Will a minority Liberal government be compelled to address growing nuclear risks?

In a recent article, Cape Breton Professor Sean Howard, political scientist and longtime peace activist, examines whether a minority Liberal government will take more seriously the growing nuclear peril.

Sitting just 13 seats short of a majority, and with no appetite for a quick return to the polls, the chances of the ‘Trudeau: Take Two’ Liberals agreeing to sign the Ban, and urging others in NATO to do the same, are slim to nil. But would they be as sure to ignore a request for public consultations on ‘Canada and the Bomb in the 21st Century’….

Recall that the Liberals, when they had a majority, chose to ignore a unanimous call from the Standing Committee on National Defence for urgent talks with NATO on its nuclear policy.

It was not always thus. Professor Howard reminds us:

In the 1990s, Canada was known in NATO as ‘the nuclear nag,’ pressing for a general review of alliance doctrine…. Twenty years later, NATO’s nuclear ‘dagger’ is still there, but the Canadian ‘nagger’ is gone.

But now the support of at least some Opposition members is central to the survival of the Justin Trudeau government.

Professor Howard cites a statement from NDP headquarters, issued during the election campaign, rejecting NATO’s nuclear doctrine:

We do not agree that NATO needs nuclear weapons for its defence and security. We must never forget that a single nuclear weapon can kill millions of people…. New Democrats believe Canada must play a leadership role within NATO in order to move away from nuclear deterrence policy and instead support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

For their part, the Green Party of Canada also has a clear nuclear disarmament policy:

Green Party MPs will:

  • Sign and Ratify the Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons;
  • Strengthen the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency to prevent nuclear reactor fuels from finding their way into nuclear weapons;
  • Press NATO allies to get out of the nuclear weapons business;
  • Move rapidly to multi-lateral negotiations to eliminate all nuclear stockpiles and prevent rebuilding of nuclear arsenals using such UN processes as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, taking U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons off alert status, legally binding guarantees by nuclear weapons states not to attack non-nuclear states, and enhanced verification techniques.

Professor Howard concludes his commentary with a suggestion that we at Ceasefire.ca have also championed:

I’d like to propose a respectful dialogue between two people with very different experiences of being human in the atomic age: Justin Trudeau and Setsuko Thurlow.

For the full article, click: Canada, the Bomb and Minority Government (Sean Howard, Cape Breton Spectator, 6 November 2019).

Lest anyone think the risks are overstated, click: New Study Outlines The Nuclear Winter We’d Have if US and Russia Blew Up Their Bombs (David Nield, sciencealert.com, 21 August 2019).


In other news, RI Board member and long-time anti-asbestos activist Kathleen Ruff has drawn our attention to disturbing developments with respect to asbestos projects in Quebec:

The Quebec government is to be commended for initiating this public inquiry. Its timing is wrong, however. This inquiry should have been held before major projects to commercialize the asbestos mining wastes were approved, not after.

For the full article see: Inquiry into asbestos tailings project is too little, too late, activists say (Michelle Lalonde, Montreal Gazette, 13 November 2019).

Photo credit: NATO Insignia

Tags: "NATO nuclear nag", Cape Breton University, CTBT, Federal election 2019, Green Party of Canada, IAEA, Inquiry into asbestos tailings, Kathleen Ruff, Minority Liberal Government, NATO, NATO Nuclear Doctrine, New Democratic Party of Canada, New Nuclear Winter study, Sean Howard, Standing Committee on National Defence, Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)