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Caravaners plan coalition conference

Bob Penner and Christopher Ross — November 1984

OTTAWA — An evaluation meeting of the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign has taken a step toward the formation of a national coordinating body of the Canadian peace movement.

The 4-hour meeting, which took place on October 21 in the Council Chambers of the Ottawa City Hall, included over forty peace activists from across Canada. All of the 40 felt that some sort of coordinating body or network was needed, and that specific steps should be taken to initiate it.

It was also reported that groups who participated in the PPCC (particularly those in towns through which the caravan traveled) want to remain linked to the national campaign and to other groups in the country. However, there also seemed to be a consensus that whatever structure developed should remain locally based and not have a high degree of centralization.

One proposal, which had been circulated in advance of the meeting by the Toronto Disarmament Network, called for a national conference to discuss the issue of a national coalition, to be held next year. The TDN proposal also called for a broad and representative committee to plan the conference. The TDN offered to plan and host such a conference.

There was support for Toronto as the location of the conference. However, the meeting agreed that a representative planning committee should be established before any final decisions were taken on the date, location, format, and planning process for the conference. Specifically, the meeting decided that an initial committee should be formed with the following general mandate:

  1. The committee should plan the advance work necessary to facilitate a national conference on the issue of the formation of some sort of coordinating body of the Canadian peace movement, including the drafting of a proposed basis of unity.
  2. The committee would remain open to all who want to participate. It should encourage the participation of all the components of the Canadian peace movement.
  3. The committee would be facilitated by the Toronto Disarmament Network, which would take responsibility for mailings and clerical work. . ,
  4. The committee should go to great lengths to see that the planning process is not dominated by groups from central Canada.
  5. The planning committee should use The Peace Calendar, the mail, and other forms of communication to make its work as public and subject to as much grassroots input as possible.
  6. The committee should work as quickly as a proper consultative process allows and should decide on the place, date, format, and process leading to a Canadian conference on the issue.

Initial members of the planning committee include (organizations listed for identification purposes only); David Delaunay, Ploughshares Sudbury; Leyla Raphael, President Quebec PPCC; Jamie Scott; Coordinator of the Election Priorities Project; Michael Manolson, Coordinator of the PPCC; Lynn Connell, Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament; Jim Stark, Operation Dismantle; Gordon Flowers, Executive Director, Canadian Peace Congress; Chris Ross, Psychologists for Social Responsibility; Walker Jones, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Ottawa; David Langille, Peaceworks; Andrew Van Velzen, Cruise Missile Conversion Project; Joan Rentoul, Guelph Disarmament Committee; Andre Jacob, Conseil Quebecois Pour la Paix; John Wilkinson, Brockville; Kristin Ostling, Ottawa, and others.

Qualified support for the initial TDN proposal came from groups who were not in attendance, including the End the Arms Race Coalition in Vancouver and representatives of major peace coalitions in Victoria and Winnipeg. The planning committee’s initial steps were not discussed leaving future steps open to further suggestion.

Anyone interested in working on the National Peace Conference Planning Committee should send her or his name, address and telephone number to the Toronto Disarmament Network, 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto M5S 2R4.