Science for Peace has had three Presidents over the course of the last year. Helmut Burkhardt served until May of 2001 and was followed by Mel Watkins until November of 2001. Both were tireless workers and steered Science for Peace with enthusiasm and imagination. While Mel is currently touring foreign lands, Helmut continues to work for Science for Peace, organizing, with Julia Morton-Marr, round table discussions of topics to be presented at the World Order Conference.
I took on the Presidency of Science for Peace after a new global war effort was announced by the United States. Following the horrific attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., the President of the U.S. and his advisers exploited these crimes to promote a war without borders and without limits in time. This war effort has been eagerly supported by the Canadian Government who, without consultation with the Canadian people, have committed combat troops to assist in U.S. efforts.
We have also seen fundamental changes to laws in this country which erode the very essence of a democratic society. Simultaneously, a number of fundamental treaties, such as the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol, have been reversed or rejected.
With the escalation of the war in Colombia as well as the increased tensions between India and Pakistan and the endless cycle of retaliation between Israel and the Palestinians, one begins to feel as if we are surrounded by conflicts and violence which are spiraling out of control.
Here, then, I believe that as an organization dedicated to peace and justice, we must redouble our efforts at bringing to the attention of the Canadian public the causes of, and solutions to a world tom by greater violence. We can offer opportunities for dialogue between adversaries as has been patiently done by Chandler Davis and Joe Vise in the context of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. We can also provide the research that can form the basis of solutions to these problems such as the excellent work on nuclear weapons policy by Alan Philips. Jean Smith, John Valleau, Chandler Davis, and Hani Kim provided another example of the role of Science for Peace where a Forum and Teach-In on the issue of Canada’s response to “the war against terrorism” was discussed. This event included a very great cross section of participants from Canadian society as well as a member of the Government of Canada. We must also use our generally privileged positions to ensure that our elected representatives are properly informed of the issues at hand. An example was the Science for Peace delegation, which included Phyllis Creighton, John Valleau, Carolyn Langdon, Paul Hamel and Helmut Burkhardt, to the Minister of Defence, Art Eggleton, to discuss Canada’s role in the National Missile Defence plan of the U.S.
I look, however, to the future where I believe that Science for Peace can be a more effective organization. For example, we have the good will of the University of Toronto to host our web site. We should exploit this medium so that a great many more research and educational materials can be made available to people and organizations around the world. We need only to generate them. I also believe that we can take advantage of the great enthusiasm and sophistication of the young people in this country who have clearly articulated their understanding of the issues of globalization, global justice, and global war. Science for Peace has a unique advantage in this realm where we can make the connections between these issues in order to promote a just and sustainable future.