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Interview: Pauline Jewett

Jon Spencer — September 1984

MP for the B.C. communities of New Westminster and Coquitlam since 1979, Pauline Jewett is also the New Democratic Party spokesperson for External Affairs and Post-Secondary Education.

In 1980-81, Jewett served as chair of the NDP’s lnternational Affairs Committee, of which she is still a member.

As a member of the House of Commons External Affairs and National Defense Committee, she played a leading role in the 1982 lvfinority Report on Security and Disarmament.

The following interview was conducted over the phone in midAugust while Jewett was campaigning in B.C.

The Peace Calendar: How important do you think the peace issue is to voters in this federal’ election?

Jewett: Well, a poll the other day I think said that over 80% of Canadians favoured a balanced verifiable freeze.

TPC: Do you think thelire willing to vote along those lines?

Jewett: It’s hard to say, because you have to put so much in one: X. I personally wish people: would, of course, as I think it’s such an overwhelmingly important matter that it should weigh very heavily in their X. However, there are a lot of other things that. do go into people’s Xs, and we only have the one X, so you really can’t say. But I wouldn’t be surprised if for some people it: was so overwhelmingly important. that, even if they haven’t voted’ New Democrat before, it may well mean that they will vote New Democrat this time.

TPC: Do you think the issue has gained prominence in the last couple of weeks or has it just been in people’s minds for the last year or so?

Jewett: Oh it’s been in people’s minds I think for the last couple of years, ever since we broke the story about the testing of the cruise missile. As far as Canada’s concerned, that was the touchstone issue. We broke the story in the House of Commons on May 10, 1982. For me, naturally there are other important turning points, but that was the major one. So its not just in the last weeks for most people.

TPC: Do you think Canadian popular support for disarmament issues has been primarily based on the cruise issue, or do you think the freeze has had a lot to do with it?

Jewett: I think the freeze has even more importance now than it did then, although in our Minority Report, we had all four points: no-First-use, nuclear freeze, refuse the cruise and disarmament education.

I would think, from a public point of view, that the cruise symbolizes (arms escalation) so vividly for us Canadians. You have probably found that our American and \‘1 est German friends never quite perceived this, since they had other things to symbolize the escalating arms race: deployment in \‘1 est Germany and Holland and so on. Although attention is still on the cruise since the government tested it, the public has turned more to the freeze. We would certainly want to give the year’s notice for revoking the cruise agreement. The part of the public that knew about the five continent proposal also thought that was a good idea.

TPC: What do you think the impact of the disarmament issue has been on the Liberal and Conservative parties during this election?

Jewett: I haven’t seen it at all on the Conservative Party. Joe Clark’s report has not surfaced. Joe Clark was the person chosen by Brian Mulroney to debate disarmament and foreign policy issues on The Journal, with (Jean) Chretien and myself. He was pulled at the last minute, and they put (John) Bosley in. I saw Joe the next day, actually, at the airport, and he said that Brian wanted to read his report carefully on this task force, and no doubt he did, but my understanding is that information will be in hand in a couple of weeks.

TPC: Why do you think Mulroney has refrained from making the report public?

Jewett: He doesn’t want the issue raised. Brian Mulroney doesn’t want to get into discussing any issue that might show division within his party. Apart from new uniforms, increased spending for the armed forces and giving Americans the benefit of the doubt, I don’t believe he’s said anything else about foreign policy. Now with the Liberals, we had a very big debate here (in Vancouver) on a television station and Iona (Campagnolo) came out for the freeze concept. And since then Chretien has come out for no-First-use, so clearly there is a restiveness in the Liberal ranks.

TPC: Do you think there is the same type of dissension within the Conservative Party?

Jewett: \Vell, there are people like John Fraser of course, (who participated) in the debate with Iona and myself, as well as Pat Carney. And, indeed, when we voted on the matter in the House, there were four Tories who voted against (the cruise) and only one Liberal. There are people in the Tory party, obviously, and some prominent ones, but they’re keeping pretty quiet. Mulroney’s keeping a lid on it, better than Turner did. Turner’s now put the lid back on, of course.

TPC: At the Vancouver debate, you indicated your personal feeling that the NDP should look at disarmament policy when deciding whether or not to support either of the other two federal parties in the event of a minority government…

Jewett: Yes, the press report on that wasn’t really that accurate. I don’t have it in front of me right’ now, but my memory’s pretty good on this. I said that, if there were a minority government, the New Democrats would certainly, in my view, give priority to issues that concerned a great number of Canadians. In other words, we wouldn’t take some narrow issue that concerns a few people who voted NDP, and insist on it. We would look at issues that had concerned a great number of Canadians, and (my very words were) we “would want to discuss those issues very seriously indeed” with whoever formed the government. And one of those issues would certainly be the escalating arms race.

TPC: You also said in Vancouver that Canada should pursue a more independent foreign and military policy. Specifically, in what areas do you feel we could act in a more independent manner?

Jewett: On the untying of ourselves from American strategic doctrine. Untying ourselves from the escalating arms race, by declining to both test the cruise or manufacture components of nuclear weapons. (We could also act more independently in) our policy in relation to Central America, and on the policy we would pursue at the United Nations, like this vote on the freeze. We could pursue policies like New Zealand’s, and we’ve beed advocating that for some time, this business of the nuclear warships.

TPC: Do you think that voting with American interests has manifested itself at conference such as the Stockholm Conference?

Jewett: Actually, there hasn’t been a vote at the Stockholm Conference. It’s a long way away yet form any votes I would think … At the moment, at least for the last several months, up until June, they were working on confidence-building measures, and I think Canada occasionally made an independent contribution — for instance, in verification. Generally speaking, we have had, in my view, an extremely low profile in NATO, and have not exerted what influence we could have had even there.

And indeed, people who are now looking into the (Canadian) record on arms control and NATO are pretty appalled at the degree to which we have not taken advantage of those occasions when other smaller countries within NATO were working toward a different policy than that being pursued, say, by the United States. And Canada didn’t even join in with them, the thing with the neutron bomb is a case in point.

And so one could give quite a few illustrations of Canada’s — what was it Mark MacCuigan called it in connection with Central America? — “quiet acquiescence.” That was our policy, quiet acquiescence in American policy.

TPC: The NDP opposes continued Canadian involvement in NA TO. Is this policy based on a principle of non-alignment, or because your party sees no hope for change from within the Alliance?

Jewett: Well, I think the policy of not being aligned with a military bloc has been in party policy now since the ’60s, as well as the objective of seeing a more fruitful role for Canada either with other like-minded nations and/or through the United Nations and its various institutions. I think the absence of a very strong voice in NATO is a factor, although the underlyinSb motivation is the military bldc mode.

TPC: Many people who support the NDF’s policy on arms control and disarmament issues disagree with your party’s policy on NATO. Last year, for example, Operation Dismantle called for a referendum on withdrawal from NA TO and on the cruise testing issue, in an attempt to determine whether Canadians linked the two issues. For the NDP, are these issues inseparable?

Jewett: No. In fact, the Liberals have badly deceived the Canadian public when they keep talking about cruise missile testing being necessary because of our alliance commitments. Cruise missile testing hasn’t anything to do with the NATO commitments, and as I say, they have been very dishonest when they keep saying that, in the government and elsewhere.

We do not think there is a linkage there at all. NATO’s an association of voluntary members who can determine the nature of their tole within NATO. If they decide, as Canada has decided for example, quite unilaterally in the past, to not have our troops armed with tactical nuclear weapons, so Canada could say “we’re not going to test cruise missiles either,” and still be a member of the alliance.

TPC: Does the NDP have a vision of an alternative dejense policy for Canada, not based on nuclear deterrence?

Jewett: Our defense policy is in two dimensions, really – national and international. We would clearly want to have a force that would be equipped and suitable for the kind of peacekeeping roles that we have played and that we undoubtedly will continue to play.

We also need a force that is capable of at least a modest surveillance of our own coast, and coastal waters – we have less, I think, than Holland has, in search and rescue, which comes under national defense – and the Arctic.

On the international scene, we would and have very strongly supported Canada’s participation in, and not just moral support for, but participation in a consortium of nations that would develop an international satellite monitoring agency. Those are the kinds of directions, both national and international, that we recommend.

TPC: In terms of domestic military policy, ij the NDP were to form the next government, what sorts of changes could Canadians expect? For example, are there aspects of Canada’s existing military resources which we could afford to give up?

Jewett: I don’t know how deeply the government is committed to the continuing purchase of the F-18A, but we never should have gotten into that. (It is) not suitable for either our NATO commitments or our North American ones. As I say, I don’t know if one could give notice on that contract or not, but if one could, we would. I’m not sure even that the frigate programme was in the best interest of Canada, or of Canada’s international obligations.

We would certainly, if we formed the government, do a very comprehensive study of what we are now doing in defense, and what it needed. This hasn’t been done, of course, since the unification.

TPC: As you mentioned, New Zealand’s recently-elected Labour government has said it will not allow US nuclear warships in its waters. How do you think the US is likely to respond to this decision?

Jewett: Well, I don’t think they’ll attack New Zealand, as a reporter commented the other day. I think New Zealand’s behaving in what I call a “mature state-to-state relationship” with the United States, something Canada has never done, and I think the United States will respond in a mature state-to-state fashion. It will try, obviously, to work out some agreement if it can which would satisfy New Zealand. There will be negotiations. It will no longer be taken for granted that (the US) can do what it wishes; there may have to be amendments to the ANZUS treaty.

TPC: Do you think the US is likely to impose trade sanctions on New Zealand, in response to this decision?

Jewett: I would doubt that they would. My guess is that the United States is rocked back on its heels, and would use diplomatic means, at least initially.

TPC: Several times, I’ve heard politicians or political scientists suggest that Canada’s acquiescence in regard to the cruise missile testing may be partly based on a fear of economic retaliation from the US. Do you think that’s a reality?

Jewett: No, I don’t see as much linkage there as a lot of people do, in reality, because Canada has for years now been deeply and increasingly involved in defense production contracts. The reality is that it doesn’t want to give up its own share of the American defense budget, so much so that it’s put itself in the position of almost having to do whatever the Americans ask on defense matters, and I hope it hasn’t gone so far that it can’t be undone, a bit. If there’s a linkage, I think that’s where the linkage is.

TPC: What about the 1963 rider on the Defense Production Sharing Agreement (DPSA) which requires Canada to import as much as we export?

Jewett: Well, it’s a terrific incentive for defense manufacturers in Canada to build up their contribution even more. Ernie Regehr’s got a very good analysis of this, which you’ve probably seen. Also, as Regehr points out, it doesn’t provide for very efficient employment strategies. He estimates that the jobs for the light armoured vehicles (contract) that General Motors Canada got, if you take into account both the grants and the import offset, cost $60,000 per person-year to create. Anyway, no, I think it’s the old vicious circle: the more you do, the more you get, the more you do. I’ve always felt that there was a tie-in with things like the F-18A and the cruise missile testing, maybe not explicit, but it’s there.

TPC: Liberal MP Paul McRae, in an interview in last month’s issue of The Peace Calendar, indicated his strong support for the middle power peace initiative, which was an attempt to include non-aligned nations in the negotiation process. John Turner has recently sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the UN in an attempt to follow up on Trudeau’s suggestion of a conference of the five nuclear nations. These are two very different approaches to the problems inherent in arms negotiations. Which of these two approaches do you see as having the greatest chance of S1lCcess?

Jewett: The five continent appeal which Trudeau declined to join, was an appeal for a nuclear freeze, on the part of all nuclear powers.

TPC: Do you think that’s why he didn’t support it?

Jewett: Yes, because he’s opposed to the freeze. As I read the call of the five-continent group, theirs was a call for the five nations having nuclear weaponry to get together. Turner is saying, as Trudeau did, why doesn’t the Secretary-General call the five of them together. The end is the same. In one case it’s the six nations, one of whom is a memBer of NATO – Greece – and in the other case it’s the SecretaryGeneral, and they’re both directed to the same end, which is to get the five nuclear powers around a table.

I think that’s a worthy objective, but at the time Trudeau first suggested it, it seemed to me most unlikely that Britain, France and China – and particularly China – would go in for that particular kind of summit until the two huge superpowers, who have 95 % of the nuclear arsenal, showed some willingness themselves to freeze and then get into massive reductions.

Although I think the two separate calls for a five-nation summit have some value, I don’t think it is as important at the moment, nor did I at the time Trudeau first suggested it, as getting the US and the USSR together. Now, if it served the purpose of getting them together, then of course it was very valuable.

TPC: Do you think it will have any success in that area?

tt: It might. I don’t know. A lot depends on the leadership of the two superpowers, and on what happens after the US election.

TPC: On March 6th, the date of the first cruise missile test, you said it was a “dark day of Canadian history”…

Jewett: That was the day they signed the agreement. Well, they were both dark days, if you ask me. Anyway…

TPC: Anyway, do you foresee any “darker days”any weapons likely to be tested under the CANUS umbrella agreement which are more dangerous or destabilizing?

Jewett: Of course the US defense department has already phased out the cruise missile that we’re testing, and is phasing in the cruise with what they call “stealth” technology. Presumably, we might be asked to test that.

TPC: Do you think that’s a more destabilizing weapon that the cruise?

Jewett: I don’t know how much more destabilizing it could be than the present cruise, although my reading in Scientific American and other learned journals on the matter suggests that it really would seal the possibility of verification of numbers and locations, in which case it becomes totally destabilizing. Arms in space, offensive or defensive, are terribly destabilizing. (Minister of Defense Jean-Jacques) Blais sounded the other day ‘- he shut up quite quickly – but he sounded as if he wanted Canada more involved in the militarization of space. And that’s very frightening.

TPC: Do you think Canada will be playing a role in that department?

Jewett: Well, I trust not. I know Blais wasn’t speaking for the government, because I asked.

Chretien that night before we went on The Journal. Chretien didn’t know anything about it, and he’s the Chairman of the External Affairs and Defense Committee of the Cabinet. I don’t know – I’m very nervous about both the Liberals and Tories when it comes to these matters. I don’t think there’s much to choose. Scary.

TPC: Earlier this year, I heard several people state that popular opposition to the cruise tests arose too late to achieve a victory. In the interest of ‘being prepared,’ are there political situations on the horizon, either nationally or internationally, on which you think the peace movement could have an impact?

Jewett: Yes, the Comprehensive Test Ban, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the militarization of space. It’s hard to know which…. They’re all important. The peace movement will continue probably to work and press for the freeze and massive reductions for some time, I would think. But we can’t foresee, particularly as far as the Canadian peace movement is concerned, what a Canadian government might get us involved in next that will then become “the issue.” Then there is this proposal of Jean-Jacques Blais’, which, if the House were assembled, I would be asking about. The other difficulty is that neither the Liberals nor the Tories ask many questions in the House on these issues. Even Tories that were anticruise never questioned it in the House.

TPC: As an “insider” in the government, how do you think the peace movement can best influence government policy?

Jewett: I think the movement should be at everv all-candidates meeting, trying to get a personal commitment from the candidates, and then holding them to it. And I don’t know that that has been organized sufficiently this time. I know that it’s difficult, but it seems to me that that is extremely important. And I’ve been saying that for the last year, you know, get ready for the next federal election, get to all-candidates meetings, raise the issues, or have an all-candidates meeting solely on these issues. And that hasn’t been done nearly as much as I’d hoped it would be.

TPC: What about between elections?

Jewett: Between elections, continue the telegrams, letters, petitions, marches and conferences the “Megadeath Manitoba” type of conference. And once the make-up of the next Parliament is established, approach individual Members – just a kind of continuing presence like that is absolutelyessential.