By Kay Macpherson, Phyllis Aronoff, Valerie Osborne, Metta Spencer, Sheena Lambert | 1987-02-01 12:00:00


by Kay Macpherson

A Consultation on Canadian Defence

I WAS INVITED TO THE FIRST OF THE consultations in preparation for the Defence White Paper which is to be published in the spring. The meeting included business, military, and peace movement representatives. George Ignatieff of Science for Peace, Ernie Regehr of Ploughshares, representing the United Church, Father Lombardi from the Catholic Church and I were the "peace movement." I was invited as a member of Voice of Women. Business and the military were well, if not overwhelmingly, represented.

The consultation was chaired efficiently by Robert Fowler, Assistant Deputy Defence Minister for Policy, who had travelled with Prime Minister Trudeau on his peace missions. He strove for informality and, since we were never more than 38 or so, managed to achieve it. No press were present. No one took official notes and there were no tape recorders. The Chairman explained that he and his colleagues would be listening carefully and noting good ideas and proposals from the group.

Some of the business executives were former admirals and generals. A sample of names: T.J. McGuigan (Litton), Adam Zimmerman (Noranda), Major General Bruce Legge (Reserves), Tom Kierans (McLeod Young), Admiral (ret.) T.S. Allan (Control Data), Col. Brian MacDonald (Strategic Studies and Toronto Militia), John Kirton, J. Pollock (SPAR), W.C. Tate, Hugh Segal (Camp Associates), J. Hasek, and Desmond Morton, the historian.

ONE AFTER ANOTHER THEY EXPRESSED concern for the decline of Canada's military forces, and for Canada's not "pulling our weight" in NATO. With poorly equipped troops, we have no adequate means for surveillance or defence of our borders. We were told that the Government gives huge contributions to the peace movement, which starves and undermines our Defence Department. Many of these points were emphasized by the three advocates of Peace Through Strength. Concern was expressed by many speakers for the demise of school cadet corps and the decline in the reserve forces, which had previously kept the armed forces in the public eye.

Dr. Ignatieff questioned the role of NORAD in its present form, and suggested revising or ending Canada's role within that alliance, while continuing membership in NATO. Ernie Regehr warned against contributing Canadian territory towards achieving U.S. military superiority. Father Lombardi reminded the meeting of the effects of the arms race on the people of the Third World.

Otherwise, Canada's commitment to NATO and NORAD was assumed, together with the need for a big defence budget and reserve force. No one spoke of the possibility of disarmament, the Freeze, a test ban treaty, or seeking solutions to international problems without violence.

I learned that peace people are dupes, traitors, directed and paid by Moscow or, alternatively, given huge sums of money by the Canadian government for conferences and propaganda which diminishes the funding and prestige of Canada's armed forces. When I spoke, I said that I represented these dire subversives. (Later, Ronald Ritchie chivalrously denied that I was a threat, except when I ran unsuccessfully against him in the 1979 federal election.)

I pointed out that it is the arms race itself that threatens life. The resources squandered on armaments and the threat-deterrence system could, if used peacefully, solve most of the world's problems. It is time to turn to nonviolence and mutual assistance as the only way of preventing our mutual extinction. (This appeal was later termed my "philosophical speech.")

Or Better Yet, Katimavik

WHEN SOMEONE ASSURED THE MINISTER of unanimous agreement for increasing the reserve forces, I dissented, saying there were more productive programs, such as Katimavik. When military satellite surveillance was considered, I asked about the United Nations monitoring satellite, for the use of all nations, but the response was not enthusiastic. When threats to Canadian sovereignty were mentioned, I asked about nuclear submarines in Nanoose Bay, and low flying planes in Labrador. These, I was told, are part of Canada's NATO commitment.

There was a long debate on the role for Canadian forces in Europe, followed by consideration of the protection of our boundaries and the sovereignty of Canadian territory. There was support for military research and for Star Wars. The conventional deterrent was still important, as well as nuclear weapons. Debate continued on where Canada's major military contribution should be -- Europe or Canada. There was little mention of the Arctic. This group centered its interest in Europe and Eastern Canada.

Perrin Beatty, Minister of Defence, arrived and was introduced. He stated that similar consultations will be taking place in Montréal, Halifax, and centres out west. It was never clear how this particular group of "the public" had been chosen. I appealed to the Minister for a better representation from those groups and individuals that had not been present at this first hearing and he assured me that he had already visited Labrador and would consider native and Inuit people in the North and other groups. The connection between business and the military had been evident at this consultation, but no youth groups or women's groups except mine were there.


International Year of Peace

IN SPITE OF A SLOW START, THE International Year of Peace ended on an upbeat note. The province's Ministry of Education and the teachers' union (Centrale des Enseignant-e-s) produced a teaching guide on peace for use in schools. Available in French and English, the guide deals with peace on personal, interpersonal, social, national, and international levels. The first printing sold out almost immediately.

The F-18 for Peace Campaign

THE ANNUAL OCTOBER DEMONSTRATION attracted a record ten thousand marchers, who paraded in front of a military base in Montréal's East end. for many of the marchers, it was their first peace demonstration and what brought them out was organizing by the "F-18 for Peace Coalition." The Coalition, which was formed over a year ago, brings together two of Québec's three big labor federations, the Québec Conference of Bishops, and international development organizations, along with the province's two main peace coalitions. The F-18 Coalition's original demand was that the federal government reallocate the cost of one F-18 fighter plane, $62 million, to peaceful uses, as both a symbolic gesture and a concrete example of conversion of military budgets.

This year's campaign took a broader approach -- "Reduction of Military Spending, Starting with One F-18 for Peace" was the slogan. The Coalition has been making the links between military spending, cuts in education and social services, and loss of jobs, and has reached out to bring peace issues to new constituencies. In early October, the message was brought to Catholic parishes all around the province, as churchgoers were asked to sign the F-18 for Peace Petition. Over 155,000 signatures were gathered.

Two weeks after the big demo, Montréalers voted in a new municipal administration, one that favors making Montréal into a nuclear weapon free zone and converting the city's military industries to civilian production. Groups in several neighborhoods in Montréal have been working on the NWFZ issue, and their supporters were numerous and visible in the ranks of the demonstrators. Although peace issues were not prominent in the election campaign, activists are encouraged by the new administration's platform.

IN ANOTHER MONTRÉAL STORY, THE 25 accused that remained to be tried, out of the original 85 arrested for their part in the 1985 Shadow Project, finally had their charges dropped. The prosecution had failed to get convictions in any of the cases that had been contested by the accused.

FOR THE SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR, runners participated in Montréal's International Marathon, to raise more than $40,000 for development projects in Central America. One of the projects supported by this activity is a co-op in Nicaragua that produces wheelchairs. Two members of the co-op came from Nicaragua and completed the marathon by wheelchair.

Shipments of Namibian uranium through the port of Montréal have been stopped as a result of repeated demonstrations by a handful of activists. Namibia is illegally occupied by South Africa, and the exporting of its resources contravenes a U.N. ruling. The uranium comes into Canada to be processed in Port Hope by Eldorado Nuclear, a crown corporation. Despite Canada's official stand on South Africa, External Affairs has refused to cancel the existing contract, which runs to 1988.

LOW-LEVEL TEST FLIGHTS CONDUCTED BY THE air forces of several NATO nations over Labrador's Nitassinan peninsula continue to be a big issue. The Innu people, who pursue a traditional way of life there, claim the flights are disrupting migration patterns of the caribou they depend on for survival. The expansion of the test facility into a full-fledged NATO training centre would mean ethnocide for the Innu.

QUÉBEC filmmaker Martin Duckworth's latest film for the NFB, "Return to Dresden," which features Giff Gifford of Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, has won a lot of interest in Montréal. And rumor has it that the monumental "Journey," a film being made by Peter Watkins with the help of activists in several countries, is nearing completion. As we write, the finishing touches are being put on the film in Montréal.

Phyllis Aronoff is Project Ploughshares regional worker for Québec.


Two Youth Tours

TWO YOUTH GROUPS, SAGE (STUDENTS AGainst Nuclear Extermination) from Montréal, and the International Youth for Peace and Justice Tour, from war-torn and deprived areas of the world, criss-crossed Nova Scotia in October and November. Between them, they gained access to high schools hitherto closed to local peace groups. The enthusiasm of SAGE members and the impressive courage of the International Youth group have left a long trail of student peace and Amnesty groups in their wake over the length and breadth of the province. Their success has confirmed the belief many of us have that the peace message is often most effective when carried between groups of similar backgrounds and interests.

PROJECT PLOUGHSHARES Halifax-Dartmouth commemorated the 69th anniversary of the Halifax explosion on December 6 by presenting all aldermen and councillors in the Metro Area and Halifax County with a copy of Operation Dismantle's Unsafe Harbours, and Mayor Gretchen Brewin of Victoria's letter to the Prime Minister requesting a public enquiry into the docking of nuclear weapons-capable vessels in Canadian harbors and an end to such visits until the enquiry can be held. There was also a letter from Ploughshares pointing out that local representatives have a duty to ensure public safety from which they are not absorbed by pleading federal responsibility. A week later, Ploughshares has received only one reply from Mayor Ron Wallace of Halifax saying that "City Council restricts its agenda to munipal affairs. As a municipal government, it is our responsibility to respect the limitation of our jurisdiction and to refrain from trespassing on those of senior government."

THE RECENTLY FORMED CITIZENS FOR LOCAL Economic Development (CLED) in conjunction with the Voice of Women in Halifax is planning a conference on the militarization of our economy, probably in February. Other peace related groups are expected to join in this as more defence-oriented industry moves into the province, attracted by government grants.

No Change in Policy on Sea Weapons

A DEPRESSING LETTER HAS BEEN RECEIVED from Joe Clark in reply to one sent by the Atlantic Peace Coalition. It reaffirms Canada's commitment to NATO and to "the policy of its allies possessing a sea-based nuclear deterrent. At the same time, the Government has reassured itself about the safety precautions exercised by its allies with regard to the nuclear weapons and propulsion systems of those allied warships that may on occasion visit its ports." The letter also states that the proposal for a NATO base at Goose Bay has the support of the Federal and provincial governments "and a number of local organizations... The government is confident that studies by the Environmental Assessment Panel "will minimize if not eliminate, any adverse impact on Innu lifestyles, the wildlife, and the environment generally."

Defence Policy Consultation

ON DECEMBER 6, 1986, ABOUT THIRTY representatives from the Halifax area took part in a DND "Policy Consultation" chaired by Bob Fowler, Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy) in DND in preparation for the government's White Paper on defence policy, the first since 1971. Participants had ten days or less notice of this event and were asked specifically to discuss the adequacy of Canada's commitment to the conventional deterrent, the defence needs of the North Atlantic Alliance, Canada's response to the Three Ocean Challenge, and the future direction and forms for defence policy in space.

Six members of peace organizations were arbitrarily selected to represent Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, Voice of Women, Project Ploughshares, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and Lawyers for Social Responsibility. From the outset, there were difficulties in our minds about the method of selection and there was a protest at the door of the conference room. After a prolonged discussion with Bob Fowler, two other people were admitted as observers.

The participants included strictly local representatives of industry and trade, strategic analysts, and retired, high-ranking service officers. The most glaring omission was lack of scientists and there were no representatives from young people, minority racial groups and, as far as could be determined, Francophones. Halifax. apparently, had to represent the whole of the Atlantic Provinces.

The discussion, according to the chairman, was not going to be officially recorded in any way but "good ideas" would be noted. It was not clear what constituted a "good idea," although admittedly, later in the day when Perrin Beatty finally joined us, Bob Fowler gave a masterly summation of the proceedings, with some memory jogging from a member of one of the peace groups.

The wide ranging discussion of the morning and more focussed one of the afternoon was predictable, given the people present reliance on the U.S. for a nuclear deterrent, the gap between Canada's commitment to NATO and her ability to carry it out, the need for defence contracts to bolster local industry. "Our side" certainly had ample opportunity to refute these statements and to suggest alternatives such as the possibility of Canada or the North as a nuclear weapons free zone. One had the feeling, however, that these were simply not absorbed.

There as a certain amount of agreement that Canadian sovereignty needed to be asserted, that commitments were over-extended, that the Canadian Armed Forces had an important role to play. It was also agreed that World War Three would be a disaster that must never be allowed to happen and that surveillance equipment is important to our own knowledge of what is going on in our territory.

What the conference never came to grips with was the policy that keeps Canada as an accomplice in the nuclear arms race and its potentially disastrous consequences. Defence policy is still perceived in terms of 1939 -- sea lanes of communication to Europe and Europe as a potential battlefield. There was clearly the germ of an idea that it might be better if we became "Masters of our Own Territory," but in addition to all the other commitments, not instead of them. Over all hung the cloud of the deficit budget and the question of where the money would come from for all these activities.

One peace group member, concerned primarily with the Third World, pointed out that we had spent a large part of the day discussing "the North" which has only one-third of the world's population and which is comparatively peaceful, with no reference to "the South" with the remaining two-thirds of the population, poverty and constant wars.

The discussion did not leave the peace group participants with a feeling of complete futility, but clearly a much wider participatory process is required with far more factually information from DND. This seems unlikely to happen at this late stage and the end result will proably be a White Paper that pleases neither doves nor hawks.

But peace activists who were not invited to this consultation should write to Defence Minister Perrin Beatty, and contribute to the debate.

Toronto Seminar

By Metta Spencer

VIRTUALLY EVERY WEEK, SCIENCE FOR PEACE, with the co-sponsorship of Lawyers for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Educators for Nuclear Disarmament, presents a lecture at the University of Toronto. (See the Peace Calendar for upcoming presentations in those public seminars.) Recent presentations in the series have included talks by Rosalie Bertell, David Wright, John Gilligan, Peter Meincke, and Jack Layton, with members of Toronto's official "International Year of Peace" Committee.

Radiation Victims of the South Pacific

ROSALIE BERTELL IS A SCIENTIST, AN ACTIVIST, and a Roman Catholic nun. Her work centers around the problems resulting from low level radiation on human beings and the natural environment. (See our interview with her in PEACE, May 1985.) At the time of her November 19 lecture, Dr. Bertell had just learned that she would be awarded the "Right Livelihood Award" -- which is frequently referred to as the "Alternative Nobel Prize."

After giving a brief introduction to the physics of ionizing radiation, Rosalie Bertell showed slides of South Pacific islands, where her organization offers assistance to the victims of radiation exposure. The most serious cases are in the Marshall Islands, where populations were exposed to far more fallout from U.S. atmospheric testing than were most survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although the authorities knew what was happening, they failed even to warn people to stay indoors during the worst period of fallout, and Dr. Bertell showed photos of some of the outcomes -- burns, birth defects and cancers.

The most appalling place is a over-crowded island called Ebeye, "the slum of the Pacific." Today, although the Brookhaven Laboratories carry out sophisticated tests in a truck at the Ebeye hospital, the physician there is allowed to monitor, but not to treat, the course of radiation-induced illness. The hospital lacks routine equipment, so Bertell's organization has sent a Canadian physician, Dr. Bernard Lau, there to provide medical care for the victims.

Dr. Bertell's work receives no institutionalized funding, but relies on private donations, which means that the income is always insufficient. Despite the public recognition brought by the award, the institute's financial status is precarious. Readers who share her concern about the health effects of radiation can support it by mailing donations to the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, 67 Mowat Avenue, #343, Toronto M6K 3E3. Phone 533-7351. Tax deductible receipts will be issued.

Creating an International Law Foundation

DAVID WRIGHT, Q.C. IS A MAN WITH VISION who also has the practical skills to actualize his ambitions. Having founded the United Church Peace Network and Lawyers for Social Responsibility, he is turning now to an even bigger challenge -- the creation of a major institution, the Canadian Foundation for Peace and Justice. This organization would have three components: (1) a "Peace and Justice Centre" for nongovernmental organizations in one place for groups that are now scattered around Toronto; (2) the world's first International Law Centre for the Study of Peace; and (3) an international network to encourage existing legal organizations (such as the Canadian Bar Association) to develop policy proposals.

In Wright's mind's eye, all three of these functions will be carried out in a single place -- the historic old Bank of Montreal building at Yonge and Front Streets in Toronto. A developer who owns this building has offered to donate it to the City of Toronto, for the use of the peace movement. Even so, to accept such a wonderful gift would be an albatross to peace groups, who could not afford the necessary upkeep. However, if Wright succeeds, $54 million will be raised to endow the Canadian Foundation for Peace and Justice -- which should at least pay the janitors. It will also pay quite a few others, including 15 to 20 top legal experts from all of the world's legal systems, who will spend up to three years each at the institute. Each guest scholar will work on developing practical, enforceable means of resolving international disputes.

Wright is about to begin publicizing his idea. Those who wish to work with him toward this goal can contact him at 1 Spirea Court, Thornhill, Ontario L3T 2V9, Phone 416/731-7691.

A Major Peace Studies Program at Notre Dame

JOHN GILLIGAN HAS BEEN A CONGRESSMAN, a Governor of Ohio, a Director of AID -- the Agency for International Development. Now he has a new career -- as Director of Peace Studies at Notre Dame University.

The impetus for the new program came when the president of the university appointed a committee to consider the idea. They recommended the establishing of an independent institute which would design an interdisciplinary program of studies at the undergraduate level. In time, should also be a graduate program, which would award M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. To keep up standards high, they suggested that all Fellows of the institute also be appointed to a regular department. Also, current professors in various departments should be encouraged to orient their teaching toward topics related to peace studies.

The committee recommended that the proposed institute assist activism by assisting popular journals, teleconferencing, the production of video materials, and similar forms of outreach to the nonacademic community.

At first, these ideas sounded overly ambitious. To offer such a program would cost $750,000 per year. The university would need an endowment of between twelve and and fifteen million dollars. Six months later, Joan Kroc, the McDonald's hamburger heiress, gave six million dollars to Notre Dame for its peace studies institute. John Gilligan was hired to administer it.

Notre Dame is, in some respects, an unlikely centre for peace studies. Ten percent of its students are in the ROTC program. Gilligan intends to make sure that his program reaches all these people by requiring some peace content to be in their military curriculum. Moreover, he is paying the regular faculty at Notre Dame a small stipend to take a two-week workshop designed to acquaint them with peace studies. He hopes that afterwards they will incorporate some of what they learned into their courses. Not only peace students, but many others will be influenced.

It is not a minute too soon for universities to be turning toward the study of peace. Twenty-eight percent of all science graduates from U.S. universities go to work for the military-industrial complex. Half of all aeronautic and astronomical engineers are in the defence establishment, points out Gilligan. Some $300 million per year is spent for Star Wars Research. It's time to change that.

National Defence College

ON DECEMBER 10, PETER MEINCKE gave his impressions of the National Defence College, where he spent a term after finishing his appointment as President of the University of Prince Edward Island.

The College -- not to be confused with the Royal Military College, which is also located at Kingston, Ontario, is entirely funded by the Department of National Defence but, unlike ordinary military training, it does not teach how to fight. Instead, its program addresses why questions. Lectures are mostly by visitors (Anatol Rapoport, Gwynne Dyer, and Leonard Johnson all gave lectures while Meincke attended) but the students learn as much from one another as from their instructors. The group visited all parts of Canada (including the Arctic) U.S., Germany, Hungary, Italy, France, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Thailand, Brazil, Cuba. They visited refugees and heads of government.

Meincke was surprised, he said, at learning the real reason why the nuclear weapons are in Europe; Europeans want them because they fear the conventional strength of the Soviet Union. He was also surprised in Cuba. The Cubans have given ten million guns to their peopleas preparation for a defence against U.S. invasion. You would not give guns to your people if you were expecting an insurrection of them, Meincke concluded.

Toronto's International Year of Peace

COUNCILLOR JACK LAYTON, WHO INSTIGATED Toronto's special project this year in observation of the International Year of Peace, spoke on December 17, along with three other committee members, Shirley Farlinger, Terry Gardner, andSteve Shallhorn, of the Toronto Disarmament Network.

The Committee had worked with a budget of $50,000, of which some $14,000 was spent on grants. Hiroshima/Nagasaki Days and Disarmament Week were supported, the latter with a Peace Festival which, though successful, was not as well attended as had been hoped.

Layton argued that it is important for cities to get involved in peace activities. While the federal government is constitutionally responsible for military and foreign policy matters, national governments are structurally unable to engage with ordinary people. Towns are the logical place for those talks to take place. Beginning with the local scene, people build a movement that the national government cannot ignore. For example, 41 percent of the population of Canada now lives in a community that is a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. Municipalities have the power to regulate the use of land. Why not use that and begin real conversion , as Chicagoans have done by passing ordinances genuinely banning nuclear weapons?


Flame of Peace Plan Unveiled

THE CITY OF VANCOUVER HAS UNVEILED ITS plans to build a peace park and monument at Seaforth Park -- one of the gathering spots for Vancouver's Walk for Peace. The flame of peace monument will be funded by the VanCity Savings Credit Union. The City Legacies Department, which has organized the building of the statue and park, has commissioned West Coast artist Sam Carter to design the statue. Although it is modelled on the monument in Hiroshima, the flame monument in Vancouver will be built only from materials natural to the West Coast -- copper and granite. The flame of peace will be lit on the day of the 1987 Walk for Peace, April 25, and will burn until nuclear disarmament is achieved in the world.

The Seaforth Park is also connected with the Seaforth Highlanders, a regiment of citizen soldiers who fought in both World Wars. According to Kathleen Wallace Deering of Project Ploughshares, who spoke at a recent ceremony to unveil models of the park and statue, it is appropriate that soldiers and disarmament supporters should come together for the building of a commemorative peace park. "Peace is one issue that joins every person on earth -- from the soldiers who marched in World War II, to the Vancouver citizens who march for peace today," she said.

B.C. Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Campaign

SIX NEW AREAS HAVE RECENTLY PASSED nuclear weapons free zone declarations: New Westminster; Coquitlam; Kimberley; Saanich; the Central Coast Regional District; and Smithers. In Smithers, where a civic referendum was held, the motion passed by a two-thirds majority. This brings the total of B.C. NWFZs to 49.

The Bella Coola Disarmament Group, which was responsible for getting the entire Central Coast Regional District declared a NWFZ, has suggested that other peace groups could try to get their regional districts to declare NWFZ status. In that way, much larger portions of the province would be covered by each nuclear weapons free zone declaration, and individual municipal councils that do not support the NWFZ concept could be circumvented.

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1987

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1987, page 42. Some rights reserved.

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