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World Feds: reducing international conflict

Matthew Clark — June 1984

TORONTO-The World Federalists of Canada held a public symposium Saturday, May 19, at Glendon College, as part of their four-day annual conference, “Harmony for a small planet: Creative Approaches to Peace and Security”. The organizing committee expected about 200 people to attend the public symposium, but the attendance exceeded their expectations by it considerable number. About half the participants were members of the World Federalists; the other half were interested and sympathetic non-members. Everyone I spoke to, members and nonmembers alike, found the symposium well-organized and informative.

Conference Co-ordinator Dieter Heinrich opened the day’s program, which began with a panel discussion and question period. The panelists were William Barton, former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, who spoke on New Directions in the Search for Peace; Norman Alcock, founder of the Canadian Peace Research. Institute, who spoke on National Initiatives in Tension Reduction; and Douglas Roche, M.P., who spoke on the Parliamentarians for World Order, of which he is Internationa1 Chairman. The session was chaired by Beth Richards. The various presentations emphasized positive proposals for reducing international conflict. During the question period, several participants noted that the panelists had given little attention to problems of social injustice; one participant also remarked that the panel was entirely white and male.

After lunch, two seminar sessions were scheduled, on a wide variety of subjects. I attended Our Image of the Soviets – How Real?, which was facilitated by Barrie Zwicker, a freelance media critic. After a six-month statistical study of the three Toronto daily papers, he found not only that the media treatment of the Soviet Union is overwhelmingly negative, but also that it is overwhelmingly uninformative.

“Instead of anything approaching an informative, rounded, realistic picture of a country the papers repeatedly claim is so important, the public is being mistreated to hodge-podge of distorting trivia, boring stereotypes, and transparent bias parading as news.”

Zwicker often speaks in public on this issue; I recommend his presentation highly, and also his pamphlet, “War, Peace, and the Media” , available from Sources, 10 Britain Street, Toronto, Ont M5A lR6.

I also attended the seminar titled Promoting East- West Friendship, which was led by Koozma Tarasoff from the Ottawa chapter of the Canada-USSR Association. The participants in this seminar an agreed that greater human contact, including exchange visits and twinning of cities and correspondence exchanges would help to increase understanding and reduce tension.

At a banquet held that evening, World Federalists of Canada President Norman Alcock presented this year’s WFC Peace Award to Canadian journalist Gwynne Dyer, writer and narrator of the seven part television series War. Dyer is not a member of the World Federalists, and indeed had never heard of the WFC until he was selected for this year’s award, but many of the ideas he expressed in the series are very like those of the Federalists. In his acceptance speech Dyer quoted Sherlock Holmes method of problem solving: “Reject an the impossible solutions, and whatever is left, however implausible, is correct.”

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