In Memoriam: Michael Wallace

Our organization, our movement and, indeed, our world has lost a great champion of peace. Professor Michael Wallace, “Mike” as we knew him, provided us with intellectual insight and leadership on peace issues in Canada and abroad for many decades. As a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, he inspired generations of students to take an active interest in arms control and global security. He embraced the cause of nuclear disarmament, knowing that these weapons of mass destruction needed to be banned for humanity to be saved. He wrote about the Cuban Missile Crisis and world leaders from Kennedy to Gorbachev. He studied the science behind nuclear explosions. He supported the development of international treaties. He was a catalyst for the nuclear disarmament movement when it gained momentum in the early 1980s. When the theme became almost lost in the public eye following the end of the Cold War, he continued tirelessly to work for it – to get the word out. At the time of his death, he was beginning to organize a Canadian Pugwash workshop on an Arctic Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

He had a detailed knowledge about nuclear powers (states), nuclear armaments, and nuclear physics, some of which he had learned from his physicist father. He combined a deep knowledge of the characteristics of nuclear weapons with a deep commitment to their abolition.

Mike also combined intellectual brilliance with profound dedication and an unpretentious disposition. He was an inspiration to many for his accessibility, openness and kindness. He was a man of great heart as well as a great mind.

I am very glad that at our Eric Fawcett dinner & forum in Toronto (13 November 2010), we celebrated his birthday in song in his presence. It was one way we were able to express our appreciation to this champion of peace and this great human being.

As I remember him for his many contributions, I offer a heart-felt prayer for this remarkable servant of peace.