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Santa vs. the cruise

Jon Spencer — December 1983

Toronto’s Against Cruise Testing coalition (ACT) will be holding a “Santa Claus parade against the cruise” on December 3. The parade will appeal to the true spirit of Christmas — Peace on Earth by making a statement against nuclear weapons, especially the new breed of missiles which increases the likelihood of nuclear war.

“Christmas is a time when people around the world, regardless of their religion. dream about and hope for peace on earth,” says Angela Browning, ACT chairperson. “We feel that the most positive thing we can do at Christmas is to help make this dream a reality — to preserve the planet for future generations.”

For many people, Christmas 1983 promises to be less cheerful than other years. This month, NATO is beginning the European deployment of Pershing II and cruise ground-launched nuclear missiles. Pershing IIs will be capable of striking Soviet command and control centres within eight minutes of being launched. Because the U.S.S.R. win be unable to confirm a detected launch within the eight minutes available, many military strategists (including Robert MacNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defense) believe that the deployment of these theatre nuclear forces in Europe will force the U.S.S.R. to adopt a launch-on-warning posture. MacNamara. views launch-on-warning as one of the most destabilising moves that can be made. This year’s Christmas marks a new stage in the Cold War.

Early 1984 is of even greater concern to the Canadian peace movement. This winter, the U.S. will begin testing the guidance system of the air-launched cruise missile. The long-range ALCM has been called one of the most dangerous and destabilising nuclear weapons ever developed, and the planned testing in Canada of the ALCM has become the main focus of protests by Canadian Disarmament supporters.

The protests have not yet accomplished their objectives, but Browning feels that it is really important for people not to be discouraged. “New people are coming into the peace movement all the time. Although we may feel that we haven’t changed the government’s policy, Trudeau’s peace initiatives can only be seen as a result of public pressure. He has recognised the need to placate the Canadian public on this issue.”

ACT’s Santa Claus parade will draw a connection between the “Peace on Earth” message and the preparations for total war. Aceording to ACT, these preparations are not limited to the installation of military hardware.

By giving war toys to our children, we encourage the militarist state of mind that leads to war. Consequently, ACT wants to “Take the toys away from the boys”; the toy guns from the children and the weapons of death from the world’s governments.

The parade begins outside the headquarters of the Liberal Party (34 King St. E.) at noon on Saturday December 3, and will end up at City Hall with a short rally and a speech by Santa Claus. Organisers are constructing only one float, but participants are encouraged to bring their own handmade floats as well.

The parade will be part of the U.S./Canada Solidarity Days, planned for December 2 and 3. Well over 100 disarmament groups in North America have endorsed the call for “a united show of opposition to any tests of cruise missiles and all preparations for nuclear war.” Other events will be held across the continent on these days. For information on what is planned in your area, contact CANDIS at xxx-xxxx. To find out more about the Santa Claus parade against the cruise, call ACT at xxx-xxxx. Remember, “peace is the best Christmas present of all.”