Peace Quest Cape Breton
An informal citizens’ action group working to build a culture of peace in our community, country and world since 2002
NOVEMBER 5, 2021
PEACE QUEST CAPE BRETON JOINS GLOBAL CALL FOR DEEP CUTS IN MILITARY GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Peace Quest Cape Breton has added its name to a global ‘Call for Action,’ issued by The Conflict and Environment Observatory, for governments at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow to “commit to meaningful military emissions cuts.” Noting that “the 2015 Paris Agreement left cutting military greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the discretion of individual nations,” and that the response has been woefully inadequate, the Call to Action argues that “governments must demonstrate their commitments to the Paris targets by setting military GHG reduction targets at COP26.”
Peace Quest Cape Breton Campaign Coordinator Sean Howard stated: “We are honoured to be associated with this eloquent and urgent appeal to cut help greenhouse gas emissions by reducing military carbon pollution. The Paris Agreement aims to limit the rise in global warming to no more than 1.5° of preindustrial levels, a goal almost certainly unattainable without deep cuts in military spending – a process also allowing for the diversion of significant funds to help poorer nations deal with a climate crisis not of their making.”
Peace Quest member Lee-Anne Broadhead added: “War has always been environmentally devastating, but given their monstrous carbon footprint, militaries don’t even need to fight to contribute to the destruction of the planet, and loss of habitat and biodiversity, through global warming. And behind this threat, lurks another, the combination of genocide and ecocide – climate change on an unprecedented scale, at an unprecedented rate – that any nuclear war would bring. For humanity, and life on Earth, to survive we need to decarbonize, demilitarize, and denuclearize. Quickly.”
Although the US military has by far the most obscene carbon footprint – the Pentagon currently emits more GHGs than Portugal, and produces more total pollution per annum than over 100 countries combined – all modern military-industrial states have a role to play in responding to the Call to Action. In Canada, National Defence, the RCMP, and the Coast Guard produce nearly half – 45% - of the government’s emissions. And incredibly, as an August 2021 report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) details, all three are “exempt from key commitments in the Greening Government Strategy.”
The full Call to Action, and list of 214 signatories, can be viewed on the website of the Climate and Environment Observatory: https://ceobs.org/governments-must-commit-to-military-emissions-cuts-at-cop26/.
CANADA, THE BOMB, AND THE BAN TREATY
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR FEDERAL ELECTION CANDIDATES,
CAPE BRETON CANSO & CAPE BRETON SYDNEY-VICTORIA
In July 2017, 122 states adopted the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), popularly known as the Ban Treaty: a comprehensive prohibition of all nuclear weapons and related activities (developing, manufacturing, testing, etc.). The Treaty entered into force – becoming international law, fully binding on its members – in January this year, after Honduras became the 50th state to ratify.
As of September 1, there were 55 states parties, a number expected to steadily grow, with opposition to the Treaty largely confined to the ‘nuclear nine’ – US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea – and the 32 so-called ‘nuclear umbrella’ states in NATO and elsewhere. The Liberal Government in Ottawa, under strong pressure from Washington, boycotted the UN negotiations and continues to dismiss – while refusing to debate – the Treaty’s merits, claiming that nuclear weapons remain necessary for the defence and security of Canada and its allies in the 21st century.
But on September 21 last year seven prominent Liberals – including former Prime Ministers John Turner and Jean Chrétien – were among 56 former leaders from 20 non-nuclear NATO states to sign an ‘Open Letter in Support of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’. “The coronavirus,” the letter opens, “has starkly demonstrated the urgent need for greater international cooperation to address all major threats to the health and welfare of humankind. Paramount among them is the threat of nuclear war.” “Because “there is no cure for a nuclear war,” the luminaries argue, “we must show courage and boldness – and join the treaty.”
The following questionnaire invites the Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green Party candidates in both Cape Breton ridings to state for the public record their views on ‘Canada, Nuclear Weapons, and the Ban Treaty’, an issue that may literally be one of life-or-death for the planet.
Note: Peace Quest Cape Breton, a non-partisan citizens’ group formed in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, is a member of the International Peace Bureau (IPB), a partner of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Peace.
1. In April 2021, a Nanos national opinion survey showed that “a strong majority” – 74% – “want Canada to join the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, despite pressure it may face from the United States.” Do you agree?
2. In the same Nanos poll, 76% of respondents – 79.8% in Atlantic Canada – agreed that “the House of Commons should have committee hearings and debate Canada’s position on nuclear disarmament”? Do you agree?
3. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) proclaimed August 6, 2021, ‘Hiroshima Memorial Day’, describing it a “day to remember the devastation” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 “and to renew our commitment to ensuring freedom from the threat posed by nuclear weapons” in today’s world. (CBRM has also twice adopted unanimous resolutions calling on Canada to join the Ban Treaty.) Do you agree that nuclear abolition – ‘Global Zero’ – is the only true alternative to nuclear disaster? If so, how best do you think Canada could ‘renew its commitment’ to that goal?
4. Though Canada does not have nuclear weapons, and its forces are no longer equipped with American nuclear weapons, as a member of NATO’s secretive Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) Canada does help formulate, modify, and review detailed plans for the first use of nuclear weapons – and Canadian forces continue to routinely train for multiple scenarios involving a nuclear exchange with Russia. Do you believe Canada should still be involved in such planning and training? And do you believe any alliance or nation has the right to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons first in any conflict?
5. Multiple, increasingly sophisticated scientific studies have shown that even a ‘limited’ nuclear war – involving a tiny fraction of today’s 14,000 nuclear weapons – would not ‘only’ kill millions from firestorms and radiation, but trigger catastrophic, irreversible climate breakdown, threatening hundreds of millions more with starvation, cold, and disease. Do you agree with the science that nuclear weapons pose as serious a threat to the planet and the climate as global warming? If so, do you agree that proposals to advance nuclear disarmament should form part of Canada’s national climate change strategy?
HIROSHIMA MEMORIAL DAY IN THE CAPE BRETON REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY
Peace Quest Cape Breton Commends Council for Championing the Cause of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World
On July 6, responding to a request of Peace Quest Cape Breton, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) unanimously adopted a Peace Proclamation declaring August 6 ‘Hiroshima Memorial Day’ and urging Canada to embrace the vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world by signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the ‘Ban Treaty’ adopted by 122 states at the UN General Assembly four years ago.
The depth and detail of the resolution was commended by numerous peace groups and activists around the country, and was described by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day Coalition, based in Toronto, as “breaking new ground” for a municipal resolution in its reference to a recent Nanos opinion poll showing 75% of Canadians (and 78% of Atlantic Canadians) in support of Canada joining the Ban.
In 2013, CBRM joined Mayors for Peace, the global coalition of over 7,000 anti-nuclear municipalities, headquartered in Hiroshima. “We applaud our ‘Mayor for Peace,’ Amanda McDougall, and all Councillors,” Peace Quest Campaign Coordinator Sean Howard declared, “for demonstrating again its commitment to nuclear disarmament, and for urging the government of Canada to take responsibility for ridding the world of the insane threat of nuclear war.” “That risk is today only growing,” Howard added, pointing to the current ‘modernization’ of nuclear arsenals by all nine nuclear-armed nations (China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, UK, and US), and the increased preparedness and training by both Russia and NATO to use nuclear weapons first in a widening range of scenarios, including in response to cyber-attack.
“Current nuclear postures and practices needlessly endanger millions of lives and the health – and climate – of the planet,” Howard argued. “As CBRM clearly understands, Canada has no right to call or consider itself a peace-loving nation as long as it continues to base its so-called ‘national security’ on American and NATO nuclear weapons, which apart from imperilling us all cost trillions of dollars far better spent ‘building back better’ from COVID-19.”
The full text of the ‘Hiroshima Memorial Day Proclamation’ reads as follows:
WHEREAS: August 6th, 2021, marks the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, followed three days later by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki; and;
WHEREAS: hundreds of thousands of civilians died in these attacks and tens of thousands more have suffered and are suffering from the wounds, radiation sickness and multigenerational genetic disorders triggered by the explosions; and;
WHEREAS: today’s 14,000 nuclear weapons, possessed by nine states, are equal in their destructive power to more than one million Hiroshimas; and;
WHEREAS: in 2013, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality joined the global Mayors for Peace coalition, based in Hiroshima, pledged to work for a nuclear-weapon-free world; and;
WHEREAS: in 2017, 122 states adopted the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the ‘Ban Treaty; and;
WHEREAS: in April 2021, a Nanos opinion poll showed 75% of Canadians in favour of Canada signing the Ban Treaty;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED: that Mayor Amanda McDougall of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality proclaim August 6th, 2021, as “Hiroshima Memorial Day” here in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. A day to remember the devastation of Hiroshima in 1945, and to renew our commitment to ensuring freedom from the threat posed by nuclear weapons, here and everywhere.
PEACE QUEST CAPE BRETON SPECIAL STATEMENT
YEARS OF STRUGGLE, MOMENTS OF TRUTH:
WELCOMING THE BIRTH OF THE BAN TREATY
On January 24, 1946, the first ever resolution of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously called for the “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons”. Almost exactly 75 years later – January 22, 2021 – an historic agreement designed to finally deliver that essential, elusive objective will become international law: the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), known more simply – and fondly – as ‘the Ban Treaty.’
The Ban – adopted by 122 states, two-thirds of UN membership, in July 2017 – establishes a comprehensive prohibition of by far the most devastating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on Earth, capable of killing millions in minutes, erasing cities in seconds, and triggering in the process a radioactive tsunami and catastrophic climate change. Article 15 states the Treaty shall ‘enter into force’ – becoming fully binding on its members – 90 days after 50 states have ratified it, a threshold soon crossed with the accession of Honduras on October 24 last year.
Many more states are expected to join in coming months and years, building momentum behind this unprecedent push to eliminate the danger of nuclear genocide (and ecocide), raising the profile of the issue around the world, and putting fierce moral and political pressure not just on the world’s nine nuclear-armed nations (US, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea), but their 30+ ‘nuclear-dependent’ allies, including Canada as a member of NATO, the world’s only nuclear-armed alliance.
Peace Quest Cape Breton Campaign Coordinator Sean Howard reflected that it took “decades of campaigning to bring us to this moment of truth, when no country can any longer dodge a decisive, existential question facing humanity since 1945: To Ban or Not to Ban the Bomb?” As 56 former leaders of NATO nations – including two Canadian Prime Ministers (Jean Chrétien, John Turner), three Foreign Ministers (Lloyd Axworthy, Bill Graham, John Manley) and two Defence Ministers (Jean-Jacques Blais, John McCallum) – sanely urged in an Open Letter last September: “Sooner or later, our luck will run out. The nuclear weapon ban treaty provides the foundation for a more secure world, free from this ultimate menace. We must embrace it now and work to bring others on board. There is no cure for a nuclear war. Prevention is our only option.” “May their successors see the light,” Howard urged, “and seize this best last hope for humanity. And may this beautiful, hard-won achievement, the newborn Ban, live long and prosper.”