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PPCC launched at Toronto press conference

Judy Wells — April 1984

TORONTO — The national Peace Petition Caravan Campaign was launched at a news conference in City Hall on Thursday March 15. A good representation of Toronto radio, television and press reporters witnessed the official signing of the first petition.

After placing the first signature on the petition, Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton urged citizens to use the petition to “show their desire for the madness to stop.” He said that “people are increasingly looking for an opportunity to come together to express in no uncertain terms their opposition to the arms race. This petition gives them a chance to do so.”

Dennis McDermott, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, followed the Mayor in signing the petition, and pledged the support of the Canadian labour movement to the Campaign. He described the PPCC as “the most broadly-based peace initiative in Canada.” He also said he would work toward converting jobs in the armament industry to jobs that foster prosperity through peace.

Five speakers, each representing different segments of the community, signed the petition and made brief, public statements of of their constituencies. In all, some 26 signatories appeared on the first petition. Guests, representing various labour, religious and community groups, followed the speakers in signing the petition.

The speakers included Sr. Rosalie Bertell, from the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice; Guy Adam, who delivered his presentation in French on behalf of the Quebec Campaign; and Bob Penner, National Representative of the PPCC. The news conference was chaired by Beth Richards.

During the question period following the signing, Penner made it clear to the media that “In no way will the activity for peace end with the presentation of the petition to Ottawa on October 20.

“It’s one step as a predecessor to the next step,” he said.

All speakers agreed that the grassroots movement that begins with this nationwide Campaign will have a lasting effect on the political climate of the country.