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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2017: The year in which nuclear weapons could be banned?

Published 20 March 2017 at

Tariq Rauf

At the end of 2016, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted by a large majority (Resolution 71/258 of 23 December 2016) to convene in 2017 a UN conference to negotiate a ‘legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination’. The result of the vote was 113 in favour, 35 against and 13 abstentions. Four of the five nuclear weapon states—France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States—voted against, along with the majority of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states plus Australia, Israel, Japan and South Korea, all of which rely on US nuclear guarantees. Interestingly, North Korea voted in favour. Those abstaining included China (the only nuclear weapon state that did not vote against), India, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Switzerland.

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Canada Must Join New Negotiations to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

[ pdf download ] [ version française ]

Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC) calls on the Government of Canada to participate actively in the new nuclear disarmament negotiations at the United Nations starting March 27. These negotiations, supported by a majority of states of the world and open to all countries, aim to produce a treaty prohibiting all nuclear weapons.

The urgency of this action was highlighted January 26, 2017, when the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight – closer than the clock has been since 1953 when the Cold War heated up following U.S. and Russian detonations of thermonuclear bombs.

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The Arctic and the Seaborne Nuclear Arms Race

By: Ernie Regehr | January 28, 2017 | Originally published on

Headlines tell of a burgeoning Russian/American naval nuclear arms race and already tens of billions of dollars are being promised and spent in both countries on “modernizing” seaborne strategic nuclear weapons systems. While tactical nuclear weapons have been kept off their attack and general purpose submarines for at least a generation, there are indications they may be finding their way back. In the meantime, there is not yet any international regime or treaty or political will in place or contemplated for the exercise of seaborne nuclear restraint.

Read the full paper on the Simons Foundation website (pdf, 8 pages)