This week I had the pleasure of spending the day with someone whose name I know well but had never actually met: Major General Leonard V. Johnson (ret.). (Second from right above)
Len, as he prefers to be called, retired from the Canadian Forces back in 1984. Not long after, as he told me, he told a reporter from the Kingston Whig Standard something that may have shocked many of his former colleagues: he was opposed to nuclear weapons.
Len Johnson is probably Canada’s best-known and highest-ranking anti-nuclear soldier. Back in the 1990s when I was working at End the Arms Race in Vancouver, and I learned of General Johnson through the group, Veterans Against Nuclear Arms (VANA). Johnson was a member of VANA, that spirited group of old soldiers that the Legion never lets join the Remembrance Day parade, but undeterred, they march at the end of the parade in their white berets carrying a banner that says “Let Peace Be Their Memorial.” The crown goes wild with cheers as they go proudly by.
Len is also a former chairperson of the Canadian Pugwash Group, and on Monday I was working with Pugwash to launch a campaign to press Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to put NATO’s outdated, dangerous, and frankly “illegal” nuclear weapons policy in the scrap heap with the rest of the junk from the Cold War. Here is the article on General Johnson in the Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette.
General Johnson, and other Pugwash members, held a press conference on Parliament Hill to press their case. We posted the videos on our YouTube.com site, so you can watch General Johnson and the others in action for yourself.