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PPCC, intervention, national coalition themes of Toronto conference

Mariana Valverde — February 1984

A couple of hundred peace activists from all over Ontario converged for a weekend conference at the University of Toronto on December 10 and II, 1983. The conference, sponsored by the Toronto Disarmament Network, was designed to share information and to discuss strategies for the coming year, and it succeeded in both these aims.

The opening plenary saw short speeches by Simon Rosenblum (Project Ploughshares), Anne Adelson (TDN) and Wilson Head. All three speakers stressed the need to solidify’ the .unity that has been created in the peace movement over the past couple of years, while at the same time recognising that there will always be a variety of views and strategies. Rosenblum directed the audience’s attention to the importance of the upcoming Peace Petition Caravan Campaign, and this campaign was discussed at some length in many of the workshops.

There were workshops on general strategic questions, such as the PP“CC, and on international arms negotiations. Some workshops dealt with strengthening the links between the peace movement and other movements, primarily labour; and some workshops, such as those on women or youth, aimed at organising these constituencies both within and without the peace movement.

The discussions from the workshops were continued through lunches and coffee breaks, during which much of the information sharing was accomplished. There was also an informal dinner and party on Saturday night, where it was discovered that many of the participants had common musical as- well as political interests, as demonstrated by a lively sing-along. The conference closed with a session designed to summa rise the main points of agreement that had surfaced during the weekend, and to plan how the TDN can best pursue these aims. Chief among these was the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign, which has subsequently been taken up by the TDN as its main project for the next few months. Despite some initial reservations about the nature of the Campaign, there was consensus about our willingness to initiate the Campaign in Metro Toronto, and to make sure that local groups benefit from their participation in this nation-wide effort.

Participants also felt the need for increased outreach, fundraising and media contact. Many people mentioned the need for greater coordination nationwide, with some people suggesting that the time was ripe for a national coalition of the peace movement.

There was also a wide focus on the issue of anti-intervention, but no consensus could be reached on this issue. It was. also felt that the Canadian peace movement should pursue greater contact with the peace movements in the Warsaw Pact nations. The conference also resolved that better education and communication was needed within the peace movement, a proram that was dubbed “inreach” by Doug Mohr of the KitchenerWaterloo Peace Network.

The conference was a major step forward for the TDN. In using its resources to promote discussion of issues and to better the communications among peace groups, the goal of acting as a network came closer to its realisation. People expressed their different views on everything from Trudeau’s peace initiative to the role of feminism in the peace movement, without fear of disagreement but also with care not to get into confrontations. Hopefully the spirit that was generated at the conference will continue to flourish as the Toronto peace movement gets involved with other endeavours involving diverse groups, and especially with the launching of the PPCC in Metro Toronto.