The Peace Calendar Vol.2 No.7
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Martha Waldon — August 1984
Martin Cash and Muni Taub — August 1984
On June 22-24, approximately 70 Canadians, representing various peace and labour organizations, attended the first International Economic Conversion Conference at Boston College in Massachusetts. The subtitle of the conference was “Transforming the Economy for Jobs, Peace, and Justice,” a theme which united the more than 700 delegates including peace activists, trade unionists, and economists from Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, Japan, South Africa and the United States – in their struggle to achieve employments and lasting peace for all.
Over the course of the weekend, participants heard strikingly similar accounts of the disastrous human and economic consequences of military spending in each of these industrialized nations. The problem is international, and although a range of opinions was expressed, there was a strong, common interest in economic conversion as a tool which could be used to prevent unemployinent and to begin to dismantle the military-industrial complex that contributes to the nuclear threat.
The concept of conversion has as many angles to it as the concept of disarmament. For some people, the objective is “economic conversion”: a transition, for purely economic reasons, away from military production. This goal is seen as possible within the. existing socio-economic system. Others wish to broaden the concept to “peace conversion”: a complete change of. priorities, taking into account social needs, environmental impact, and social justice.
Barry Bluestone, an economist at Boston College, reminded the conference participants in the opening plenary that the reallocation of capital assets from one use to another is always happening; the process can be sometimes helpful, sometimes painful. According to Bluestone, the focus of the conversion to be discussed at this conference was “Planning for people vs. planning for profit.”
The most exciting aspect of the conference for me was the meeting of arms production workers and peace activists around a conversion agenda. Both groups had similar concerns, although job security was a high priority for the workers. Organized labour was strongly represented (by over 200 vocal delegates) and the peace movement was able to hear their concerns and demands about military spending, automation and job security. At the same time, community members expressed their very real concerns about the facts of militarism. Both groups need to hear from each other more frequently, and much more time and effort should be spent on the development of mutual respect.
The conference agenda emphasized economic conversion, but some of the delegates brought with them a vision of peace conversion. A peace conversion plan would develop production, for human needs and would contribute towards a world of equitable relationships. Although many peace activists ultimately strive for peace conversion, many see economic conversion as a way to disarmament.
Trade union representatives brought a variety of perspectives to the conference. Members of the Lucas Combine Committee presented their “Alternative Use Plan” and their statement about the workplace democracy. Although the plan was never adopted, by presenting it publicly in response to layoff threats, the Combine has saved 1200 jobs. Representatives of the United Electrical Workers suggested that an Alternative Use Plan should include a 35-hour work week.
The response of organized labour to the vision of peace conversion varied from nation to nation. One Italian trade unionist stressed that economic planning must be international in order to turn around our present Cold War mentality. He also advocated making conversion a politics of true development that would be acceptable to the many under-developed countries which were not represented at the conference. American trade unionists, on the other hand, were very concerned about the unprecedented number of plant closings in the basic manufacturing sector of the United States.
In the opening plenary, Seymour Melman, professor of Industrial Engineering at Columbia University, commented briefly on the success of the US/USSR Conversion Symposium held in Moscow earlier in June. The symposium was an opportunity for men such as Melman to meet with Soviet officials, including the Soviet Deputy Director of World Economy and International Affairs. Melman thinks that addressing the issue of conversion with the other superpower may spur other political agreements on disarmament.
The Boston conference announced the reintroduction of the Defense Economic Adjustment Act into the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Ted Weiss. The bill’s highlights include: one year prenotification of plans to cut back or terminate a defense contract or military base; ongoing Alternative Use Committees in military-related facilities to develop detailed conversion plans; planning assistance, income support and retraining programs for committees ~d workers while a conversion is underway; and a federal Defense Economic Adjustment Council to” provide conversion guidelines, resources, and overall coordination. Amendments put forward in order to guarantee opportunities for women and minority groups to participate were rejected “at this time.”
In response, the women’s caucus prepared a statement for the closing plenary, affirming the conversion work done to date, but putting forward a definition of conversion that is not simply economic, but political and social as well. They expressed the need for conversion work to incorporate a feminist approach, in order to avoid maintaining a system that excludes women and minority groups. The women predicted failure for any conversion plan or policy which is developed and administered from the top down. They also recommended developing Community Need Committees, which would include women and minorities, -rather thatn Alternative Use Committees.
The large Canadian delegation was not particularly excited about US legislation, but it was committed to an ongoing search for Canadian solutions to the Canadian situation. The Canadians held a caucus on Saturday to discuss the possibility of forming a National Peace Conversion Task Force to promote the idea of conversion opportunities in Canada. It will look at Canadian military forces and military manufacturing firms (such as Litton, Bombardier, and Diemaco) as well as the structures that might make conversion plans more feasible, such as worker-owned enterprises and community planning bodies. One section of the study will examine the pervasive presence of the Department of National Defence in federal contracting and ih research and development processes, and the impact that this presence has had on unemployment, inflation, and capital availability across the’ country. The study will then identify some new civilian products that might be generated from existing military production capacity. Finally, it will examine strategy proposals for the labour, church, . and -community -;groups which would need to work together to enact conversion planning in Canada.
One final resolution at the conference was the establishment of an international clearinghouse of information on economic conversion in the United States. Canadians felt strongly that a Canadian clearinghouse would be essential to initiate and maintain the Canadian conversion movement. At present, all Canadian information should be sent to: The Peace Task Force, 600 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, KIS 3T4. All interested community groups, union locals and individuals are encouraged to contact this task force for information on future initiatives for conversion in Canada.
Canadians who were in attendance in Boston agreed to meet again in Ottawa this September to begin organizing the Canadian work in a way that addresses concerns such as the Defense Production Sharing Agreement, and others which. weren’t relevant to this international forum.
One of the first priorities of the Semptember agenda will be the integration of grassroots community groups into a task force which has been primarily initiated by trade unionists. In the meantime, outreach efforts will attempt to inform and interest union locals, community groups, economists, scientists, engineers, and others in the national network.
Matthew Clark — August 1984
TORONTO – Monday August 6th marks the 39th anniversary of the nuclear bomh attack on Hiroshima. That single bomb (nicknamed “Little Boy”) instantly killed and burned over one hundred thousand people and destroyed an entire city. It also shook the world.
This month, millions of people around the world will remember the victims of the first use of atomic weapons in warfare.’
With the theme “HiroshimaNever Again,” peace groups in Toronto have organized a full day’s activities to commemorate that apocalyptic day in 1945.
Two separate demonstrations have been scheduled, the first of which (sponsored by the Against Cruise Testing coalition) will begin with a rally at noon in front of Toronto’s City Hall featuring the participation of Mayor Art Eggletom and, organizers hope, the ambassador of Japan. Protestors will then march up Yonge Street and west on College St. to King’s College Circle on the University of Toronto campus.
Speakers at the end of the march will include Doris Patterson of the United Steel Workers of America, and a representative of Hiroshima/Nagasaki Relived. Two minutes of silence and a balloon release will kick off a great afternoon of music with Maja Bannerman, Mendelson Joe, Robert Priest and Marie-Lynn Hammond.
ACT chairperson Angela Browning is also hoping to have federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent say a few words at the rally, which will come almost exactly one month before the nation goes to the polls to elect a new federal government.
The day’s second demonstration is sponsored by the Toronto Disarmament Network, the Cruise Missile Conver~ion Project. and the Labour.. Gouncil of Metro Toronto, and will take place outside Litton Industries at 25 Cityview Drive, Rexdale.
Because August 6 is a municipal holiday, organizers of the Litton rally are hoping to have the road closed off to allow as many people as posstble to congregate in front of the Litton plant, Toronto’s most active contributor to the arms race.
Entertainment will be provided by a Latin American folk music group, and will feature some trade union songs, some Arlene Mantle songs (wrilten for the occasion) and a drama performed by members of Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament.
Speakers will represent the labour, church, women’s and peace communities, including a British POW who was in Nagasaki at the time of the 1945 bombing. Organizers are hoping that Ed Broadbent and members of the other two national parties will speak at Litton.
Mary Cox — August 1984
LONDON – The Third Southern Ontario Peace Conference was held in London, Ontario, on Saturday July 21, with seventeen delegates in attendance, representing peace and disarmament organizations from London, Guelph, Kitchener- Waterloo, Orangeville and Toronto. The agenda included both an assessment of the PPCC and discussions of future plans.
All the delegates agreed that the PPCC has gone welI so far.
The different groups reported a wide variety of organizational techniques – London and Kitchener-Waterloo both opened their campaigns with festivals; Guelph established a store-front office; Windsor has organized neighbourhood meetings with films and discussions. Some groups have emphasized door-to-door canvassing, either singly or in groups, others have concentrated on gathering signatures in public areas, such as main streets, festivals and shopping malls.
The Guelph organization is planning ‘to return to all those houses where people signed the petition, in order to drop off a leaflet announcing the results of the petition drive, and asking if signers would like to be put on a mailing list for more information about disarmament issues, events, and organizations.
Most groups reported that canvassing will diminish during the election period; in some locations, activity wilI shift to the Election riorities Project. After the election, canvassing wilI resume until the Caravan begins. All five regions are planning to hold local rallies on October 20.
The single greatest problem reported was a lack of communication about the Campaign both between the national office and local organizations and also among the various local groups. At the same time, delegates noted that the networking which now exists, whatever its problems, is better than ever before.
Everyone agreed that a general campaign such as the PPCC has great advantages, both politicalIy and organizationalIy. In the course of a long discussion, the delegates generally favoured a new national campaign and also the creation of regional and national umbrella organizations; the campaign and the umbrella organizations were felt to be intimately interconnected.
The delegates were able to suggest about a dozen issues and several strategies for such a future campaign. They felt that the proper body to decide among these ideas (and perhaps others) would be a large Provincial conference, with perhaps I 00 delegates representing as widely as possible the variety of Ontario peace and disarmament organizations. Such a conference would also continue the networking process which has begun around the PPCC.
A committee was struck to circulate a call for such a Provincial conference, to be held the weekend of November 17-18; the location is still to be determined, but it will probably be in either Guelph or KitchenerWaterloo. The delegates also agreed to urge other regions to hold such conferences, in order to lay the foundation for a second National conference, to be held perhaps early in 1985.
anon — August 1984
In the Comox Valley, the struggle has continued intermittently since 1963 to loosen Canada’s bondage to US militarism.
During the Pearson administration, an undisclosed number of US Genie nuclear warheads were stockpiled at several Canadian bases, including CFB Comox on Vancouver Island. For 20 years, strict US control of these weapons has not ceased. A fleet of aircraft known as CF-IOI Voodoos, equipped for their use, has remained ready to take the weapons into the air whenever an occasion may arise — as it did, in one instance, when a flock of geese was mistaken, on a radar screen, for Soviet planes approaching the continent.
From 1963 onward the implications of this situation have prompted local protest, both spontaneous and organized. Rallies, parades and public education programs have repeatedly signified strong local objection to involvement in US military planning.
In 1975 a summer Peace Camp was maintained in the Comox area following a Peace Walk from Victoria to Comox. In 1974, a member of B.c“s Legislative Assembly, Karen Sanford of Courtenay, gave encouragement to a renewed concern that the country’s independent role as peace-maker, as well as the expressed will of the Canadian people, were still being violated. A large rally assembled just outside the entrance to CFB Comox, motivated by the growing realization that nuclear weapons could never be used without suicidal results, and by acknowledgement that war itself under current circumstances had become inconsistent with planetary survival.
Further demonstrations, during the 1980s, were organized by the Comox Valley Nuclear Responsibility Society. The most recent occasion was a die-in before the CFB Comox entrance gate which took place at the end of Disarmament Week in 1983.
Meanwhile, correspondence with the Defence Ministry has elicited assurance that, with the retirement of the Voodoo fleet during the summer of 1984, the Genie missiles will also be removed from the Comox Valley.
However, while various officials, including the Prime Minister, have for some years projected the imminent removal of nuclear weaponry from Canada, the inconsistcncies in perforrnance of these same officials with respect to Canada’s role as a peace-maker inevitably leave many Canadians questioning the validity of such promises.
As we move into the summer months, here in the Comox Valley, we are aware of changes taking place in the community outside the base. More than 400 families of the base personnel are being shifted to other locations. (Cold Lake, Alberta, is said to have become the centre for Canadian ‘defence’ operations in the west.)
But, since the presence of nuclear weaponry has never been officially “either confirmed or denied,” we are uncertain what is ahead in that department. If, however, the projected removal is not soon reported, there will be a strong reaction.
Laurie MacBride — August 1984
Par Ronald Babin et Jean-Guy Vaillancourt
Dans un article publié dans le Peace Calendar de février 1984, nous avons décrit brèvement l’émergence d’un nouveau mouvement anti-guerre québécois, ainsi que la diversité des groupes qui participent à la lutte pour le désarmement et la paix au Québec. Nous avons également décelé-la présence de deux tendances distinctes et montre que cette situation avait trouvé son expression concrete dans l’organisation à Montréal de deux manifestations différentes durant la journée du 22 octobre 1983.
La première, une chaîne humaine entre le consulat des USA et celui de l’URSS organisée par le Comité du 22 octobre, exprimait une option pour le non-alignement entre les deux superpuissances.
La deuxième, une grande marche pour la paix, lancée par le Conseil québécois de la paix (CQP), reflétait une position pacifiste plus traditionnelle. Ce groupe, dont les principaux dirigeants sont des gens très proches d’un parti communiste reconnu comme étant pro-soviétique, a contribué a donner créance à l’opinion conservatrice souvent exprimée selon laquelle tout le mouvement anti-guerre serait manipulé par l’ Union soviétique. Cela n’est pas le cas, puisque ces gens ne sont en réalité qu’une minorité, active il est vrai, mais peu représentative de l’ensemble du mouvement.
En terminant, nous avons fait état de la démarche menee par un Comité d’interrelation, en vue de créer une coalition québécoise des groupes non-alignes. Dans le présent article, nous voulons poursuivre notre survol du mouvement anti-guerre québécois, en soulignant comment les différentes composantes de ce mouvement se sont organisées en 1984.
A l’automne de 1983, le projet de regroupement mis de l’avant par le Comité d’interrelation s’est précisé. le Comité organisa pour le 1er octobre une rencontre des groupes ou il reçut le mandat de produire une plate-forme, qui fuit discutee et amendee à une réunion generale le 10 décembre 1983. Ce texte servit ensuite comme point de depart pour un appel a de nouveaux groupes pour une autre rencontre le 28 janvier 1984. Durant cette réunion, le texte fuit corrigé, puis adopté par la majorité des groupes présents. De cette accord commun entre les groupes est née la Coalition québécoise pour le désarmement et la paix (CQDP).A travers le choix des actions entreprises ou à entreprendre, se revele donc une demande qui va bien au-delà d’un simple désir de sécurite et de protection contre les risques d’une guerre nucléaire. le nouveau mouvement antiguerre, tel qu’iI s’exprime dans la CQDP, vise à transformer le sentiment de peur et d’indignation morale devant les politiques de rearmement en une analyse des rapports de pouvoir et des situations de privileges dans nos societés, et à plus ou moins long terme, à renverser ces rapports et a eliminer ces situations.
Parallèlement à ces developpements, on a egalement vu prendre forme une certaine participation quebecoise dans la En juin 1984, le CQDP regroupe une trentaine d’associations pacifistes venant de Montréal et des différentes régions du Québec. La nouvelle coalition cherche maintenant a se développer en se servant de la plate-forme commune comme moyen d’éducation et comme base de recrutement. Elle vise a élargir le champ. de vision trop étroit qu’on retrouve chez certains partisans du désarmement nucléaire, en proposant une conception globale de la paix et du désarmement qui ne serait pas purement militaire. Elle considère que l’économie et la politique constituent des facteurs importants dont il faut. tenir compte lorsqu’il est question de la construction de la paix et de la résolution des conflits militaires. La CQDP met de l’avant l’idée qu’il faut se donner les moyens d’agir efficacement a ce niveau pour qu’à long terme on puisse résister aux modèles politico-economiques dominants tant a l’Est qu’à l’Ouest et élaborer un modèle social alternatif qui soit à la fois progressiste et démocratique.
Le Comité de coordination de la nouvelle coalition s’est réuni pour la premiere fois le 12 février 1984 afin de donner suite aux propositions d’actions acceptées en assemblée generale le 28 janvier 1984. Voici celles qui furent retenues:
- le développement de liens avec les groupes de femmes et les syndicats, -spécialement au départ, à travers une participation aux activités du 8 mars et du I er mai 1984.
- l’organisation pour le 26 mai à Québec d’une grande manifestation ayant comme thème “Pour un Québec démilitarisé”;
- la mise en route (vers la fin de mai) d’une marche pour la paix devant aboutir à Bagotville, et l’installation d’un camp de la Paix a Bagotville;
- l’organisation, au Parc Lafontaine de Montréal, d’un Festival de la paix, durant la première semaine d’août;
- l’organisation en octobre à Montréal (durant la semaine internationale du désarmement) d’une grande manifestation s’inspirant de la chaîne humaine de l’année dernière;
- la mise sur pied d’un congres pour donner l’occasion aux militants des groupes québécois de discuter collectivement des actions et des orientations a poursuivre ensemble.
A travers le choix des actions entreprises ou a entreprendre, se révèle donc une demande qui va bien au-delà d’un simple désir de sécurité et de protection contre les risques d’une guerre nucléaire. Le nouveau mouvement anti-guerre, tel qu’il s’exprime dans la CQDP, vise à transformer le sentiment de peur et d’indignation morale devant les politiques de réarmement en une analyse des rapports de pouvoir et des situations de privileges dans nos societés, et à plus ou moins long terme, à renverser ces rapports et a éliminer ces situations.
Parallèlement à ces développements, on a également vu prendre forme une certaine participation québécoise dan la “Peace Petition Caravan Campaign” (PPCC). C’est moins les groupes faisant partie de la nouvelle CQDP que le Conseil québécois de la paix (CQP) et certains syndicalistes qui furent actifs dans cette campagne pan-canadienne.
La mise en marche d’une branche québécoise du PPCC, s’est effectuée à l’intérieur d’un “atelier Québec,” lors d’une conférence pan-canadienne tenue a Winnipeg du 2 au 5 février 1984. On y discuta de l’organisation de cette campagne et aussi des stratégies futures du mouvement pacifiste canadien. De retour au Québec, les participants québécois à la rencontre de Winnipeg ont convoqué une dizaine de regroupements ou de fédérations a une réunion qui s’est tenue le 13 février 1984. le but de cette rencontre était de former une “coalition opérationnelle” ayant comme tâche spécifique de parrainer et d’animer la pétition au Québec.
A cette rencontre, aucune provision n’a été prise pour favoriser l’ouverture d’un débat de fond sur le contenu de cette pétition pour l’adapter un peu au contexte québécois. Par exemple, la section québécoise de la PPCC s’est fait reprocher de ne pas questionner le rôle de la base militaire de Bagotville, le projet d’expropriation par Ottawa de plus de 100km carrés de terres au Lac St-Jean pour en faire un champ de tir pour les F-18 et pour d’autres appareils militaires, et le fait qu’au Québec on retrouve environ 50% de toutes les usines canadiennes d’armements.
Bien qu’ils veuillent participer a ce genre d’exercice, plusieurs groupes québécois sont gênés par les limites inhérentes a ce genre d’action. Surtout, ces groupes ont été réticents a cautionner le rôle central que le Conseil québécois de la paix s’est arrogé dans l’organisation de cette campagne au Québec, ainsi que la dynamique uni-directionnelle (sommet vers la base) qui excluait d’emblée l’échange d’idée et l’apport des groupes en vue de remanier le contenu de la pétition pour la rendre plus québécoise.
La mise en place d’un Comité exécutif de la PPCC au Québec est venue confirmer les hésitations des groupes non-alignés, car y prenaient place presqu’uniquement des dirigeants et des sympathisants du Conseil quebecois de la paix.
Ce n’est que par la suite qu’on proposa une place, plus symbolique qu’autre chose, à la Coalition québecoise pour le désarmement et la paix.
Devant un déséquilibre aussi évident, ou la voix de l’ensemble des groupes pour le désarmement et la paix risquait d’être noyée par celle du CQP, le CQDP et plusieurs autres groupes ont préféré s’occuper de leurs propres programmes d’action.
Ayant bien assis son contrôle sur la PPCC, le CQP et cette dernière organisèrent une manifestation a Bagotville pour le 12 mai 1984, dans le but, semble-t-il, de répondre aux critiques à l’effet que la PPCC était trop peu québécoise dans son orientation. Cette activité n’a pas eu le succès escompté moins de 100 personnes se sont présentées, la, plupart étant des Montréalais membres de groupes proches du CQP et du Parti communiste du Québec.
Quant a la CQDP, elle organisa une manifestation à Québec le 26 mai 1984, sur le thème “Pour un Québec démilitarisé.” Environ 1000 personnes de divers groupes et de différentes régions y prirent part. Suite a cette manifestation, la CQDP a commencé a planifier la grande manifestation de la journée internationale pour la paix le 20 octobre prochain. Pour l’organisation de cette journée, la CQDP a convoqué des rencontres de tous les groupes intéressés, y compris les syndicats, pour mettre sur pied un Comité du 20 octobre. Des pourparlers sont en cours avec la PPCC (et les groupes qui en fort partie) pour discuter de la possibilité d’avoir une manifestation sinon unitaire, du moins commune le 20 octobre..
Le clivage reste profond entre la tendance non-alignée (présente surtout dans la CQDP) et les gens du CQP et leurs alliés qui contrôlent le comité exécutif de la section québécoise de la PPCC.
Il se peut donc que les discussions en cours n’aboutissent pas a réconcilier des perspectives et des groupes aussi difficilement réconciliables, mais au moins on pourra dire qu’un effort a été tenté.
Notre but en brossant ce tableau du paysage pacifiste québécois est de mettre en relief ses composantes et sa situation actuelle qui ne cessent d’évoluer.
L’image qui se dégage est celie d’un mouvement assez complexe mais d’où deux axes principaux se dégagent. le premier, dont la conception est plus globalisante, cherche a se rapprocher des forces sociales progressistes pour adresser une critique socio-politique plus large et imaginer et élaborer une alternative a la société militariste. le second axe privilégie le développement d’un mouvement plus proprement politique, et cherche des appuis dans le mouvement syndical, et accessoirement chez les partis politiques de gauche.
Au-delà donc d’un conflit entre des progressistes non-alignés d’une part et des membres et des sympathisants du Conseil de la paix et du Parti communiste du Québec d’autre part, iI y a une différence qui est indicatrice de deux façons de penser le changement social. Dans le second axe, qui essaie de se situer dans la mouvance syndicale, on retrouve une pensée de gauche plus “étatiste” qui voit dans l’état l’agent le plus efficace des transformations sociales. Quant au premier axe, il s’apparente aux nouveaux mouvements sociaux qui s’opposent à une vision technocratique, gestionnaire et organisatrice de la vie sociale, qui pensent le changement en termes des pratiques d’autogestion et d’alternative qui se développent du côté de la société civile, et qui s’efforcent de construire, avec ce qu’il y a de plus dynamique dans le syndicalisme, un véritable Front commun capable de s’opposer au renforcement du pouvoir technocratique et militaire.
Amy Kaler — August 1984
NANOOSE BAY — “Nuclear-Free Canada Day” was the theme for the opening of the Nanoose Peace Camp on Sunday July I. The event was celebrated by about I hiny people with a balloon rekase, birthday cake, signaturegathering on a huge card bound for Ottawa and the erection of a large sign on the beach in front of the camp, overlooking the Nanoose Bay naval facility.
The opening address was given by Don Erickson of Saltspring Island, the originator and honourary chairperson of the nationwide Peace Petition Caravan Campaign (PPCC).
Erickson congratulated the group on the establishment of the Nanoose Bay Peace Camp, and expressed his hope that it w(>uld grow into a permanent camp. He noted that, while he was visiting eastern Canada and the Maritimes, peace activists had repeatedly expressed concern about Nanoose Bay and its role in undersea weapons testing and development.
Erickson recently returned from meetings in the east with officials of the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs, Members of Parliament, and several leading Liberal policy-makers.
In all of these meetings, he said, he was met with an attitude of benevolent and patronizing concern about the arms race, but a total lack of interest in a policy, program, or even a single action to address the problem. In fact, he said, there seems to be even less support today than there was a year ago, among MPs, to deal with the issue of nuclear disarmament.
Calling for “a real change of policy, coupled with a program of action that begins the process of nuclear disarmament,” prickson urged continued support of the PPCc. He reported that about 200 peace groups from St. John’s to Port Alberni are actively involved in the petition drive, and that 60 to 70 percent of people approached are signing the petition. “Whether or not this campaign succeeds in its direct aim of pressuring politicians through the ballot-box to support an end to cruise testing, and the establishment of a Canadian nuclear weapon-free zone, the PPCC is helping to build a national network of peace activists – one that politicians will ignore only at their peril.”
The peace camp will remain open throughout the summer with the participation of peace activists from all over Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Special events are being planned for several occasions, and the public is welcome to drop by at any time for coffee, information and conversation. Anyone wishing to join the camp is welcome. For further information, phone the Vancouver Island Network for Disarmament at xxx-xxxx (Parksville) or xxx-xxxx (Nanaimo).
Nancy Watt — August 1984
Canada has always been a lawabiding, church-going country, and these traits are being turned to the advantage of the peace movement, with the recent appointment of Joanne Clark as Peace Activities Co-ordinator for the Toronto Conference of the United Church. Smaller denominations, such as the Mennonites and the Quakers, have had such co-ordinators, but the United Church is the first of the “mainstream” denominations to follow their lead.
Clarke was officially appointed in March to co-ordinate peace activities for the Toronto Conference, a district which includes not only Metro, but also the rural areas as far north as Parry Sound. In the first year of her appointment, the United Church paid one-third of her expenses; the other two-thirds were borne by donations and sales of. the United Church’s dove-shaped peace pin. Her mandate is rather ambiguously defined. According to Clarke, most of her work involves “ outreach and education – finding speakers, leading seminars” and keeping in contact with other disarmament organizations, such as the Toronto Disarmament Network. Clarke sees the most important function of her role as creating a support system for struggling disarmament groups in individual congregations.
It was the need for this support which began the process culminating in Clark’s appointment. “Two years ago, some peace groups got together We had been finding a lack of support (within the congregations) and feelings of isolation. Peace activities threaten the status quo, and many people become defensive. “
After a meeting of about 23 peace groups, they created the United Church Peace Network, with a double mandate – to support those groups and individuals which were already involved in the peace movement, and to pursue outreach and educational activities for those who were not.
In outreach, says Clarke, the key word is empathy. “People (in the United Church) are all at different levels of understanding, and their needs differ. It- all comes down to empathy. Listen first, don’t antagonize, and educate. Action is the logical outcome of such education.”
Action is a theological necessity. “As Christians, we have a duty to act against this (nuclear war). Faith without action is dead faith. We see ourselves as stewards of the earth – we have to act.”
Clarke believes that creating the motivation to act is best done on the individual level.
“We must address emotions — hopes, fears, expectations. Fear of death, fears of the Russians. Some people feel hopeless (as though) nuclear war is inevitable. Peace activists are partly responsible we’ve been acting out of desperation for so long.”
The diversity of the United Church is important to Clarke. “Pluralism is our strength. Not everybody (in the Church) is “on board” the peace movement. Our purpose is not to agree – we want to show that people from all perspectives can have an equitable discussion.”
Clarke identifies three very broad categories within the United Church – those who are already involved; those who are not involved; and the clergy.
“Ministers are finding it hard to be “pastor and prophet” to maintain a good rapport with their congregation, and at the same time speak what they see as the truth about war.”
“The truth” includes the links between peace, justice and development – an area in which the United Church has traditionally been strong, and one on which Clarke hopes the United Church Peace Network will concentrate. To this end, the UCPN is planning seminars, workshops, retreats and outreach programmes, as well as participation in the Interfaith Conference on Nuclear Issues, to be held in November.
Clarke stresses the amount of work UCPN volunteers have done in making her position a reality, and stresses the need for more. “It’s always been a team effort.”
Kim Killeen — August 1984
MOSCOW – A Toronto peace activist, Metta Spencer, was deported from the Soviet Union on July 11th. She had been invited to a dialogue in Moscow (June 23-24) as a guest of the Soviet Peace Committee, the official peace organization.
Spencer had made complicated travel arrangements to which her hosts had agreed before her departure. Her itinerary included plans to visit Stockholm and Helsinki before returning to Moscow to connect with her flight home.
During the Moscow conference Spencer received several indications that her plans would be disrupted. Chief among these was the fact that during the conference she was asked to join two “officials” in a private room for a three hour discussion about her support for the Group to Establish Trust, an independent Soviet peace group.
Spencer received verbal assurances from her guide that she would be able to fly home on the agreed-upon date. However, when she returned to Moscow 2 weeks later, having followed the Peace Committee’s instructions to the letter, she was immediately deported from the Soviet Union without being allowed to contact her embassy. She attributes her deportation, not to anything she did while there, but to her previous support of the Group to Establish Trust. She had spoken in favour of the Group with officials of the Soviet Peace Committee and her newspaper articles on the subject had been widely published.
“Western peace activists on a tight budget should be forewarned about the unreliability of Soviet hospitality,” she says. “They are frustrated these days about the breakdown of the arms control talks, the pressure of world opinion favouring Sakharov, and a hundred other irritants. But it’s sad that they’re so ready to break off communication with peace activists who are genuinely seeking solutions to our joint problems.”
Ann Rowan — August 1984
As the 1984 Canadian federal election draws near, peace activists across the country are engaged in efforts directed at maximizing the movement’s impact on this political event.
However, the public usually votes on domestic issues such as the economy, and not on issues such as disarmament, which are more international in nature.
To deal with this problem, peace groups are working on several election-related campaigns, encouraging candidates to take a strong stand on the nuclear arms race, and encouraging voters to vote on peace issues. (See the accompanying article by Ann Rowan on this page.)
The prospect of an election raises several other important issues which currently face the movement. To clarify these issues, I recently spoke with peace activists from across Canada in an attempt to discover how they see the role of the peace movement in the federal election.
and large, there was general agreement that both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives are running in a dead heat for the mantle of power. The NDP is expected to place a valiant (but third place) finish. Whether the future government will be led by the Tories or the Grits was considered impossible to predict.
While this may present problems for the effective use of one’s limited campaigning resources, it was clear to all with whom I spoke that both leading parties do not have much in the way of a substantive policy position on the peace issue. What has been offered is generally considered to be long on rhetoric and short on innovation. Indeed, both positions were viewed not only as wanting, but as mirror images of each other. Tongue-in-cheek, Phyllis Creighton of the Anglican Church of Canada nbted that, “on the issue of peace, our choice comes down to Brian Turner and John Mulroney. “
Not all activists agree on this point. Dieter Heinrich of the World Federalists of Canada argues that activists must be aware of the subtle differences between the Liberals and Conservatives. While both parties have bad records on the peace issue, “a Conservative government with Sinclair Stevens as Minister for External Affairs may prove to be worse than those presently in power.”
On the other hand, despite the fact that the NDP’s platform was perceived as closely aligned to the peace movement’s goals, its chances to form the next federal government were viewed as extremely remote. The party’s recent drop in popularity further reinforced this perception.
Although the question of which of the two leading parties will form the next government appears unanswerable, activists should not despair. A minority government was held to be the most probable outcome, and such a development could put disarmament issues on the public agenda.
Optimism was expressed that, while the Liberals and Conservatives do not have a strong peace platform, a minority government (with the NDP as fair handmaiden) would strengthen the voices for peace within Parliament. “A minority government with the NDP holding the balance of power would be healthy for the advancement of all social goals,” predicts Jamie Scott of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation. Underlying this positive assessment of a minority government is the recognition that the party in power would, by necessity, be more responsive to the demands of the electorate as a means of increasing its popular support. In the past, issues such as medicare and unemployment insurance, which were originally NDP policies, have become government policy, because the issues gained popular support.
Given this scenario of the upcoming election, what course should peace groups follow? While universal agreement could not be reached on the best strategies for increasing the movement’s political impact, the following strategies were most commonly cited.
It is natural to assume that the NDP will garner the peace vote, as this party has consistently advocated the major goals of the peace movement. In keeping with this assumption, Beth Richards, PPCC Coordinator for the Labour Council of Metro Toronto, asserts that “peace activists should vote for the NDP because this party has consistently supported our concerns, while a John Turner. or Brian Mulroney vote will not advance our interests.”
A partisan position on the part of the peace movement is not supported by all activists. Operating on the basis of political pragmatism, Gary Marchant of Vancouver’s End the Arms Race coalition aptly encapsulates the dilemma he sees facing the movement. “We must remain nonpartisan. It would be a serious mistake to align ourselves with anyone party. While ethically we should support the NDP, it only enjoys 12% of Canadian public support, while a full 480/0 of Canadians are opposed to cruise testing. Clearly, a large number of peace activists are either Liberals or Conservatives who are not going to change their vote for a single issue.”
According to this perspective, to advocate the NDP as “the peace party” would only serve to alienate a percentage of the peace movement’s supporters, at a time when it is unclear whether the NDP could form the next government.
David Kraft of the Toronto Disarmament Network shares this view and adds that “we should not tie our fate to one party but rather centre the movement on as broad a consensus as possible, in order to attract new followers of every political persuasion. This is the only way we can strengthen the movement and make it an independent force.”
Bridging the gap between partisan and non-partisan voting patterns, Phyllis Creighton suggests that wherever the NDP has the possibility of fielding a successful candidate, it would be sensible to vote for that candidate, if only because his or her position would be in alignment with the party platform. However, Creighton cautions that a rule of thumb should be applied. To begin, the NDP’s strength in a given riding should be realistically assessed. Should the party’s candidate appear incapable of taking the riding, the remaining candidates should be scrutinized closely. Once the most pro-peace candidate has been identified, “peace activists should vote accordingly.”
This ‘winning vote’ approach is personally supported by Dieter Heinrich. “Voting for an individual candidate who is pro-peace,” he advocates, “is as important as whether the party has an explicit (pro-peace) position. The nbjective should be to elect as many propeace MPs as possible, regardless of their party affiliation.”
While it is evident that advice varies on how best to employ the ‘peace vote,’ activists agree that every effort must be expended to raise peace issues at the riding forums of all three parties. “Our purpose should be to use every opportunity to draw the candidates out, forcing them to declare their positions,” acknowledges David Kraft. Such a strategy will serve three goals. First, it would increase the public’s awareness of nuclear issues. Second, it will force all candidates to become knowledgeable about the nuclear threat and the concerns of the movement. Finally (and perhaps most importantly), by drawing out the candidate’s position, it will enable to public to determine which local candidate deserves their peace vote.
Regardless of which strategy is adopted, all activists concur that one message must be sent to all. candidates and parties. The message is quite simple: Disarmament is an issue of paramount interest to a large portion of their constituency, and its vote will be won by those candidates that pursue peace.
As a final word on the electoral strategy, Beth Richards sounds a note of caution. “We cannot fall into the trap of thinking that the peace issue can win an election. By the same. token, we must recognise that the future of the peace movement is not going to be determined by one election alone. This is a long-term struggle. “
Paul Dilse — August 1984
In Canada, the number of people dedicated to finding ways to promote disarmament (and questioning our government’s role, in the, search for peace) has grown from hundreds of activists to hundreds of thousands of people. The peace movement is now recognized as an important constituency by all the political parties, and the 1984 election is the first time that the peace movement can “exercise its muscle.” How is the peace movement intervening in the political process this year and wiIl its efforts be successful?
On the national level, three different campaigns have been organized with the objectives of increasing the importance of the peace and disarmament issue both in the mind of the voter and in the policies of the candidates However, specific tactics for achieving these objectives vary among the three campaigns.
The Peace Petition Caravan Campaign has been focusing on canvassing Canadians, on a riding-by-riding basis, in order to ascertain the proportion of the population who support what organizers consider to be a basic peace programme.
The Election Priorities Project, sponsored by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, has concentrated on a process of educating and surveying the candidates on the issues of disarmament and development, and then publicizing the results of the survey.
“Canada for the Freeze,” sponsored by Operation Dismantle, is a phone bank campaign oriented towards pressuring candidates into supporting a nuclear freeze.
The Peace Petition Caravan Campaign was launched in March of this year and will end late in October. Since March, canvassers have been going door-to-door to ask residents to sign the petition if they agree to the demands of the Campaign. The demands are to stop cruise testing, to make Canada a NwFZ, to redirect government spending from the military to human needs programs, and to ratify these three demands by a free vote in Parliament.
Although the PPCC canvassing effort was not organized initially as an election-related campaign, the recent calI for an election has made the PPCC a valuable medium for peace movement involvement in the election. Canvassing efforts and tabulations are done on a riding basis, ensuring that the results of the canvass are “candidate-specific.” Each candidate’s stand on the issues can be challenged more effectively by referring to specific riding results than when nation-wide survey results are used.
The election strategy of the PPCC is being defined and implemented on the local level rather than being nationally directed. The local coalitions; organizations, and individual riding committees of the PPCC are in a better position than is the national office to define effective strategies. That is, a riding committee can evaluate the strengths and capabilities of its human resources; it can easily tabulate the number of signatures produced by the canvassing effort; and it is cognizant of the general mood and concerns of the riding as weIl as the local response to the Peace Petition.
The national PPCC is still scheduled to end on October 20 (when the signed petitions will be presented to the standing members of Parliament) but during the election period, the number of signatures coIlected within a riding can of course be used to encourage candidates to take a strong stand against the arms race. The canvassing effort is not only a method for raising the issue of peace in a personal manner, but it is also a way to generate interest and action among people who have been passive supporters of the peace movement.
The Canadian Council for International Cooperation, along with twelve other development and disarmament organizations, have initiated another non-partisan project caIled Election Priorities: An educational project on Peace and Development.
The process of educating candidates on the issues of develop.ment and disarmament will be accomplished. througn the distnbution of candidate packets, which contain a rather extensive and insightful analysis of the connection between these two issues.
The EPP is a national project but, as in the case of the PPCC, the real work will be done by riding committees who will present the EPP packet to the candidates, interview them and then will make these results public.
After the EPP riding committees are formed, discussions are initiated on the most effective strategy for implementing the EPP within the specific riding. Once this is decided, the riding committee sends the information packet to the various candidates and arranges an interview. During the interview the candidate will be asked to respond to the 13 questions of the EPP, though a candidate may choose to respond by mail.
To ensure that the candidates take the interview (and the EPP) seriously, riding committees will seek the endorsement of local organizations in the peace, development, church, labour and other communities. This is another point where the canvassing efforts of the PPCC might be helpful to groups participating in the EPP. The number of Peace Petition signatures can be reported to the candidate in order to substantiate the importance of the peace issue to his/her constituency.
The method of publicizing the results of the candidate surveys is left to the respective riding committees. The decision-making process is decentralized so as to all ow for the actions that best suit the resources of the group, and the characteristics of the riding.
Both the EPP and the PPCC are nation-wide campaigns with separate central organizations. However, at the local level (and specifically within the ridings), there have been some rather successful co-ordinated efforts. While PPCC canvassers concentrate on contacting the voters, the EPP people will concentrate on surveying the various candidates. The impact of the meetings with candidates will be strengthened by the results of the canvass done within their riding. Morever, the EPP and PPCC riding associations can draw on each other’s strengths, members and ideas for formulating riding strategies and organizing events. At least within Toronto, contacts have been made between the two campaigns, and planning is underway for joint projects, workshops and events (for example, in the Spadina riding a joint all-candidates meeting is being planned.)
However great the benefits of co-operation between EPP and PPCC, there are reasons for maintaining a certain degree of autonomy between the two campaigns. By far the most important of these reasons is that the political content differs. The three demands of the PPCC are included within the 13 questions raised by the EPP, but the EPP deals with development issues which are not dealt with by the PPCC, and for that reason the two campaigns are not synonymous. The canvassing effort of the PPCC is also different from the process of education used by the EPP.
“Canada for the Freeze” IS a recently initiated campaign that has as its goal the election of a new House of Commons within which 70-80% of all MPs, from all parties, are on record as supporting the freeze. (In the past, the Canadian government has voted against the freeze every time it has been raised in the United Nations.)
Operation Dismantle is organizing a phone bank that will survey the candidates of all parties in all ridings. Pressure on reluctant candidates. to support the freeze will come from organizing constituency contacts and media exposure. Organizers feel the nuclear freeze issue has the support of most Canadians, and that it will therefore be in the candidate’s interest to go on record as supporting the freeze.
This freeze campaign is different from the other two national campaigns both in structure and as to the scope of its focus. It focuses on extracting from candidates the support for the single issue of the nuclear freeze, rather than on the broader issues of peace and development contained in the other campaigns. In addition, organization of the Freeze campaign is much more centrally directed and implemented than either the PPCC or the EPP.
At this early stage, it is hard to evaluate how “Canada for the Freeze” will interact with the other campaigns, since there seem to be few mechanisms for interaction in the context of its campaign. However, any publicity or media generated by any peace campaign should benefit all three efforts by placing the peace issue more squarely in the public eye during the crucial election period.
The question of the probable success of these three campaigns must be divided into two parts. Will they be successful in the federal election of 1984? And will they be successful in the longer run (i.e. beyond the election)?
As long as the international situation remains relatively quiet until September 4, domestic economic problems and suggested solutions will probably be of primary concern to most Canadian voters. But the peace issue can be a deciding factor (and therefore an important issue) when the distinction between candidates 9n economic issues is slight.
During this election, the peace movement should continue to stress the fact that military spending creates fewer jobs than does spending in other fields, and that in times when government budgets should be trirr.med there is a critical trade-off between military spending and spending on social programs. But it is unlikely that these arguments will capture the imagination of the Canadian voter this year.
There will be some ridings where these peace campaigns will be very effective and important. And there is a good chance that “Canada for the Freeze” can achieve its goal. But it is doubtful that the 1984 elections will produce a major victory for the Canadian peace movement.
More important!) to the organizers of these three campaigns is the long-term building of an effective peace movement. Though the majority of Canadians probably favour a programme of nuclear disarmament, it is a long step from majority public opinion to building a movement which is capable of reversing government policy.
This type of building requires a strong grassroots organization and support, which the PPCC and the EPP are fostering and mobilizing. The success of this type of effort cannot be totally evaluated in this election, but positive results should show up in future elections.
Considering the pace at which the peace movement in Canada has grown, we should be encouraged by the visibility of the peace issue in this election. The challenge is to keep our momentum going and to maintain the pressure on elected officials after the election.
Judith Meinert — August 1984
It was with hesitation, and not enthusiasm, that I began my canvassing for the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign. I had taken a training course one spring afternoon, attended monthly information meetings, reported to the organization that I represented at these meetings, secured a donation from the group, even got the members to sign the petition at our annual general meeting. I realized, however, that the crunch would come when I would walk down the lock-tiled alley into the area to be canvassed, knock on doors and ask, my retiring personality in full gear, for signatures.
I saved the last two weeks of June for canvassing, the demands of my career and the World Federalists’ national conference behind me. And at last, a, PPCC button pinned to my sweater, I saw myself trudging into the area assigned to me.
The area, my neighbourhood, might be termed a microcosm of urban Canadian society. Lying on the eastern edge of downtown Toronto, the neighbourhood is composed of semi-detached Victorian houses (each with a gate to open and porch steps to climb) and some newer construction. Many of the buildings have been divided into apartments. The population is eclectic – wealthy and poor, gay and straight, Oriental and Caucasian. In my neighbourhood, demographic differences are separated only by shared walls.
First let me recount my negative experiences over six weekday nights canvassing. I experienced only one incident of rudeness when a man slammed the door in my face. There were a number of middle-aged men (although there was one young man too) who did not sign the petition, speaking in defence of American military policy. One well-to-do man, for example, looked pleased when he told me that “we need the cruise.” Another sounded as if he were reciting from one of Ronald Reagan’s appearances on television – the perceived Soviet nuclear superiority, Canada’s obligation to accomodate U.S. military strategy, etc. I also met a young woman who enthusiastically signed the petition despite her distrust of the Russians. Apathy was prevalent. I remember the older woman who told me she doesn’t sign petitions of any kind. A young man who politely listened to my request answered a flat “no” without looking at the petition. One woman sitting in a patio chair waved me on. I heard some rather far-fetched excuses for not signing; one that kept recurring was: “I don’t live here” (or anywhere else in Toronto). I saw or heard people inside who wouldn’t answer their doors. The saddest case in my six nights canvassing was the man who agreed with the petition but wouldn’t sign it since he didn’t approve of “our” strategies, i.e. bombing Litton, throwing paint on the constitution. He walked away before I could respond to the accusations.
But then there were the ninety who signed the petition, those who wished me good luck and thanked me for coming, those neighbourhood friends who supported me with tea and encouraging words after an evening’s walk. A young man from an adjacent building and an older woman who recalled the horrors of WWII in Europe came to my support when the Reaganite pursued an argument with me. A Toronto celebrity signed. The roommate of the man who didn’t approve of our strategies signed. I got a signature from a resident in the tenement house that was the least appealing to visit. The most fulfilling case happened in another tenement. A middle-aged woman told me about her recent dream in which she was a survivor in a nuclear war as others around her cried in agony. She had never demonstrated for peace before or had signed a petition. The dream inspired her to sign the petition and be active in the future.
What did I learn generally? Thursday evenings garnered me the most signatures but even on Thursdays, many people were not at home. Of those at home, certainly more than half were in favour of the petition; perhaps sixty five per cent signed. I did not discern differences in response due to demographic characteristics, although of those who didn’t sign, men felt compelled to give me their opinion whereas women avoided the issue. Only two or three had heard of the campaign before I reached them. On the other hand, everyone had heard about the cruise. Some had difficulty reading the petition and understanding the syntax; (I endeavoured to make people sure about what they were signing so as not to distort the petition’s intention). The terms “nuclear weapons-free zone” and “free vote” in Parliament puzzled a portion. In one instance, I took a great deal of time to explain the purpose of a NWFZ. I found a significant amount of misinformation, misunderstanding and prejudice. Soviet nuclear superiority, the relative low cost of American military spending and dishonesty of the Russians were cited to me. I finished my stint as a canvasser thinking that the greatest task ahead of us is one of education. Among the solutions I considered were – greater distribution of The Peace Calendar; the opportunity for the general public to take courses on the workings of P;;uliament and the function of peace activity; the availability of courses on peace issues and international conditions for journalism students; or the offering of peacerelated lectures to clubs? The big unknown underlined by my canvass centres around those who don’t care. What (besides a bomb dropping on their heads) will dispel their apathy?
When a supporter asked me if I thought my canvass had been successful, I answered facetiously that a dog hadn’t bitten me. What I could have said is that the canvass did not live up to my expectations. I expected nothing more than completed petition forms, nothing like the personal rewards that in fact accrued to me. I got in touch with people (none of whom I understood to be peace activists) on the issue that concerns me most – world peace. My initial hesitation was replaced with enthusiasm, one that should abide with me into my next peace project: I signed up to help in the Election Priorities project.
13 questions to ask
Editors’ note: In the Election Priorities survey, each of the “13 Questions” is prefaced by two or three sentences which place the question in a larger context. The EPP kit also provides extensive summaries of the issues referred to in the specific questions.
- If elected, would you support national and international efforts to reduce military budgets and to reallocate the funds to meet human needs?
- Would you support increased untied overseas development assistance to the world’s poorest people in countries whose governments are committed to meeting the basic rights and needs of their citizens?
- Are you willing to explicitly oppose any superpower military intervention by either the Soviet Union or the United States?
- Would you support the establishment of an international arms register, as a first step to controlling the conventional arms trade?
- Do you support full and immediate public disclosure of all Canadian military expots?
- Do you support the funding of efforts to convert from military to non-military production and the abolition of the Defence Industry Productivity Programme?
- If elected, would you support the cancellation of the Canada/US “umbrella” weaponstesting agreement and the cruise tests?
- Do you support Canada’ declaring itself a nuclear weaponfree zone?
- Do you believe that Canada should support a bilateral and verifiable freeze on the production, testing and development of all nuclear weapons?
- Would you support a Canadian vote for a “no first use” position on nuclear weapons in NATO and at the UN?
- Do you support an increased role for Canada in United Nations peacekeeping efforts?
- Do you support a UN sponsored Global Referendum on Disarmament?
- If elected, would you join the Parliamentarians for Global Order?
Mel Watkins — August 1984
Project Ploughshares in Saint John, New Brunswick, has formed an Election Priorities Committee which started active planning in April of this year. The committee consists of ten or twelve people who have been meeting bi-weekly to outline a plan of action which would encompass as many ideas as possible.
Our committee received many ideas from a workshop sponsored by Ploughshares Saint John for the riding committees of NB and PEL Jamie Scott, from the CanaDian Council for International Cooperation, was the workshop leader, and he infused us with the sense of urgency and enthusiasm we needed.
As a result, we have come up with the following programme.
A – Public Education
- Letters to the editor were written by each member of the committee. One person was placed in charge of co-ordinating this effort, making. sure that the letters were clear, concise, positive and reasonable. (As it turned out, .the newspapers accepted all the letters we submitted for publication:)
- We arranged for peace and development fact sheets and requests for assistance to be inserted in the bulletins of the United, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Baptist Churches.
- We placed five or six small ads in newspapers, featuring “Did You Know?” facts. (For example, “Did you know that in 1983, 51 communities across Canada declared themselves nuclear weapon-free zones? Make Peace an Election Priority.”)
- PPCC and Election Priorities information handed out at nomination meetings for three major political parties.
B – Education of Candidates
- To distribute the EPP questionnaire to all candidates, and follow up on them.
- Attending all-candidates meeting. Each person in our Ploughshares group is asked to bring 10 people to a peace issues evening with all the candidates running in the Saint John riding. Hopefully 300 people will attend this meeting, which will include a moderator, question period, and equal time for all candidates. We hope all the local media will be represented.
C – Media blitz
- Dr. Ian Carr, Canadian president of Physicians for Social Responsibility was in Saint John and our local talk show host invited him to be a guest.
- Sending press releases concerning most of the above events to all local newspapers, as well as TV and radio stations. The Catholic diocese newspaper has also published two articles on our activities.
- Interview on local cable TV unit, including the showing of a film such as Gods of Metal or If You Love This Planet.
As you can see, our plans are quite extensive. With any luck, we should be able to accomplish most of our objectives.
David Collins — August 1984
If it were true that more arms spending created more jobs, then it would follow that any move towards disarmament, and thus towards spending less on arms, would destroy jobs. That would mean that advocating disarmament today would risk creating more unemployment, at a time when unemployment in Canada is already intolerably high. This would create a real conundrum for the peace movement, which needs to involve more ordinary working people who either have jobs but are worried about losing them or don’t have jobs but are seeking employment.
But if it were true that arms spending is really “spending on waste” when there are many unfilled human needs, and that it is sapping the economy and eroding its productivity, then disarmament will create jobs and will be of benefit to the economy in the shortrun as well as the long-run. In that event, the peace movement is in the happy position of being able to assert that decreased armament expenditures will both increase everyone’s chance of survival and everyone’s chance of having a job.
Which of these scenarios is the correct one? It so happens that the weight of the evidence shows that arms spending destroys jobs. Therefore, conversely, disarmament would create jobs.
But a skeptic says: “How can that be? Look at the present situation here in North America. The economic recovery is proceeding in the United States, which is benefitting from a strong dollar, low inflation and falling unemployment.” (Our skeptic is clever enough to say nothing about interest rates – on which more below). Our devil’s advocate continues: “Though even the business press doesn’t like to admit it, is it not true that the military spending of the Reagan Administration is, more than anything else, powering the present American economic recovery? In contrast, is it not also a fact that the Canadian economic recovery is much weaker than the American, and might that not be because we are not increasing our spending on armaments in the same madcap and profligate way as the Americans? “
Perhaps here in Canada, then, we should be following the American example and spending more (much more) on arms, the better to speed our way to prosperity. Indeed we are, in our modest Canadian way, currently increasing our spending on arms at the same time as we are imposing severe restraints on other public spending, while influential voices (such as the 150 Chief Executive Officers who make up the Business Council on National Issues) precisely advocate a quantum leap in arms spending, expecting I,m sure,; that this will help the economy.
It’s true that the American economy is booming, for the moment. Let us concede that this i,s largely because of arms spending. But we must recognize that there are no less that three reasons why that prosperity is illusory, and to such a degree that it shows, all factors considered, that arms spending is hurtful rather than helpful to the economy.
In the first place, arms spending creates jobs only in the sense that any kind of spending – like digging postholes and filling them in – necessarily creates jobs. The relevant question is: How many jobs are created by spending, for example, a billion dollars on arms, compared to the number of jobs that would be created by spending that billion dollars in some other way? It is possible to look at statistics and to give a fairly precise answer to that question. That answer is that almost any way that goverments choose to spend (or, for that matter, consumers choose to spend) creates more jobs than does arms spending.
Arms spending, in fact, is about the most inefficient way imaginable to create jobs. This is true in the United States where the bias. of the arms industry towards disproportionately employing wellpaidscientists and engineers means fewer jobs per billion dollars, while unemployment is concentrated among the not-so-well-paid. It is further true in Canada because arms spending is what economists call “capital-intensive” — meaning that it uses a lot of machines for every person it employs – and Canada tends to import many of its machines rather than employing Canadians to produce them.
Nor do goverments have to spend on arms because there is nothing else for them to spend on. Quite the contrary. The Reagan administration is actuaJIy cutting back on a variety of social services, such as the school lunch program. (Ketchup was recently reclassified as a vegetable, and real vegetables eliminated in the name of economy.)
Of course, I am not naive, and I am not denying the reality of a military-industrial complex which tells us that more military spending will save us and more of anyother-kind of public spending will subvert free enterprise, and which has the power to give effect to its absurd views. But “it is important to understand that the issue here is not some law of economics, but power and its perversions:
The second way in which arms spending damages the economy and destroys jobs is via its effects on productivity. Read Seymour Melman’s excellent new book, Profits Without Production. Imagine, says Melman, that every dollar spent on arms was instead spent on productive capital in the civilian goods sector (that is, that we stop what he calls “the looting of the means of production”), productivity would surely rise. Or imagine, again according to Melman, that we replace the present inefficient cost-maximizing behaviour of firms (who produce arms under cost-plus contracts) with the cost-minimizing behaviour that is presumed to characterize efficient firms concerned with enhancing productivity.
Read also Ruth Leger Sivard’s annual publication World Military and Social Expenditures, where she argues cogently that the more a country has spent on arms since World War II the less productive its economy has been. Read Mary Kaldor’s book The Baroque Arsenal on the way in which esoteric and gargantuan arms systems (such as the MX missile) are dysfunctional in both military and economic terms. Or catch a re-run of The Deer Hunter and contrast the archaic Pennsylvania steel mills at the beginning of that movie with the sophisticated technology of the American war machine in Vietnam. And recaJl who lost that war and how the American economy has continued to wane.
Business apologists for the military-industrial complex like to tell us about alleged spinoffs into the civilian goods sector from the military. Always much exaggerated, these are becoming fewer and farther between in the era of baroque weaponry. Instead, there appears to be a radical disjuncture in the American economy. On the one hand, we are asked to contemplate technologicaJly mind-boggling laser wars in space. On the qther hand, there is the mundane problem that the United States has trouble producing a car competitive with Japan, specialty steel competitive with Canada, etc. It is possible, apparently, to be too clever by half.
In the ’80s, we have seen a third and potent mechanism by which arms spending imposes its costs on the economy. Big increases in arms spending, of the Reagan variety, have meant escalating government deficits. The borrowing which is necessary to fund these deficits competes with the private sector’s demand for credit, and pushes up interest rates. This then inhibits private spending in general and productive investment in particular. This threatens to choke off the American recovery itself at some future date – though probably too late to prevent Reagan’s re-election. The unreal and ridiculous interest rates – two to three times higher than they ought to be – are already wreaking havoc in the Canadian economy. Here, if any reader is still in doubt, is the dear and present evidence of how arms spending hurts us economically.
Our skeptic, though clearly pushed to the wall, might try one last ploy, though it t90 will turn out to be of no avail. “Mustn’t the American arms expenditures,” we’re asked, “help Canada because Canadian firms are allowed to bid on Pentagon contracts?” Canadian companies are, indeed, so ‘favoured under the tenns of the 1958 Defence Production Sharing Agreement (DPSA). However, that same agreement also has a 1963 rider that requires Canada to maintain a rough balance of trade in arms with the United States. So, if we export more – for example, the guidance system for the cruise missile – we import more, and there is no net benefit to the Canadian economy and no net increase in jobs.
Even worse, if we trace aJI the effects through the economy, (allowing for the remission of profits by foreign-owned Canadian arms manufacturers, and for the machinery imported to produce arms for export) we find that there is a net loss to the Canadian economy, and a net decrease in the number of jobs. For economic reasons alone, we ought to cancel the DPSA and prohibit exports rather than encouraging, or even subsidizing them, as we presently do. And even if we stopped exporting and continued importing — which would maximize the adverse effects on our economy -Gordon Rosenbluth (an economist at the University of British Columbia) estimates that our Gross National Product would only fall by one-third of one percent.
What impact would it have on public support for Canadian arms spending if people could be convinced by the arguments being made here that arms expenditures create economic costs instead of benefits? After all, perhaps Canadians want to maintain (or even increase) military spending, for reasons of national security? Not true. A recent paper by J. M. Treddinick, an economist at the Royal Military College, shows that the Canadian government leans heavily on allegations of economic benefit in order to justify arms spending. To refute the economic arguments is, therefore, to strike at the essence of the rhetoric of justification.
It has been said that disarmament is simply the armament process in reverse. Since arms spending is bad for the economy, disarmament would be good for economy. (Kaldor has gone so far as to argue that the economic damage from armaments is so great as to constitute in itself a case for unilateral disarmament!) But workers are entitled to wonder if it would all happen that smoothly, and to insist that the process of conversion (from arms oroduction to civilian goods production) contain some real guarantees for them.
A good deal of thought has already been given to this matter in the United States and Britain. For example, companies wishing to receive arms contracts could be mandated to submit detailed proposals of how they would use their plant and work force to produce civilian goods after the arms contract expires; joint committees of management and workers could be established on an ongoing process to do such planning. Workers who were phased out from arms production and who had difficulty getting another job could be offered income guarantees and access to retraining and relocation programs (funded from a tax on the profits of the arms companies). And so on. We need to begin to lobby now to have such institutional protections put in place here in Canada.
We are in an economic crisis in the ’80s, the likes of which we have not seen since the ’30s. That crisis was ended by the massive arms spending of World War II (raising the question as to why, if governments could create prosperity with massive spending, they had chosen not to spend much money on peaceful and productive activities.) If we try to resolve the present economic crisis in the same way, which is what Reagan is doing, we risk World War III and the end of the world. The moral is that we must resist the siren calls of the merchants of death and insist that the best solution to the economic crisis, both morally and economically, is to spend not on arms, but on fulfilling a vast array of real human needs and aspirations.
Mel Watkins is a professor of economics at the University of Toronto. He also a member of Science for Peace.
— August 1984
“If we ‘peacemakers’ finally prevail against the ‘warmakers,’ we must be prepared for that peace, for peace is not an abstract concept, but a living reality, with security, budget, production and employment priorities of its own.
The first price of peace is the responsibility to plan cooperatively and in coalitions for the coming economic domain. “
- Angus Archer, NGO Liaison for the UN, February 1984
If we are to understand and oppose the arms race, we must realize that it is as much an economic phenomenon as it is political or military. The arms race continues and expands primarily in order to create profits for multinational corporations out of our tax dollars. Military production is the most sure and steady profit-maker for these companies; they know it and love it. Many military producers (that is, almost every large multinational) are now divesting themselves of their civilian sectors or moving them to the third world, leaving a smaller ratio of civilian work to be performed by highly-skilled and expensive North American labour.
In particular. high technology weapons, such as the cruise missile, have an economic reason for existing long before a military strategy has been invented to incorporate them. The US Pentagon is still trying to decide whether the cruise is a first-strike weapon and how it fits into their different scenarios. For, in fact, the order was not placed from the Pentagon to McDonnell Douglas, but rather vice versa. Much of our sophisticated weaponry is produced simply because it can be produced. The military function of the weapons has become secondary to technological and big business advances.
Another economic reality of the arms race is public’ and government support, which is given only under the threat of unemployment and economic hardship. The most constant public support for the arms race cvmes from’ many of those workers involved directly in the industry. For the military-industrial complex to survive, the assured support of these workers is required. William Winpisinger (US national president of the International Association of Machinists, the union most involved in producing for the arms race) has described the military workforce as ‘hostages,’ and the ransom is jobs.
It is well known that funding for the MX missile was recently approved in the US Congress because of the job pay-offs in many representatives’ home districts. A report was peddled around Congress by the pro-MX lobby (the producing contractors) during the funding debate, showing the number of jobs “won or lost” in each of the congressional districts by the decision on MX funding. With their re-election so dependent upon the local economic health in their district, the representatives were willing to sell out for the temporary economic benefits of MX production; So, yet another highly-criticized and expensive new weapon has been pushed through government channels by the big business interests that will directly benefit.
We must take a look at these two realities, examine them, accept them and then work against them. They are two of the strongest reasons why the arms race continues – equalled only by anti-Soviet hysteria and the interests of maintaining a system of economic dominance over the third world.
Conversion planning is an effective organizing strategy. for addressing these economic realities. By planning for alternative production at military sites, and through effective protest against financial interests, we can build alliances with unions and workers, and directly address the economic forces which fuel the arms race. With a coalition of the labour and peace movements, we can meet directly the economic realities behind the arms race. Together we can challenge the war profiteering of multinationals such as Litton or OM. We must address government involvement. in the arms race, but we must also realize why that involvement has been repeated time and time again. Surely part of the support comes from a false idea of ‘security,’ but much comes from the economic realities of military production.
Three main job areas must be involved in conversion organizing – alternate use planning, worker support, and labour issues. We must first begin the task of proposing an alternate line of civilian production. The importance that these proposals be feasible and site-specific cannot be overstressed. In order to win the support of workers and unions, conversion must be proven practical by showing concrete example after concrete example.
Planning in the peace movement must include people who have technical expertise – economists, engineers and labour analysts. We need to penetrate one of the most conservative bastions remaining — the engineering school. An alternative message must be heard along with the recruiting drives of military industry. Technical people must be inspired to address the real problems of hunger, health and housing, not “how low you can fly a missile into the Soviet Union.”
Secondly, we must build support systems and sentiment within the peace community for these workers. While we stand firm against the products they manu~ facture, we must hold out a supportive hand helping them to find safe alternatives. It is surely not just for a middle-class movement to ask these workers to take all the risk alone. The industries in which they are involved hold little security and! or alternatives in the civilian sector. Financial and social support structures must be available to these workers before many of them will dare to speak out against the military and for conversion. We will need their support, and they need ours.
Lastly and probably most importantly, the peace movement and the labour movement must embrace each other’s issues, for they are the same. Labour will never be able to achieve full employment in the present war economy, and they will never be able to unionize a healthy proportion of the ,Workforce while multinationals control the economy. The peace movement will never be able to turn swords into ploughshares if the people who build the swords cannot feel the need and the opportunity to convert their capabilities to positive production.
Unions must be willing to take on the difficult task of organizing military sites – for without an organized voice, military workers stand little chance in converting.
The peace movement must show more support for union efforts, within the military and without~for without a strong unionizea labour force in this country, the multinationals will maintain their control over industry and the military. We must work together to take the decision-making power away from the multinationals and give it back to the community and the workers.
Toronto’s Cruise Missile Conversion Project is working in all three of these areas as they pertain specifically to Litton Systems in Rexdale. Others in Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal are involved in similar efforts, both locally and nationally. CMCP has an office at 730 Bathurst Street in Toronto, and they can be contacted at 416/xxx-xxxx.
Roy McFarlane — August 1984
Send your letters to the Editorial Board, CANDIS, 736 Bathurst St., Toronto ON, M5S 2R4.
Regarding the article on the Moscow ‘Trust Group,’ TPC, June 1984:
The fact that all of the group’s public statements are immediately read, without comment by Radio Liberty, is not, I think, testimony to the “impact” of Sergei Batovrin and his colleagues on the Soviet people.
It is an indication, rather, of the close, if tacit relationship between the Trust Group and those same forces – such as U.S. information services, Western governments, and much of the mass media which are unceasingly hostile to disarmament activism.
The article is incorrect in stating that Batovrin was exiled from the U.S.S.R.; he requested to leave, presumably as part of his group’s vague attempt to “humanize” relations between the East and the West.
In fact, according to co-founder Mikhail Ostrovsky, the Trust Groups was formed as the result of a meeting between Batovrin and Ostrovsky at the Office of Visas and Registration in Moscow in 1979. Like most members of their group, both had requested exit visas long before the Western media started covering the group’s ‘activities,’ which to date have consisted almost exclusively of regular news conferences in Moscow for an eager Cold War press.
Batovrin urged Canadians to make contact with ordinary Soviet citizens. To this I would add that Canadians should also make contact with ordinary Soviet peace activists — those who march under the same banners as we do (‘No First Strike Weapons’; ‘Disarmament East and West’), and who address their appeals to the people, not to CIA radio stations.
Support is important
I am writing on behalf of SWIEEPM (Solidarity With the Independent Eastern European Peace Movements). As organizers of the Toronto public meeting with Sergei Batovrin, exiled member of the Moscow Group to Establish Trust, we would like to respond to the letter from Isobel Hill (TPC, July 1984) and to explain our reasons for supporting the Group.
Ms. Hill contends that concern and support for the Group “distracts and divides the western peace movement.” Quite the opposite is true. For the peace movement to be successful, it has to be world-wide, and support for the Group to Establish Trust helps to build a world-wide movement for peace. One of the Group’s main proposals is to increase communication between the people of the Soviet Union and of the western countries. They feel that this will strengthen the peace movement, not hurt it.
The Moscow Trust Group is growing. It now has 2000 members in nine Soviet cities. Similar groups are also gaining popularity in the other nations of the Eastern bloc – in 1982 there was an independent demonstration of over 5,000 people in East Germany.
Support in the West for the independent East European peace groups (including the Moscow Group) is important for two reasons.
Our public support for the group has helped it to cintunue its work. When Olga Medvedkova was arrrested for demonstrating outside the trial of another member, we in Toronto held a demonstration in her support on December 17, 1983. Even though the demonstration was quite small (70 people) it was partly responisible for getting her sentence suspended. Similarly, the publicity that the Group receives because of Batovrin’s tour through Ontario (and because of contact with westerners travelling in Moscow) helps to put pressure on the Soviet government to allow th Group to hoild meeetings and, when wester peace activists are present, to distribute leaflets to the Soviet people. Our support is especially effective because the Soviet Union is sensitive to any indication that it does not support the cause of peace.
It is crucial that we continue to oppose repression in the Soviet Union, and Isobel Hill’s characterisation of Sakharov as a “traitor”. does nothing to help the emerging peace groups in that country.
There is another reason that the Canadian peace movement should support the Group. In many ways, Canada is just a part of the United States. People’s attitudes toward the Soviet Union are very different in North America from those found in Europe. In Western Europe it is taken for granted that the peace movement supports independent East European peace groups, and there is less outright hatred of the Soviet Union among the public. It is only by setting the peace movement apart from the governments of both superpowers that we can hope to build an effective neutralist movement such as that which exists in Europe today.
RE: Isobel Hill’s self-styled “clarification” of the tour by Sergei Batovrin and his two speaking engagements in Toronto co-sponsored by the Against Cruise Testing coalition (TPC, July 1984).
Far from “dividing” the peace movement, information and general support for independent, grassroots peace initiatives in Eastern Europe and the USSR serve to bridge the EAST-WEST divisions that the militarists of both sides are fomenting.
The nuclear arms of both superpowers threaten all the world’s people. While the predominant responsibility for the “new cold war” certainly lies with the Reagan regime, the ruling clique of the USSR has done much to fuel the Reagan propaganda drive. Continued Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the shooting down of aircraft in peacetime are but two examples.
The very idea that it should be necessary to “smuggle” information on Sakharov’s political ideas and the condition of his ailing wife constitutes an injustice that should be abhorrent to any thinking person. Hill’s allegations of “treason” are a chilling reminder of the kind of hysteria which sent two Communists to the electric chair in the U.S. many years ago.
Until we stop producing documents like last year’s October 22 broadsheet which preach “no intervention” but mention Central America and the Middle East while ignoring Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, the peace movement will fail.
Against Cruise Testing Coalition
Practice what you preach
I was appalled by Bob Penner’s article on the Green Party. Apparently, the idea that organizations working for social change should attempt to practice the principles they would one day like to see enshrined throughout the whole society is for him a closed book. Better to sacrifice creating a vision of the new world for the sake of presumed gains around single issues. (Presumably, in the socialist utopia Penner pines for, the struggle against hierarchy will also be declared “premature” on grounds that it will get in the way of “getting things done”.)
As if a Green-SDP coalition is going to end militarism in Europe! Such pie-in-thesky b.s. beggars the imagination. It reminds me of those who argued that voting for McGovern was the “radical” thing to do back in ’72. War will not be ended through electoral politics. Indeed, the only thing the segment of the peace movement represented by Penner is likely to accomplish is breathing life into an already discredited political system.
The smartest move
As a member of a small peace group outside Toronto, I have only recently heard of the de facto rift that has occurred between TDN and ACT. While disunity within the peace movement is a sorry example to set for the world, I cannot but think that TON has made perhaps the smartest move in its history.
If I didn’t know better, the manner in which ACT organizes its demonstrations would convince me that ACT’s sole purpose was to discredit the peace movement.
ACT seems to go out of its way to alienate members of the public, by staging “die-ins” at Queen’s Park on Canada’s Birthday; by allowing their large demonstrations to be led by scruffy teenagers who seem to think that rebelling against society is more important than preserving civilization; and by marching up and down Yonge Street wearing death masks.
What’s the point of holding demonstrations on Yonge St. if the high public profile we create is used, not to show the diversity of the peace movement, but to alienate the public? The movement needs to grow, not shrink.
In personal conversations with some members of ACT, I have been impressed with their earnestness and conviction, but as a group, they act like a mob.
A group of people with the amount of energy ACT has, and presumably the amount of intelligence (they are, after all, working for truth and justice), should be channelling that energy into more positive and constructive action.
Name withheld by request
The article in the June 1984 issue of The Peace Calendar (“What stimulated high Vancouver turnout?”) is a good starting point for a discussion about how we in the peace movement across Canada work. Unfortunately, the article missed some important points raised by Claire Perry in the three pages of comments submitted by her, and from which her quotes in the article are drawn.
To begin with, a few corrections:
- the Provincial Government did not “assist” in the Walk for Peace – they endorsed the Walk, which was much appreciated, but they did not provide any assistance;
- the Walk for Peace was endorsed by 12 municipalities across B.c. this year. The City of Vancouver did much more than that, however: they co-sponsored the event along with End the Arms Race, a fact that deserves full recognition;
- the peace movement is not strictly located in Vancouver’s middle class. EAR has endorsation from groups throughout the Lower Mainland (about 11 municipalities), up the Fraser Valley, across Howe Sound to the Sunshine Coast and up to Squamish. There is a high participation from among the middle class, but working people participate in the peace movement through their unions, their churches, community groups, co-ops, etc.;
- the majority of those who came out on April 28th were happy to see Mayor Michael Harcourt there too, but they certainly were not “follow(ing) him through the streets,” nor were they there supporting his commitment to disarmament – they were there on the strength of their own commitments.
Aside from these errors, there is one grievous oversight in the article, which says that other cities across Canada focussed more sharply on “Canadian government policy,” while Vancouver’s “broader focus on peace. may have been partly responsible for the larger crowd.” This was referred to by Bert Keser as a “water(ing) down (of) the demands of the march.” In light of such comments, it seems important to explain exactly what the peace movement in this corner of the world is all about.
We in B.C. have become adept at “coalition organizing.” End the Arms Race is a coalition, but it is not, itself, “the peace movement.” EAR is a vehicle through which the 200 groups involved in peace activities can pool their energies and efforts for events which would otherwise be impossible to organize.
The Walk for Peace is just such an event. It is too large for anyone group to organize alone, but together it can be (and has been) done. As the number of groups who join it and contribute to the organizing effort grows, not surprisingly so does the number of people who walk for peace.
Each of those 200 endorsing organizations spends varying degrees of time educating, leafleting, speaking, writing, talking. Without EAR, this kind of activity would still go on. It is this fact, more than any other, which characterizes the peace movement in B.C. — it is highly decentralized, and directed at the grassroots level in trade unions, churches, community groups, professional organizations, peace groups, student groups, etc. EAR is made up of delegates from all of those groups, who come together to organize big events.
Each group has different ideas and different priorities in regard to peace and disarmament. It is not EAR’s job to set the agendas for each of its endorsing members. Among those groups it has been decided that EAR will address certain points upon which there is general agreement – a major achievement. However, each organization pursues its own objectives independently, and is certainly not limited to the broad policies and strategies of the whole.
This may be seen as a “watering down” of demands, and perhaps that might be right if the peace movement in all its constituent parts adopted EAR’s policies as a whole and did not go further than organizing a Walk for Peace each year. But, as was said above, EAR is not the peace movement, and before an accurate assessment can be made, or comparisons drawn, people across Canada must look beyond End the Arms race to the hundreds of groups involved day-in and day-out among their own constituencies.
End the Arms Race
Editors’ note: Thanks are due to Mr. Kennedy for his clarification. However, the photo caption to which he refers (in correction number four) was, we felt, clearly intended as a humourous comment on the truly inspiring photo above it. For those readers who missed it, the caption read: In a remarkable display of support for their Mayor’s commitment to disarmament, 114,999 Vancouver residents followed him through the streets on his solitary “Walk for Peace” on April 28.
We know this is not side-splitting humour, but we thought it mildly amusing. We hope the subtle humour did not confuse our readers.
Part IV of Ken Hancock’s series Nuclearism, Militarism and Third World Intervention missed our deadline and will appear in the next issue of The Peace Calendar.
— August 1984
“The role of the Member of Parliament must reach beyond the mere political pleasantries – the public trap.pings of the job. If we politicians fail to prevent the continued escalation of the Nuclear Arms Race, the destruction in our time of civilization as we know it, is inevitable.”
- Paul McRae in a recent letter to his constituents in Thunder Bay and Atikokan.
Until John Turner’s election call, Paul McRae has been the Liberal Member of Parliament representing Thunder Bay-Atikokan. During the past four years, he has been the most visible and vocal of all Liberal back benchers advocating a freeze to the arms race, and arguing against the testing of the cruise missile in Canada. The following are excerpts from an interview conducted for The Peace Calendar at the beginning of July.
The Peace Calendar: What was it that spurred you on to take an active role in advocating an end to the arms race?
McRae: The first time I really felt I had to get involved was at a meeting of the World’s Future Conference in Ottawa in 1980. For the first time I ran into the idea that the Americans, the American government was talking about the possibility of fighting a nuclear war. I always thought that deterrence was the totality of the thing, and that’s all they were concerned about. But there was a group there discussing this, and the Pentagon people were there saying “We’ve got to think aboUt this.” That’s when Carter mentioned it.
My first encounter was with Jim Stark and Operation Dismantle, which was shortly after this, perhaps six months after. The ground was very fertile at this point, made fertile by this glaring fact that these people were believing that you could have a nuclear war and survive.
TPC: This was before the Reagan administration was elected.
McRae: This was before the Reagan administration was elected, just before, in the summer. They were elected the following November.
I guess the next major thing that I was into was the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, of which I had never been a member. When we had the hearings on peace and security, Jim Stark said “Go on, get out there, get to those hearings.” From there on, as far as I’m concerned, things really took off.
I was, to say the least, shocked at the report that came out of the hearings by the committee. I was part of a group who did a minority report
and the testing of the cruise; the freeze; no first use; the whole idea of a global vote – these were all part of what we called the Minority Report.
There were three NDP, two Tory and one (myselO from the Liberal Party who signed that. I guess that threw me,in a visible way, into the middle of the peace movement.
The members of this group, in the Minority Report, then agreed to support the vote…
TPC: The municipal votes.
McRae: To support the municipal votes on the issue of disarmament. I think I spoke to 15 communities around the country leading up to those votes. The recognition I got was very, very good. I think Canadians showed that they really were concerned. It was remarkable. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
Then I sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, a very long and involved letter which apparently had some effect. It dealt with the freeze, the testing of the cruise missile and what the government was doing. It had considerable effect on the Prime Minister.
TPC: When did you send this letter?
McRae: It was sent out just before the Prime Minister went to the summit meeting in Williamsburg. It created a lot of uproar within the government.
To the degree that I was able to insert myself in the cruise argument, I did what I could and the letter was part of that. The government’s still very uneasy about the cruise. I don’t know what will happen after the election, but, I would think that it is going to loom around as being unsolved.
I was part of trying to get our government involved in the “four continent” middle power initiative. I think that the Prime Minister wanted to go with it, but some of the people around him, I think, distracted him from it. It was a great disappointment that we didn’t get involved in it, because there were a number of countries that would have come along, I think if Canada had. Particularly, I believe, Romania, because there was a real attempt to bring a Warsaw Pact country into it.
The plan, as I came to envision it, was much more elaborate than what actually happened. It consisted of three relatively separate components. The first was some kind of major effort to educate the people allover the world, using films and so on, to the incredible dangers of nuclear war. Coincident with this would have been a meeting, covered by satellite, of heads of states — one could envision nine or ten countries that would have come along, and a statement advocating some kind of end to the arms race.
But the third ingredient, and the one I thought tremendously important — given the hard-nose relationship, the almost impossible relationship that exists between the two superpowers, their inability to meet with each other -was to set up some kind of agenda created by people going back and forth between the two superpowers, letting them develop an agenda without having to face each other. Then you start working on what really is common ground, because we really can talk about areas where there is some agreement.
The reason I felt very badly about our not being involved, about these things not developing, was because I think there was a way to bring the two superpowers together. What really bothered me was that Prime Minster Trudeau’s ten points of common ground were really close to what I’d consider an agenda.
He’s always had problems between this particular movement and NATO. One of the things I found very strong over the last year or so is the degree to which NATO is a very strong defender of the status quo. Their attitudes don’t bother me so much, as the degree with which they’re able to have effects.
At the time of writing the letter to the Prime Minister I was very concerned with the kind of things that were going on, like the two track INF talks. There was a great deal of misinformation, or one-sided information.
TPC: Coming from where?
McRae: Coming particularly from the American government. Half truths. I mean to say things that were true, but they were half true.
Now the point was that we could have moved to a better situation in the fall, that there was no justification for deployment. But nobody knew this.
There were 600 SS-4s and -5s deployed prior to 1962, each with a single warhead 7 times the explosive power of the new SS-20s. The final offer that the Soviets made against no (NATO) deployment was 120 SS-20s — get rid of all the -4s and -5s — 120 SS-20s which would have 360 warheads. Each warhead had one seventh the explosive power. It was a more stable weapon in that it was solid fuel and didn’t have to be fueled up in the event that war was going to happen. In order to use the -4s and -5s, they’d have to be used as a first strike weapon. So the thing was a much safer situation that the Soviets would have agreed to. There was no justification for our deployment and nobody knew.
So I realized that there was an incredible need for information — but it wasn’t good enough for me to say it — information that had a prestigious basis. In other words, the numbers I have may be perfectly correct (maybe the best numbers you can find – we use SIPRI (the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) stuff and things like that) but the point of the matter is, who am I to produce these things against the massive operation known as the DND (Department of National Defense) or the Pentagon? I had a very strong feeling that we had to have an independently-based operation where this kind of information would become available.
When the Prime Miriister got into what he got into, when he decided to take on this thing, to set up his task force, this Peace Institute would have been absolutely vital. It would have been tremendous in giving him good information because he knew at that point that he had to deal with a pretty adversarial group.
So I went after him about that, talked about it and so on. I think there were others, there were other things that happened along there. When we started the last session, in the Throne Speech in December of 1983, this was mentioned. For one reason or another it was delayed. Finally we got to the point of legislation, and it was terribly important to me that it be set up independent of the departments concerned. The independence was the key thing.
When we came to the point of going to committee there were some suggestions made of changes. One of the most important of which was that, if the government asked the Institute to do some work, in the original, it said “shall,” and they took that out and replaced it with the word “may.” In other words it was discretionary.
It didn’t take very long to realize that there were two different elements at work at the hearings. For the most part the largest number of groups were from the peace movement, however, there was a small group, but very vocal, who represented the strategic studies institutes in this country.
These are institutes that” are not staffed by civil servants, but they are funded by the Department of National Defence. There are five of them in the country and there seemed to be a very strong rationale-that the institute should take on the form of a strategic institute. And the peace groups were saying that the nature of the thing should be such that they should be conducting peace studies — conflict resolution, resolving the differences between the superpowers, regional differences like the Middle East and Latin America. Some members of the committee were favouring one group, others (like myselO were favouring the peace structure.
Then it became known that a director of one of these strategic institutes was to become the Executive Director of the Peace Institute. That was a real shock, and it became clear to me that this thing would become the headquarters of the strategic studies institutes in Canada. It would be very different from what any of us had considered. So I spent a tremendous amount of time, I’ve never spent as much time – seventy-hour weeks – with the help of the peace movement, the opposition parties, and the people of our own party.
On the very last day in committee, the Minister (Allan MacEachan) brought in an amendment saying that the board would choose its own Executive Director.
The last important factor was the composition of the board itself, which the Minister revealed the following day, even though the board members hadn’t been individually solicited. Of the fourteen Canadian members, eight of them are very strongly identifiable with the peace movement, two or three would be by nature inclined towards strategic studies, the other three would be what I call “neutral.” Basically one could predict that the Executive Director would be supportive of the notions of peace studies and conflict resolution. So I felt, that doesn’t mean it’s allover, but I felt this was one success.
If the government, (or the Liberal party) is serious about the whole issue, they have to make sure that the institute has this role because there is a need for absolutely prestigious information. Prestigious information is not better than good information, it’s just that. ..
TPC: It has more credibility…
McRae: It carries more prestige, therefore it’s more believable, more credible. And that is directly related to the common ground approach of Prime Minister Trudeau. You take those ten points to the Peace Institute, then you start moving seriously on the world stage. And it seems to me that for Canada, from my experience, this is the best way we can contribute, by putting these two things together. Attempting to get a freeze, looking very carefully at the umbrella agreement, because there are some things that are far worse than the testing of the cruise.
TPC: Can you give me an example?
McRae: Well things like the whole NA VST AR and MILST AR projects which we are sort of committed to, or building components for and the testing of these things. The whole antisatellite thing. You don’t see them listed, but they’ll be part of the agreement. And it goes on and on.
TPC: What can we expect from a Liberal government under John Turner in the field of disarmament?
McRae: It’s very hard for me to be sure. You’ve got three major factors in the cabinet: John Turner, Jean Chretien and Lloyd Axworthy. John Turner has not developed a great sense of the thing. He hasn’t been around people involved in this, though I’m not knocking him. Jean Chretien may be from the same mold, but as a Minister he’s learned to be skeptical of the information he receives and will make sure he gets alternative information.
But the third person is Lloyd Axworthy. He is very strongly committed to the whole peace movement, not just in seeing it as a political thing. I was hoping he’d become Minister of External Affairs.
The others in the new cabinet are Don Johnson and Charles Caccia; I think they’ll carry the ball. I hope other Members of Parliament will become involved as well.
There’s a lot of logic in continuing with Prime Minister Trudeau’s peace initiative and the ten points of common ground. There is also strong support in the Turner camp for the Peace Institute.
— August 1984
Masuji Ibuse. Translated by John Bester Kodansha International
As this novel opens, Shegimatsu Shizuma, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, is worried that his niece, Yasuko, will not be able to find a husband because of rumours that she is a victim of radiation sickness. Shegimatsu himself does have a mild case of radiation sickness, but because Yasuko did not enter Hiroshima until later in the day of the bombing, she has no symptoms. Nevertheless, the rumours persist, and her marriage seems impossible.
In order to prove to the matchmaker that Yasuko was not in Hiroshima at the moment of the bombing, Shegimatsu makes a copy of Yasuko’s diary, and he decides to make a copy of his own diary, as well, so that the matchmaker can see the difference. These journal entries take up most of the book and it is through them that we learn of the effects of the bombing.
Thus it is not through direct narration, not through memory or even flashbacks that the story is told, but through the mediatiot) of an already literary form, and at a remove of several years. The effect of this distancing is complex: The author allows the horror of the events to speak for itself and thereby manages to control the emotions of what could have been a melodramatic and sensational account. On the other hand, he forces us to see not just the events of the day, but also their effect for years afterwards.
Black Rain is not simply an important historical and moral document; it is also a brilliantly constructed novel. The author constantly tests the reader’s response through subtle and shocking juxtapositions. “In the playground of the First Prefectural Middle School in the city… there was a reservoir of water for firefighting purposes. Around it, hundreds of middle school students and’ voluntary war workers lay dead. They were piled up at the edge of the reservoir, half-naked since their shirts had been burned away. Seen from a distance, they looked like beds of tulips planted around the water. Seen closer, they were more like the layers of petals on a chrysanthemum.”
I am not a squeamish person -yet, at times I found this book hard to read. Ibuse does not sensationalize, but he does not spare the readers feelings. Black Rain is a most effective reminder of what happened at Hiroshima — and we must remember, if we are to prevent another occurence of the tragedy, multiplied many times. “The tragedy of war is with us every day, somewhere in the world, producing horrors only superficially different from those of Hiroshima. “ involving us in the story of Shegimatsu and Yasuko, Ibuse also reminds us that war is not made of weapons and casualty statistics, but of people.
— August 1984
“The surest way to strangle the arms race is to stop the trade in uranium, for without uranium there could be no nuclear weapons of any description.” – Gordon Edwards
Uranium mining started in Saskatchewan in the 1950s largely to supply the U.S. nuclear weapons programme. Today our uranium is being sold to countries that are openly making nuclear weapons and to other nations that have stated their intention of doing so. Our uranium either goes directly into weapons production or it is used in nuclear power plants where it replaces uranium from somewhere else that can then be used to build weapons. Moreover, wastes from a nuclear reactor, such as plutonium, can be reprocessed to make nuclear weapons. This military application makes our uranium and nuclear technology very attractive to governments seeking nuclear weapons.
This month’s National Letter Writing Coalition (NLWC) suggestion is to write to Premier Grant Devine asking that uranium mining in northern Saskatchewan be halted and that northerners be given employment opportunities in renewable resources that are under local control. Letters should be addressed to Premier Grant Devine, Room 226, Legislative Buildings, Regina, SK. In order that this month’s campaign can have its maximum impact, please photocopy your letter and send a copy to each of the following addresses: Prime Minister John Turner, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A OA6 and CBC Radio, National Radio News, c/o Senior Editor, Station A, Toronto, ON M5W 1E6.
- Finally, welcome to the Leaside United Church Peace Group. If your group is interested in becoming part of the NLWC please write and let me know that your group endorses the concept and is willing to encourage peace activists in your area to write letters. Also, please send suggestions of individuals you would like to see targeted for letters. Happy letter writing!
301-103 Church St.
Kitchener, ON N2G 2S3
P.S. Remember: Thinking about it doesn’t change anything. Please put something in the mail.
Elizabeth Roberts — August 1984
Researched and written by Len Desroches, Tom Joyce and Murray MacAdam. Toronto: Published by the Cruise Missile Conversion Project, 1984. 20 p.
Reviewed by R. V. Cupido
The Litton Industries plant in Toronto manufactures, among other more innocuous gadgets, the phenomenally acurate inertial navigational system for the American cruise missile. As such, it has provided a powerful symbolic focus for the activities of the Canadian peace movement and, in particular, of the Cruise Missile Conversion Project, “a collective of people who aim to change Litton’s production to production which meets human needs.”
Litton, however, as this admirable little booklet makes clear, is much more than a supplier of sophisticated electronic components for the American nuclear arsenal. Litton Systems Canada is a small part of a vast corporate conglomerate based in California and encompassing more than a dozen industries and over 100 companies and factories, whose products range from business forms and microwave ovens to guided missile destroyers.
Litton’s role as a major military contractor is generally known; in 1982 the U.S. Department of Defence accounted for one quarter of its $5 billion in total sales. Drawing upon U.S. government sources, this study shows Litton Industries to be an integral part of the corrupt military procurement process (involving political influence-peddling, huge cost overruns, fraudulent accounting procedures and the production of elaborate and superfluous weaponry) which, beyond all democratic control, serves to accelerate the arms race.
Litton’s appalling record of unfair and illegal labour practices, which is documented in this book, has been less publicized. Citing a recent study carried out by Professor Charles Craypo of Notre Dame University, the authors reveal “a flagrant, systematic and calculated lawlessness” in its “aggressively anti-union policy.” Various Litton subsidiaries have resorted to summary firings of union organizers and sympathizers, surveillance and interrogation of employees, refusal to bargain with legally certifIed locals, plant closures and the creation of runaway shops, intimidation and, in some cases, threats of physical violence.
However, the situation may fInally be changing. In the United States, a broadly-based national coalition of labour and religious groups has been formed in an effort to combat Litton’s corporate excesses, using such tactics as intensive Congressional lobbying, rallies and demonstrations, mutual support in unionization drives and strikes, and community mobilization. It remains to be seen whether this campaign will extend to Litton’s Canadian and European subsidiaries.
Arms Maker, Union Buster is an impressive document. Despite its brevity, it is packed with information that is presented in a clear and straightforward style, free of polemical rhetoric. The unsavoury facts are left to speak for themselves. (However, I did object to the word defence being always placed Within quotation marks. The point is well-taken, but somewhat laboured.) A more serious fault is the lack of adequate references. A complete listing of the sources used by the authors would have buttressed the credibility of their study.
Arms Maker, Union Buster is available from the Cruise Missile Conversion Project, 730 Bathurst St., Toronto M5S 2R3. The price is $2.50.
— August 1984
Written by Jan Hartman CBC Radio Sunday Matinee August 5, 1984
Pacific – 1:05 pm
Mountain – 2:05 pm
Central – 3:05 pm
Eastern – 4:05 pm
Atlantic – 5:05 pm
Newfoundland – 5:35 pm
It is not the bang, but the whimper of isolate mankind in the treatment of nuclear war which will be brought to us on CBC radio on Sunday August 5th. American playwright Jan Hartman has written a script to fire our imaginations, not with the drama of nuclear war in which the survivors go nobly on to create a better world, but with the senselessness of the pride which could cause such desolation.
The message of the play comes through devastatingly, not in the predictable rhetoric of the opposing sides, nor in the ever more disorganized weather/radiation reports, but in the plaintive cry of a despairing survivor, “Can anyone hear me?” It becomes apparent that this is the essence both of the play and of the peace movement. How does anyone get the world to listen, to fInd a different direction while that is still possible.
It is the destiny of prophets that no one listens. Jan Hartman is saying, just as Jeremiah did many years ago, “Hear now this, a foolish people and without understanding; which have eyes and see not; which have ears and hear not.
The cast (24 actors from Edmonton) plays many roles and accents, from the American president to newscasters in New Zealand. The voices of the survivors carry shock, panic, grief, isolation and numbness. ‘
Hartman’s inspiration for the documentary-style drama was Orson Wells’ well-known 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds (by H.G. Wells) which was presented in such a fashion that many listeners believed that they were listening to fact and not fiction.
The Next War will be followed both in Canada and the U.S. by a special edition of Cross Country Checkup called Cross Continent Checkup. The topic will be a discussion on nuclear disarmament and is hosted by Harry Elton in Ottawa.
— August 1984
- What the Politicians Said: An Indexed Digest of Hansard, copyright Linda Fulcher 1983. Physicians for Social Responsibility (B.C. Chapter), P.O. Box 35426 Stn. E Vancouver B.C. V6M 4G8. 200 pages with quarterly updates. This wonderful comprehensive digest of disarmament issues was compiled by PSR volunteer Linda Fulcher. One comes away from the reading of this digest with an understanding of actual party policies on nuclear issues. Before September 4 when voters will be deciding the fate of this country, HANSARD provides an invaluable opportunity to challenge the politicians on the record of what they actually said and did this past year. One way to help make peace an issue is to become informed. And a very good way to become informed is to read What the Politicians Said. Enclose Payment. $15 – Hansard Digest, $6 – First update, $6 Second update.
- Fact Sheets – available from CANDIS 10c a page. · Standard Questions · History of Disarmament Proposals · Disarmament Proposals and Solutions — Other Countries · Campaigns in Canada 1984 · Current Soviet Positions on the Arms Race · Nuclear Winter · Six Essential Books · Relationship of Military Spending to Third World Needs · Glossary of Military Terms · What can a person like me do? · CANDIS 736 Bathurst St., Toronto ON’M5S 2R4, 416-xxx-xxxx.
- Therapy Now – Special Issue on Psychotherapy and the Threat of Nuclear War. Single copy $3.25. Available from Therapy Now Magazine, 542 Parliament St., Toronto, Ontario M4X IP6. 416-xxx-xxxx.
Matthew Clark and Patrick MacDonald — August 1984
- Toronto Peace Tag Day – September 22, 1984. The Toronto Disarmament Network and the Peace Petition Caravan are sponsoring a Metro Wide Blitz. The aim is to increase the peace movement’s profile and fundraise. The money raised will be shared on a percentage basis with any group helping out. The success of the day depends on the number of participants. Contact TDN now at xxx-xxxx or write c/o 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto.
- Jim Garrison, author of the new book, The Russian Threat: Its Myths and Realities will be speaking in Toronto October 17th. The talk and panel discussion will be held at the St. Lawrence Centre Forum. He’ll also be speaking in Hamilton and Guelph the same week. Details to follow. The tour will go westward through the Prairies and end on the coast in November.
- Here’s the right First Choice – a valuable bibliography has been compiled by Library and Information Workers for Peace. It’s called First Choice Essential Reading on Peace and Disarmament. The group is new so members are welcome. For the bibliography, write to John Marshall 22 Braeside .Rd., Toronto, Ont. M4N lX7.
- B.C. Engineers for Peace are quite active. They are planning to present a motion at the annual general meeting of Professional Engineers in Kelbwna, B.C. in mid-October. It’ll be similar to the one passed by B.C. doctors in June. They’re asking for a large contingent of peaceminded engineers to be on hand to support the motion. Yes, engineers are as concerned as doctors are about the future of our planet.
- Against Cruise Testing (ACT) will open a new Peace Centre bookstore and gallery “The Fallout Shelter” in September (in addition to holding a weekly coffee house). Art submissions are welcome! Call Alison Harvey at xxx-xxxx or drop by at 370 Queen E. at Parliament. xxx-xxxx.
- Unbelievable as it may seem, TPC reported an incorrect fact in Peace Network News in our June issue. William H. Epstein was not the first recipient of an honourary doctorate for his activities in peace and disarmament. Drs. Hannah and Alan Newcombe of the Dundas Peace Institute received honourary doctorates on November 12, 1982 from McMaster U., in recognition of and appreciation for their tireless effort to promote world peace and disarmament. Congrats to all concerned, apologies to the Newcombes and our thanks to Bette Hillmer for drawing the mistake to our attention.
- Kathleen Leslie of Magog, PQ writes us about the Townships Peace Group Fashion Show held in Georgeville on July 1st. They raised $786 and had a lot of fun. The TPG has a membership of 160 – 170 people. They are working on the PPCC and have made a project out of giving out the booklet What about the Children? which was produced by the Parents and Teachers for Social Responsibility in Vermont. They have given the booklet to clergy, school principles, Scout and Guide commissioners etc. They are also concerned about Canada’s export of uranium and have written to Turner, Mulroney and Broadbent expressing their concern, asking several papers to print copies of the letters.
- The Peace Calendar, as usual, is absolutely desperate for your help. Our events listings are free publicity for your activities and an enormous morale boost for the Canadian peace movement, but we also want your article suggestions, photos of your events and any other assistance you can offer. Please help us to reach every comer of this country and make sure we cover your area in the process. Our address is The Peace Calendar, c/o CANDIS, 736 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, MSS 2R4. 416-xxx-xxxx. Our deadlines for events listings, photos and articles are usually the 13 15 of each month. Our paid advertising deadline is usually around the 18-20th. Thanks.
- For the past 10 months, a group has been active within the West German Bundeswehr (army) trying to stir up discussion on peace and security issues. Professional soldiers and civilian employees, all committed to their work in the army, have come out vs. NATO security policies and vs. the deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles. Since last September, more than 140 Bundeswehr soldiers and employees have signed the DarmstMter Signal appeal which demands; stop the arms race, resume efforts at easing political tensions, concrete steps towards real disarmament, creation of NWFZs in Europe, clear interpretation of the Bundeswehr’s defensive mandate, and reduction of and an end to arms exports. The group is working on generating more media attention. They feel that they would attract more signers for the appeal, but that people are worried about possible retribution.
- For those who have contact with the Japanese peace group The Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo), we have been receiving fascinating and conflicting letters from them. This item would be of particular interest to those who plan to attend the 1984 World Conference against A & H Bombs. We have a letter from the Secretary General Koichi AKAMATSU reporting the revision of the group’s constitution and what seems to be a major change in elected officers. We also have a letter (dated two days later) sadly informing us of an “illegally established” takeover of Gensuikyo by the Communist Party of Japan using such means as forgery and violation of Gensuikyo’s constitution. It is very difficult to say what the true state of affairs is, but it appears that this takeover may be a reality.
- Calling on participants for the Conference for a North Atlantic Network of Peace Movements Building an Alternative Alliance. It’ll be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, from August 2426: Representatives of peace movements in Canada, the U.S., Greenland and the Farces are expected to attend this event which is being sponsored by the Campaign Against Military Bases in Iceland.
- The objective of the conference will be to examine the dangers of military build-up in the North Atlantic, the ecological consequences of nuclear pollution, and to develop direct working relations between interested individuals, local groups and national campaigns. There’ll also be discussion on Nordic NFWZ’s. Write to CAMB, Frakkastigur 14, Box 314, 121 Reykjavik, Iceland, or telephone xxx-xxxx. Copies of the registration form are also available through CANDIS in Toronto.
- According to the July newsletter of the B.C. Engineers for Peace, the Vancouver City Council has passed Mayor Harcourt’s proposal to have B.C. declared a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. It has now been passed on to B.C. Premier Bill Bennett.
- In Ottawa, help make Centretown a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. The Centretown Citizen’s Community Association has made an application to amend a city zoning by-law to declare it nuclear weapon-free. Write your support of the idea to the City Clerk, City Hall, III Sussex, Ottawa, Ont., KIN 5A1. For more information on the group, call Craig Layng, xxx-xxxx .
- The Peace Petition Caravan Campaign is clipping along in Newfoundland. Petitions are in the hands of 60 branches of the Women’s Institute and 8 Status of Women groups. The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour has been in touch with all of their unions in the province. Complete-Rent-All has been donating a full-size billboard in downtown St. John’s for a week supporting the PPCC.
- Sudbury’s Peace Petition Caravan Campaign is another thriving enterprise. By early July, 8000 signatures had been collected by more than 300 people carrying petitions. All the political parties have been contacted and made aware of the issue. An allcandidates meeting and a cultural event are in the planning stage.
- Need some help making peace an election issue? Check out the Election Priorities Project. It’s sponsored by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (an umbrella group for 100 Canadian development and international aid agencies). They’ve prepared a kit of well-researched background information on 13 questions concerning Canadian policy on disarmament and development. Contact Gwen Shuarte, 32 Maynard Ave, No. 805, Toronto, Onto or phone xxx-xxxx or Dwight Burkhardt, 31 Dorval Rd., Toronto, xxx-xxxx.
Jim Thurlow — August 1984
TORONTO – On June 27, an enthusiastic crowd of approximately 900 people gathered at Convocation Hall on the University of Toronto campus to hear anti-war activist Daniel Ellsberg deliver a “Call to Mutiny.” The lecture was co-sponsored by the Toronto Disarmament Network and the Alliance for Non-Violent Action, in co-operation with the Ontario Public Interest Research Group.
Daniel Ellsberg was an employee of the Kennedy and Johnson US Administrations during the 1960s. At first he worked on nuclear strategy, particularly in the area of command and control; later he was sent to Vietnam to make an on-the-spot assessment of the progress of the war.
When Robert McNamara, then US Secretary of Defense, commissioned a secret history of the war in Vietnam, Ellsberg was assigned to the project. After he left government service, Ellsberg photocopied this report (now known as the Pentagon Papers) and leaked it to the press. Publication of the Pentagon Papers had an enormous political impact, for the classified documents revealed milch of the American government’s deception and largely supported the version of events told by the anti-war movement.
Ellsberg was tried for the illegal dissemination of classified material, but charges against him were dropped because the Nixon Administration resorted to questionable and directly illegal actions in an effort to ensure his conviction.
More recently, Ellsberg has been an important anti-nuclear activist; he has been involved in various civil disobedience actions at nuclear weapons facilities, he is a member of the strategy committte of the Freeze Campaign, and he has written some important and widely published articles, particularly on the connection between nuclear weapons and military interventions in the third world.
In his lecture, Ellsberg praised local teacher Joanne Young, who is in danger of losing her job because of her participation in civil disobedience actions. He also criticized former Prime Minister Trudeau’s ten-point peace initiative, arguing that some of the points were in contradiction with actions of the Canadian government. He noted that Trudeau had recently received the Einstein Peace Prize, and he suggested that Joanne Young deserved the prize more than Trudeau did.
Ellsberg also argued that the current deployment of U.S. missiles in Europe is reminiscent of the 1963 Cuban missile crisis, but in reverse. The Soviet Union opposed the placing of intermediate range nuclear weapons near its territory for the same reasons that the U.S. did, but Soviet response has been more restrained. Soviet deployment of missiles in Cuba as a possible response to the European deployments would present a direct reenactment of the Cuban missile crisis, though in the context of greatly enlarged, and now rougWy equal, nuclear arsenals.
The re-election of Ronald Reagan, according to Ellsberg, would almost certainly lead to escalation of US military action in Central America, perhaps eventually including US military strikes against Cuba, an ally of the Soviet Union. This dangerous scenario can only be prevented if Reagan is defeated. Political realism, Ellsberg argued, thus forces the American peace movement into an electoral campaign.
Ellsberg ended his speech by comparing the world today to Jonestown on the eve of the massacre. It is time, he said, for the people of the world to mutiny against the global suicide planned by the leaders of the world. “All we’re doing is enlarging a chance for survival that is very small. Weare at a critical stage in testing nuclear weapons. In another year or two the momentum will be so great that it will be too late.”
As I stepped off the train at Hiroshima station for the first time, in the fall of 1953, it was almost like walking on sacred ground, and I was filled with a sense of awe. This was where it happened. This was a city of suffering so massive that I really could not imagine it. Here was a symbol of man’s inhumanity to man and I felt a sense of shame and guilt for my country’s part in producing the weapon which caused so much suffering and loss.
In the years since, and particularly after my marriage to Setsuko, a survivor of Hiroshima, I have pondered much on the meaning of Hiroshima. It is a symbol of many things. It is a symbol of rebirth, of the Phoenix rising from the ashes, of the triumph the human spirit sometimes has over suffering and adversity. It is a symbol of the suffering brought by the nuclear age.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only examples we have of the actual experience of nuclear war, but these examples were on such a small scale, compared with the effects of today’s nuclear weapons, that they become almost irrelevant and may be very misleading examples of nuclear war. By this I mean that the modern visitor to Hiroshima sees a modern, bustling city and may acquire the quite erroneous impression that nuclear war is survivable, that a city can recover from a nuclear holocaust.
Hiroshima is a city of endless grieving. The lanterns floating down the rivers on the evening of August 6th represent the thousands of citizens who jumped into the rivers to escape the heat and fire on that fateful day, died, and were carried out to sea to an unmarked watery grave. I remember the memorial service at Hiroshima Jogakuin, a girls’ school and my wife’s alma mater. There was a choir of young teen-age girls — their faces and voices lovely and fresh and clear, just like those others who perished in the inferno. And there were the aging parents, remembering their beloved daughters as they once were. It was only with the greatest humility that I could bring myself to place my flower on the cenotaph stone.
The city of Hiroshima may seem exotic and distant to many but there are, in fact, many links between Canada and Hiroshima. Of late there has been an increasing interest in exploring the meaning of Hiroshima and numerous Canadians have visited that city in recent years.
Two gentlemen from the Hiroshima city government recently visited Mayor Eggleton of Toronto with a proposal for an international mayors’ conference of solidarity against nuclear weapons. This suggestion was warmly received by the mayors of Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and several smaller municipalities. The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as Japanese citizens’ groups, have been generous in sending us various resources such as films, tapes, photographs and books, many of which are available from Hiroshima-Nagasaki Relived (416-xxx-xxxx).