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Letters

anon — November 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. ON, M5S 2S4.

Coalition formation urged

In reply to the article “Where do we go from here?” (TPC, October 1984), a good start would be to find a project large enough, and worthy enough. to catch the imagination of all the varied Canadian peace organizations. One project that is already being promoted by U.S. organizations, (for example the Centre for Defence Information, Greenpeace, and the First National Woman’s Conference to Prevent Nuclear War) is “To End All Nuclear Weapons Explosions.” This would accomplish the following:.

  1. The reliability of existing nuclear weapons would be reduced. All weapons have a shelf life and must be tested periodically. If no tests were done. the dangers of a pre-emptive “first strike” attack would be largely eliminated, as such an attack requires absolute certainty that the weapons will work as planned.
  2. Nuclear states would be unable to develop new nuclear weapons — in effect, the nuclear freeze would result.
  3. Other countries would effectively be stopped from developing nuclear weapons as any tests made would be detected.

The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty signed by the United States and the U.S.S.R. resulted largely from worldwide grassroots opposition to the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. This Treaty has been honored by both nations, and except for a few tests by France and China. by all nations worldwide. As the peace movements now-are much stronger than they were in 1963. and all governments are now more concerned with the dangers of nuclear war, this stoppage of all nuclear weapons explosions may be a campaign whose time has come.

While the goal of complete disarmament must always be our final objective, we must start now with more immediate achieveable goals. Our short term goal would be to convince our government to take the lead in adopting this magnificent concept as official policy. Our long term goal would be to work with other international peace groups to have all the nations of the world sign a treaty banning nuclear explosions forever.

Such a project will require a co-ordinated massive effort by all Canadian peace organizations. if we are to succeed, A logical first step would be the amalgamation of our present national peace movements into an effective national Peace Lobby. If existing national organizations, such as the World Federalists, Operation Dismantle, Ploughshares, P2C2, labor, church, women’s and professional groups. were to get together under one “roof” they would undoubtedly be more effective.

We may never work out all our many philosophical and regional differences, but we can combine our efforts to achieve major goals. If we can realistically combine our present national peace organizations. the formation of a Canadian Peace Coalition will surely follows.

Bill Paterson
Galiano Island, BC

Persevere with politicians

Ottawa is a new political world just now. Lots of new Progressive Conservative members have arrived to take their seats in Parliament, and they have not formed a unified group yet with a fixed set of policies. Very few parliamentarians are well informed on the question of nuclear weapons, yet for the most part they are open-minded and ready to hear the peace constituency. As time goes by, the government policy may become crystallized and perhaps harder to influence. Now is the time to assist the new politicians in educating themselves in ways conducive to peace.

There are encouraging signs — notably the appointment of Joe Clark, Doug Roche, and Stephen Lewis. But all of these leaders will be under pressure from hardline militarists who are also in the new government. They may tend to accommodate to those pressures unless we give them the kind of support they need. Politicians cannot say the things we want them to say unless they know there’s a constituency of citizens who are behind them. For example, Disarmament Ambassador. Roche’s aspirations toward disarmament are countered in the cabinet by the views of the new Defense Minister who wants a major expansion of military expenditure. This is the time to inform and encourage all new government officials to develop, instead, strategies of nonviolence.

This is also a good time for government to review the nation’s defense policies. What do we need to defend? And how? And against whom or what? Such a review has not been done for about twenty years, so it’s overdue. In such a discussion, the possibilities for peace can be enlarged.

Dorothy Rosenberg
Montreal, PQ

Competition unintended

We wish to clarify some questions which seem to have arisen with our, publication of the Toronto Disarmament Networker. We want to assure you and readers of The Peace Calendar that in no way is our publication meant to compete with, or be in opposition to, The Peace Calendar.

We feel that, although there will undoubtedly be some overlap, the basic thrust of the two publications are different and complementary. The Peace Calendar is national in scope, covering a broad spectrum of opinion within the peace movement. It serves an important function in providing a forum for examination and debate of the issues confronting the Canadian peace movement. The Networker is local in scope, featuring reports on the activities of the TDN, and is a vehicle for our coalition to express itself and inform our supporters of our activities. Although The Peace Calendar covers major TDN events, our first issue of the Networker contains II articles on different aspects of our work. We neither expect, nor want, The Peace Calendar to focus so heavily on this level, thus the need for a publication that can be easily mailed and distributed in Toronto.

The Peace Calendar is a very important resource of the peace movement in Canada and the TDN supports it wholeheartedly.

Your publication serves an extremely important function in linking and informing a diverse movement, and your efforts deserve the support of all peace groups in the country. We see the Networker as a further addition to the growing need for published information on peace movement activities.

David Kraft
The Toronto Disarmament Network

Flights unexplained

At 10:00 on the morning of October 6, as I was walking along the entrance road to the R.C. Harris filtration plant in Toronto’s eastern beaches, I recognized an abnormal number of high-altitude jet vapour contrails. (As a long-time plane-watcher, I was particularly aware of how unusual the situation was. I was also able to determine the altitude at which the aircraft were flying — about 35,000 feet — and their flight path, or ‘heading’ — southeast to northwest.) I counted the aircraft as I walked along the boardwalk, and by the time I reached Kew Gardens, I had counted more than two dozen planes, flying in groups of two and four.

My first reaction was that this military exercise was an unusually large one. (The fact that these aircraft could have been anything other than military never even occurred to me.) I also came to the inevitable realization that if this was not an exercise I would be dead within an hour — if I were lucky. I began to feel sick.

I arrived home at approximately 10:30 am, and immediately called CFB Downsview. Since Downsview is not fully operational, it was closed for the weekend and the military police suggested that I call the control tower at Pearson International. The following is the conversation I had with a Flight Planning Official (FPO) at Pearson:

Myself: I am calling with regard to an abnormal number of aircraft moving over Toronto-on a SE to NW heading. Could you tell me what these are, please?

FPO: Yes, sir, there’s an airshow in Kitchener today.

Myself: No, these aircraft are not going on a heading which would take them to Kitchener.

FPO: Perhaps they are going to circle around and head back to Kitchener.

Myself: No, you don’t understand these aircraft are at 35,000 feet.

FPO: Just a minute, sir.

(four minute pause)

FPO: Just a high volume of traffic today, sir.

Myself: You mean to tell me that those aircraft are not military?

FPO: What can 1 tell you?

Myself: You mean you have them all on your radar right now and they are all civilian aircraft?

FPO: That’s right, sir.

This official was, in effect, asking me to believe that somewhere, south of the border, some 25-odd Boeing 747s, DC-10s or L-1011s, or whatever, had taken off at the same time, all headed for the same place. (The fact that these aircraft suddenly appeared in the sky at the same time and at the same altitude on identical headings suggests, logically, that they must also have come from the same place.)

During the course of that afternoon (and the days that followed) I was to make in excess of one hundred phone calls in an effort to find out what had happened. Since it was now at least an hour after sighting the first aircraft, and I was still alive, I concluded that at least it wasn’t war — though I was more determined that ever to find out what could have been so important that it would require a deliberate misinformation by the Department of Transport.

Two of the later calls are significant. The first was to CFB Trenton. Since I knew there was a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base somewhere in upstate New York, I called Mobile Command, Trenton, to find out where it was. After also trying to suggest to me that the aircraft I saw were civilian, the duty officer at Trenton told me the base was Griffiss AFB in Rome, New York.

The heading the aircraft were on could be approximated by using the CN Tower and the stack at the Richard L. Hearn generating station as reference points. I got out a map of southern Ontario, connected the two points, then extended the line into New York State. It went directly over Rome, NY. The air traffic official’s suggestion that these were civilian aircraft now became even more preposterous, since it suddenly meant that our 25-odd Boeing 747s not only had taken off at the same time, but that they had also followed a route which would have taken them directly over a fully operational SAC base. This was a highly unlikely possibility, since the airspace over operational SAC bases is highly restricted. Civilian aircraft would not even be permitted to fly the heading these planes were on.

The second call was made the following Monday to the Canadian Airline Pilots Association. I described to their information director (also a pilot) the configuration of the aircraft I saw, and asked him what the chances were of them being civilian. He replied simply, “none whatsoever. “

To date, I have not found a satisfactory explanation of what these aircraft were, where they were going, or why they were going there. I do know one thing, however: that number of aircraft coming from the direction of Griffiss AFB on identical headings probably means that they, in fact, originated from Griffiss AFB — the first fully operational SAC wing equipped with cruise missiles. Each of the B52Gs at Griffiss carries 20 air-launched cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads. This suggests that, for some reason or other, on the morning of October 6, 1984, it is highly likely that as many as 300 fully operational nuclear missiles flew directly over greater Toronto without arousing so much as a peep of protest from anyone.

In fact, I should also report two subsequent sightings, the first of which took place on Thursday October 18, the second on Saturday October 20, On the 18th, II planes flew over Toronto on the same heading, in tight formation. The Saturday event was less conclusive, since the groups of 3 or 4 planes were passing over Toronto at 15- or 20-minute intervals, over the course of several hours.

I have not yet received any satisfactory explanation of these events, and I would like to hear, in writing, from anyone who either saw the planes I saw, or can led some light on the meaning of the event.

K. Alan Fenton
14 Rainsford Avenue
Toronto, ON
M4L 3N4

Focus necessary

Open letter to the Canadian peace movement:

The Against Cruise Testing coalition is’ launching a strong campaign for 1985 — Peace Action ’85 — a program of action for disarmament. Its goals are to continue to build and focus the disarmament movement in Canada; and, at the same time, to recognize the place of the Canadian peace movement in an international context. The demands of Peace Action ’85 are End Cruise Testing; End the Nuclear Threat; Peace is a Human Right. Scheduled events in Toronto include: November 11 — Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph at Old City Hall at 7:00 pm. December — Delivery of a Christmas message for peace. January/March — Although the exact dates of this winter’s three cruise tests are unknown, we are planning a strong reaction to each of them. One will be a “Saturday after” demonstration, and the other two are to be smaller, highly dramatic events. April ACT will organize a major spring demonstration in Toronto, as it has for the past two years.

In the context of a confused and demoralized public and a diversified peace movement, the need for a strong focus is quite clear. In Canada, clearly this means focussing on our most significant contribution to the arms race, the cruise missile. The construction of elaborate bureaucracies and the attempt to revive petitions, notoriously ineffective in the past, have only diffused precious energy and resources.

Even pressuring governments to negotiate bilateral freezes, in theory not a bad idea, is futile. Freeze negotiations in practice will be subject to the same endless complications that have plagued all talks since the beginning of the arms race. Six thousand official contacts between East and West have not managed to rid the world of a single existing weapons testing system.

We must make the links between the Canadian peace movement and the struggles around the world for human rights and the right to peace. We cannot ignore the harassment of independent peace activists and groups, both in Eastern Europe and the, USSR, and in NATO countries, such as Turkey. It is only the pressure of people in all countries that can stop the nuclear arms race.

All groups are invited to join the campaign. Disarmament is a global concern; let us do our share in Canada, while supporting parallel independent initiatives world-wide.

Members of the Against Cruise Testing coalition
370 Queen St. E.
Toronto, ON M5A 1T1
416/xxx-xxxx

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