The Mines Action Coalition,(or Committee), was formed in late 1994 with the general purpose of initiating activities to raise the Canadian public’s awareness of the tragic consequences of the use of anti- personnel landmines in conflicts throughout the world. Four areas of action have been targeted.
The Mines Action Coalition:
- Urges the Canadian Government to call for a total ban on the use, production, stockpiling, sale, transfer or export of anti-personnel landmines and the destruction of existing stockpiles.
- Recognizes recent Canadian initiatives and calls for additional assistance to multilateral and local humanitarian mine clearance activities. These would include multilateral activities such as support of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre and other UN initiatives, as well as any unilateral activities which Canada may undertake with respect to humanitarian mine clearance.
- Requests an immediate Canadian moratorium on the production, export and transfer of landmines, their component parts and related technology, including their export and transfer to the USA.
A steering committee composed of representatives from member organizations of the Coalition has been put in place and a part-time coordinator (Celina Tuttle) was hired. The Committee and the coordinator identify and recommend various lines of action.
The Coalition has been successful in several areas. Recently the Department of Foreign Affairs said the number of letters the government receives on landmines places this issue in the top three areas of concern as expressed by Canadians. A number of MPs have clearly indicated their strong support for Coalition activities and several have drafted, or are drafting, private members bills relating to Coalition objectives. An advisory committee comprised of well-respected Canadians is in regular contact with the Coalition. Interest and support for the Campaign to Ban Landmines grows daily, from South African MPs to Canadian NGOs and high school students. MAC has met with several government officials to date and was represented on the Canadian Delegation to the UN De-mining Conference in July 1995 and to the Vienna Conference in September 1995. The Coalition has prepared and mailed landmine information packages to all Members of Parliament. Information brochures are ready for distribution to the Canadian public. As you may know, in recent months dozens of landmine-related articles, including radio documentaries and interviews, have appeared in the Canadian media. Non-governmental organizations are invited to endorse the objectives of MAC and to join the Campaign. A nominal contribution of $200 includes your organization as a voting member of MAC and as a contact in our information-sharing network.
Recently Andre Ouellet, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that “Canada should lead the world by destroying its own stockpile of landmines and declaring a total ban on the production, export and use of the weapon”. This represents a huge step forward and some credit for this may be given to the vigourous campaign organized by MAC. The Mines Action Committee has set itself an important task and has already accomplished much. I believe the issue of landmines certainly deserves the support of Science for Peace.
Postscript from the Editor: It was announced on January 17 by Mr. Ouellet and Defence Minister David Collenette that Canada has declared a comprehensive unilateral moratorium on the production, export and operational use of anti-personnel land mines.