The Report of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee on Canada’s policies on nuclear weapons is a landmark document and deserves the support of all Canadians.
After two years’ study, the Committee has exposed the fallacy that nuclear weapons provide security and urges the Government of Canada to “play a leading role in finally ending the nuclear threat overhanging humanity.”
The Report’s leading recommendations would, if implemented, put Canada squarely in the body of mounting world opinion that the time has come to move away from the Cold War doctrine of nuclear deterrence.
Specifically, the Committee included in its 15 recommendations:
* Canada should work with NATO allies and the New Agenda Coalition to “encourage the nuclear-weapons States to demonstrate their unequivocal commitment to enter into and conclude negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.”
* Canada should endorse the concept of taking all nuclear weapons off alert status.
* Canada should support the call for the conclusion of a nuclear weapons disarmament convention as the end product of negotiations under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
* Canada should “argue forcefully within NATO” that NATO’s present reliance on nuclear weapons must be re-examined and updated.
These steps, which reflect the major statements in recent years of the International Court of Justice, the Canberra Commission, leading world military and civilian figures, and the seven-nation New Agenda Coalition, are realistic. They will be supported by the 92 percent of Canadians, as revealed in a 1998 Angus Reid poll, who want Canada to take a leadership role in promoting an international ban on nuclear weapons.
It is unfortunate that the Reform Party, which forms the Official Opposition in the House of Commons, has filed a Minority Report, which in itself, is mystifying. The Reform Party, which has never mentioned nuclear weapons in its policy papers, did not specifically disagree with any of the Committee’s recommendations but did dissent “from the broad conclusions of the Report.”
In dissociating itself from the broad conclusions of the Report that nuclear weapons must eventually be eliminated through comprehensive negotiations, the Reform Party ignores the reality that the Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed by 187 nations, imposes a binding legal obligation on all parties to negotiate the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
The Reform Party’s dissent has separated the Party from the specific ruling of the International Court of Justice, which unanimously declared that such comprehensive negotiations must be concluded, and from the body of Canadian public opinion.
The four other parties in the House of Commons, the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois, the New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative Party, which received approximately 80 percent of the popular vote in the 1997 general election, have contributed to the advancement of global security and should be congratulated.
Chairman Bill Graham, M.P., has provided distinguished leadership in steering the Committee, which has now provided a valuable compass for the building of a nuclear weapons-free security architecture for the 21st century.