Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.

Douglas Roche: Canada on the wrong side of anti-nuke movement

The release of a draft of a UN agreement to ban nuclear weapons provides further momentum for the effort to stave off one of humanity’s greatest threats.

Published 31 May 2017 in The Hill Times, p.20.

By Douglas Roche

Leaders of the Canadian government who in the past few months have contented themselves with vapid excuses for not supporting efforts at the United Nations to prohibit nuclear weapons will have to work overtime to find credible reasons to maintain resistance, now that the draft text of a convention has been released.

The heart of the matter is contained in Article 1 (a), in which each state party undertakes never under any circumstances to “develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

In other words, nuclear weapons are stigmatized, put beyond the pale, and never to be a part of a nation’s armoury. The Canadian government, tied so closely to the nuclear policies of Washington and NATO, will not accept this. The integrity of the Canadian position that it really wants to do away with nuclear weapons, but not just yet, is in tatters.

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Good News Service #49: Spring 2017

  1. Ottawa, March 14/17 Malala Yousafzi’s speech to Canada’s Parliament wasn’t just moving; it was also funny
  2. International Criminal Court provides redress for victims of violations of their human rights
  3. Small Farmers Aided by Back Yard Communities project in Mozambique
  4. UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development active in Cambodia
  5. UNESCO Leadership Training is designed by Earth Charter International
  6. Climate Change resistance linked to food security in rural areas
  7. Up to 24 million small farmers helped to access water for their crops in Indonesia
  8. Owls Build Bridges to Peace
  9. Turning Ashes into Accommodations
  10. The link between agriculture and peace

Download issue #49 here (pdf)

Is a world without nuclear weapons possible? Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Marius Grinius

This week, the United Nations began negotiations to create “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The goal, in other words, is to make the possession of nuclear weapons illegal.

These negotiations are the culmination of lengthy and energetic efforts by the international nuclear disarmament community, including in Canada, to rid the world of nuclear weapons once and for all. The belief is that making nuclear weapons illegal could contribute to their eventual demise. The negotiations are born of frustration — of a sense that nuclear states have done little to live up to their legal commitments to get rid of these weapons.

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Peace, still a Canadian value?

Artistes pour la Paix and Pugwash Canada (author Pierre Jasmin) 2017-03-23

Canada has gained respect throughout the world for choosing to work for the common good and real democracy, rather than follow the paths of militarism, colonialism and corporate domination. For example:

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Nuclear, incoming?

Letter to editor of the Globe and Mail from Frank Sommers, 21 March 2017

Re The Cassandras Are Warning Of Nuclear Doom – So Why Doesn’t Canada Seem To Care? (March 18):

Elizabeth Renzetti’s review of the resurgent threat posed by nuclear weapons brings to mind physicians’ efforts to educate the public and political leaders about the catastrophic medical consequences a nuclear strike would present.

I quote from a 1982 City of Toronto pamphlet we helped to prepare: “A one-megaton (70 times the destructive power of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) nuclear weapon detonated in the air above downtown Toronto during business hours would kill 750,000 people immediately and severely injure more than a million others; if detonated during the early evening, it would kill 624,000 residents and severely injure another 795,000. It would destroy 65- to 80 per cent of all the city’s hospital beds, along with blood banks, antibiotics, sterile supplies, diagnostic and life-support systems, operating theatres and emergency treatment centres. The blast would kill more than 5,000 physicians, leaving only one doctor for every 1,000 survivors – with only a little black bag for assistance.”

With our denser population, some 35 years later, these numbers would be higher. The devastating reality of nuclear arms calls on all of us, governments and citizens, to work to prevent their use.

Frank Sommers, MD, honorary and founding president, Canadian Physicians for Social Responsibility/Physicians for Global Survival

US first strike advantage heightens risk of nuclear war

Toronto Star article by John Polanyi, 20 March 2017

At the dawn of the nuclear age, its principal architect, Robert Oppenheimer, spoke of a stable standoff between nuclear powers. They would be held back from attacking one another by mutual fear, instead circling endlessly “like a pair of scorpions trapped in a bottle.”

Subsequently, political scientist Albert Wohlstetter pointed out that this stability would be lost if a situation arose in which advantage accrued to the first to attack. Then deterrence would at best be “a delicate balance of terror.”

Unknown to most, the balance is today at its most delicate. President Trump has inherited from previous administrations a balance of power tilted so far in favour of the U.S. that it might be advised at some awful moment of crisis to resort to a “first strike.”

Maintaining peace between the superpowers under these conditions will demand the highest level of skill and restraint from the two leaders. The auguries for this are not promising, since the delicacy of the balance has been hidden from public view.

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