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U.N. Disarmament Week: Walking for peace on the 22nd

Matthew Clark and Mita Hans — October 1983

Canadian peace and disarmament groups have eagerly taken up the call to participate in the international day of disarmament action, October 22. Demonstrations are scheduled to occur in twenty-six Canadian cities, from Halifax to Vancouver, making this the largest ever coordinated disarmament action in Canada.

The idea of an international day of protest against the deployment of cruise and Pershing II missiles originated among European peace groups and was presented to a national strategy session of US peace groups held last November in “St. Louis, Missouri. Representatives of Canadian peace groups attending the session circulated the call, and Canadian interest in the action grew quickly. local groups began planning actions, and from these grassroots initiatives there has evolved a unified and coordinated but decentralized campaign.

The international protests are focused on the planned deployments of cruise and Pershing II missiles in Europe by NATO this winter. Canadian demonstrators will also demand that the federal government cancel plans to allow the testing of US air-launched cruise missiles in Alberta. In Ottawa and Hull, the demands will be Refuse the Cruise and Make Canada a Peacemaker. In Toronto, the demands will be No manufacturing of cruise components in Toronto, No testing of cruise missiles in Canada and No deployments of cruise and Pershing II missiles in Europe. (The guidance system “for cruise missiles is manufactured by Litton Systems in Rexdale, Ont., a suburb of Toronto.)

Protest organisers around the country report that public reaction to the planned demonstrations has been very good. A wide range of support has been built and in most cities broad coalitions have been formed. The Ottawa Disarmament Coalition is working with the Hull organisation C.O.P.A.D.E. (which roughly translated, stands for Committee for Peace and Disarmament.) Sector committees have been established to involve labour, youth, campus, solidarity, and women’s groups. The organisers hope that these committees will continue to function after October 22. In P.E.I., a ten day peace walk across the island is being planned, ending October 22 with a ceremony at East Point. Organisers expect that the walk, which is being planned in cooperation with church groups, will gather support and momentum as it goes. In Toronto, an ambitious door-To-door canvass is underway.

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