Category SfP Bulletin December 1999
I write (early December of the fateful year 1BY2K) as thousands protest in Seattle against the WTO and its agenda of corporate globalization. The second millennium is ending, and the third beginning, better than we might have hoped. Is it possible, minimally, that globalization – the bad variety, that is – has plateaued? Our members who have been active on these issues – I think particularly of John Valleau and Jean Smith in their work on our behalf in PAMAI – are entitled to pause and partake of a smidgen of satisfaction as they gird for the next battle.
As you read this, you will know – already or shortly – whether Y2K came without a glitch. Like the accidental launch of nuclear weapons, about which Alan Phillips constantly warned those who would listen. We can only hope that our willingness to take such risks will be seen in the future as the sign of the primitive and the barbaric.
The War in the Balkans is over, though whether wars are ever “over” in terms of the dark shadow they cast indefinitely forward is a moot point. We have seen what some are hailing as the first of the new just wars that pass under the name of “humanitarian intervention,” or what the German intellectual Ulbrich Beck and the American intellectual Noam Chomsky call. the better to capture the vileness of the contradiction, “the new military humanism” I hope that Science for Peace will be able, sometime in the new year, to host an event, a teach-in perhaps – we shall do our best to get Chomsky himself to come on this disturbing phenomenon.
We tried to make our own modest contribution to the struggle of the East Timorese for independence and against the genocidal policies of the Indonesian government which were too long supported – twenty-four years no less! – by our government and others’. Some of us went to the daily vigil at the Indonesian consulate in Toronto to protest the final madness of the Indonesian military after the referendum for the independence of East Timor had gone against their wishes. We were pleased to host a seminar where David Wurfel, a Research Associate of the Joint Committee on Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto and an observer in East Timor (for the International Federation for East Timor) during the August 1999 referendum, initiated a discussion on the situation in East Timor.
It would appear in retrospect that a key factor in forcing the Indonesian government and military finally to cease and desist was the threat of withdrawal by the IMF for Indonesia’s weak currency. Which begs the questions: Why did it take 24 years for this power to be used? Why is this power not presently being used against Russia, unlike Indonesia – and Yugoslavia – has The Bomb? What kind of message is that sending the world’s tin pot dictators?
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has refused to endorse the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and India and Pakistan continue to play fast and loose in Kashmir with nuclear bombs in their back pockets. We were happy to co-host, with Physicians for Global Survival, the Toronto meeting of Doctors Shambhu Shivastwa of India and Tipu Sultan of Pakistan on the Prognosis for Peace and Stability in South Asia. These two eminent physicians are endeavouring, by their personal example, to help the Second Millennium end on a positive note.
We did our bit to help in other matters. We co sponsored with Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (Toronto) a presentation by Linda Morgan and Irene MacInnes, based on their visit to Iraq with Physicians for Social Responsibility, on Sanctions and Genocide in Iraq. We also co-sponsored with Canadians Concerned about Violence in entertainment (C-CAVE) a cross-border meeting of legal advocates on Lawsuits as a Strategy for Curbing the Culture of Violence in North America.
In September we sponsored a Science for Peace Public Lecture by Professor Colin Soskolne of the Department of Public Health Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Alberta on Global Ecological Integrity [Health of the Planet and Sustainable Development – Cornerstones of Public Health.
Len Johnson, who is active in Pugwash Canada, spoke under our auspices on Canada and NATO. We (meaning the ever helpful Carolyn Langdon) also assisted in organizing the John and Lois Dove Memorial Lecture which was given by Professor Tad Homer-Dixon, director of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Toronto on the Ingenuity Gap: Are we smart enough to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century?”
Frankly, I think Science for Peace is – though we are very much in need of more members, particularly those who would bring down the average age while maintaining the (high) average level of wisdom. After all, we want to make sure we survive the next millennium too.
I wonder how many readers noticed a small item from Agence France-Presse in the Globe and Mail on November 22, headed “UN dog should die, Kosovo Albanians claim”? It appears that members of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) adopted a stray pregnant dog which they named UNMIK. Sam Holton, the U.S. officer who looks after the mission, has reported that a group of ethnic
Albanians have told the group that the animal has to be killed because it is Serbian. The soldiers will not comply with this request.
Apparently the objects of ethnic hatred are no longer limited to members of the human race.
Happy Holiday wishes to all.
By Frank Cunningham and Tom G. Davis
The Franz Blumenfeld Peace Foundation was established by the late Hans Blumenfeld to commemorate his brother, Franz, whose death in the trenches of the First World War motivated Hans to undertake a life-long campaign for peace. The Foundation is administered by Science for Peace, which receives applications for financial support for initiatives in peace education.
In accord with Hans Blumenfeld’s wishes, financial awards are made for projects, whether of organizations or individuals, which are likely to be of value for general peace education. Awards are drawn from interest on capital and do not typically exceed $1000. On May 31, 1998, the total fund equity was 458539.66. In the fiscal year 1997/1998 awards were made for the following:
- $1,000 to the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) to conduct an Angus Reid Poll on Canadian attitudes towards nuclear weapons.
- $1,000 to the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) to produce a video on the use of war technology for entertainment.
- $500 to Janis Alton of the Voice of Women for U.N. activities and a follow-up educational event.
- $1,000 to conduct seminars on militarism in the South Pacific (seminars for the people of Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, The Solomons and Papua New Guinea.
- $1,000 to Dr. Walter Dorn for UN activities and technology for peace initiatives.
Our group has had a busy but frustrating time over the past few months: We have been busy because there are so many issues to deal with and frustrated because it is difficult to make a difference: Some of the issues are, e.g.:
- the rapid approach of completion (within 2-3 years) of unravelling the human genetic code. This issue has multiple subtexts: e.g., a) will your genetic code be kept private- suppose you have a hereditary defect or a gene for a health risk factor; b) since a large US company is now trying to patent human genes and the US Patent Office has decided that they are patentable, will your genes belong to them and if you need gene therapy in the future, will you or your health supplier have to pay royalties?
- the Canadian Environmental Protection Act was revised recently and weakened from the proposal of the all-party Commons Committee at the last minute by 150 amendments made by the government at the behest of lobbyists for the polluting companies. We made an effort along with other groups to have the Senate restore in the act a time-limited complete phase-out of release of polluting chemicals into the environment and the legal establishment of the “precautionary principle” [that no product or substance can be placed in the environment or sold to the public unless the maker has established that it is safe and is liable for any damage. This should include genetically modified organisms]. We were unsuccessful because the Liberal majority in the Senate cut off debate and did not allow amendments.
- research on the use of human stem cells, undifferentiated cells derived from early human embryos, has pushed ahead, especially in the US, initially supported by private funding, because the US Congress had outlawed use of federal funds for this purpose. The NIH (the largest source of federal funds for biomedical research) recently recommended that this ban be partially lifted. The goal for use of these cells may be a worthy one: to develop techniques to control their differentiation so that a stem cell can be provided with the genes of an individual needing a transplant and made to differentiate into the required organ, overcoming the shortage of organs for transplant and the need for dangerous immunosuppressing drugs. The problem is that it appears likely that there will appear a commercial need to make human embryos with all the ethical issues involved.
- research on and use of xenografts, graft organs from other species, usually pigs or baboons, transplanted into humans. The problem is that other species may have viruses that have not yet crossed the species barrier into human and which might be fatal (consider HIV which may have crossed from monkeys to humans in Africa). Such transplants could lead to new human diseases. The issue then is not just “informed consent” by the individual proposed recipient, but the public health. My Co-chair, Phyllis Creighton, feels strongly that the problems of the shortfall in organs for transplants should be solved by appropriate increase in donations rather than by either of these two technologies. So far we do not have a strategy to propose as to how to accomplish this.
- the spread of genetically modified organisms (plants) into use as sources of food products, on the market unlabelled. Already in the USA and in Canada, a high proportion of soya products, canola products, corn products, cotton products, and others are derived form plants which are GMOs These are frequently genetically engineered to contain resistance to a proprietary herbicide (such as Roundup® from Monsanto) which can be applied in higher concentrations and earlier. To insert these genes, artificial gene constructs are made with viral proteins to allow entrance into the cell nucleus and with marker genes, often resistance to an antibiotic such as tetracycline, so the successfully engineered cells can be recognized. Seeds for GM plants are patented and sold to farmers with a contract to ensure no seed saving. These are enforced by rules which permit the company representative to sample the plants from a subsequent planting and levy fines if seeds have been saved. Even fields of neighbouring farmers have been sampled and charges brought. Several of the very large chemical and seed producing companies, including Monsanto and Novartis, have gone further. They developed or bought companies which possessed patents on genetically modified seeds which produced plants with sterile seeds, thus requiring seed repurchase by the farmer each year. These technologies, termed Terminator Technology by concerned organizations have been heavily criticized as having only the aim to increase profit at the expense of the farmer and consumer. Recently Monsanto announced that it would not develop this technology commercially. Its ultimate status remains to be seen.
European governments, except in the UK, and consumers have resisted the introduction of unlabelled food from GMOs. This is perhaps in part a reflection of extreme cautiousness about food in general, based on recent problems with a fatal disease of the central nervous system, passed to cows from feed made from sheep offal and possibly to humans in the UK and Europe from UK beef. European governments, except the UK, have outlawed import of food containing products from GMOs. In the UK there has been tremendous resistance from consumers to buy food or food products GMOs and this pressure has resulted in large retail organizations refusing to buy such products. The US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, which wish to export such food have complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and/or have resisted attempts to negotiate a Biosafety Protocol under the RIO treaty on Biodiversity which would allow governments to exclude such imports either as seeds or plant products.
This whole issue has become highly controversial with proponents of genetically engineered plants claiming that the food products are safe while attacking anyone who suggests or presents evidence, either theoretical or experimental that they may be hazardous to the consumer (e.g. by producing new allergenic proteins or reducing nutritional values) or to the environment (e.g. by spreading herbicide resistance genes or antibiotic resistance genes. This has raised the whole issue of how food safety of products from GMOs should be evaluated.
I have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks trying to find out the details about how this is done to protect the consumer and the environment in the US and Canada. I have been deeply concerned about what I have found out about the process. There seems to be no set procedure and no single independent (without a conflict of interest) agency seems to be in charge in either the US or Canada.
In the US, the Food and Drug Directorate may declare a food product from a GMO “substantially equivalent” to a non-GMO product based on estimates or tests by the company that produced the GMO that no new allergens have not been produced and that no toxic substance is present. The Environmental Protection Agency plays little definite role in ensuring that GMO plants do not harm the environment and its funding to carry out its own research on consequences of Biotechnology have been abolished, leaving only some small discretionary funding which can be requested but in competition with requests for all other purposes as well.
The Liberal government in Canada proposes to consolidate food safety testing, taking it away from the Health Protection Branch, but placing it under the Ministry of Agriculture. This seems to me to set up a major conflict of interest. We already know from the experience with Monsanto’s attempt to get the use in cows of bovine growth hormone produced by genetically modified micro-organisms s approved by the HPB that extreme pressure will be exerted by the large corporations and by the government on their behalf. That was stopped only because scientists from the Branch publicly protested and subsequent Senate hearing resulted in approval being denied (not on the grounds of human safety concerns but on the grounds of damage to cattle from mastitis and udder damage).
This last instance makes us note that GM organisms are not just plants, but also animals. The cloning of calves, sheep, etc is already commonplace in laboratories and attempts at their commercial exploitation is not far off. It may not happen if animals cloned from adults cells are found to age very rapidly. Cloning from stem cells such as germ cells is perhaps a better possibility and is under investigation. Genetic knockout mice, in which a given gene has been deleted, have been extremely valuable in defining functions of some genes, leading sometimes to unexpected functions. So far this technique has not led to environmental problems because these animals are confined to the laboratory and nearly all would not survive in the wild environment.
It is apparent from the above that the Biotechnology issues facing our society are very complex and we as a working group are often overwhelmed by the magnitude of the tasks of trying to keep abreast of them, report and act on them as you may direct. It seems to me that we need to expand the group or subdivide the tasks. I urge the Board to consider how to manage this.
Finally I wish to pass on a very valuable summary of ten reasons why Biotechnology will not provide world food security, despite the claims of biotechnology companies and their scientific advocates, as we proceed into the next millennium with populations, poverty and the spread between rich and poor still increasing. This summary was posted in the public domain by its authors.
The 20th century has been the bloodiest, most war-filled age in history. Yet, it has also been a time of hope and change. Real progress toward peace has been made through international efforts to promote human rights, preserve the environment, foster equitable and sustainable development, and rid the world of dangerous weapons like anti-personnel landmines. Now, we are on the eve of a new century. 1999 marks the 100th anniversary of the First International Peace Conference at the Hague. 1999 is the final year in the UN Decade of International Law. And, in 1999 governments and the International Committee of the Red Cross will meet to review the progress we have made in the last century. We must take this historic opportunity to launch a new century of peace.
The Hague Appeal for Peace creates new partnerships between citizens, governments, and international organizations; this “new diplomacy”; will help us progress toward peace.
Together, we strive to delegitimize armed conflict and create a culture of peace for the 21st century. The four main themes of the campaign define its main goals:
- International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and Institutions;
- Conflict Prevention and Regulation;
- Disarmament and Human Security;
- Root Causes of War / Culture of Peace.
Civil Society held the largest international peace conference in history on May 11-15, 1999. Nearly 10,000 activists, government representatives and community leaders from over 100 countries attended the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in The Hague, the Netherlands. During the four day gathering participants discussed and debated in over 400 panels, workshops and round tables mechanisms for abolishing war and creating a culture of peace in the 21st century. Participants included representatives from 80 governments and international organizations, and hundreds of civil society leaders. including: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, Queen Noor of Jordan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Arundhati Roy of India, Jose Ramos Horta from East Timor, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala,and Jody Williams from the Landmines Campaign.
This Hague Appeal Conference was even more significant because unlike the UN global summits of the past decade, this conference was organized entirely by civil society, not governments. The UN did not receive the governmental support needed to convene a global summit on peace. So, We the peoples organized it ourselves. The Hague conference proved to governments that civil society is serious, desperate, and fed up with war.
- 1500 youth participants showed us the peace movement is alive and kicking, producing a great Youth Agenda for Peace and Justice;
- Kashmiris, Indians and Pakistanis reached an unprecedented peace agreement on Kashmir;
- Ethiopians and Eritreans held a dialogue on the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict;
- Young people from Turkish Cyprus and Greek Cyprus wrote a 4 page “Timetable for Peace in Cyprus” action-plan;
- Sports was proven to be a powerful medium for promoting peace and friendship in “basketball diplomacy” – a 3 day tournament in which the Californian youth team of Athletes United for Peace played local Dutch youth teams;
- Six Nobel Peace prize winners participated in the conference, as well as HM Queen Noor of Jordan, heads of UNICEF, UNESCO, UNIFEM and the Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan. Messages of support were sent from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (via video) Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel;
- Two prime ministers, a deputy prime minister, two foreign ministers and ambassadors spoke and PM Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh agreed to mail the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century to heads of state around the world;
- The Hague Agenda has been submitted as a UN document, has been translated into all UN languages, and will be formally presented to the Fall 1999 UN General Assembly.
The Conference launched The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the Twenty-first Century. This Agenda is a compilation of the most important “next steps” that must be taken, with strategies for implementation, to delegitimize war and create a culture of peace.
The following key actions were also highlighted at the Hague. The coalitions supporting these actions are looking for new partners to join their global networks.
International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)
International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) is a global network of NGOs dedicated to preventing the proliferation and unlawful use of small arms by pushing forward the boundaries for international action. IANSA was formed following a series of national, regional and two international NGO consultations over the past 18 months which concluded with an agreement to establish this network.
For more information about how you can get involved, please contact: Peter van Kemseke, Website: www.iansa.org, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Campaign for Peace Education. A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world understand global problems; have the skills to resolve conflicts and struggle for justice non-violently; live by international standards of human rights and equity; appreciate cultural diversity; and respect the Earth. Such learning can only be achieved with systematic education for peace.
To find out more information about how you can get involved, email email@example.com
International Criminal Court – Global Ratification Campaign
On July 17, 1998, the international community adopted in an unrecorded vote of 120-7 the Rome Statute for an International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC will be the first permanent international court for adjudicating the most serious violations of international humanitarian law, and its creation constitutes one of the greatest advances in the rule of law and protection of human rights since the adoption of the UN Charter. The ICC will be formally established once 60 countries have ratified the Rome Statute.
To find out how to become involved in the campaign in your country or region, please contact the CICC secretariat in New York (212-687-2176), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the CICC website at http://www.iccnow.org
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
As of mid-March 1999, the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty had a total of 135 signatories and 68 ratifications and had entered into force faster than any other major international humanitarian law or disarmament treaty. This was due in no small part to intensive lobbying by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). But just as the ICBL did not stop its work after the signing ceremony in December 1997, it will not stop now that the ban on antipersonnel mines is law. Next steps in the ICBL include universalization, ratification and, of course, IMPLEMENTATION of this treaty.
For more information, please contact: ICBL, PO Box 8844, Youngstorget, Oslo 0028 Norway, Tel: 184.108.40.2060 Fax: 220.127.116.110, Email: resource @icbl.org, http://www.icbl.org
In June, 1998, the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) which includes seven courageous governments – Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden-challenged the Nuclear Weapons States to implement several immediate practical steps, including de-alerting all nuclear forces. They presented their agenda in a UN resolution, which was adopted December 1998 by 114 votes to 18.
For more information, please contact: International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Email: email@example.com
Global Action to Prevent War
Global Action to Prevent War is a comprehensive, multi-stage program for moving toward a world in which armed conflict is rare. No more Kosovos! No more Rwandas!
We urge groups and individuals who want to learn more about Global Action or to join efforts on any part of its broad spectrum of activities to attend one of our discussion sessions listed in this program.
For more information contact the Global Action International Network, at www.idds.org, or to reach us by fax 617-354-1450, or e-mail: info @ globalactionpw.org.
Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers was formed in May 1998 by leading international Non-Governmental Organisations (NG0s) seeking an end to the military recruitment and use as soldiers of all children under 18 years of age, whether by governmental armed forces or armed opposition groups.
For more information contact Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, email: firstname.lastname@example.org;, Website: www.child-soliders.org, Tel: 33.450.32.8956;, Fax: 33.450.44.2840.
At the end of November world governments will meet in Seattle for the World Trade Organization’s Third Ministerial Conference, meant to launch the so-called “Millennium Round” of negotiations. The outcome will determine what kind of life we and our children live in the years ahead. NOW is the moment to try to influence how our government plays its cards. We want to urge you to make your voice heard.
Two years ago some members of Science for Peace, concerned about the implications of the globalization agenda, promoted an organization called PAMAI (People Against the MAT). It played a useful role in the campaign which killed the MM agreement, and it continues to battle against the WTO initiatives.
There is of course widespread dismay about the direction in which the WTO (and NAFTA) have been taking us to date. The present WTO rules, arising from the “Uruguay Round”, were proclaimed as a means of enhancing the creation of global wealth and prosperity and promoting the well-being of the people in all the member states. Many believe instead that the WTO has been a major contributor to what we have seen in recent years: the concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich few, increasing poverty for the majority of the world’s population, and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. In this view the Uruguay Round agreements have functioned principally to pry open markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of everyone else: workers, farmers and other ordinary people, and of the environment. Furthermore accepting the WTO rules and procedures means giving up our ability to control our affairs — our national sovereignty —- in favour of rules and procedures entirely undemocratic, untransparent and unaccountable; it means marginalising the majority of the world’s people. (Think of it: you are everyday breathing fumes from the gasoline additive MMT, in spite of the opinion of our Department of Health that it poses a threat to your health, and in spite of a decision of Parliament to ban its sale in Canada.) It’s not about “trade”, but about who will have power in the world.
The context is meanwhile one of increasing global economic instability, the collapse of national economies, increasing inequity both between and within nations and increasing environmental and social degradation, which many regard as a result of the acceleration of the process of globalization.
One might have imagined that, faced with such misgivings, governments would pause to make some assessments of the “neo-liberal agenda”. Instead, they pressed forward to seek, at the OECD, a” Multilateral Agreement on Investment” (MAT) to remove the last vestiges of democratic control over the ways our resources are managed. In spite of an attempt to avoid public awareness, worldwide public outcry brought the MAT process to a halt in November, 1998 —- a rare victory of public opinion over vested interests. But only for the moment: the attempt now is to impose the same agenda through the WTO (and thus to make it apply worldwide rather than only to the OECD nations). That is what is at stake in the “Millennium Round”. Indeed,” investment, competition policy and government procurement policy” are central to the agenda proposed for Seattle. The fear is that this extension of neoliberalism will greatly exacerbate the crisis seen to be associated with globalization. And once again the preparations seem to be proceeding with a minimum of public information or involvement.
PAMAI supports the position contained in “A Statement from Members of International Civil Society Opposing a Millennium Round”, a statement endorsed by 67 Canadian organisations (including PAMAI) among 1114 organisations from 87 nations. This Statement includes, in part: “We call for a moratorium on any new issues or further negotiations that expand the scope and power of the WTO.
During this moratorium there should be a comprehensive and in-depth review and assessment of the existing agreements. Effective steps should then be taken to change the agreements. Such a review should address the WTO’ s impact on marginalised communities, development, democracy, environment, health, human rights, labour rights and the rights of women and children. The review must be conducted with civil society’s full participation.
A review of the system will provide an opportunity for society to change course and develop an alternative, humane and sustainable international system of trade and investment relations”.
Several members of PAMAI and Science for Peace presented written and oral submissions to hearings this Spring before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT). A common theme among these submissions was exactly this call for a pause while the public can assess the direction we are taking; we were saying “what’s the hurry? —- let’s take a look at this”. It is VERY important to make this point to the Government! I urge you, if you agree, to write a letter along these lines NOW, sending it to the PM, to Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs), to Pettigrew (the new Minister for Trade), to Bill Graham (Chairman of SCFAIT), etc., as well as the leaders of the Opposition Parties.
One of the things PAMAI discovered in fighting the MAT and the WTO is that the ordinary MP is likely to be completely ill-informed about what is being negotiated and ignorant of the possible consequences: the MPs are being kept out of the loop, like the rest of us.It is therefore VERY USEFUL to write, or better visit, local MPs. You don’t need to pose as an expert yourself —- just ask some questions which may get the MP to begin examining the issues: in our experience, as soon as this takes place we have gained a critical voice in caucus!
So please, if you share these misgivings, do two things:
11. Write the Prime Minister and other relevant members of the Government expressing your worries and urging that no further commitments be made before an extended public consultation about where we are going.
12. Visit if possible, or at least write, your local MP to recount your concern and ask about his understanding of why we are giving up our sovereignty to tribunals dominated by the demands of transnational corporations.
PAMAI has also been active in supporting the legal challenge against the MAT and like agreements. This case, before the Federal Court since April 1998, was launched by a Vancouver group called the Defence of Canadian Liberty Committee. It claims that such agreements contravene the Constitution and the Charter of Rights. Among other things, it contends that the federal government does not have the legal right to sign away the democratic sovereignty of its own and the provincial governments, nor even to negotiate agreements without parliamentary approval. If successful, the case would stop the present negotiations and put NAFTA in question; in fact it would force a democratic departure in the way Canada is governed. The Court has acknowledged that the case has substantive merit. One might have hoped that the government would seek a prompt resolution of such a constitutional question; instead there seems to have been an attempt to delay it or seek to kill it on technical grounds. However another hearing is expected soon. If you wish more information about this, contact John Valleau at 535-6605.
Carrying on such a case is very expensive, and support is needed. If you might be able to help, phone the same number, or the Science for Peace office, 978-3606.
(Editor’s Note: A 28-page booklet entitled “A Citizen’s Guide to the World Trade Organization”, published by the Working Group on the WTO/MAI, U.S.A., is available from the Science for Peace office for $2 per copy.)
This was the title of a discussion sponsored by Science for Peace in the series of University College Lectures in Peace Studies at the International Student Centre, University of Toronto, on November 5, 1999, from 10 A.M. to noon. The discussion was led by two eminent physicians, Dr. Shambhu Shrivastwa of New Delhi and Dr. Tipu Sultan of Karachi, who were on a cross-Canada tour sponsored by Physicians for Global Survival and South Asia Partnership.
Dr. Shrivastwa spoke of confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. These include both CBMs designed to reduce the risk of war, particularly accidental nuclear war, between the two countries, and non-military CBMs towards conflict resolution. Measures to reduce the likelihood of war include frequent meetings between representatives of the two countries, including Heads of State, provision to notify each other about such things as ballistic missile tests and military exercises and provision for each country to notify the other without delay of any incident that might be misinterpreted and lead to nuclear war. Non-military CBMs include measures to make it easier for citizens of one country to visit the other, removal of restrictions on the free flow of publications, films and the like between the two countries, and increasing cooperation between the two governments to suppress drug trafficking, smuggling and terrorism.
Dr. Tipu Sultan discussed the dividends of peace in South Asia. He spoke of the terrible cost of the mutual distrust that has existed between the two countries since independence, which has led to three major wars and many smaller wars, as well as continuing low-intensity conflict. The enormous expenditure on armaments, including the development of nuclear weapons, has lead to serious neglect of other areas, especially education and health, leading in turn to social and political tensions which further increase the stability of the region. The establishment of genuine peace between the two countries would not only allow them to attend to the pressing needs of their citizens but would permit trade and economic cooperation between them, to the enormous advantage of both.
If a Toronto community group gets its way, Ontarians could soon be tilting at windmills. The Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative, or TREC, has formed a most unlikely alliance with North America’s largest municipal electrical utility, Toronto Hydro, to build up to three large modern windmills on the waterfront of Canada’s biggest city.
The project was founded by a community-based environmental group in North Toronto whose biggest projects at the time were ‘Walking School Bus’ and residential pesticide awareness programs. The group was frustrated with the lack of action on climate change and air quality— a pressing seasonal problem in Smogtown. Big government and big business seemed to be well behind public sentiment on these critical issues of public and terrestrial health.
With a small grant from the City’s own ‘Toronto Atmospheric Fund’, they built a blueprint for what has become the country’s first green power co-op. Back then, project founders could never have envisioned the scale the project has taken on, and the length of time it would take to raise their three-bladed standard.
Almost three years later, the project has become a joint venture with Toronto Hydro, and late in October received approval in principle from Toronto’s City Council to site the green machines on City land.
“We wanted the turbines to be on City lands so that all Torontonians could have a sense of ownership in the project.” says TREC’s General Manager Bryan Young. Young has been with the project since its inception.
“Climate change and smog are problems we all must take responsibility for, and putting this project on public lands will allow people to become familiar with a technology that could go a long way to help us address the crisis of greenhouse gas and other emissions spewing from coal-fired power plants every day,” Young went on to say.
Toronto has been the country’s most proactive city when it comes to municipal CO2 abatement strategies. On October 28th, the City announced it was joining a New York State lawsuit against coal-fired power producers. Could similar actions against Ontario Power Generation be far behind?
For now, Young and a hard-working cadre of volunteers and Directors are working with Toronto Hydro to make homegrown green power a reality for the summer of 2000.
TREC’s side of the joint venture will be funded by direct investment by residents, companies and institutions who are already Toronto Hydro subscribers. Members who join TREC will purchase $500 increments of the turbine, and in return will get an ‘energy credit’ deducted from their utility bill. The amount of reduction will vary on the amount of wind energy in a given period and the amount each of the members invests. People connected to Science for Peace have signed up.
TREC has big plans after this project. “We’re taking the show on the road,” the ebullient Young says. The Federal Government has committed close to $450,000 in loans, grants and Memberships for some of its Toronto properties. “Some of this money will be used to tell the Co-op’s story and sow the seeds of community green power across the country,” says Young.
“We’ve all got to act to do something about this crisis, and if TREC can get its own little recipe out to Canadians, we will have helped.” Already, the Co-op has begun dispensing advice to several groups around Ontario and across the country looking to give monopoly based brown power some competition. Windmill co-ops are very popular in Denmark, and are credited with developing the country’s wind turbine manufacturing industry, now their biggest export.
TREC has spun off its first initiative as a separate Co-op and will go on to help promote other projects once its waterfront windmills begin spinning next year.
For more information, Contact TREC at (416) 489-9463, by e-mail email@example.com. They also have a new website at www.trec.on.ca
Inspiring Young Minds Explore Peace Through Science
Here are a few words from 5 of the 65 recipients of the 1999 Peace Through Science prize awarded by Science for Peace at various regional science fairs throughout the country.
From Katherine and Matheson of Halifax, NS: ‘‘you are inspiring many people across the country to do their best and really give thought to the world of science. It is nice to know that there are organizations out there that are encouraging positive and constructive uses of science, opposed to negative uses such as nuclear weapons.”
From Merritt and Stuart of Vernon BC: “Our project’s name was Impending Global Disaster and was based on the media’s influence on the potential end of the world, it also required us to research all of the choices given out on a survey. Many people though that we were either crazy or weird doing this project, but in the end many of the people liked the project including most of the judges.”
From Michael in Kitchener, ON: “As a young member of the scientific community, it is very encouraging to see my country and province supporting peace. Your support will encourage me to pursue the field of science and technology, as well as considering the human and social aspect of my endeavours. Knowing that developments for peace are supported is very inspiring, and your contribution make me hopeful for a better future. I hope next years science fair will be successful and that with your support violent conflict can be eliminated.”
Now, what could be more satisfying than reading dozens of such letters, standing in as a judge, selecting prizes, researching peace curriculum or communicating with staff at the Youth Science Foundation in Ottawa. If you would like to get involved in some fashion in this endeavour with budding young scientists, please contact Carolyn Langdon at Science for Peaee, firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 416-978-3606.
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