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Taking the first step

Eudora Pendergrast — July 1983

In a dramatic show of unity and conviction, over 200 groups representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians have endorsed an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau opposing cruise testing in Canada and calling for “an initial unilateral gesture towards a nuclear freeze.”

The open letter was drafted by peace activists in Toronto, and is accompanied by a list of 90 endorsing groups, 14 of which are networks or coalitions representing as many as 40 member groups.

The letter was delivered to Prime Minister Trudeau. House Leader Erik Neilsen, P.C. Leader Brian Mulroney, NDP Leader Ed Broadbent and the president of the Press Association on June 27, and has been distributed to the press across Canada.

In Toronto, Lee Axon, of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, was one of the principal organizers behind the letter. She notes that the letter deliberately presented the case for the West’s taking an initial unilateral gesture that would be more than just words, and would thus be different from policies, such as no first use, proposed by the Soviets.

An example of such a gesture would be a decision by the West not to deploy cruise and Pershing II’s in Europe.

Axon also emphasised the importance for the peace movement of openly acknowledging its support for the kind of initial unilateral gesture called for in the letter.

Copies of the open letter and the list of endorsing groups are available at the CANDIS office in Holy Trinity Church.

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