Category SfP Bulletin March 2006: 25th Anniversary Issue

25 Years of Science for Peace

Science for Peace has just passed its 25th anniversary, 17 March 2006. To mark it, 32 people attended an informal celebration in Toronto, and another 24 sent regrets or congratulatory messages.

If Science for Peace is to continue its contributions to society, its members will need to reflect upon the state of the world, which is by no means all bad. Newton Bowles, in his latest book, The Diplomacy of Hope reports on the many successes of the United Nations, though nobody would deny the problems the UN faces. David Suzuki and Holly Dressel managed to fill their entire book, Good News for a Change, with positive things that are happening.

However, many trends are still continuing in the wrong direction: the unchecked growth of consumption in prosperous societies, leading to climate change and eventual shortage of essential resources; burgeoning populations in a few countries that cannot sustain the new mouths they must feed; overarming of militaristic states, maintenance of nuclear arsenals and wasteful military adventures endangering all of us, the continuing tendency of men and male-led organizations and countries to want to dominate rather than cooperate; the widening gap betweeen the richest and the poorest, and the increase of AIDS, to name only a few.

Science for Peace provides a counter-effort, as represented by the continuation of its Working Groups, its new projects, and its links with education and government. The greatest service our members can render is to contribute to the operation of SfP with their time and money and, above all, to persuade their scientific and scholarly friends to join Science for Peace so as to ensure that its work will increase in effectiveness.

Two new projects are currently getting started: The Corporatization of Universities; and The Global Issues Project. A first conference on the topic of Corporatization has already taken place in Guelph, in March of this year. Watch for reports from this project. The Global Issues Project is embarking on a series of roundtables on crucial world issues. Their brochure is available from and will soon be put on our website. Volunteer your time.

This is not the moment to ask whether SfP should be doing more for its membership, but rather, each member might well ask, “What can I do for peace, justice and toward a sustainable Earth?”

Rising Tide of Climate Change

Report from the UN Conference on Climate Change in Montreal, 28 November – 9 December 2005

This Conference was hosted by the Government of Canada, which did an excellent job of organizing it, from the standpoint of both official delegates and the many observers such as Shirley Farlinger and I. We attended as part of a group representing the World Council of Churches, which got us into several extra events outside of the Conference premises (the Palais des Congrès). However, my remarks will be confined to those sessions that were accessible by observers at the Palais des Congrès itself. These were sessions at which we heard some officials, but mostly non-governmental speakers. These sessions were both informative and useful, though uneven in quality. A few provided me with important new knowledge or insights.

First, let me review old knowledge that may not be regarded as firm by all readers of this report. The goal of the Kyoto Protocol is for developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to six percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2012. The United States and Canada are by far the worst greenhouse-gas (ghg) emitters, per capita, and together they account for much of the world’s emissions. Canadians represent the world’s most wasteful society, per capita, and the USA is by far the worst in its overall total ghg emissions. Canada has had no effective policy for ghg reductions since the Rio Conference in 1992, right up until late last year, except for some incentives for industry to make its energy usage more efficient. Since the Kyoto Protocol was first signed, no important combination of stick-and-carrot measures had been put in place by any Canadian government, provincial, or federal, that would result in significant reductions of ghg emissions. The result has been an increase in Canadian ghg emissions of 24 percent since 1990, a period over which the population increase has been about 12 percent. In all, Canadians, per person, have annually added 0.9 percent more ghgs into the atmosphere since 1990. The car manufacturers and their customers, the developers of inappropriate new housing estates, and many other factors have contributed to this deplorable state of affairs.

One area of old knowledge is that climate change is raising the ocean level at an accelerating rate, which is bound ultimately to flood low-lying tropical islands and coastal cities, as well as important delta and estuary areas that are currently fertile for food-production or lumber. Another is that the most serious storms (hurricanes) are tending to get worse with global warming. A further known fact is that parts of the permafrost in northern latitudes are already thawing out, releasing methane, a ghg that is many times as effective as carbon dioxide at producing global warming. Another is that the tropical rainforests are being destroyed wantonly, either for new pasture or for quick profits from the sale of valuable lumber.

For me the Montreal Conference brought at least the following new knowledge. First, Canada now has a federal plan that is adequate, in principle, to bring its ghg emissions down to the levels required by Kyoto by 2012. The incentives are, however, too weak, and the disincentives (or punishments) for non-cooperation are mostly absent. It is likely therefore, that Paul Martin’s government’s plan will fail miserably, in that Canada’s ghg emissions will be at about the present level seven years from now, too high by 30 percent to comply with Kyoto. Success in meeting the Kyoto goals is thus thrown back on the populace, in the pious hope that people who have been increasingly burning more fossil fuels since 1990 will somehow reform themselves almost at once. It would seem that the NGOs therefore need to be spurred onto greater activity than ever, lobbying provincial governments for special measures to 1) make people more aware of the needed cooperation with the federal plan, and, 2) add disincentives to current non-cooperation, etc. The first sign of light from the Ontario government was the announcement near the end of 2005 that fast motor lanes will be reserved for vehicles carrying more than one person. It is noteworthy that this may be the first Canadian measure affecting climate change that carries severe penalties for non-cooperation. This measure clearly has other objectives than only climate-change mitigation, but mitigation is one of them.

Second, climate change is already affecting people in poor countries adversely, to a much greater extent than anticipated. Most people in Canada have heard of the thawing of the tundra in the Arctic latitudes, which is already affecting our northern communities; and the plight of polar bears, but the effects of climate change are already much more widespread. Changing rainfall patterns are evident already in many places, for example, in parts of some Central and South American countries as well as sub-Saharan African nations. Thus every unnecessary kilogram of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere is doing real harm to many people. Someone asked the question, “why isn’t warming an advantage?” A partial answer is some localities may benefit from global warming, but on balance climate change will increase the areas of deserts and dust bowls and will cause flooding by the oceans. The warming is happening so fast that the equilibrium of natural species is being upset. We might, for example in Canada, be able to grow trees much further north than we could 50 years ago, but the changes are much faster than nature can adapt to them.

Third, the requirements and hopes of the Kyoto processes don’t go nearly far enough in the matter of tropical rainforest preservation. The rainforests, in fact all forests, are important for the sequestration of carbon dioxide. The Amazonian forest has been described as the lungs of the Earth, because of the oxygen it produces. However, forests are also vital for supplying forest products into the long term. Because the increasing human population creates a growing demand for wood products, the preservation of forests is absolutely vital to civilization. This factor is as important, maybe even more important than that of carbon dioxide sequestration — for me an essential new insight. One could even go further and argue that the Kyoto Conferences are not the best place to discuss preservation of the forests. Such discussion was nevertheless an important part of the Montreal Conference and negotiators met with some success. It must be noted that the larger tropical rainforests are declining, and the governments of the affected countries are in principle willing to cooperate under the Kyoto Protocol and have agreed to slow down the rate of forest destruction. However, they do not necessarily have control over what will happen. In Indonesia, for example, responsibility for the forests is local, and these local or regional authorities cannot police what happens adequately, nor would they likely be able to prevent overcutting. Most forest fires in Indonesia are set by people, whereas in Canada’s boreal forest they are nearly all set by lightning. Maintaining a strict international forest conservation regime thus requires strong central governments with adequate local agents who can enforce compliance with Kyoto. These constraints would apply to any other forest-preservation agreement.

A shocking aspect of the sessions I attended was the almost total absence of discussion or even mention of population, which is a directly proportional factor for greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore intimately affects climate change. Two speakers in one of the sessions I attended (one from China and the other from India) had taken the trouble to plot population in the same graphs that they projected greenhouse gas emissions in their country to the end of this century. It was clear, however, that neither of these speakers had considered any of the other factors that also impact population and are impacted by population. Their models thus failed to encompass most factors that modelers must include, so that the results lacked credibility. Population and the way in which it is aggravating other world problems seem to be subjects nobody wishes to touch; but they are nevertheless very important. Of the populous countries only China has a population policy that makes sense in today’s world, in the context not only of climate change but of much else.

On 7 December, the speeches of various dignitaries were displayed on closed-circuit television to the non-governmental participants. Prime Minister Paul Martin, on this occasion, made much of Canada’s participation in the Kyoto process (in contrast to the United States’ non-participation), but his bravado concealed the fact that Canada is the world’s worst offender in its actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The United States is doing much more than Canada, though they are doing it outside the Kyoto process. Both the Canadian and US governments are concentrating on the techno-fix aspects of mitigation, which are important, but they are greatly underplaying the human side of the problem. If there is a solution to the world’s predicament in climate change, science and technology alone will not provide it. The human race must learn to walk more gently on Earth. In this sense, both the Canadian and US approaches are inadequate.

Canada and Nuclear Weapons

On 18 April 2005, the Martin government released Canada’s International Policy Statement – A Role of Pride And Influence In The World, inviting response. (The IPS is still on the web site of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.) On November 1, members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, who were travelling across the country to get public input for the committee’s response to the government about its policy proposals, held a hearing in Toronto. I presented a statement at the hearing, as vice president of Science for Peace and its representative to the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which focused on the IPS stance on nuclear weapons and the related policies Canada needs. As a result of discussion at the hearing, on 4 Nov. 2005 I sent the committee the written submission below (slightly expanding my oral statement), which reflects SfP’s agenda for action:

  1. The statements on nuclear weapons policies in the International Policy Statement are few in number and ill-conceived. In various places, in its booklets on diplomacy (p.13) and defence (pp.1, 6), the IPS implies that the problem is irresponsible states and proliferation to these and to terrorists and it notes a responsibility to deny them these WMD. This is a real concern. But the threat posed by the states deploying more than 100 nuclear weapons is far more serious — and, arguably, the very threats and implied threats of the old nuclear weapons states provide an incentive to states to acquire nuclear arsenals. The IPS seems content that US and Russian nuclear forces will shrink greatly under the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. But these weapons are to be stored, not dismantled, there’s no verification mechanism, they could be redeployed at the treaty’s expiry in 2012, and with the end goal being 1700 to 2200 strategic nuclear warheads, both states will retain massive nuclear destructive capacity. The proposal that Canada pursue a strategy to reinforce compliance and verification mechanisms is all very well (diplomacy booklet, p.13). But it does not respond to the urgency of pressing forward towards the abolition of these weapons of excruciating mass destruction – of which there are still more than 27,000.
  2. There are no good nuclear weapons. The Canadian Government should stick to acting on this understanding. Countering proliferation is only a part of what is required. Policy must be based on the fact that nuclear disarmament is Canada’s legal obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Article VI – and it is not a distant goal but rather a duty to conclude negotiations and eliminate nuclear arsenals, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion in July 1996. Canada’s current support, once more, of the New Agenda coalition resolution at the UN First Committee is commendable. (Canada’s initial vote for it, unmatched by any other NATO nation, showed the way to a growing number of them.) But Canada’s last minute, highly destructive withdrawal – on the insistence of the Prime Minister’s Office – of support for the resolution at the First Committee for ad hoc committees to be established for the disarmament work that has been held hostage for years by the stalemate at the Conference on Disarmament raises doubt about its commitment to leadership on abolition. Is this the weaker approach of the IPS, or evidence of the pull of the US, evident in other Liberal government moves towards deeper integration?
  3. This summer in Nagasaki, at the World Conference Against A & H Bombs, Judge Christopher Weeramantry, who helped shape the ICJ opinion that use of nuclear weapons is in general illegal, warned us that we are in as much danger in the next five years as in the previous 60. We are, he says, facing the greatest threat of the 7,000-year history of humankind. Why? Thirty or 40 countries have the knowledge to produce nuclear weapons. An illicit market for such weapons exists. Unemployed nuclear scientists are available at a price and nuclear materials can quite easily be obtained. The US, which is spending $40 billion annually on nuclear weapons, has both nuclear first-strike and preventive war policies. (See its 2002 Nuclear Posture Review and the 15 March 2005 US Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations.) We face nuclear catastrophe. With some 4,000 nuclear missiles on launch-on warning – hair trigger alert – in the US and Russia, we are under threat every minute of every day.
  4. It is not a question of “if,” but rather of “when”: nuclear devastation by weaponry will happen. Someday somewhere, whether by accident – deterioration of warning systems in Russia, a computer glitch, human failure – or by intent, nuclear weapons will be used. And the next use will not be on two cities in a nearly defeated nation, but rather, given retaliatory capacities, will likely lead to massive interchanges, even nuclear winter.
  5. As first-hand knowledge fades and dies with the ageing Hibakusha, who sees with clarity, feels in their bones the horror Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced 60 years ago? People vapourized into the mushroom cloud, children, their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, burned like charred logs, dealt a death not even human. People fleeing the cities, walking like ghosts, skin and flesh dripping from their hands, eyes popped out, crying “water! water!” and in great numbers throwing themselves in the river to escape the agony. Come to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and learn, as I did in August, what hell on earth the United States inflicted to end a war that had descended into Crusade, carnage, and barbarity. A Japanese peace delegation, which had come to New York to plead with diplomatic missions for strong action to advance nuclear disarmament at the First Committee in the UN, brought me these pictures ten days ago. [Three of these – of the famous shadow on the pavement of a vapourized human being, the charred body of a boy, and the Hibakusha whose story follows, were shown to the committee.] Listen to this Hibakusha, who remembers that when in 1945 doctors administered treatment for his burns, he begged them “kill me, kill me!” because he suffered such pain, and who warned us – thousands of us gathered in the conference, “until nuclear weapons are abolished, any one of you could become a Hibakusha like me.” And think about the submarines silently cruising, cruising, whose missiles could destroy all the cities in the world, all the people, and their habitat, many times over. By our inaction, we are risking a future for a republic of cockroaches, as Jonathan Schell warned many years ago in Fate of the Earth!

So what policies do we need for today’s realities?

  • Canada should speak out against the illegal US policies for the use of nuclear weapons
  • Canada should avoid military or other deep integration with the US, given its nuclear weapons policies
  • Canada should publicly identify as wrong both NATO’s stated reliance on nuclear weapons and its claim that they are essential to preserve peace and stability
  • Canada should initiate a process of review and reform to shift NATO out of nuclear weapons
  • Canada should make a clear, public commitment to the total ban of nuclear weapons
  • Canada should exert pressure, with like-minded states, to get the nuclear weapons states to comply with the NPT, beginning with the 13 Practical Steps
  • Canada should get honest. Its membership in NATO compromises the integrity of Canadian leadership for nuclear disarmament. If Canada cannot shift NATO out of its nuclear ideology and weaponry, it should get out of the alliance
  • Canada should work on becoming a nuclear-weapon -free state and on joining a NWFZ treaty with other such states
  • Canada should take leadership by convening international meetings of like-minded states to identify the elements and processes needed to establish and maintain a nuclear-weapons-free world
  • Canada should invest in and undertake public education on the urgency of nuclear weapons abolition
  • The Government of Canada should join Mayors for Peace and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament in believing and teaching that a nuclear weapon free world is possible, is necessary. We can – and we must – achieve it.

Violent Entertainment: The Real Elephant in the Room

ENOUGH guns!” screamed the headline dominating the front page of the Toronto Star on 20 November 2005. Hand wringing in Canada’s largest city followed the shooting of its 69th homicide victim for 2005. It had occurred outside the Toronto West Seventh-day Adventist church after the funeral service for 17 year old Jamal Hemmings, killed days earlier. The victim, his friend 18-year-old Amon Beckles, reportedly may have been targeted because he was a witness to the shooting. Both often went to the local youth drop-in centre. Melodramatic anguish recurred in the Toronto media following the Boxing Day shoot-out on Yonge Street that wounded six people and claimed the life of a 15-year-old girl, Jane Creba, caught in the cross fire as she shopped with her older sister.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair’s cries of outrage have consistently been reinforced by community leaders, church elders, and politicians. Mayor David Miller has always expressed disgust at the killings. Bishop Colin Johnson, head of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, says the violence is akin to that of a war-torn country. Scarborough-based Pastor, Orim M. Meilke, has called the shootings a wake-up call and Rev. Al Bowen in the city’s North-West corner, has called for an imposition of the War Measures Act or its equivalent.

So far, the only measures promised by city officials involve the usual: more police on the streets, tougher sentencing in the courts, and better co-operation with police from community members with information leading to arrests. Meanwhile, after the November shootings, Toronto School Board employee Marina Brown commented on a steady deterioration in police-community relations. Bickering back and forth between the Mayor’s office and black community leaders continues, with accusations that serious attention comes only with the recent death of white teenager Jane Creba.

Demands for better after hours school based programs and job training centres have been stepped up, spawning numerous phone calls and meetings aimed at better intergovernmental collaboration in dealing with the crisis. Yet, ironically, some centres in the area of the Hemmings and Beckles shootings have been closed down for safety reasons, and also because counsellors themselves reportedly have been seeking grief counseling.

Predictably, proposed political solutions to the violence remain focused on individual responsibility and, during federal election campaigns, opportunism amongst the party leaders with promises of ever tougher law and order measures to deal with the perpetrators of the crimes. One exception to this conventional wisdom involves Liberal MP for Scarborough, Dan McTeague who tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent Curtis (50 cent) Jackson from getting the required papers to enter Canada for the cross country gangsta rap music tour that began in Vancouver on December 3rd. Although he was scorned by both media and political opponents, in the end 50 cent – with only one member of his entourage – was allowed into the country, indications are that the initiative was partly successful in at least drawing attention to the vulgar, woman hating, violence inciting nature of his otherwise tedious lyrics and performance. A number of negative reviews followed. However, most politicians remain paralyzed with fear of being branded either prudish conservatives or censors, and consequently incapable of seriously dealing with the violent, urban popular culture that fuels the gun violence.

One overlooked source of clues on how to address the escalating violence is the testimony from the New York based hip-hop music trial on how life imitates art. According to the Globe and Mail on November 20, defence lawyer for hip-hop producer Irving (Gotti) Lorenzo said his client was” just looking for some street cred” when he was charged with money laundering.

“Street cred” is a necessary ingredient in an industry that chronicles and glorifies the gun-ridden, drug infested world of urban America. Credited with developing a number of rappers, Lorenzo went on to start his own record company, hyping the gangsta image by naming his label Murder Inc. He was on trial on charges of laundering $1 million U.S. in drug money. Although prosecutors also introduced evidence that Lorenzo’s partner in crime, Kenneth McGriff, for whom the money laundering favor was done, planned to repay the service by hitting competitor, Curtis Jackson – better known as 50 cent – who was almost killed in 2000, Lorenzo was eventually acquitted. Jackson’s film Get rich or die tryin, originally produced in Toronto, is currently playing in theatres throughout North America amid protests from anti-violence activists. Some related shootings and killings have occurred in the process in numerous cities throughout North America. (See

Meanwhile, on November 22, the Globe and Mail announced that Scott Colbourne was kicking off a weekly column examining new media: “From video games to the Internet to things you don’t even know about yet.” His first vignettes included “Financial analysts predict that, with the player base for video games widening, video games will lead all entertainment sectors in growth over the next four years.” Matching the economic optimism is skepticism among veteran players who fear too much “Hollywood-style glitz” at the expense of innovation, and concern among anti-violence activists, who question the growing fascination with virtual killing.

Colbourne tells us, “already, for every artistic gem like Shadow in the Colossus or groundbreaking virtual world like World of Warcraft, there are five titles like the newly released 50 Cent: Bulletproof, a game in which the half-dollar rapper battles assorted gangs of New York with pals Dr. Dre and Eminem. In short, whether you play or just follow the news, it is going to be a thoroughly engrossing 360-odd days of video-game land”. I’ll add to his thought… And political angst, outrage and bewilderment at rising levels of youth gang violence in our schools and on our city streets.

Editorials in most mainstream newspapers continue to take the well-trod path of blaming communities for the wall of silence blocking police access to leads. Their own lucrative revenues from advertisements for these forms of entertainment are conveniently overlooked. Margaret Wente did call race the elephant in the room (Globe and Mail, 20 Nov. 2005). Although it is no secret that most of the perpetrators and victims of shootings in Toronto are young blacks, her main point is hardly groundbreaking. Promoting black teachers, motivating kids, and turning around failing schools, as she suggested, are necessary, but so is addressing the increasingly pervasive, socializing influences of popular culture that compete with teachers of all colours and races. This includes television, movies, music, video and computer games, all of which help inculcate value systems and life styles for the young. Indeed, the extent to which children, from a very early age, are now targeted by those who market these commodities is tantamount to ideological child abuse, all well funded and encouraged by the same hand wringing politicians and pondering journalists casting about for solutions to escalating youth violence and alienation.

We have had not only enough gun violence, but enough myopic navel gazing by people who are shirking their responsibilities and abusing the public trust. Their short memories on the harmful effects of violent entertainment, well covered in the mainstream media in recent decades, can easily be refreshed with a simple stroke of a key button on the Internet. They can start with the website for Canadians Concerned About Violence In Entertainment, and follow up through links with dozens of similar websites, many of them professional and university-based organizations. For these leaders to continue to look the other way, simply because the entertainment industries bring in so much economic revenue to our largest cities, is merely a stalling tactic and only ensures that the shooting and killing will continue regardless of whether or not we have had enough.

Rose Dyson is chair of the Media Working Group, Science for Peace, and of Canadians Concerned about Violence in Entertainment


Scott Colbourne, “Approach of new consoles has game makers drooling,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), p R1, 22 Nov. 2005
John Goddard, “ Funeral attack sparks outrage,” Toronto Star , 19 Nov. 2005
Shawn McCarthy, “Life imitates art in N.Y. hip-hop trail,” Globe and Mail, p.A11, 21 Nov. 2005.
Michael Valpy, “Pastor calls for `war measures’ to combat shooting,” Globe and Mail, p..A1, 21 Nov. 2005
“The wall of silence in Toronto’s killings,” Globe and Mail, p. A22, 22 Nov. 2005
Margaret Wente, “Race is the elephant in the room,” Globe and Mail, p.A22, 22 Nov. 2005.

Structural Violence

In the City of Toronto in 2005, a disturbing number of deaths of young people occurred through the use of guns. Only after the death of a young white woman on Yonge Street, despite similar deaths occurring in other neighbourhoods in Toronto, did these serve to illuminate a growing threat in Toronto. I will argue here that the actual problem confronting the people in Toronto is the growing economic and social disparities in its communities. This threat was not presented in the media, at least in any substantive way, or by any of the political parties shouting for votes during the last federal election. Sadly, the Mayor of Toronto and the Premier of the province did not place this fundamental issue in the forefront of their statements to the media. Presumably the failure to discuss this principal issue reflects the fact that “the problem” represents a fundamental failure at basically all levels of our society, which claims compassion but continues to put in place racist structures guaranteeing a more violent future. Thus, I present a model in which to understand these recent events and provide some remarkable, but essentially ignored data compiled in a recent United Way report (in effect hidden by the media) which reveals the deep nature of the problem and, hopefully, directions for its solution.

In 1969, Johan Galtung published in the Journal of Peace Research a paper entitled “Violence, Peace and Peace Research”. The paper represented a theoretical framework in which conflict and violence at all levels of society (i.e. individuals, communities, etc.) could be understood. At the core of this model is the definition that “Peace is the absence of violence.” This definition initially appears at odds with the notion most forcefully articulated by Dr Ursula Franklin and first stated by Baruch Spinoza in the 17th century, that “Peace is not the absence of war”. Galtung’s notion converges, however, with that of Spinoza through invocation of “justice,” which lies at the core of the idea. Spinoza states that “Peace is not the absence of war … it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” This notion of justice is reflected in Galtung’s clear definition of violence: “Violence here is defined as the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual, between what could have been and what is. Violence is that which increases the distance between the potential and the actual, and which impedes the decrease of that distance.” Two further excerpts from Galtung clarify these notions:

“Violence without this relation [subject-verb-object] is structural, built into structure. Thus, when one husband beats his wife there is a clear case of personal violence, but when one million husbands keep one million wives in ignorance there is structural violence (my emphasis).

Correspondingly, in a society where life expectancy is twice as high in the upper as in the lower classes, violence is exercised even if there are no concrete actors one can point to directly attacking others, as when one person kills another.”

And to make clear the latter notion of structural violence being a social construct, he states further: “In order not to overwork the word violence we shall sometimes refer to the condition of structural violence as social injustice.” Thus, Spinoza’s notion of peace becomes congruent with the more formal model put forth by Galtung three centuries later.

Galtung thus posits the notion that behavioural violence represents a significant symptom of underlying structural violence. This notion was more formally studied recently by Dr James Gilligan, a psychiatrist from the United States who worked in and studied the nature of the prison system on the US East Coast. In his 1996 seminal book, “Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic,” he comes to the conclusion that the prison system represents a “structure” which has the quality of maximizing violence. His analysis hinges on the notion of “shaming,” the structural context that causes shaming, and resultant behavioural violence. Gilligan’s model invokes the notion of “structural violence” and, again, clearly places it in the context of social justice. For example Gilligan states:

“By `structural violence’ I mean the increased rates of death and disability suffered by those who occupy the bottom rungs of society, as contrasted by those who are above them.

Those excess deaths (or at least a demonstrably large proportion of them) are a function of the class structure; and that structure is itself a product of society’s collective human choices, concerning how to distribute the collective wealth of the society. These are not acts of God.

I am contrasting `structural’ with ´behavioral violence’ by which I mean the non-natural deaths and injuries that are caused by specific behavioral actions of individuals against individuals, such as the deaths we attribute to homicide, suicide, soldiers in warfare, capital punishment, and so on.”

Dr. Stephen Bezruchka of the University of Washington in Seattle has also used this framework to understand the differences in health of populations being a direct result of disparities within societies. For example, while spending more per capita on health care and having the highest per capita income of all industrialized nations, the US stands 29th in infant mortality, under five mortality, life span and every other measure of population health. Indeed, the remarkable difference in life span of the people in British Columbia (80.3 years in 2000) compared to their counterparts directly across the border in Washington State (77.9 years in 2000) reveals fundamental differences in the structure of societies. As Bezruchka argues, these poor outcomes in the US have a strong relationship to the levels of disparity that exist relative to other industrialized countries, the US again coming out at the bottom by all measures.

Using the model of structural violence and readily available data, we can easily begin to understand the nature or causes of the increasing violence in a number of neighbourhoods in Toronto. Using census data from Stats Canada, the recent United Way report entitled Poverty by Postal Code, outlines the growing levels of poverty and disparity prevalent in the City of Toronto. A few of the results illustrate how Toronto continues to move towards a more disparate society. Quantifying the number of people living below the poverty line, the report reveals that in 1981 there were 26 high poverty and 4 very high poverty neighbourhoods in Toronto. In 2001, there were 97 and 23, respectively. This large increase also reflects a stunning change in the nature of the families living in poverty. The number of immigrant families living in poverty increased by 125% between 1981 and 2001 while the increase in poor families born in Canada was only 13%. There has been a dramatic change in the nature of the people living in poverty. Using the term “visible minority” only to denote non-white (European) population, in 1981 non-visible minority (“white”) families represented 67.6% of the families in higher poverty neighbourhoods in 1981, visible minorities being 32%. These proportions were inverted by 2001, with visible minority families representing 65.6% of families in the higher poverty neighbourhoods. Worse still was the increase of poor visible minorities as a proportion of the total poor families in these neighbourhoods: 37.4% in 1981 and 77.5% in 2001 (i.e. almost 4 out of 5 poor families were “visible minorities”). What we find, however, is that the poor in these neighbourhoods are not unemployed. In high poverty neighbourhoods, the unemployment rate stands at 10%, in very high poverty neighbourhoods at 12.6%, and in Toronto as a whole at 7%.

Thus, Toronto continues to progress towards a US model of urban disparity. We see a greater number of poor, the poor are increasingly prevalent among recent immigrants and are non-white. However, these “poor” people are gainfully employed. A measure of this economic disparity can be seen when comparing the average income of the lowest 10 percentile and highest 10 percentile in Toronto. Using constant dollars (2000), in 1981 the average family incomes in these two groups was $41,611 and $135, 801, respectively (ratio of 3.3). In 2001, the disparity had increased to $39,298 and $221,111, respectively (ratio of 5.6). Thus, the average income of people in the lowest economic group decreased over the last 20 years. (Actually this is true for the bottom 25% of income earners!) But, these lower income earners are generally employed despite the erosion of their incomes.

One might venture to hypothesize, then, that the youth of the city continue to live in conditions of increasing disparity. In these poor neighbourhoods, they see that their parents are gainfully employed but are unable to provide the basic necessities of life, let alone the objects perpetually advanced in the media as requirements for a fulfilled life (e.g. iPods, cars, and specific sized body parts, both male and female). These same youth are socially marginalized and, by virtue of being “visible minority” (although by 2010 this group will be the majority in Toronto), face the difficulties of attempting to acquire jobs with some dignity (youth unemployment remains very high), as well as the racism inherent in our society. These realities represent the precise conditions, as James Gilligan describes them, which lead to the violence in US prisons and, more generally, US urban centres.

I end here by mentioning another disturbing aspect of this situation. The recent federal election saw an endless parade of candidates tout a solution based on more violence (increased police, longer sentences) which the relevant literature reveals is demonstrably useless and even counterproductive. At best, lip service was paid to addressing our failure to maintain an equitable society. Of particular note was the NDP, whose roots in the labour movement and in social justice were supplanted by electoral opportunism. Rather than promote decent jobs with living wages and a society based on an equal distribution of burdens (also known as distributive justice), their leader articulated foremost a policy of more policing. (This final lack of focus on decent jobs and poverty must surely represent the best sign of the almost complete lack of democracy in this country.) Furthermore, while one might not expect that the Police Chief in Toronto to think of issues in this context (although I believe that the Toronto Police, being personal witnesses to the conditions in Toronto, should be in the forefront on this issue), the Mayor and Premier of Ontario, along with the federal party whose tradition is supposedly rooted in social justice rather than greed and individualism, must address these issues head on. Finally, the bankrupt nature of the media in this country has played a particularly important role in preventing any serious understanding, let alone discussion, of these issues. Presumably their roots among the 10% of Torontonians averaging $221,111 per year might influence the choice of questions they ask of the political and corporate elite who are directly responsible, but never held accountable, for the disparities in Toronto. Failure to recognize poverty as the most pervasive form of violence maintains the social (“us” vs. “them”) and economic disparities that are well-established determinants of health and violence. Until we read about these issues on the front pages of the media, as we do about the debt or free trade or other economic issues that benefit the rich, this city and, indeed, this country will continue its integration into the very society we typically use to define who we are not.

Atomic Politics

Canadian Federal Parties Respond on Nuclear Weapons

The federal political parties were asked 3 questions on nuclear weapons during the 2006 Canadian election. The questions, sent by the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and their responses are included below.


There are now 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world, of which 4400 are capable of being used in under 30 minutes. The highest court in the world, the International Court of Justice, has confirmed that the elimination of these weapons is a legal obligation falling on all states. We Canadians provide moral and financial support to a defence policy in which we agree to participate actively in nuclear holocaust. A nuclear exchange, whether started by accident, arrogance, insanity or sheer brutality, would threaten our human and natural environment with total destruction. We would anticipate Canadian cities with firestorms raging for miles, people being crushed, blinded, burnt. Human and economic chaos would result.

Q1. Given the near certainty of nuclear destruction unless disarmament of nuclear weapons occurs soon, should Canada make the banning of nuclear weapons a priority of its foreign policy?

Q2. Do you agree that the Government of Canada should urgently host an international meeting to discuss the legal, technical and political elements required for a nuclear weapons-free world?

Q3. Should Canada disavow its support for NATO’s nuclear option of maintaining nuclear weapons indefinitely?

Liberal Response

Q1. Canada is concerned about the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Proliferation is creating a more dangerous and complex security environment, both at home and abroad. Canada’s principal approach to address the missile threat is prevention, through non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament (NACD) measures.

We are fully committed to promoting and strengthening NACD treaties, mechanisms, and norms. In particular, we are:

  • working to strengthen the Hague Code of Conduct on ballistic missiles;
  • promoting increased understanding of and adherence to the principles of the Missile Technology Control Regime;
  • working to strengthen international safeguards and verification;
  • pressing to make the UN Conference on Disarmament more effective;
  • urging the re-launching of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty;
  • promoting entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; and,
  • pushing all 187 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty members to recommit themselves to the implementation of the Treaty.

In addition, Canada has dedicated up to $1 billion over 10 years to the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Prevention is our first line of defence against missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

Q2. The Liberal Party is firmly opposed to the weaponization of space and recognizes that the best time to prevent an arms race in outer space is before one begins.

While an existing international treaty explicitly forbids the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space, there is currently no multilateral agreement banning the deployment of a broader range of weapons.

A Liberal government will build on the international reputation earned through Canada’s prominent initiatives on such issues as disarmament and the landmines convention and will lead an international campaign at the United Nations to establish a treaty banning all weapons in space.

Q3. NATO is a cornerstone of Canada’s relations with Europe. Canada benefits significantly from the diplomatic weight, technical expertise and military capabilities of NATO.

Canada has been a member of NATO since it was founded in 1949. The dividends of Canada’s investment in NATO include access to strategic information, exercises with allied forces and an equal voice in high-level decisions affecting Euro-Atlantic security and stability.

Canada’s pursuit of a global system of security has meant a particularly strong attachment to the European continent. Throughout two World Wars and then through NATO, Canada has played an active part in the maintenance of peace and order in Europe. Our goal is to ensure the consistent application of Canadian policy toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all international fora, including the United Nations (UN), the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), meetings of the States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and other treaty organizations, through liaison within Foreign Affairs Canada and with other government departments and agencies.

Our work contributes to strengthening Canada’s national security by formulating, advocating and negotiating effective non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament policies, strategies and agreements. In so doing, we ensure that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is fully integrated into the development and conduct of Canadian national security policy.

Conservative Response

Thank you for your email. I appreciate you taking the time to contact me and I welcome the opportunity to address the issues you have brought forward.

Q1. The first priority for any government should be the safety and security of its citizens. Getting all nations to ban nuclear weapons is a goal worthwhile pursuing. It must be done multilaterally since leaving rogue nations like North Korea or Iran as the only ones with nuclear weapons would imperil the rest of the world.

Q2. Any dsicussions which would advance this goal would be helpful.

Q3. The NATO option reflects my comments in Question #1. The goal of a multilateral worldwide, all-inclusive ban is laudable, but must include undemocratic rogue states like Iran, which has vowed to use nuclear attacks.

Thank you again for contacting me.

Stockwell Day

Bloc Québécois Response

Vous trouverez, ci-joint, les réponses au questionnaire que vous nous avez fait parvenir dans le cadre du déclenchement des élections fédérales 2005-2006.

Nous espérons que les réponses fournies vous permettront de mieux comprendre notre action politique.

Nous vous prions d’agréer, Monsieur Delong, l’expression de nos sentiments distingués.

Dominic Labrie
Cabinet du chef du Bloc Québécois
3750, Crémazie Est, bureau 307
Montréal (Québec)
H2A 1B6

Q1. Oui

Q2. Le Canada devrait faire en sorte qu’une telle rencontre se tienne.

Q3. La question est un peu prématurée.

Il faut être conscient que les temps sont durs pour les opposants à l’armement nucléaire. Les tensions internationales sont exacerbées, des pays qui étaient jusqu’alors exempts d’armes nucléaires développent maintenant des programmes d’armement.

Depuis le développement de la doctrine des frappes préventives par les États-Unis, l’Iran est le deuxième pays (après la Corée du Nord) à développer un programme nucléaire. La conception agressive des relations internationales ne semble pas fonctionner.

Le président de l’AIEA et prix Nobel de la paix 2005, Mohammed El Baradei, écrivait au printemps 2003 que « la seule façon de lutter efficacement contre la prolifération des armes nucléaires était de s’attaquer aux causes de l’insécurité qui pousse certains États à s’armer ». Nous sommes d’accord avec lui.

Les menaces, lorsqu’elles ne sont pas accompagnées de propositions concrètes pour renforcer l’ordre international et le respect du droit, risquent de créer plus de tension et d’insécurité internationales.

La Charte des Nations Unies est un vaste traité de non-agression. Elle interdit les actes d’agression et même les menaces d’agression. Un engagement renouvelé de la communauté internationale à le faire respecter nous semble la voie la plus porteuse pour apaiser les tensions qui poussent les États à s’armer dont parlait Mohammed El Baradei.

Le renforcement des institutions multilatérales et du droit international est un pré requis au désarmement nucléaire. C’est là que le Bloc compte mettre ses énergies.

NDP Response

Attached please find the response of the New Democratic Party to your 2006 Election Survey. It is the policy of our party to respond to surveys on behalf of all New Democratic candidates.

Please note that our election platform has yet to be released. We invite you to consult our platform after it is released for more information on the issues you raise in your questionnaire.

Thank you for your interest in the views of the New Democratic Party on the critical issues facing Canadians.

We appreciate your efforts to help voters make an informed decision on voting day.

Jack Layton
Leader of Canada’s NDP

Q1. Yes. Here is what Alexa McDonough (Halifax),the NDP’s Peace Advocate had to say on August 9th, Peacekeepers Day:

“…It is also a critical moment for Canada to recommit to the urgently needed goal of putting peace-building and nuclear disarmament back atop the global agenda. To do so, the Prime Minister must get beyond his empty rhetoric of `giving the world more of the Canada the world needs,’ and actually engage other nations and civil society in a concerted campaign needed to halt and reverse the resurgence of nuclear weapons development and proliferation that we are witnessing today.

Canadians are deeply worried by the failure of May’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference in New York to achieve consensus on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states; on keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of non-state groups; and on persuading nuclear-weapon states to honour their disarmament obligations.

However, there are grounds for optimism in the tireless efforts of Canada’s NGO community—together with parliamentarians from all levels, as well as their international counterparts—to get the peace and disarmament agendas back on track, making them the national and international priorities they deserve to be.

As the 60th anniversaries of the end of World War II and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings come to a close, I am confident Canadians will continue to play a critical role in helping rid our world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction—a fitting tribute to the sacrifices of our peacekeepers throughout the years.”

Q2. Yes.

Q3. Yes.

Green Party

While the Green Party did not respond directly, policies from their 2006 Election Platform are included here. Green Party MPs would work to:

Rescind all uranium-mining permits and prohibit the export of fissionable nuclear material.

Redirect National Research Council and Industry Canada research and development programs towards renewable, alternative, and soft energy technologies that will reduce fossil fuel consumption and phase out nuclear power.

Declare Canada a military nuclear-free zone and abstain from participating in the development or usage of space-based weapons.16

Science for Peace Working Group Reports

The following working groups have continued significant work since the 2005 Annual General Meeting: UN Reform, Nuclear Weapons, Energy and Climate Change, Peace and Sustainability Education and Media. The full reports will be available on the website.

Dr. Walter Dorn gave a significant report of his achievements in his role as the UN Representative of Science for Peace (1983-2003) and as Alternate UN Representative (2003-05) which contained his professional achievements, NGO service, a list of workshops and conferences he organized, a selection of publications he was involved in between 1995 – 2005 with a list of books, book chapters, and journal papers.

UN Reform: Held a special SfP Board meeting on September 25, 2005 where it was agreed to develop a list of NGOs and member states, who might be interested in forming a coalition, to move forward UN Reform. The list contains approximately 170 organizations with addresses and contacts.

Nuclear Weapons: The following meetings were attended:

  • CNANW and a report has been circulated. There is an urgent need for Canada to move forward on the removal of nuclear weapons.
  • DFAIT Standing Committee Hearing, on November 1, 2005.
  • Assisted in organizing the annual Hiroshima Remembrance event at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto. The next event will be held on Nagasaki Day, 9 August 2006.
  • Report from the joint forum of Science for Peace and Canadian Pugwash on October 1, 2005
  • Energy Vision Coalition meetings to stop nuclear reactors in Ontario.
  • The United Nations Climate Change Conference December 2 – 9, 2005.
  • Meetings in Port Hope where the town is leading a health study to clean-up nuclear contamination.

The Policies of Foreign Affairs must take precedence over trade or military policy. They should move DND into peacekeeping only. It is suggested that Canada must get out of the war business, as it is a business. They found that bullets for the war in Iraq are made in Toronto. The better focus for Canada should be fostering alternative energy, ending the nuclear cycle and ceasing wars for oil and gas. Women, by international law, UN Resolution 1325 (2000), will be glad to help.

Energy and Climate Change: This significant report has been circulated to the Board. New knowledge: Poor countries are more adversely affected than previously known, in parts of South and Central America. The role of forests are much more important than before.

Peace and Sustainability Education: The working group with IHTEC as the lead organization, now has official UN ECOSOC Status and supports the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Significant Press has resulted from the 1000 Peace Women for the Nobel Peace Prize. The 1000 Women Nobel display has arrived in Canada. Anyone interested in hosting this display please contact Tel: (905) 820-5067.

The Director of a Mississauga School Board involved with the International School Peace Gardens program says that violence in schools is reducing as a result of positive programs such as this.

Early planning for the WG’s involvement in the World Peace Forum to be held in Vancouver, BC in June 2006 has been achieved. Mentoring Tamara Weiss, for the Brueninger Foundation’s peace building workshop, continues. IHTEC with SfP and CGI are developing a Series of Round Tables on the Global Commons for teacher training and others. Significant papers from the 2004, Interdisciplinary Conference on the Evolution of World Order are in a virtual classroom on All meetings by this group are held virtually, using IHTEC’s Conference Room 2 and To join in go to Enter, Scroll down on the left blue bar to Conference Room 2. Click to download a small piece of software. Two white boxes will appear.

Media: The WG is held in conjunction with C-CAVE who co-sponsored a successful annual `Run Against Media Violence’ which will be repeated again in 2006. Prevention of gun violence and action to prevent Curtis (50 cent) Jackson from commencing his cross Canada tour in December 2005 was participated in with Federal Liberal MP Dan McTeague. Several letters to the Editor on gun violence, have been written and some have been published in The Globe and Mail.

Julia Morton-Marr
Co-Chair, Working Groups.

Full text version of all articles from SfP Bulletin March 2006: 25th Anniversary Issue. A PDF edition is also available.

Science for Peace Bulletin | ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)