By Valerie Osborne, Alison Dyer, Peter Armitage, Jennifer Kinloch, Gary Marchant, Donna Balkan, Phyllis Aronoff, Howard Scott | 1986-04-01 12:00:00



A NATO Base for Labrador?

Low-level flight training by NATO pilots are expanding rapidly in the Québec-Labrador peninsula and the Innu people who live in the region are trying to stop it before their hunting way of life is destroyed. Their current distress is over low-level flying by the German Laftwaffe and by the Royal Air Force. Planes fly so low that their exhaust makes waves on the surface of lakes and rivers, ripples the canvas on the tents and sways trees. Children have jumped out of canoes and into the water and have run into the forest to seek refuge from the jets. Many Innu men cannot leave their hunting camps to check more distant traplines because they are worried about their children's reactions to the overflights. The loud noise makes ears ring for an hour afterwards.

But such flights will increase, as a result either of bilateral agreements with individual NATO countries, or of the construction by 1990 of a NATO Fighter and Weapons Training Centre in Goose Bay, Labrador. Under bilateral agreements alone, 80 aircraft may soon be training low-level from Goose Bay. The Belgian and Dutch Air Forces plan low level trainings with about 20 fighter planes this summer.

Innu leaders have demanded that these trainings stop and that the proposed NATO base not be built. The training operations that the base would bring might make the interior of the Québec/Labrador peninsula uninhabitable. The "dogfighting" exercises would produce frequent sonic booms similar to those that crack walls in houses and blow out car windshields in rural parts of the southwestern United States. A substantial NATO presence in the peninsula would also require the construction of 24 bombing ranges with the possible use of live ammunition. The first range, near Lac Minipi, will probably be built this summer. An important component of the training on the NATO base will be Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) and electronic surveillance involving high levels of Radio Frequency (RF) radiation that may pose a health problem.

One of the planes involved in the low-level flying, the Tornado GRi, has a sophisticated ground mapping radar, inertial navigation system that enables it to fly precise attack routes at altitudes of 100 metres or lower. All RAF Tornado squadrons have a nuclear role.

The peace movement should be concerned about the relationship between the low-level training activities out of Goose Bay and a new NATO warfighting concept called 'Follow on Forces Attack' or 'Deep Strike'. First articulated by General Bernard Rogers (SACEUR) and approved by the NATO Defense Planning Committee in November 1984, 'Deep Strike' aims to increase NATO's ability to hit targets deep inside Warsaw Pact territory with conventional weapons. The goal, in the event of a Warsaw Pact attack, is to isolate the front line forces from their reinforcements, and supply and support facilities in The rear of the battlefield. Deep Strike stresses offence and manoeuverability. War would be fought to win rather than to achieve a stalemate or to halt an invasion. Besides aircraft such as the Tornado GRi, it would require other weapons systems that would have to be developed: e.g. conventionally armed cruise missiles, and modified Pershing II and Trident missiles. A missile called the "Incredible Hulk" would be developed to strike deep at targets such as airfields. Another weapon being developed in the U.S. is called "Assault Breaker." This includes a surveillance system for identifying moving ground targets and a short range missile that would break open over the battlefield and spew out hundreds of guided submunitions to seek out individual targets. A new satellite guidance system for cruise missiles, called the Global Positioning System, is also being developed along with a number of new systems for long-range jam-resistant communications.

The list of new weapons to be developed for Deep Strike runs on and on, and the costs of putting the entire system in place is estimated at $20 billion over a ten year period. General Rogers has proposed an increased defence expenditure of 1 percent per year over this period on the part of each NATO country in order to pay for it.

A basic premise of Deep Strike is that an improved conventional deterrent will de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons in NATO strategy. Deep Strike, NATO argues, will shift the battlefield onto Warsaw Pact territory and reduce the need for battlefield nuclear weapons.

Critics of Deep Strike, on the other hand, argue that it is destabilizing and in fact lowers The threshold for a nuclear war. Deep Strike blurs the distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons due to the quasi-nuclear nature of the weapons to be deployed, which are almost as destructive as small nuclear devices. Moreover, the delivery systems are intended to deliver either nuclear or conventional bombs. If the Warsaw Pact were attacked with Tornados, cruise, or ballistic missiles, how would it know whether The attack was a conventional or nuclear? Deep strikes against Warsaw Pact/Soviet strategic installations could provoke those governments to use nuclear weapons so as to avoid defeat or invasion. The Innu are making their "last stand." Before May, the Euro-NATO Training group will make its recommendation on whether to build the tactical Fighter and Weapons Training Centre in Goose Bay or Konya, Turkey. NATO's Defence Planning Committee may make a final decision about the base on May 22nd or 23rd when it meets in Brussels. The Canadian peace movement should notice before a massive military development is slipped in the back door without public debate or protest.

For more information on this issue, contact David Nake, Innu Kanantuapatshet, Sheshatshit, Labrador, A0P lM0 or Guy Bellefleur (French), Conseil de Bande de La Romaine, La Romaine, Ouebec, G0G lM0.

Canadian Peace Alliance

The first steering committee meeting of the Canadian Peace Alliance since the founding convention in Toronto last November was held just outside Calgary on February 21-13. About 40 delegates attended, representing every region of the country and about fifteen national organizations. The meeting was very positive and productive.

A membership report indicated that in the first two months of existence, over 100 regional groups, coalitions, and national organizations had already joined the Canadian Peace Alliance. These member organizations and coalitions collectively represent 985 local affiliates and coalition member groups. These affiliates and coalition members will be urged to also join the CPA themselves.

The Steering Committee decided to establish an office and hire a staff. The office will be located in Toronto, with Bob Penner hired as the first staffperson. A second staffperson will be added in following months. A budget and fundraising plan was agreed on, with the main sources of revenue being merchandise sales, direct mall, grants, and membership fees.

It was agreed that an important service for the CPA to provide is a regular mailing to member groups. Other services to be provided by the CPA include keeping and making available lists of peace groups and facilitating campaigns.

Considerable time was spent discussing campaigns and initiatives. A very important outcome was a decision to launch a Canadian campaign against Star Wars. The campaign would call for no Canadian involvement in Star Wars, including: No Star Wars; no contracts to Canadian companies; no Canadian political support for Star Wars; no integration of NORAD with Star Wars; and no deployment of comprehensive air defences in northern Canada. As positive alternatives, the campaign would support the ABM Treaty, a Comprehensive Test Ban, and an International Satellite Monitoring Agency. The campaign would include a petition/leaflet, as well as several other activities, including a "Star Wars Watch" committee to monitor Star Wars contracts across the country. A "Call to Endorse and Participate in a Canadian Campaign to Stop Star Wars" was drafted at the meeting and signed by most delegates. The Call is being sent to all members of the Canadian Peace Alliance. In keeping with the mandate determined at the founding convention, the campaign will be conducted in the name of the organizations participating in the campaign, with the CPA facilitating it For more information, contact End the Arms Race, 1708 W. 16th Ave., Vancouver B.C. V61 2M1. (604) 736-2366.

The meeting noted the serious lack of government funding for The International Year of Peace and most delegates signed a letter to Canadian Disarmament Ambassador Doug Roche protesting this. Also discussed were: the role of political parties in the CPA, and the location and date of the 1986 national convention. A process was established for discussing both of these issues further before the next Steering Committee meeting, which is scheduled for July in New Brunswick..


The Vancouver Peace Festival: A lot of public input is going into the drafting of 'The Vancouver Proposals' which will be presented publicly by three Nobel Peace Prize winners. Among other things, The proposals will call attention to The connection between the Comprehensive Test Ban and Star Wars: The reason for declining a test ban is largely the Americans' interest in developing the X-ray laser component of Star Wars, which requires nuclear explosions. "This year's April 27th Walk for Peace will lead to B.C. Place-a stadium which holds 70,000. There the marchers will listen to several prominent speakers, including Petra Kelly, General Gert Bastian (founder of Generals for Peace and Disarmament), Joan Ruddock, Vice-Chairperson of Britain's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Paul Warnke (U.S.) and Georgi Arbatov (USSR).

Throughout the week, a 4400 square-foot peace tent will be open at Sunset Beach, with displays, workshops, and a drop-in centre where literature will be available. The Mayor of Hiroshima has arranged to send the best display ever of artifacts from the bombing. It will be at the Orpheum Theatre for the week. He will join Mayor Harcourt in sponsoring a special conference on Thursday afternoon, April 24, for mayors and alderman, focusing on the special role cities can play in working for peace. "A Youth Conference will take place on the 25th and a film festival will continue throughout the week. Out-of-town peace activists can obtain billets by contacting EAR, 604/736-2366.

Helen Caldicott's only Canadian lecture of the year will be at 7: 30 pm. April 3 at the War Memorial Gym at U.B.C. and will focus on Star Wars.. At Expo, don't miss the U.N. Pavilion, featuring Peace Through Communication displays. "Riding committees have been forming, following up the Election Priorities Project. Each one concentrates on working on the politicians of its particular riding.


In May 1984, delegates to the fifteenth Constitutional Convention of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) received a leaflet entitled Jobs, Not Bombs: The Case for Economic Conversion. The leaflet was produced by a Task Force, composed mainly of staff members from The CLC and several of its major affiliate unions. Its purpose: to acquaint Canadian union members with the concept of economic conversion and show Them that jobs and peace are not mutually exclusive.

About a month later, some 20 trade unionists were among the 50 Canadians at the International Economic Conversion Conference in Boston, which attracted some 700 activists from the U.S. and Western Europe. It became more apparent That to get union members' support, economic conversion would have to become part of the agenda of both the Canadian peace movement's agenda and the labor movement.

In The nearly two years since Boston, interest in conversion has mounted in both movements. Articles on conversion have appeared in peace publications and the labor press. Project Ploughshares and The Confederation des syndicats nationaux (CSN), a Québec-based labor federation, have been granted funding from the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security to carry on conversion-related research. The CSN, which has a full-time staff person working solely on peace and disarmament, has also been pursuing a conversion-oriented "F-18 for Peace" campaign.

Conversion was highlighted in the Canadian Labour Congress's recent submission to the Parliamentary Special Joint Committee on Canada's International Relations. The brief, designed as a response to the government's Green Paper on international affairs, pointed out that "the resources wasted on arms could be devoted to production for peaceful and constructive purposes which would create more jobs than the capital-intensive defence industries."

"Conversion cannot be left to chance; our jobs and our lives depend on it," the brief stated.

Relating Conversion to Defence Policy

The peace movement has proved itself responsive to labor's concerns. On the recommendation of labor delegates, support for conversion and retraining was incorporated into the founding document of the Canadian Peace Alliance. And only two weeks after the CPA's founding convention, peace and labor activists joined forces again for the first Canadian Conference on Economic Conversion, held in Toronto on November 29-30. The conference was sponsored by Project Ploughshares, the United Auto Workers, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the United Church, Science for Peace, and the Toronto Disarmament Network.

Murray Randall, Research Director of the CLC and a member of the ad hoc conversion task force, said the conference showed that people are beginning to look at conversion in the context of Canadian economic and defence policies.

"We have to start by mapping out broad policy- for example, what Canada's priorities should be in the area of defence policy," Randall said. "Once we've established that, we can be more concrete about what our message should be."

In recent months, labor's need to find concrete ways of taking jobs into account has been highlighted by two particular issues:

the proposed Litton Industries plant for radar assembly in Prince Edward Island (originally slated for Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) and the threat by the Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) to pull out of provincial Federations of Labour because of resolutions related to peace and disarmament.

In the case of Litton, union activists are torn between their negative feelings about defence production and their desire for employment in their communities-especially since both Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island are areas of high unemployment. Without radar parts, nuclear weapons won't work. "We have to look at going through the local labor council and working with local politicians to come up with alternative uses," Randall said. "It's naive in the extreme to go to a given community and just say 'this is an anti-human activity you would be involved in.'"

UNDE, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, represents more than 28,000 civilian employees of The federal Department of National Defence: cleaners, cooks, laborers, secretaries, and other non-military personnel. And as far as UNDE's leaders are concerned, the labor movement's peace policies call for reduced defence spending without considering the impact on employment.

Defence Work Unionists Object

Peace activists in the labor movement admit that public sector defence workers have been largely ignored in the discussion of economic conversion-and that will have to change if the conversion movement is to have credibility.

John Fryer, president of the 250,000-member National Union of Provincial Government Employees and a member of the board of Operation Dismantle, said the labor and peace movements must look at ways of incorporating The concerns of such unions as UNDE into their peace-related policies.

"For example, if we want to convert Nanoose, we should work with UNDE on a concrete alternative job plan for Those DND employees now working there," he said. "And when we develop resolutions for labor conventions, we should look at the impact on jobs; perhaps all That may be needed to accommodate union concerns is a change of wording."

Fryer added that the peace movement has not paid enough attention to the areas where defence spending could be put to better use: such areas as search and rescue, peacekeeping, and coastal surveillance.

"The vast majority of peace activists agree that the Canadian Armed Forces-and the civilians who work with them-have a continuing role to play in a sovereign, peace-oriented Canada," Fryer said. "This role could even be expanded if Canada regains control over its own defence policies."

Fryer admits that some union members will still disagree with the peace movement even if every effort is made to incorporate job concerns. "But all that shows is that the labor movement is a microcosm of society as a whole-a democratic institution that accommodates different points of view and takes positions on the basis of majority vote."


No sooner had the International Year of Peace begun when warfare erupted in the Québec civil service as to how to mark it. An Inter-Ministerial Committee set up to recommend programming for the IYP presented a $5 million slate of research and educational activities, to be effected by the education system and public and private bodies. The program reportedly proposed a permanent peace information centre comparable to SIPRI, programs in schools, and studies of the impact of military production on the Québec economy (over 40 percent of Canada's military industry is in Québec).

A member of the committee described the program's aim:

"Do we want to build the helicopters that go to the contras in Central America? We are proposing that we take advantage of 1986 to discuss These issues...and let Québecers decide." The peace community was consulted by the committee drafting the report, and it was understood that peace groups were to play a large role in the activities planned.

Bureaucrats in the Ministry of International Relations were quick to criticize the committee's recommendations in a report of Their own, which was leaked to the press. They expressed concern about the "broad range of topics" dealt with in the recommended program as well as its aim of encouraging wide public involvement. These matters, according to them, are best left to "civil servants with experience in International politics, whose political sense and loyalty to the State can be relied on without reservation." Their counter-proposal was for a much less "ambitious" program of one million dollars. The upshot of this, still unofficial at this writing, is a decision by the Québec government not to put any funds at all into The IYP.

Meanwhile, the news media are filled with reports of new military contracts coming to Québec, with the support of all levels of government, all in the name of creating jobs.

Three consortiums are competing for the federal contract for a low-level air defence (LLAD) system, to be awarded by March 31 and expected to cost $68 million. Much of the bidding has taken place in the media, with companies trying to outdo each other in extravagant headlines promising jobs and economic spin-offs. First off the mark was an AB Bofors-Marconi consortium with a claim of $850 million in economic benefits, almost half of which was promised to Québec. A couple of weeks later, the Derlikon-Litton group announced that it would be building a new plant near St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which would create 250 jobs there and 550 elsewhere in the province-if it got the $605 million contract from the federal government. Québec's new Minister of Industry and Commerce attended their press conference and was quoted as saying that while he shared the ideals of the peace movement, his concern was creating jobs.

What jobs, anyhow?

The little town of St-Jean, just outside Montréal, had declared itself a nuclear free zone in 1984. Government pressure and the promise of jobs resulted in the withdrawal of that by-law last fall, and although the town council argues that there will be no nuclear weaponry involved in the new plant, it is firmly opposed to attempt to reintroduce The by-law-just in case any arms manufacturers should get the wrong idea about where the town's sympathies lie.

Then there were new contracts of Canadair. This time the headline read 400 jobs-and federal government investments of $50.9 million. At the same time, the government spoke of selling the Crown company to the private sector, now that its debts have been paid off by the taxpayers of Canada

The latest news has been of $281 million in federal aid to military and military-related research and development in the aerospace industry in the Montréal region. Of this money, $151.9 goes to Pratt and Whitney under the Defence Industry Productivity Program (DIPP), and $130 million is a grant or loan (this trivial detail remains to be decided) to Spar Aerospace. The government claims that 2500 jobs will be created, but it turns out that they are not all exactly new-at least a thousand of them result from agreements that date as far back as 1983. Nor are the figures very solid; Spar's president admitted his company's promise of 1400 jobs was based on nothing but "gut feeling."

Québecers will have a different feeling in their gut, if past experience is any indication. The province has a long history of governments responding to economic problems by setting up military plants. The promised jobs rarely materialize. A case in point is the Bell Helicopter factory at Mfrahei.

When the Bell plant was first announced in 1983, 3,800 jobs were promised amid great fanfare. the federal and provincial governments were together to provide half of a total investment of $766 million. The Québec cabinet dezoned farm land so that the multinational could have just the site it wanted. As the tale unfolded, the number of jobs went down and the taxpayers share in the investment increased. According to the most recent reports, the Bell plant can guarantee only 250 jobs. Since the taxpayers in the end supplied upwards of $275 million to Bell, this means each job will have cost over a million dollars.


Peace Magazine Apr-May 1986

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1986, page 28. Some rights reserved.

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