As Hiroshima Day approaches, five Or­der of Canada re­cip­i­ents urge the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment to stop de­fend­ing nu­clear de­ter­rence and start work­ing on an in­ter­na­tional weapons con­ven­tion.

Ottawa Citizen - - OPINION -

When U.S. Pres­i­dent Obama vis­ited Hiroshima ear­lier this sum­mer, he called for “a moral revo­lu­tion” to re­spond to the un­matched killing power of nu­clear weapons. All who de­sire a world freed from the threat of a hu­man­i­tar­ian catas­tro­phe caused by nu­clear war­fare should pause for a mo­ment on Satur­day, Aug. 6, Hiroshima Day, and re­flect on just what it will take to launch such a revo­lu­tion in think­ing.

It is a huge mis­take to re­main com­pla­cent about nu­clear weapons, as if the threat of nu­clear de­struc­tion had gone away with the Cold War. A new nu­clear arms race be­tween the U.S., Rus­sia and China has bro­ken out, and the 15,395 nu­clear weapons still in ex­is­tence are all be­ing mod­ern­ized by the nu­clear pow­ers. Both the U.S. and Rus­sia still keep many nu­clear weapons on high-alert sta­tus. In­dia and Pak­istan, both nu­clear-armed, threaten each other.

That is why, as mem­bers and com­pan­ions of the Or­der of Canada, we sup­port the ef­forts of Cana­di­ans for a Nu­clear Weapons Con­ven­tion, a civil so­ci­ety net­work, to press the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment to help lead the way in get­ting com­pre­hen­sive ne­go­ti­a­tions started to pro­hibit and elim­i­nate all nu­clear weapons. So far, some 900 mem­bers of the Or­der have en­dorsed this ef­fort. The 900 rep­re­sent all walks of life and ev­ery cor­ner of Canada. Surely the new gov­ern­ment, which has shown con­cern for the United Na­tions agenda pro­mot­ing peace and hu­man se­cu­rity, will not turn a deaf ear to our un­prece­dented call.

We are not alone in de­mand­ing ac­tion. Three­quar­ters of the na­tions of the world have al­ready voted at the UN to start such ne­go­ti­a­tions. May­ors for Peace, which rep­re­sents 7,095 cities around the world (105 in Canada), has is­sued a sim­i­lar call. Re­li­gious lead­ers from all the world’s ma­jor faiths have come to­gether at the UN to make their plea.

Mil­i­tary lead­ers are agreed that nu­clear weapons, be­cause of their hor­ren­dous de­struc­tive power, have no mil­i­tary value. Even a “lim­ited” nu­clear war could in­stan­ta­neously de­stroy mil­lions of peo­ple, their cities, their cul­ture and their his­to­ries.

Why, then, do coun­tries such as Canada, which pride them­selves on es­pous­ing hu­man rights val­ues, still de­fend the strat­egy of nu­clear de­ter­rence — a strat­egy that has led to con­stant nu­clear mod­ern­iza­tion? We need to break out of this out­moded think­ing, which keeps Canada trapped in the nu­clear box. Work­ing with like-minded coun­tries, Canada must push NATO to change its fal­la­cious doc­trine that nu­clear weapons are the “supreme guar­an­tee” of se­cu­rity.

We un­der­stand very well the ob­sta­cles stand­ing in the way of progress. These bar­ri­ers were well out­lined by U.S. Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower, who, in 1961, warned against the en­croach­ing mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex. The arms pro­duc­ers are cash­ing in on the $1 tril­lion the U.S. has ear­marked for nu­clear weapons mod­ern­iza­tion over the next 30 years. Canada needs to speak out — and act — against this out­ra­geous ex­ploita­tion of hu­man con­flict for profit.

The tril­lions of dol­lars wasted on nu­clear weapons are steal­ing from hu­man de­vel­op­ment pro­grams.

The Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals, aim­ing to erad­i­cate the worst forms of poverty by 2030, will bring us far closer to peace and se­cu­rity than the bur­geon­ing nu­clear ar­se­nals.

It is the ut­most folly for gov­ern­ments to think that the world can build peace through main­tain­ing nu­clear weapons. Lip ser­vice to nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment is not good enough at this dan­ger­ous mo­ment in world af­fairs. Sev­eral years ago, Par­lia­ment unan­i­mously urged the gov­ern­ment to act. Canada should host a meet­ing to get com­pre­hen­sive nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions rolling.

Canada can help turn Obama’s vi­sion of a nu­clear weapons-free world into “a moral revo­lu­tion.”

Bruce Kidd, OC, is a renowned scholar, com­mu­nity ac­tivist and re­spected aca­demic leader.

James Orbin­ski, OC, is a hu­man­i­tar­ian prac­ti­tioner and lead­ing scholar in global health. Toronto. Lan­don Pear­son, OC, is child rights ad­vo­cate and for­mer se­na­tor liv­ing in Ot­tawa. Set­suko Thur­low, CM, is re­tired so­cial worker, founder of Ja­panese Fam­ily Ser­vices of Metropoli­tan Toronto and sur­vivor of the atomic bomb­ing of Hiroshima. Jean Vanier, CC, is a the­olo­gian, philoso­pher and hu­man­i­tar­ian.

Three-quar­ters of the na­tions of the world have al­ready voted at the UN to start … ne­go­ti­a­tions (to pro­hibit and elim­i­nate all nu­clear weapons). May­ors for Peace, which rep­re­sents 7,095 cities around the world (105 in Canada), has is­sued a sim­i­lar call.


Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, right, to­gether with U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, placed wreaths dur­ing a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memo­rial Park in Hiroshima in May.


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