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Letter: Canada must support nuclear disarmament

What are they there for if not to protect us from the ghastly results of nuclear war?

Canada must support nuclear disarmament

If you are under the impression our government is interested in nuclear disarmament, disappointment will be your reward. It’s understandable of course – we are the good guys who want peace and democracy in every corner of the globe. At least that is the mythology peddled to Canadians.

Many if not most of the countries in the world have signed a range of treaties and generally there has been in place significant efforts to restrain the possibility of a nuclear strike. Every time a bellicose thought is followed by action in the world, we draw ever closer to the possibility of a nuclear incident. Even a relatively small nuclear detonation could render large portions of our planet uninhabitable.

The inclination to develop ‘tactical’ or ‘low yield’ nukes is precisely to encourage their use in conventional battlefield circumstances. The new imperialism is represented by the blackmail the original colonising nations who possess nuclear weapons can impose. Either bend the knee or risk annihilation in one form or another.

Right now, there are a group of resolute peace campaigners working through the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons — a coalition of non-governmental organisations in one hundred countries — urging the observance of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). This landmark global agreement was adopted in New York on July 7, 2017.

Canada has not yet signed or ratified the TPNW. In fact Canada did not even participate in the negotiation of the TPNW at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and thus did not even vote on its adoption.

In 2016, Canada even voted against the original UN General Assembly resolution which established the formal mandate for nations to develop “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. Whatever the wishes of the people of Canada, our leaders followed lockstep in adhering to the demands of the U.S.

In a document sent to NATO members ahead of the vote, the United States “strongly encourage[d]” members, including Canada, to vote against the resolution, “not to merely abstain”. In addition, it declared, if the treaty negotiations do commence, allies and partners should “refrain from joining them.”

Can you imagine! What more evidence do we need that the people in charge have no interest in the wellbeing of our planet and every creature on it?

It should interest our government – though of course it does not — that a public opinion poll conducted by Nanos Research in 2021 found 74 per cent of Canadians believe their government should join the TPNW, with just 14 per cent opposed. Furthermore, 73 per cent think that Canada should join even if, as a member of NATO, it might come under pressure from the United States not to do so. Several Canadian cities, including Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, have also urged the Canadian government to sign and ratify the TPNW. We should be calling for all our elected people at all levels to demand this. What are they there for if not to protect us from the ghastly results of nuclear war?

Our business class are standing firm to continue the manufacture of weapons and selling them willy nilly to anyone with a wallet. On behalf of the very wealthiest and the very nastiest, it is clear that our government is unwilling to do the right thing however modest that right thing is.

As long as we tolerate this demoralising situation… as long as we are prepared to have our ruling class syphon our resources towards the few who enrich themselves in the manufacture and distribution of all weapons, our expectations for well funded services and international solidarity will go unresolved.

The Freedom from War Coalition stands with all people in the world who demand our governments abolish nuclear weapons. Our safety and our needs speak volumes and we must press on to defend the interests of the many.

Canada must sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

We are waiting…

Eden Haythornthwaite