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Disarm Ontario

Eudora Pendergrast — June 1983

In the strange and frightening logic of the arms race, more and more deadly weapons are supposed to produce greater and greater national security. In fact. in a world of nuclear overkill, exactly the opposite is true, for no nation can be truly secure as long as the threat of nuclear annihilation exists. The promotion of national security by reducing rather than increasing the threat of nuclear war is the motive behind the movement to establish Nuclear Weapon Free Zones throughout the world. The establishment of such zones was specifically identified as an important step toward the goal of ‘general and complete disarmament’ adopted by the 1975 first United Nations Special Session on Disarmament. The object of establishing Nuclear Weapon Free Zones it ultimately to eliminate the threat of nuclear disaster by progressively reducing the areas in the world where nuclear weapons can be developed, manufactured, stored, deployed or used. A nation’s declaration that it is a NWFZ it thus a statement of its refusal to participate or cooperate with the nuclear arms race.

In 1980, the European Nuclear Disarmament Movement (END) launched a broad-based campaign to establish a Nuclear Weapon Free Europe “from Portugal to Poland”, and there is a strong movement in Canada to declare this country a NWFZ. At the local level, Toronto City Council adopted a resolution in January of this year declaring Toronto to be a NWFZ, and other municipalities in both Canada and the US have passed or are attempting to pass similar resolutions.

More than symbolic

These NWFZ campaigns have immense symbolic and educational value, as indicated by the overwhelming response to the END initiative. They are not only symbolic, however. The establishment of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones in Canada is particularly appropriate as a practical objective because of the indirect nature of Canadian involvement in the arms race.

Canada is not a direct producer of nuclear weapons, and the soon to be eliminated Genie rockets are the only nuclear weapons presently stored on Canadian soil. Canada’s contribution to the current escalation in the arms race is rather through its complicity with the US. Working for the establishment of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones in Canada can help to transform this passive role into positive, active involvement in the movement for greater security through nuclear disarmament.

Non-partisan campaign

The Nuclear Weapon Free Zone approach has now been introduced at the provincial level. On April 19, 1983, Richard Johnston (MPP for Scarborough West) submitted a private member’s resolution to the Ontario Legislature calling for Ontario to declare itself a Nuclear Arms Free Zone. The resolution calls on the provincial government to prohibit the testing, construction and transport of nuclear weapons and associated equipment through and within the province, and the export of goods and materials for use in the construction and development of nuclear arms. In addition, the resolution calls on the Province to encourage cities, provinces, and states throughout the world to initiate similar action.

Johnston has presented hit resolution to peace and disarmament groups in Toronto, and is now working with representatives of these groups to establish a committee to coordinate a non-partisan grassroots campaign in support of the resolution.

Window signs

At present the plan is to gather signed forms endorsing the resolution from across the province. The signature forms will be distributed with window signs advocating a Nuclear Weapon Free Ontario. Johnston says that indications are that the campaign will generate a very positive response. After only an informal distribution at April 23rd rallies in Ottawa and Toronto, Johnston’s office has already received over 600 signed forms.

Johnston intends for the resolution to be brought to a vote in October, to coincide with International Disarmament Week (October 23 — 31) and the associated October 22nd anti-nuclear rallies planned for cities across Canada. Johnston feels that adoption would provide a basis for much stronger anti-nuclear actions at both the provincial and federal levels. If adopted, notice of the resolution will be sent to the Soviet and U.S. ambassadors to Canada, to the federal government, the governments of other provinces and states and to the United Nations.

The outcome of the campaign for a Nuclear Weapon Free Ontario will he influenced by the extent of public support shown for the resolution. You cart show your support by filling out the form as the bottom of this page of The Peace Calendar and sending it to Richard Johnston’s office. Additional copies and window signs can be obtained by contacting Johnston’s office at xxx-xxxx, or at the CANDIS office in Holy Trinity Church.