Other Countries Have Proven They Want A World Without Nuclear Arms. Why Hasn’t Canada?
Bruce Megyenyi / Huffington Post Canada
(November 14, 2020) — Perhaps more than any other international issue, the Canadian government’s response to the move to abolish nuclear weapons highlights the gap between what the Liberals say and do on the world stage.
Honduras recently became the 50th country to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). As such, the accord will soon become law for the nations that have ratified it on January 22.
This important step towards stigmatizing and criminalizing these ghastly weapons couldn’t have come at a more necessary time.
Under US President Donald Trump’s leadership, the US further undercut nuclear non-proliferation, pulling out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, Iran nuclear deal and Open Skies Treaty. Over 25 years the US is spending $1.7 trillion to modernize its nuclear stockpile with new bombs that are 80 times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The UN Institute for Disarmament Research argues that the risk of nuclear weapons use is at its highest since the Second World War. This is reflected by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which has its Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight, representing the most perilous moment humanity has faced in decades.
What has been Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response? Canada was among the 38 countries that voted against holding the 2017 UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination (123 voted in favour).
Trudeau also refused to send a representative to the forum attended by two-thirds of all countries that negotiated the TPNW. The prime minister went so far as to call the anti-nuclear initiative “useless” and, since then, his government has refused to join the 84 countries that have already signed the treaty. At the UN General Assembly on Tuesday Canada voted against the 118 countries that reaffirmed support for the TPNW.
Incredibly, the Liberals have taken these positions all the while claiming to support a “world free of nuclear weapons.”
“Canada unequivocally supports global nuclear disarmament,” Global Affairs claimed a week ago.
The Liberals have also prioritized championing an “international rules-based order” as a centerpiece of their foreign policy. Yet, the TPNW makes weapons that have always been immoral also illegal under international law.
The Liberals also claim to promote a “feminist foreign policy.” The TPNW, however, as noted by Ray Acheson, is the “first feminist law on nuclear weapons, recognizing the disproportionate impacts of nuclear weapons on women and girls.”
The government’s hostility to the Nuclear Ban Treaty may be catching up with them. The “No to Canada on United Nations Security Council” campaign, which may have contributed to the defeat in June, criticized their nuclear policy. (Canada’s main competitor for seat on the Security Council, Ireland, has ratified the TPNW.)
“In a disappointing move, Canada refused to join 122 countries represented at the 2017 UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination,” noted a letter delivered to all UN ambassadors on behalf of 4,000 individuals, including many prominent international figures.
Since the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki three months ago, there has been a burst of anti-nuclear activism. The terrible anniversary placed a spotlight on the issue, and thousands of Canadians signed petitions calling on the government to join the TPNW. Amidst the commemoration the NDP, Greens and Bloc Québécois all called for Canada to adopt the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty.
At the end of September, more than 50 former leaders and top ministers from Japan, South Korea and 20 NATO countries signed a letter issued by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Former Canadian Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, deputy prime minister John Manley, defence ministers John McCallum and Jean-Jacques Blais, and foreign ministers Bill Graham and Lloyd Axworthy signed a statement urging countries to support the nuclear ban treaty. It said the TPNW provides “the foundation for a more secure world, free from the ultimate menace.”
Since the TPNW attained its 50th ratification just over two weeks ago, there’s been renewed attention to the issue. Nearly 50 organizations have endorsed an upcoming Canadian Foreign Policy Institute and Toronto Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition event calling on the government to sign the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty.
On November 19, Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow, who co-accepted the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, will be joined by Green MP Elizabeth May, NDP deputy foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson, Bloc Québécois MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe and Liberal MP Hedy Fry for a discussion titled “Why hasn’t Canada signed the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty?”
As more countries ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the pressure on the Trudeau government to follow suit will grow. It will become more and more difficult to sustain the gap between what they say and do internationally.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
ACTION ALERT: Tell the Canadian Government How to Mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
(September 25, 2020) — Tomorrow is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Today we have joined with peace groups across Canada to send a letter calling on the Canadian government to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
Currently, there are 84 signatories and 45 states party to the TPNW including New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland. The Treaty will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by 50 countries. However, the Government of Canada is refusing to sign onto this important treaty because of Canada’s membership in nuclear-armed NATO.
Today we are calling on the federal government to adhere to its legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to abide by the United Nation’s Agenda for Disarmament, to respect the will of Canadian citizens and to honour the desires of the international community to live in a world free of nuclear weapons by signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as soon as possible.
The full text of the letter is included here:
September 26, is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013. The objectives of the day are to enhance public awareness about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and encourage action by governments and civil society to prevent nuclear war and achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The organizations that have signed onto this letter are calling on the Canadian government to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
On July 7, 2017, the UN adopted the TPNW. It was an historic achievement with the potential to rid the world of the danger of nuclear weapons. Of the 193 UN member states, 122 voted to adopt the nuclear ban treaty, but Canada was among the 69 nations, including all NATO members, that regrettably withheld support by not voting.
The Treaty opened for signatures at the UN headquarters in New York on September 20, 2017. At the signing ceremony, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the product of increasing concerns over the risk posed by the existence of nuclear weapons, including the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of their use.”
Currently, there are 84 signatories and 45 states parties of the TPNW including New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland. The Treaty will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by 50 countries. However, the Government of Canada is refusing to sign onto this important treaty because of Canada’s membership in nuclear-armed NATO.
Moreover, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not meet with Japanese-Canadian nuclear disarmament activist Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 and who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in 2017. She is appealing to the Prime Minister to show leadership for peace by becoming a state party to the TPNW.
Public opinion shows that Canadians are overwhelmingly opposed to nuclear weapons and want the federal government to work for the abolition of these weapons of mass destruction (IPSOS 1998 and Environics 2008). In the past, Canada has taken significant steps for nuclear disarmament. In 1969, Canada ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Article 6 of the NPT requires state parties to negotiate in good faith and take effective measures for nuclear disarmament.
In 1978, at the United Nations, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared: “We are thus not only the first country in the world with the capability to produce nuclear weapons that chose not to do so, we are also the first nuclear-armed country to have chosen to divest itself of nuclear weapons.” By 1984, the last US nuclear weapons stationed in Canada were removed.
This year, on September 21, the International Day of Peace, 56 former leaders and ministers including several eminent Canadians signed an open letter issued by ICAN to urge all countries to join the TPNW. The Canadian signatories include Former Prime Ministers John Turner and Jean Chretien, former Defence Ministers Jean-Jacques Blais and Bill Graham, and former Foreign Affairs Ministers Lloyd Axworthy and John Manley. They are urging current leaders to “show courage and boldness — and join the treaty.” The full letter can be read here: https://www.icanw.org/56_former_leaders
For the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, we too are calling on the federal government to adhere to its legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to abide by the United Nation’s Agenda for Disarmament, to respect the will of Canadian citizens and to honor the desires of the international community to live in a world free of nuclear weapons by signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as soon as possible.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.