Pug­wash con­tin­ues to dream of a nu­clear-free world

Con­fer­ence cel­e­brates 60th an­niver­sary of or­ga­ni­za­tion’s legacy to peace

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - CUMBERLAND COUNTY - BY DAR­RELL COLE CIT­I­ZEN-RECORD PUG­WASH dcole@amher­st­daily.com Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

Dou­glas Roche could feel Joseph Rot­blat’s pres­ence as he walked through the grounds of his­toric Thinker’s Lodge on Wed­nes­day.

The for­mer par­lia­men­tar­ian and se­na­tor re­turned to Pug­wash as part of the Cana­dian Pug­wash Group’s com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 60th an­niver­sary of the first Pug­wash Con­fer­ence in 1957.

Rot­blat was in­flu­en­tial in or­ga­niz­ing the first Pug­wash Con­fer­ences on Science and World Af­fairs and shared the No­bel Peace Prize with the con­fer­ences in 1995.

“When I was walk­ing on the lawn ear­lier I had a friend walk­ing with me and that friend was Joseph Rot­blat. Some would say that Joseph Rot­blat was no longer with us, but I’m here to tell you I felt his pres­ence here this morn­ing,” said Roche.

Most of the con­fer­ence was at Dal­housie Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax, but par­tic­i­pants took a break Wed­nes­day to travel to the vil­lage that got the Pug­wash dis­ar­ma­ment move­ment started and Thinker’s Lodge.

While a lot of time has passed since that first meet­ing at the sum­mer home of Pug­wash­born U.S. in­dus­tri­al­ist Cyrus Ea­ton, Roche said there is still so much work to be done be­fore a nu­clear weapons-free work is re­al­ized.

“When Hiroshima oc­curred I was 16 years old and I re­mem­ber my mom and dad smil­ing be­cause it meant that I wouldn’t have to go to war, but years went by and I got the op­por­tu­nity to travel to Hiroshima and Na­gasaki. It was a shat­ter­ing mo­ment to go through the mu­seum and see the ar­ti­facts and talk to sur­vivors and try to grasp the mas­sive in­hu­man­ity of nu­clear weapons rain­ing down on in­no­cent peo­ple. It was a pro­found ex­pe­ri­ence that changed my life. Now I’m an old man and I want to see the elim­i­na­tion of nu­clear weapons.”

Roche said there are fewer nu­clear weapons than there were 60 years ago when the first con­fer­ence was held, but the re­main­ing 16,500 weapons are very wor­ri­some and could have cat­a­strophic re­sults.

“It’s very easy some­times to look at the past and where we’ve come from, but most of the time we should look ahead and build on what we’ve done,” he said. “I come here in this long strug­gle to rid the world of the ul­ti­mate evil in nu­clear weapons. I come here and find re­newed en­ergy.”

The con­fer­ence saw the pass­ing of sev­eral res­o­lu­tions, one of which calls on Canada to sign the re­cent treaty on the pro­hi­bi­tion of nu­clear weapons and to lobby NATO to change its stance on nu­clear weapons as the only way to de­ter nu­clear war.

The treaty, which will be signed at the United Na­tions in Septem­ber, pro­hibits states from de­vel­op­ing, test­ing, pro­duc­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, ac­quir­ing, pos­sess­ing or stock­pil­ing nu­clear weapons and other ex­plo­sive nu­clear de­vices.

None of the coun­tries that have nu­clear weapons took part in the ne­go­ti­a­tions and Canada has in­di­cated it won’t sign the treaty on ad­vice from the United States and its NATO al­lies.

Other speak­ers in­cluded Ernie Regehr, a se­nior fel­low of the Si­mons Foun­da­tion, who called on Canada to take a more ac­tive stance in cre­at­ing a nu­clear weapons-free arc­tic, and Wal­ter Dorn of the Cana­dian Forces Col­lege, who spoke about the im­por­tance of peace­keep­ing mis­sions in sup­port­ing a de­vel­op­ing world and pre­vent­ing small con­flicts from be­com­ing larger ones.

DAR­RELL COLE/CIT­I­ZEN-RECORD

Sen. Dou­glas Roche speaks dur­ing a town hall meet­ing and panel dis­cus­sion at Thinker’s Lodge in Pug­wash on Wed­nes­day. The Cana­dian Pug­wash Group cel­e­brated the 60th an­niver­sary of the first Pug­wash Con­fer­ence in 1957 by re­turn­ing to the com­mu­nity as part of a three-day con­fer­ence on Canada’s con­tri­bu­tion to global se­cu­rity.

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