TORONTO After several months of discussion by mail, the first cross-Canada meeting of the planning committee to form some sort of national coalition of peace groups has been called. The meeting will be held March 15, 16 and 17 in Vancouver and will be hosted by the End the Arms Race coalition.
The process of forming a Canada-wide coalition of peace groups started in the aftermath of the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign (PPCC). A planning committee was struck and this committee has been engaged in a discussion by mail for the last several months.
There seemed to be a growing sense by this group that the time was right for the first national meeting to clarify some of the issues that have been raised to date. A plan has been devised to ensure a balanced regional representation in Vancouver, and there has also been an agreement to pool travel expenses so that all groups will pay equal costs.
The discussion in Vancouver will be on the plans for a national founding conference for such a coalition and the details surrounding such a meeting. A preliminary discussion of proposals on the structure and function of such a new formation will help sort out the major points of agreement from which a broad cross-Canada consensus on the issue can be built.
Much of the preliminary discussion has focused on the overall view of any new coalition. While there is wide agreement on the need for such a body, there seem to be varying views on exactly what it should do and how it should be structured.
Many groups tend to favour a more modest structure with a limited mandate. Others have suggested that the primary function of such a coalition should be to organize campaigns like the PPCC and some have pointed to the need to co-ordinate better lobbying efforts in Ottawa. The idea of preparing plans for the 1986 international year of peace has also been suggested by several participants.
More proposals are now being circulated in advance of the Vancouver meeting with the goal of having as much local input and discussion as possible before the planning meeting.
So far many key groups from across the country have been involved in the discussions. Coalitions in Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg, Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and St. John's have all been active as well as many other groups, particularly in the smaller centres. Participating national organizations have included Operation Dismantle, the Voice of Women, the World Federalists, The Canadian Peace Congress and Greenpeace.
The Toronto Disarmament Network is acting as facilitator of the Canada-wide planning committee and inquiries should be directed to the TDN at 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto, M55 2R4. Telephone: (416) 535-8005.
OTTAWA - Operation Dismantle is still awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court respecting its suit to halt the testing of cruise missiles in Canada. However, according to a new Supreme Court rule, injunctions may be granted for the temporary period while such definitive rulings are pending. Operation Dismantle therefore attempted, on February 16 -the last day before the first free flight of the cruise missile - to obtain a temporary injunction on these grounds. The Supreme Court rejected this request.
On the main case, some take it as an optimistic sign that the Supreme Court has reserved its decision for so long. Stark, however, says that any such inference is sheer speculation. The case is of exceptional importance since it will define permanently the relationship between the government and the judiciary. It poses the question:
Can Cabinet decisions be reviewed by the courts? No doubt the justices would prefer that their opinions be unanimous on the matter, and the delay may mean that such unanimity has not been reached. On the other hand, there have been five major changes in the bench during the past year, producing an uncertainty that has probably contributed to the delay.
On another front, Operation Dismantle is sending a full-time lobbyist, John J. Verigan, to the United Nations for ten weeks, commencing in early March. Verigan's appointment is funded by a contribution by his father, John J. Verigan, Sr., leader of Orthodox Doukhohours. The object is to widen the support for the World Referendum for Disarmament beyond its single sponsor, Costa Rica. If Verigan finds a country that is seriously interested, Operation Dismantle will try to meet with its head of state to secure a real commitment to the idea.
While the Progressive Conservatives were the opposition party, they supported the referendum, says Stark. But having assumed office, they have found reasons for not promoting it. For a while the government claimed that the constitutions of nations do not permit such referenda. This assumption has been proven baseless, however. More recently, Stark says, the Ministry of External Affairs has claimed that a referendum would be too costly; their estimates have ranged from 35 cents to $5 per elector. Stark, who claims he could do it with 2 or 3 cents per capita, feels that "they're not going to go for it because they know it would work."
On Sunday March 3, CBC Television will present a one-hour drama titled The Front Line. This drama presentation, to be shown at 9pm EST, should be of special interest to peace activists, for it realistically portrays the struggles and conflicts that one goes through with family and friends when one becomes politically active.
The drama centres around David Ellis, a young priest who went to Central America to serve as a missionary.
After 3 years he is brought back to Canada and sent against his will to a very conservative parish, where the main employer is a nuclear weapons manufacturer. David begins to preach an activist theology to members of this less-than-enthusiastic congregation who are quite stunned when he encourages' them to resist the company's production of weapons components.
As the drama unfolds, David picks up some followers, among them Roxanne Kamarski, a young grandmother who feels she is losing touch with her faith and believes this is one way to put her convictions on the line. As the conflict escalates it pits David against his bishop and Roxy against her husband, forcing both of them to choose between their spiritual convictions and their personal relationships.
The Cruise Missile Conversion Project is helping promote this film for it feels that many people skeptical of the peace movement might find that this film will give them a better understanding of the people who are involved in disarmament work.
TORONTO - At its February General Meeting, the Toronto Disarmament Network a coalition of more than sixty Toronto organizations, adopted a comprehensive action plan for 1985, which, according to organizers, represents a significant advance in the program of the TDN. The plan includes a response to the upcoming federal Government Green Paper on defence policy, an education and outreach drive, a grass-roots lobbying campaign, intervention in the municipal elections, and a series of events during United Nations Disarmament Week, October 20-27, culminating in a major rally on Saturday, October 26.
The desire for a comprehensive plan was expressed by many participants to the TDN Second Annual Conference, which was held at City Hall December 1 and 2; discussion of the idea continued at meetings of the TDN Coordinating Committee, and a planning committee was established to develop a unified campaign based on ideas presented at the Conference.
A draft proposal was presented to the TDN Annual General Meeting, January 8. After discussion, the draft was sent back to the planning committee for refinement, and the February meeting accepted the revised proposal by consensus.
In presenting the revised plan to the meeting, Matthew Clark said that the peace movement "must have the flexibility to respond to changes in the political situation. The Conservative Government seems committed to increased militarization and to increased support for the military plans of the United States, such as the Star Wars scheme." Public support for disarmament has, if anything, increased, but the spontaneous desire for large demonstrations seems to have dropped off for the present, says Clark. The peace movement must develop a variety of actions which will suit the variety of people who support disarmament, in order to build an organizational foundation for effective mass action.
The plan, as explained by TDN Co-ordinating Committee member Steve Shallhorn, breaks down into four sections: (1) Response to the Government's Green Paper, (2) Education and Outreach Drive, (3) Lobby Campaign, and (4) Mobilization Campaign.
The federal Government's Green Paper on defence policy will probably be made public in late February. A committee has been established to draft a response to the Green Paper, and a special meeting of the TDN will be held on Sunday, March 3, to discuss the response paper, which will then be submitted to the General Meeting on Tuesday, March 5. The response will then be released to the media, and it will be available as a tool for education, lobbying, and mobilization. According to Anne Adelson, chair of the Education Committee, this response paper will not be a policy document of the TDN. "The TDN encourages member groups to develop their own papers in response to the Government's Green Paper, and to participate in whatever review process the Government arranges.
The TDN education committee will produce material for the campaign. These materials will include fact sheets and kits to assist speakers and lobbyers. A Speakers' Bureau has been established and sessions to train TDN speakers will be held. The education committee will organize a mass mailing to community organizations, offering to send speakers to group meetings and inviting groups to join the TDN. Parent and teacher organizations will be specially targetted. The outreach campaign will lay the foundations for action during the municipal elections, which will be held in November.
Beginning in late April, member groups of the TDN will lobby federal MPs. Shallhorn explained that a Lobby bureau will be set up to provide a file on Metro MPs and the public statements on defence policy and external affairs, "The campaign itself will be organized on a decentralized basis," Shallhorn said. Appointments with MPs and presentation of views will be up to the member groups." As the campaign unfolds, a mass lobby may be organized to co-incide with the Government's review process. In addition, groups will lobby municipal politicians on peace issues, in preparation for the fall election.
Pledge cards will be printed and distributed. These cards will outline the TDN's demands and campaign, and will ask people to pledge to engage in one or more of a variety of actions, such as attending a demonstration, lobbying a politician, joining a peace group, etc. A number of events have been planned for the year. William Arkin will speak at Trinity-St. Paul's Church on March 19 and Helen Caldicott will speak at Convocation Hall on April 12.
The TDN has been working in support of the new Toronto Anti-Intervention Coalition, which will hold a rally on April 20. Several member groups of the TDN are planning events to commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9; the TDN will support these events. The TDN is prepared to organize responses, press conferences, and demonstrations during the course of the campaign as events dictate, and a major rally will be held on Saturday, October 26.
TORONTO - The Peace and Disarmament Committee of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), established at the OFL convention on November 19, 1984, held its first meeting on January 31, 1985.
The committee's first undertaking will be a survey of Ontario labour councils and heads of unions in order to determine the present level of involvement in peace and disarmament issues. The results of the survey will be used to develop a strategy to promote increased union activity on peace and disarmament matters.
The committee plans to meet monthly. Its members are: S. Giampietri, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Co-Chairperson; M. Keck, United Steelworkers; L. Robertson, United Food and Commercial Workers, Co-Chairperson; E. Carey, Union of National Defence Employees; P. Clancy, United Autoworkers; D. Delaunay, Sudbury and District Labour Council; I. McArthur, Windsor and District Labour Council; T. O'Connor, Canadian Union of Public Employees; A. Pryde, Communication Workers of Canada; and A. Swarbrick, Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto.
TORONTO - In late January, while hundreds of Ontario Conservatives were in heated action inside the CNE Coliseum choosing Frank Miller as their new leader, 100 supporters of the Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Ontario (CNFO) were demonstrating outside, in an attempt to influence government policy. Some of the CNFO placards referred to a growing concern amongst peacemongers -Ontario Hydro's intention to sell tritium to the American military.
Tritium is a potential Achilles heel in many modern nuclear arsenals, because it is key to the efficiency of most nuclear bombs. All of the strategic, and most of the tactical, US nuclear weapons apparently use tritium. Fission bombs are 'boosted' considerably by the fusion of deuterium and tritium in their core. Thermonuclear fusion (Hydrogen) bombs get their explosive power from the fusion of deuterium and tritium, with the fusion triggered by a fission bomb.
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of Hydrogen with two neutrons and it decays at the rate of 5.5% each year. Without tritium, or its renewal, the effectiveness of most bombs is reduced, and different means must be used to obtain the same efficiency as bombs which use tritium. These changes require more massive warheads, which in
turn necessitate bulkier delivery systems.
Ontario Hydro uses deuterium, another isotope of Hydrogen with one extra neutron, in CANDU nuclear plants. As part of the fission process, some of the deuterium is converted into tritium, which poses a hazard for life forms both inside and outside the plant because, although it is radioactive, organisms treat tritium as they would Hydrogen. Ontario Hydro must remove the tritium from its heavy water, and the new Darlington recovery plant (originally labelled a "removal" plant) is intened to accomplish two objectives at once - remove the hazardous tritium and
provide a marketable product. Tritium currently sells for about $13,000 a gram.
According to Norm Rubin of Energy Probe, Ontario Hydro plans to recover "about eight times as much tritium as is now used in the world for civilian purposes." Tritium is used in watches, in medical diagnostic work, and for runway lights. Rubin regards the tritium sales as "the most significant contribution that Canada might ever make to the nuclear arms race."