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Letters

anon — May 1984

Letters to the editor are welcomed. Please be brief as space is limited. Letters should be addressed to: Editorial Board, The Peace Calendar, c/o CANDIS, 736 Bathurst St., Toronto, Ont., M5S 2R4.

US obstructs Conference

Further to my article on the International Women’s Conference in Geneva, published in the April issue of The Peace Calendar, I would like to make explicit a point that was so clear to me that I seem to have expected readers to read my mind.

As we listened to the US delegate speak in the Conference on Disarmament, it became horrifyingly clear that his country is putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of any agreements. .

In a discussion with Canada’s representative of the day, Mr. Skinner, I was ashamed to realise that he has been instructed by our government to agree uncritically with the USA.

The following summary of the votes at the UN General Assembly, October to December 1983, is taken from the March, 1984, edition of the quarterly publication of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Perhaps it will clarify where different nations stand on disarmament issues.

Key Disarmament Resolutions 38th UN General Assembly
  • Nuclear test ban: For-119; Against-2 (US, UK); Abstain-26.
  • Preventing an arms race in outer space: For-147; Against-l (US); Abstain-1 (UK).
  • Cessation of the nuclear arms race: For-108; Against-19 (West); Abstain-16.
  • Chemical Weapons Ban: For-98; Against-1 (US); Abstain-49.
  • Prohibition of mass destruction weapons: For-116; Against-1 (US); Abstain-26.
  • Nuclear weapons freeze: For-124; Against-15 (West); Abstain-6.
  • Non-use of nuclear weapons/prevention of nuclear war: For-111; Against-19 (West); Abstain-15.

Isobel E. Hill Toronto, On.

Open discussion necessary

I disagree with Jeremy Agar’s’ comment in the April issue of The Peace Calendar that Simon Rosenblum’s critique of the Canadian Peace Congress is “scarcely legitimate comment.”

However, like Agar, I have never heard of Soviet threats of use of nuclear weapons in relation to any conflict, except of course the Kremlin’s frequent assertion that they will blow us to bits if ‘we’ strike first. If Rosenblum knows of any Soviet first-strike threats to any nation, I would be interested in hearing from him.

As for the Canadian Peace Congress and its affiliates being Soviet apologists, I think there is little doubt of that. I am referring to leaders in the CPC and not necessarily all of its members. One may look beyond the Congress to other groups spawned by the Communist Party of Canada and see that they focus entirely on NATO sins. Even groups not associated with either the Congress or the Party critique only western arms policy, partly perhaps because of the belief that it IS only in the West that we can effect change.

But should clearly pro-Soviet groups be banned from the movement as Rosenblum implies? I think not. As Matthew Clark explains, such actions would add fuel to Cold War hysteria — a lot of anger and bitterness wou1d result within the peace movement, particularly among CPC people, who would continue to be involved in the movement anyway. Freedom of speech within any structured national coalition would suffer a blow.

I say this in full knowledge of the manner in which some in the Communist Party have sought to restrict the freedom of speech and action of others in the movement. But any people who are agressive in speech or action can restrict the freedom of others.

A combination of unity in the struggle for survival and open discussion between peace groups on policy issues and peace proposals should be the cornerstone of the peace movement worldwide.

Peter Wade
Fort Qu’ Appelle, SK.

A pat on the back

I wish to express my gratitude to you, everyone, for the important work you are doing. The quality and content of. the writing, the editorial policies in evidence, and the professionalism of the layout and production all serve to refute our critics’ allegations that we are a motley assortment of malcontents with a hidden agenda.

We share, I suspect, a profound hope that one day, in the not-too-distant future, you will have worked yourselves right out of a job.

Ron Pate
Mississauga, On

Editors’ note: Thank, you for your kind words, but we can hardly take credit. The improvements we’ve all seen in The Peace Calendar of late are the result of increased participation from members of the peace movement in Canada. Don’t thank us, thank you.

NDP not credited

Michael Mandel’s letter “Electoral Opportunism” (TPC, April 1984) shows a bit of double standard among some peace supporters.

He is willing to concede that “Dan Heap has a good personal record on nuclear weapons,”~ but separates that from the NDP, which I represent.

Likewise, Jon Spencer, in the same issue in the lead story on peace movement response to cruise testing, quotes “MP Pauline Jewett” against the testing without mentioning the NDP, whom she officially represents on this issue.

Otherwise, The Peace Calendar and others are usually careful to name organisational ties (Moderator of the United Church, MIT Professor, Mayor of Toronto, etc.).

Why try to separate Pauline and me from the only party that has consistently put our anti-cruise and NWFZ stand in convcntion policy, our members by the thousands into peace coalition work and demonstrations, and our Caucus unanimously on the line in Parliament?

Dan Heap, MP
Spadina

Editors’ note: Please accept our apologies for the omission, which was certainly not intended, nor malicious.

The Peace Calendar is underfunded and seriouslv understaffed. As you mention, we are usuaily careful to identify quoted sources for our readers’ information. However, mistakes do happen when a paper is forced to operate on such a miniscule budget and timeframe.

Understanding is essential

I would like to answer some of the points made in Simon Rosenblum’s letter (TPC. March 1984).

Each country is working for peace in the manner which best suits its environment at a given time. Europeans call for unilateral disarmament, Canadians for bilateral disarmament, Americans for a Freeze, the East for a Freeze and bilateral disarmament. The arguments between Mr. E.P. Thompson and Mr. Norman Solomon last year in The Nation illustrate how difficult it is to understand each other’s perspectives, even betwecn western countries.

We in North America labour under the greatest confidence trick ever played on an unsuspecting public, namely a fear of Communism that has effectively silenced our own political dissent. The fear distorts our work in the peace movement from the bottom upwards. We are unable to speak freely or honestly in case our view is not “balanced,” when in fact the truth is not balanced. In solidarity with the letter from David Collins, we should not be afraid or embarrassed to advertise our diversity.

It IS oversimplifying matters to say, as Mr. Rosenblum does, that the western European peace movement has kept its distance from the World Peace Council. 1n 1983, after considerable discussion and debate on the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s international committee, it was decided to send observers to the World Assembly in Prague, with a clear mandate. The majority view was that dialogue was more sensible than boycott. I think this view should be reflected in our own communities as examples of being able to work in harmony together.

Sergei Batovrin himself argues that the western peace movement should make itself more aware of the complexities of Eastern Europe and Soviet societies. Because we live in a traditional liberal individualistic society it is near to impossible for some of us to sec that our freedoms are easy to talk about when we don’t have to pay the price for them.

Josie Wallenios
Thunder Bay, On.

Prohibit Soviet apologists

The April issue of The Peace Calendar carried two letters criticising Mr. Rosenblum’s viewpoint on the dangers of united front coalitions with Marxist-Leninist controlled organisations such as the Canadian Peace Congress.

Nothing was said about the prohibition against any independent, non-governmental groups in the USSR. Nor was, mention made of the systematic destruction of opposition parties, free association, and freedom of speech in states where the Marxist-Leninist Party has succeeded in provoking, internally, a revolutionary collapse of multi-party political systems and the installation of a totalitarian, one-party system.

It is not a matter of being friendly with the members of Communist-controlled peace fronts; this we can and should be. It is an issue of organisational integrity, since peace fronts arc not controlled by the membership but, on crucial issues, by the Party from above. Communistcontrolled organisations should be free to work for their goals in Canada, but under their own coalition umbrella. A separate and parallel coalition for democratically controlled indigenous Canadian organisations should be available.

Sheldon Rahn
Waterloo, On.

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