les alignés et les non-alignés, les pro-sovietiques et les vrais pacifistes. En bref, il me semble qu’il s’agit d’un faux debat. En effet, les auteurs se privent d’une reflexion profonde en refusant de regarder en profondeur les positions mises de l’avant par les diverses organisations pacifistes. Le debat porte avant tout sur la question de fond: qui doit-on revendiquer dans le mouvement pacifiste pour defendre des positions con formes aux interêts de la classe ouvriere et de la masse populaire? En fait, les premiers touches par des politiques militaristes se sont eux. Avec qui, fait-on des soldats? Avec des ouvriers et des chômeurs…

Dans le debat sur l’alignement et le non-alignement des organisations pacifistes, les “non-alignés” s’appuient sur les principes mis de l’avant par E.P. Thompson: le mouvement pacifiste ne doit pas faire le jeu de Moscou, il faut appuyer le mouvement pacifiste independant dans les pays de l’Est, il faut denoncer la violation des droits de l’homme dans les pays de l’Est. En y regardant de prés, c’est a peu de chose prés le mque celui de messieurs Reagan et Trudeau.

Regardons de plus pres les positions que les non-alignes s’acharnent a denoncer: I) pas d’armes nucleaires, ni a l’Est ni a l’Ouest; 2) Ie demantlement des pactes militaires (OT AN et Pacte de Varsovie); 3) la conversion des budgets militaires en budget de developpement social et economique – education, sante, services, loisirs, etc. – et ce tant a l’Est qu’a l’Ouest; 4) Ie gel des armes nucleaires tant a l’Est qu’a l’Ouest; 5) des negotiations jusqu’au desarmement; 6) I’engagement to toutes les puissances nucleaires de ne pas recourir les premieres a I’arme nucleaire; 7) la signature d’un traite sur Ie non-recours reciproque a la force armee; 8) la creation de zones denucleairisees en Europe et part out dans Le monde; 9) I’interdiction des armes chimiques; 10) I’interdiction generale et complete des essais d’armes nucleaires. Voila ce que nous mettons de I’avant et voila pourquoi nous demandons a toutes les forces progressistes de bonne foi de s’unir pour la paix, pour la survie de I’humanite. Si nos positions sont alignees, pro-sovietiques, .nous sommes alignes et nous devons en etre fiers puisqu’il s’agit de positions fondamentales que tout etre humain sense devraient etre en mesure de comprendre et d’accepter. Effectivement, I’Union sovietique est d’accord avec ces positions; doit-on leur en faire grief? Doit-on pour autant etre an desaccord avec des positions aussi fondamentales?

Andre Jacob
Mascouche, Quebec

Third World solidarity

I am writing in appreciation of the sound thinking, concern, and solid argument presented in Matthew Clark’s article “The Third World and the Third World War” (TPC, February 1984).

I am pleased to report that one of our Coalition members is presently in Nicaragua ‘picking cotton’ (through the sponsorship of Ten Days and concerned people in the community), as a direct statement of our solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and our opposition to the interventionist tactics of the U.S. military.

Meryl Olsen
Port Alberni, B.C.

Nuclear North excellent

It would be a shame if the negative conclusion of Eudora Pendergrast’s review (TPC, March 1984) dissuaded anyone from reading Carole Giangrande’s excellent book The Nuclear North.

As the review states with approval, Giangrande gives us a. host of disturbing facts about our government’s outrageous gifts of our money to the arms industry, and also clearly traces the conneCtions (stoutly denied by the nuclear industry) between the ‘peaceful’ atom and the Bomb – all of this material which should be shouted from the rooftops. .

But the sections on “the convictions and confusions of individual Canadians” – far from weakening the book – should also be required reading for peace activists.

If the peace movement is to grow, we must understand what makes these individuals tick so we can talk to them. To downgrade the book for not doing a different kind of job is neither fair nor logical. This book spoke to me (a wide reader in these matters) by doing what it set out to do, and not trying to do over again what P.S.R., Caldicott, Schell, Sagan, etc. have been doing so well.

Margaret Boyce
Toronto, On.

P.S. Three rousing cheers for The Peace Calendar; it’s an amazing achievement.

Electoral opportunism

The NDP is obviously proud of its record on nuclear weapons, and Dan Heap was right to compare it favourably to that of the Liberals and of the Tories. (TPC, March ]984). On the other hand, I think IVlarcn t~1S4). un the other hand, I think your readers should know that the NDP itself has exhibited some gross electoral opportunism in this area, even in relation to cruise missile testing itself. I am referring to the national referendum proposed by Operation Dismantle on the testing of the cruise and opposed not only by the Tories and the Liberals but also by the NDP.

In her letter to the NDP caucus recommending opposition to the referendum, Pauline Jewett said that it was better to work towards changing the government of Canada that to have even a non-binding referendum on the cruise missile. (She was completely opposed to the binding referendum proposed by Operation Dismantle.) She said this knowing full well that the NDP could not possibly form a federal government, that they had no chance of stopping the cruise in Parliament, and that a referendum could actually be won if only enough pressure could be brought to bear on the Liberals to hold it.

There appears to be no other conclusion possible than that the NDP put its desire to sew up as many anti-nuclear votes for the next general election as it could ahead of its professed desire to stop the cruise. Dan Heap has a good personal record on nuclear weapons, but he has a lot of explaining to do if he wants my anti-nuclear vote for the NDP next time around.

Michael Mandel
Toronto, On.

Peace Tax Fund

Thanks so much for the, good article on our work – “Peace Tax Fund: a war of conscience” (TPC March 1984). We notice that you used an address from which we moved almost one year ago, and would appreciate it if you could print a correction in your next issue.

On the other hand, we probably should apologise for moving so often in the past year, but it was always in a good cause – trying for cheaper accomodation.’ Our plans to move onto Humbolt St., announced in the. Spring Newsletter, did not work out – the place is a firetrap – so the correct address (from April 1st) will be:

Conscience Canada, Inc.

The Peace Tax Fund Committee 502-620 View St., Victoria, B.C. V8W 116. Phone: (604) xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxxx.

Edith Adamson
Victoria, B.C.