By Betty Patterson, Nina Westaway, Sheena Lambert | 1986-10-01 12:00:00


By Betty Peterson

ECONOMIC BLACKMAIL IN THE ATLANTIC AREA is revving up again with the June announcement that Litton Industries is to move into the Halifax Aerotech Park near Pratt & Whitney. The plant, involving a 4-5 year contract, will employ 75 high technicians who will repair and overhaul electronic and software Systems on the 18 Canadian Forces Aurora patrol aircraft. Premier Buchanan also favors inviting the infamous Thyssen plant to come to Cape Breton from West Germany. Thyssen plans to manufacture armored vehicle carriers and tanks to be sent to the Middle East, despite restrictions by both the Canadian and West German governments against exporting arms to military hot spots in the world.

The premiers of Atlantic Canada, with the exception of courageous Joe Ghiz, were vying with each other for the proposed Litton Plant, which will manufacture radar components for the C-F Low Level Air Defense System.

The Feds seem to be saying to this economically depressed area, "Work for war industries or stay unemployed!" Peace groups continue actions against these moves.

OUR MOST FAMOUS EXAMPLE OF EMPLOYMENT blackmail continues to be proposed, the NATO Tactical Fighter and Weapons Training Centre in Goose Bay, Labrador. During the NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting, John Crosbie decried the "misleading" publicity put forward by only 2 percent of the Goose Bay-Happy Valley population who opposed the base. Crosbie declared that $142,000 (of taxpayers' money) would be immediately allocated to the public relations efforts of the 98 percent of the townspeople (largely military, business and government employees) who favor the base and its promised jobs and security. He flew the NATO permanent Deputy Ministers to the Labrador site to impress them, and held a formal reception from which the Innu were turned away because they did not have proper ties and jackets.

One disturbing development concerns the NDP stalemate on the NATO base. Social Democratic parties in Europe, impressed by the Innu tour and on the verge of action, will not move until the Federal NDP takes a strong stand. The NDP, in turn, will not move unless the local Newfoundland/Labrador NDP rejects the Base. At the critical moment during the Provincial Party Convention, Peter Fenwick, NDP Party Leader, supported the Base which is in his riding, and the adopted resolution, coming right down the middle by supporting the Innu people, but also supporting the NATO Base. Urgent letters are needed to the Federal NDP.

The Federal Environment Assessment Review is now travelling throughout Labrador to determine the effect of low-flying planes. This is extremely important being the first defence-related study that has ever taken place in Canada, as well as the first environmental study ever requested by the Department of National Defence.

The Innu have refused to participate because no native rights and no peace and security matters will be considered. The framework is to assess damage, not to decide whether or not to go ahead. Write to Environment Minister Tom McMillan asking him to study the people affected as well as the damage to the environment and to come to supported conclusions and recommendations.

The NATO Base decision will be made in December, which gives us time for renewed effort; after that it will be too late. Suggestions are:

  1. Write Tom McMillan, Environment Minister, re Federal Environment Assessment Review.
  2. Write Ed Broadbent on the NDP position, with copies to Fenwick and Alexa McDonough, NDP party leader in Nova Scotia.
  3. Send for "Invasion of our Homeland: Low-flying Planes in Labrador," a 30 minute videotape recently completed in Halifax (DEVRIC, 1649 Barrington St., P.O. Box 3460, Halifax, Nova Scotia, BEJ 2A6 distributes it for the cost of mailing.)
  4. Alert your contacts in churches and peace groups in West Germany, where low-flying planes are hated.
  5. Write to the European Parliament. NATO countries, Belgium, Holland, and Italy, do not want the base in Canada. Germany is wafffing. It hopes there could be a deal with Turkey. Peace people oppose the locating of the base in Turkey, where there are nomads like the Innu.
  6. Keep up the letter-writing to External Affairs Minister Joe Clark and Defense Minister Perrin Beatty.

Our pressure is being felt, even in Europe, where the Canadian government is being asked "What's going on? We thought all Canadians want the Base."

British Columbia Notes

By Nina Westaway and Sheena Lambert

Nanoose Debated

ON MAY 15, OVER 200 PEOPLE CONGREGATED AT Parksville Community Hall to hear a debate on the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Range (CFMETR) at Nanoose Bay. Speaking against base activities were Alan Wilson, Patti Willis, and Sunshine Goldstream. Speaking for CFMETR were Ted Schellenberg, MP; Ken Casson, Chief Administrative Officer at CFMETR; and Ray Walker, of the Parksville Chamber of Commerce.

Wilson noted that the Sea Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM), which is on board many U.S. submarines and vessels, e.g. Los Angeles and Sturgeon class, coming into Nanoose, has no limits imposed by arms control and, in fact, makes arms control impossible. He cited Robert Aldridge, former missile designer, who argues that the supposed threat posed by the Soviet submarine fleet is illusory. Their subs are noisier, hence easier to locate. Only 15 percent of the fleet is at sea at any given time as compared to 55 percent of the U.S. fleet, more maintenance being required by these relatively old subs (45% are over 20 years old). The U.S. subs are quieter, more efficient, and the U.S. Navy possesses advanced technology to detect submarines.

PATTI WILLIS OUTLINED THE POTENTIAL hazards of nuclear reactors on subs, comparing them to commercial reactors. A sub reactor is 6-10 percent the size of a commercial reactor, like the ones at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island or Pickering, or 3,000 times the size of some Canadian university reactors. However, the core materials are 30 times more enriched than commercial reactors, and are almost weapons grade, in order to maintain its long refueling cycle of 10 years. Because it is a pressurized water reactor operating in a tight space, it has higher power density and is closer to its thermal limits. That configuration gives it a smaller melt-down margin. In answer to questions about submarine reactor accidents, Willlis referred to a 1973 U.S. disaster control plan for a submarine base at Pearl Harbor: a meltdown could go right through the ship, spilling its radioactive contents into the harbor. She said that some subs coming into Nanoose could have up to 5 megatons worth of fire power in their nuclear arsenal--385 Hiroshimas.

Although Boston, New York and Los Angeles have prohibited these subs coming into their harbors, our own government has not. There has never been a site evaluation report on environmental impact studies, safety analysis or emergency plans in the event of systems failure. No public enquiry has asked the public's opinion, yet there have been dramatic increases in such vessels visiting our harbors.

During question period, Sue Scotland asked about emergency plans for Nanoose. Ken Casson of CFMETR said that there was an emergency response team in place involving both crew and personnel from Comox. However, Patti Willis pointed out that the plan was classified information and that there are no plans for civilians in the area.

Casson, when asked how long it ~ take a submarine to be towed out to sea in the event of a nuclear reactor accident (a "faded giant"), ended the safety record of both the U.S. and the USSR over the past 31 years. He called the question "pure speculation" that couldn't be accurately answered. Willis rebutted by citing American and Russian mishaps, including a 1982 accident on the icebreaker Lenin which cost many sailors' lives. Sunshine Goldstream reminded the audience that the Mark 48 torpedoes and ASROCs tested at Nanoose were part of a first strike scenario to destroy the Soviet fleet.

Electing peace

With 20,000 Peace Voter Pledge Cards distributed throughout British Columbia and 10,000 more on order at the printer's, a campaign co-sponsored by End the Arms Race and the Coalition of Riding Committees has become one of B.C.'s fastest growing and most promising new projects. It centres around a card that voters sign, pledging that at the next federal election they will consider only politicians who take a strong stand against Canadian involvement in the arms race. Organizers plan to gather enough of these pledges to make disarmament a key issue in the next federal election. Already, peace groups in every B.C. riding have requested cards, and donations from individual pledge signers have more than paid the campaign costs. EAR and the Coalition of Riding Committees share the coordination of the campaign. Individual riding committees distribute the cards to stores, businesses, offices, community centres, and other key areas. When signers send in their cards, EAR compiles them and enters them into its computer. EAR gives each riding Committee a monthly list of new volunteers and keeps the committee up to date about the totals. At the outset of the next federal election, each riding committee will give the list to its candidates and work on a local level to get these candidates to commit publicly to ending Canadian participation in the arms race. EAR will send out press releases, serve as a clearinghouse for information on the campaign and on specific candidates, and lobby where committees don't exist. With information from the ridings, EAR will also draw up "scoresheets" detailing each candidate's stand on disarmament. These will be sent to all peace pledge signers. This campaign may be taken up across Canada: At the Canadian Peace Alliance steering committee meeting, July 11~13, several groups adopted the idea. EAR and the Toronto Disarmament Network will draft a proposal for making the campaign national. This proposal will be circulated and voted on at the November Canadian Peace Alliance convention. In the meantime, the B.C. campaign is conducting a door-to-door canvass in September and is producing a fact sheet on how to form a riding committee.

Making B.C. a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

Over half of the B.C. population now lives in a nuclear weapons free zone. Forty towns have passed declarations, and recently the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council declared its lands, which cover the western half of Vancouver Island, to be a nuclear weapons free zone a major focus of the B.C. peace conference is on how to make the province a NWFZ.

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1986

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1986, page 46. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by Betty Patterson here
Search for other articles by Nina Westaway here
Search for other articles by Sheena Lambert here

Peace Magazine homepage